Some big changes have happened to the benefits system. The government has introduced a number of changes to the way many benefits are administered and calculated.
Find out detailed information on the government's website: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/5/contents/enacted/data.htm
Summary of changes leaflet.pdf
October 2014: Modified Pension Credit
The Pension Service will take over assessing Housing Benefit for people of pension credit age and Housing Benefit will become part of Pension Credit.
October 2013: Introduction of Universal Credit
Universal Credit is the new single benefit which will replace Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income related Job Seekers Allowance, Income Based Employment and Support Allowance and Tax Credits. Most claims will be made online and payment will normally be a single household payment, including the housing costs, paid monthly in arrears directly to the claimant. All new claims from October 2013 will be a claim for Universal Credit with all other claims being migrated to Universal Credit over a 4-year period.
April 2013: Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates up-rated by Consumer Price Index (CPI)
LHA rates will change to annual up-rating, using whichever is lower of the CPI inflation rate or the actual increase in rents used to up-rate LHA in the Private Rented Sector. This replaces the current monthly up-rating based on local rents.
April 2013: Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to be replaced
DLA will be replaced with a new benefit called Personal Independent Payment (PIP). This will involve the introduction of revised assessment criteria to decide who is eligible. PIP will be for new claimants in selected areas from April 2013 and all areas from June 2013. All existing DLA working age claimants will be reassessed. The timetable for when these changes will take effect can be found using the attached link. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/disability/personal-independence-payment/
April 2013: Social fund scheme transferred to local authorities
Funding for Crisis Loans and Community Care grants will be transferred to local authorities who will be given the power to put in place local welfare schemes. In Derbyshire the funding will be transferred to Derbyshire County Council.
April 2013 to September 2013: Benefit cap introduced
This change will start in four London Boroughs and affects residents in all areas by 30 September 2013. There will be a cap on the total amount of benefit a working age household can receive. Benefit levels will be capped at the level of the average working family income after tax which is expected to be £500 a week for families and £350 a week for single people. (The exceptions being those households that include a war widow, a Disability Living Allowance claimant or a Working Tax Credit claimant). The cap will be applied by local councils first of all, with councils required to reduce Housing Benefit payments until the cap is reached. Click here for more information.
April 2013: Under-occupation rule in the social rented sector
Restrictions will apply to council and housing association tenants living in houses larger than they need. A 14% reduction will apply if tenants are under-occupying by 1 bedroom and a 25% reduction will apply if they are under occupying by 2 or more bedrooms. This will only affect people of working age who receive help to pay their rent. Click here for more information.
For working age claimants
The maximum Council Tax Support that will be given is 91.5% of their Council Tax liability, meaning they will have to pay a minimum of 8.5% towards their Council Tax bill.
The taper used to reduce Council Tax Benefit for claimants with income above applicable amounts set by the government is currently 20%. This will increase to 25% for the calculation of Council Tax Support. The Second Adult Rebate scheme will be removed. Pensioners will not be affected by these changes.
April 2013: Council Tax Benefit (CTB) replaced with localised Council Tax Support schemes
Councils will be required to put in place local Council Tax Support schemes. Government funding for the schemes will be cut by 10% nationally. The Government will design a national scheme for pensioners and councils will develop their own local scheme for working age claimants.
Chesterfield Borough Council decided a scheme for Chesterfield residents in January 2013.
January 2013: Child benefit
Child Benefit will be removed from all higher rate taxpayers. Find out more at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit/index.htm
April 2012: Tax credits
Changes to the way tax credits are assessed, so that the credit is withdrawn faster as income rises. Working Tax Credit (WTC) is no longer available to people aged 50+ starting work of 16 hours or more. Working hours for couples with children will be increased. Most couples must work at least 24 hours a week between them, with one working at least 16 hours to qualify for WTC. Couple and lone parent rates of WTC will be frozen. http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/TAXCREDITS/
January 2012 – Shared accommodation room rate changes
The age threshold for the shared accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will be increased from 25 to 35 years of age. This change applies to private tenants only. This means that single claimants up to the age of 35 will have their benefit based on LHA for a room in a shared property (£61 per week) rather than LHA for a self contained one bedroom property (£99 per week). This change will apply to all new claimants from 1st January 2012. Existing claims will be moved onto the shared room rate at the next anniversary of their benefit claim.