Monday, 13 February 2012 | By: The One Woman


(29 1/2 WEEKS)
Following on from post 3: HOUSING I’d like to update you on the current situation regarding benefits and housing allowances. Please note that benefits and rates I am discussing in this blog post apply to a single pregnant female. If you have a partner or are earlier/later on in your pregnancy then some parts my be useful but rates and conditions will differ. 

I am 10 weeks (nearly 9) counting down to my labour date and I have found that the area I am living in has become unsafe for me, so I decided to move now rather than after my son is born. I was under the assumption that because I now have my *MATB1 certificate proving that I am past the 11 week date, that I am eligible for the 2 person bedroom rate that is now **£121 per week. (See footnotes) This is not so! A 2-bedroom housing benefit rate for a private property is not activated until the birth of my son.

I am, however eligible for a 2-bedroom house through the council and I am on high priority for a council or housing association property (See or call into your local authority office for information). I have been bidding desperately on the website since August 2011 with no reply or sign that my bidding is even being taken into consideration so my only option is to go through a private landlord and apply for the 2 bedroom rate.

So you see that there is a grey area where you are stuck with no housing benefit and no sign of a council house. I had luckily been sensible and gotten a rather hefty overdraft and a bit of money saved for an emergency, so I’m going to put a deposit and a months rent on a 2 bedroom property which should cover the period until my son is born and apply for the 2 bedroom rate after he is born. If I hadn’t raised the capital to do this then I’d be stuck in a 1-bedroom property in a dangerous area until my son was at least 1 or 2 months old. Even if I had waited until then I would not be guaranteed a council property or the cash to fund a deposit for a private house.

(please see link below for further information)

Now I had a think about women who do not have my arc angel overdraft facility and there is an option for a crisis-housing loan (this is nothing at all to do with your bank and there is no APR). If you book an appointment with your local housing office and apply for the increased 2-bedroom rate, explaining your circumstances then a council rep can help you apply for a crisis loan. In some cases these are refused but if you find that you are in a bind like mine then an application would be fast tracked and taken into high consideration.
A Crisis Loan is intended to cover immediate short-term needs that arise because of a disaster. An award may be for a specific item or service or to meet immediate living expenses for a short period, usually up to 14 days. A crisis loan can also help with certain expenses in other emergency or disaster situations. These are:
·       Living expenses
·       Rent in advance where the landlord is not a local authority
·       Charges for board and lodging accommodation and hostels
·       Travel expenses when stranded away from home
·       Repaying emergency credit on a pre-payment fuel meter

If I am declined for a 2-bedroom housing benefit rate 2 weeks prior to my sons birth then I will also have to apply for a crisis loan to cover a months rent.
If the crisis loan is not suitable for your circumstances then you can apply for the budgeting loan, which is very similar but issued through the Job Centre Plus and can be applied for online

(please see below link for information)

(again, this is nothing at all to do with your bank and there is no APR) You may be able to get a Budgeting Loan if you or your partner have been claiming or getting payment of one of the following benefits for at least 26 weeks:

-        Income Support
-        income-related Employment and Support Allowance
-        income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
-        Pension Credit
and you need help to pay for any of the following:

-        furniture or household equipment
-        clothing or footwear
-        advance rent or removal expenses for a new home
-        travelling expenses
-        things to help you look for or start work
-        improving, maintaining or securing your home
-        repaying hire purchase or other debts you took out to pay for any of the above

You will have seen that I mentioned income support. I am out of work and I now have my MATB1 certificate so I am eligible to apply for income support rather than Job Seekers allowance 
(please see link below)
You must first let the Job Centre know that you are 11 weeks due to give birth and they will transfer you from Job Seekers Allowance onto income support over the phone (the Leeds number to do this is 0800 055 66 88) and then book and interview for you to go into the local Job Centre Plus and transfer all of your information over and decide the rate that you will be issued. Larger weekly payments will then be issued and there will be no requirements to go into the office to sign on.
Upon receipt of my MATB1 certificate I applied for my sure start maternity grant, which can be anything up to £500 and is non repayable! The form can be printed off online or obtained from your local Job Centre Plus, it is then sent free post and processed before the birth of your child. Make sure that you take this form to your hospital or midwife and get them to sign the back of it to declare that you are pregnant and also to stamp the form with the practice stamp or you will not get your loan
(please see link below)

I receive a book of 4 at £3.10 every few weeks. 
With Healthy Start, you get free vouchers every week to spend on milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk. You can also get free vitamins.
Apply via this link:

This also has to be signed and stamped by your doctor or midwife so make sure to take it along to your check up. 


The welfare rights unit (part of the Leeds city council customer service section)
This is a free service that will help you with filling in forms, offer guidance & support when making appeals and also offer advice and information on a variety of welfare benefits schemes that are applicable to your circumstances. I have used this service several times and it is amazing, I wouldn’t have been able to understand a lot of these processes without it. A great tip when attending any application appointment is to keep an ordered folder with everything in it, for example tenancy agreements, bills and bank statements. I found that at most appointments I was asked for all kinds of paperwork that I wouldn't have thought to bring normally.  

You make an appointment to go into what they call a surgery by calling
-        0113 3760452
Or email
Or post
-        Freepost NAT 19786, Leeds, LS9 7YY
Open Monday to Friday 9:00am until 4:30pm except Thursdays 3:30pm and Fridays 4:00pm

  -A MATB1 for should be issued to you on your 28/29th week of gestation upon your visit to the midwife.
**-The new rates for Leeds ( West Yorkshire) are now:
£61.50 for shared accommodation
£100 for 1 bedroom
£121.15 for 2 bedrooms
£138.46 for 3 bedrooms
£196.15 for 4 bedrooms
Please note that this is just for the Leeds area and these rates are subject to change each February. 


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