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Changes to benefits

The Government is making changes to benefits. These changes began in 2013 and will continue through until the end of 2017. Many existing benefits are due to be abolished and replaced by a new welfare system.

This page tells you about the most important changes that are happening and where to find more information if you think you'll be affected.

We have a guide to help and explain the Welfare Reform - A guide for disabled people [pdf]

Benefit Cap

The government introduced the benefit cap in order to limit the overall amount of benefits a ‘working age’ household can receive. This is so out-of-work families will not receive more in benefits than the average take home pay of a family in work.

The amount an out-of-work family can receive per year will be £20,000 from Autumn 2016. It was previously £26,000.

The maximum amount of benefits you can receive per week is:

  • £384.62 if you are a couple or have children
  • £257.69 if you are a single person

You will receive a letter about this if you are going to be affected.

How will it be worked out?

The cap will apply to the combined income a household receives from all out-of-work benefits.

Households will not have their benefits capped if a member of the household is claiming:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • The support group component of Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
  • War Widow’s/Widower’s Pension.

However, this does not apply if it is a non-dependant member of the household who is in receipt of DLA or Attendance Allowance (for example if parents are caring for an adult disabled child).

How will the cap be administered?

The cap will be applied through deductions from your Housing Benefit payment.

If your Housing Benefit payment reduces, you may have to use money from your other benefits to pay towards the rent of your home.

Tax Credit

From April 2017, the family element in Tax Credit and the same in Universal Credit will no longer be awarded. Households that have been in receipt of the family element of Tax Credit/Universal Credit with an interruption of less than six months will be protected.

Child Tax Credit will only be awarded for up to two children born on or after April 2017.

The child element of Universal Credit will only be awarded for up to two children (for new claims from April 2017).

For more information on your entitlement to Tax Credit go to gov.uk/browse/benefits/tax-credits

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is being introduced nationally and will replace the following benefits for working-age applicants:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

Universal Credit is administered and paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Its aim is to make it easier for people claiming benefits to start a new job or work more hours. As your take home pay increases, your Universal Credit payment will gradually reduce.

Your Universal Credit will be paid directly to one person in the household each month.

Please note Universal Credit does not include help with your Council Tax payments. You must claim Council Tax Support separately from Warrington Borough Council.

When will the changes take effect?

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages from April 2013. Currently in Warrington only some residents are eligible. This depends on your own personal circumstances. You can still claim other benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit separately if you are not eligible for Universal Credit.

How do I claim?

To find out if you are eligible and to make a claim you need to go to gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

There is support available to help you make your claim. Visit warrington-advice.co.uk for more information.

From 06/04/17 if you do not have a current claim for UC or claimed in the last 6 months and have more than 2 children, then you will not be able to claim UC.  Please make a claim for Housing Benefit for help with your rent.

Housing Benefit

Social Housing

Those living in social housing such as Golden Gates Housing Trust, or Your Housing, will see their Housing Benefit restricted to the lower Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate from April (only where a new tenancy is taken or renewed on or after April 2016).

For supported accommodation this has been delayed to tenancies taken or renewed on or after April 2017 and will be effective from April 2019.

To make a claim for Housing Benefit visit warrington.gov.uk/benefits and complete the online application.

Bedroom Allowance

An additional bedroom will be allowed if a child or non dependant requires an overnight carer.  This rule falls in line with the current rules for a claimant or partner requiring an overnight carer.

An additional bedroom will be allowed if a couple are unable to share a bedroom due to disability.

Please contact us if you think you may now be entitled to an extra bedroom in your calculation.

2 Child Limit

The child element of your applicable amount could be restricted to 2 children if you have a baby on or after 06/04/17.  We will require your Child Tax Credit award letter for how many children we can include in your Housing Benefit calculation as there are some exceptions.

18-21 year olds – Housing Costs

Young people aged 18-21will not be able to claim help with their housing costs if there is no reason as to why they can’t return home.  There are exceptions to this rule, please contact us for more information.

Council Tax Support Scheme

Backdating has been limited to 1 month from 6 months.  So we will now only be able to pay your claim from an earlier date for 1 month from the date you requested it.

The family premium will be removed from your applicable amount for new claims made on or after 01/04/17.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for people aged 16 to 64.

PIP will include an assessment of your individual needs which will help with some of the extra costs caused by ill-health or disability.

What are you entitled to?

Payments are made up of a daily living component and a mobility component. The assessment works out whether you are eligible for one or both parts, at either a standard or enhanced rate. This benefit is not means tested or taxed.

The rates are:

  • Daily living component standard £55.10
  • Daily living component enhanced £82.50
  • Mobility standard £21.80
  • Mobility enhanced £57.45

How is PIP assessed?

The assessment focuses on your ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life. Information will be gathered from you, as well as healthcare and other professionals who support you. It may also be necessary to have face-to-face consultation with a trained independent assessor as part of the claim process.

Who is affected?

If you already receive DLA and are aged between 16 and 64 you will need to apply for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  You are not guaranteed the same level of PIP even if you already receive a regular DLA payment.

For help understanding your PIP entitlement or help in applying for PIP please contact Warrington Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) on 01925 246 994 or visit warrington-advice.co.uk

 

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) work-related activity group (WRAG)

The work-related activity group (WRAG) of ESA means that the DWP has decided that your disability or health condition does limit your ability to work, but that there are things you can do to improve this.

 

From April 2017 new claimants of ESA WRAG payments will be paid at Job Seeker’s Support Allowance (JSA) rates. This will also affect claimants who take a break in their claim of over 12 weeks.

Employment and Support Allowance information on GOV.UK

Other Information

Changes to National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for self-employed workers

  • Class 2 NICs will be abolished
  • Changes will be made to Class 4 NICs, aiming to help low-earning, self-employed people to grow their businesses

Changes to benefits for self-employed workers

  • Those claiming Working Tax Credit will have access to business support
  • Those claiming Universal Credit will have access to the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme’s mentoring support
  • Face-to-face support at the Jobcentre for those claiming Working Tax Credit will be trialled, and rolled out nationally if successful

Note: These changes may affect the way that self-employed people are assessed when making a claim for housing benefit or council tax support.

Using ‘Real Time Information’ (RTI)

  • HMRC are moving to a ‘real time information’ system, which means that information about people’s earnings is updated on their system as and when they receive it, without a delay in processing
  • This will be expanded to reduce fraud and benefit payment errors, as it will be easier to identify any differences between what people claim to earn when applying for some benefits and what they actually earn according to the HMRC’s PAYE records

Additional support for childcare

  • Free childcare support for working parents of children aged 3-4 will be increased from 15 to 30 hours per week.