The main types of bank accounts are explained below Option 1 A current account at any bank or building society (some with access at the Post Office). These accounts are available from any bank or building society you choose and offer the widest range of banking services. As well as your Local Housing Allowance or other benefits, state pension or war pension, you can have other money paid into it, like wages. With a current account you can make withdrawals from a cash machine, or at some branches over the counter. You can receive a cheque book and a debit card, and in some cases earn interest on your balance. You can pay bills by standing order or direct debit and can have an overdraft facility (subject to your credit status). You can avoid paying bank charges as long as you don’t go overdrawn. Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar Housing Benefit is Changing on the 1st April 2008 With the introduction of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) As features of bank and building society accounts vary, it’s a good idea to compare different accounts to see which one suits you best. Some of these accounts are accessed using a cheque book and card, and some also allow you to use a card and Personal Identification Number (PIN). Please check with your bank or building society for details. Option 2 A basic bank account (some with access at the Post Office). This easy-to-use bank account shares many current account features. Your Local Housing Allowance or other benefit, state pension or war pension can be paid straight into it and you can receive payments from other sources, like wages. With some basic bank accounts, you will also be able to check your balance at the Post Office. To open a bank or building society account just get in touch with the bank or building society of your choice. Here is a list of banks in the Western Isles area. Bank of Scotland, Western Isles Credit Union, Clydesdale Bank, Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland. Benefit Section, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, Town Hall, Point Street, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2XF Further Information You can get further information about Local Housing Allowance by contacting: Kathleen Johnstone on 01851 707452 between 0900-1300 Jennifer Macleod on 01851 707456 1300-1700. Email: [email protected] Information is also available on the following websites: Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) www.dwp.gov.uk/housingbenefit/lha Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar www.cne-siar.gov.uk/benefits How is benefit changing? The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is changing Housing Benefit to make it fairer and easier to use. As a private tenant any Housing Benefit you may claim will from the 1 April 2008 be called Local Housing Allowance (LHA). Local Housing Allowance is help towards the cost of your rent and is currently being tested in 18 Local Authorities. It may be extended to other tenants, such as housing association tenants in the future. What is Local Housing Allowance? Local housing Allowance is help towards the cost of your rent. It will be means tested and you must have proof of a valid tenancy. In most cases, we will pay Local Housing Allowance to you – not to your landlord. Who is Local Housing Allowance for? Local Housing Allowance is for private tenants on a low income. By ‘private tenant’ we mean someone who rents property or a room from a private landlord. Local Housing Allowance does not apply if: Your landlord is a housing association Your rent has been registered as a ‘fair rent’ Your tenancy started before 1989 You live somewhere where you are provided with care, support or supervision You live in a caravan, mobile home or houseboat. Local Housing Allowance may not apply if your rent includes an amount for meals. How much Local Housing Allowance will I get? The amount of Local Housing Allowance you will get depends on: The number of rooms you need The rules say how many rooms you need, based on how many people live with you. The area you live in The Rent Registration Service of the Scottish Executive has decided that the Western Isles will be classed as one area for the purpose of the Local Housing Allowance. It will be based on the rents that most people pay in your area. The Local Housing Allowance rates will be published on a monthly basis. Any savings or money you may have coming in Local Housing Allowance will be means tested the same as Housing Benefit is at the moment. Whether you have someone who is not a dependant living with you A non-dependant deduction will still apply as it does for Housing Benefit. You can use the following information as a guide to work out how many rooms you are allowed. One bedroom for: Every adult couple (married or unmarried) Any other adult (aged 16 or over) Any two children under 10, regardless of sex Any two children of the same sex Or for any other child Living rooms One living room for 1-3 people living in property Two living rooms for 4-6 people living in property Three living rooms for 7 or more people living in property Using the above categories the total number of rooms (i.e. bedrooms plus living rooms) will determine the rate of allowance that a claimant will qualify for e.g. where the occupiers are a married couple and their 14-year-old son, they would be entitled to the rate for a 3-room property (i.e. two bedrooms and one living room). If your rent is LESS than the Local Housing Allowance, you will be able to keep any extra money to a limit of £15.00. This will not affect any other social security benefits you get. If your rent is MORE than the Local Housing Allowance, you will have to make up the difference yourself. Couples with no dependant children If you are part of a couple who have no children living with you, you can get the rate for a two-roomed property if you rent a self-contained property. By self-contained property we mean one where you have at least one room nobody else uses and a bathroom, toilet and cooking facilities e.g. a one-bedroom flat. Knowing the amount of Local Housing Allowance will let you work out what rent you can afford. When you go looking for somewhere to live you can work out how much money you will have. You can then choose a place that suits you. If you are part of a couple who have no children living with you and you choose to live in a property where all or some of the facilities are shared, you will get the shared Local Housing Allowance rate. Shared facilities could be a living room, kitchen or bathroom. How will Local Housing Allowance be paid? In most cases Local Housing Allowance will be paid directly to the claimant. You cannot choose to have your Local Housing Allowance paid direct to your landlord. The easiest way is to have it paid into a bank or building society account. As a tenant you will be responsible for paying your rent to your landlord. If you do not pay the rent your landlord may apply to the Comhairle to have it paid to them, or take other action to recover their money. Claimants aged under 25 who live alone If you are aged under 25 and live alone you can only get the shared Local Housing Allowance rate. Dependants and non-dependants If you claim Local Housing Allowance you can only get it for yourself and your dependants. If you share a property we will make a deduction for facilities you share with any non-dependants. The rules for this are the same as the rules for Housing Benefit. If you have a bank or building society account you can arrange for your bank or building society to pay your rent direct to your landlord. If you don’t have an account, now may be a good time to think about opening one. How many rooms are needed The number of people who live with you will be used to work out how many bedrooms and living rooms you are allowed. We do not count other rooms such as kitchen or bathroom. The number of rooms you are allowed is used to work out how much Local Housing Allowance you may be able to get. Local Housing Allowance Rates The Local Housing Allowance rates will be published on our web site as we approach the ‘Go Live’ date of 1st April 2008. The rates will be published on a monthly basis on our website http://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/benefits. Bank Accounts Local Housing Allowance will usually be paid directly to you and not your landlord. You will be paid either straight into a bank account or by cheque. It is up to you to make sure that your rent is paid to your landlord. One way of doing this is to set up a regular payment (by standing order or direct debit) from a bank account. As long as you have enough money in your account, you won’t have to worry about remembering to pay your rent and your landlord will know the rent will be paid automatically.
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