The government have planned many changes to the welfare benefits system over the coming months. Some of our customers may be affected by the changes and will find that the amount of financial help you can get with your rent and council tax may reduce.
The Benefit Cap
From 15th July 2013 the Benefit cap will apply to some families living in the Chorley area.
From 7th November 2016 the Benefit cap will be reduced which means more families may be affected and those who are already capped may see their benefit reduce further.
Benefits for working age customers, who are not working will be capped as follows:
· Lone Parent families, couples with or without children will only be entitled to get benefits to a maximum of £384.62 per week;
· Single people, who are not working, will get benefits to a maximum of £257.69 per week.
Benefits included in the calculation of the weekly benefit maximum include:
· Bereavement Allowance
· Carer’s Allowance
· Child Benefit
· Child Tax Credit
· Employment & Support Allowance (except awards that include the Support component)
· Guardian’s Allowance
· Housing Benefit
· Incapacity Benefit
· Income Support
· Jobseekers Allowance
· Maternity Allowance
· Severe Disablement Allowance
· Widowed Parent’s Allowance
· Universal Credit
If the total amount you receive in these benefits is more than the maximum amounts, your housing benefit will be reduced, or 'capped', to meet these new rules.
The cap will not apply if you or a member of your household* qualify for working tax credit or get any of the following benefits:
· Disability living allowance
· Personal independence payment (from April 2013)
· Attendance allowance
· Industrial injuries benefit
· Employment & support allowance (if paid with the support component)
· War widow's / war widower's pension
*For benefit cap purposes a household is:
· A single adult
· A couple; and
· Any children/youths who that single adult or couple are responsible for when working out Housing Benefit Entitlement
There will be protection for a period nine months for those customers who:
· Have been in a job for more than 12 months and lose that job through no fault of their own (e.g. redundancy) ; or
· Have their hours reduced to a level where they no longer get Working Tax Credit.
If you will be affected by the benefit cap you should have already received letters from the DWP about it. You should have also received a further letter from us detailing help available to you.
There is a designated DWP phone line for general information about benefit capping:
Benefit capping helpline: 0845 605 7064
Further information is available on the Gov.uk website.
Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
PIP will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for working age customers making new claims from 08th April 2013 (for customers based in Cheshire, Cumbria, Merseyside, North East England and the North west) and extending to the rest of the country from June 2013.
From October 2013 reassessment to PIP begins for fixed term awards reaching renewal, young people turning 16 or when DLA claimants report a change in their circumstances.
From October 2015 existing DLA customers will begin reassessment for PIP. The DWP will contact customer’s to tell them what they need to do.
DLA will remain for customers aged under 16 and those aged 65 or over on 8th April 2013 (the day PIP is introduced).
PIP is designed to help people pay towards some of the extra costs which can arise from having a health condition or disability and is based on how a person’s condition affects them, not the condition they have.
PIP can be paid whether the customer is in or out of work, it is not means tested.
There are 2 components to PIP, Daily Living and Mobility needs and each component could be paid at either standard or enhanced rate.
PIP will include an assessment of a person’s needs by a health professional which in most cases will include a face to face consultation.
For more information, visit the DWP website.
Armed Forces Independence Payments (AFIP)
As of the 8th April 2013 The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has introduced a new benefit called the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP).
Entitlement will be decided by The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) and the DWP will administer the payment.
The payment is designed to help service personnel and veterans who may incur additional costs as a result of serious injury.
Service personnel and veterans who are entitled to a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) of 50% or higher through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) will be eligible for the payments.
Personnel who receive AFIP will not be eligible for PIP, DLA or AA at the same time but can receive one of these benefits whilst waiting for a decision to be made.
The AFIP are flat rate payments of £134.40 per week and are disregarded as income in the calculation of Housing Benefit and Council Tax support.
More information is available on the Veterans-UK website.
Bereavement Support Payment
From 6 April 2017 the Department for Works & Pensions has introduced a new payment to replace Bereavement Allowance, Widow's Pension, Widowed Mother's Allowance, Widowed Parent's Allowance and Bereavement Allowance.
This is for working age customers who's spouse or Civil Partner has passed away on or after 6 April 2017.
There are two rates, the higher rate which is payable to pregnant women and those with dependant children consists of a lump sum payment of £3500 and monthly payments of £350. The standard rate which is payable to those without dependant children consists of a lump sum payment of £2500 and monthly payments of £100.
Employment & Support Allowance Work Related activity component
This is being stopped for all new claimants from 3 April 2017. The support component is unaffected.
Removal of the Family Premium in Housing Benefit and Council tax support for Pensioners
From 1 May 2016 there will be no Family Premium included in the Applicable Amount when calculating new awards of Housing Benefit for both working age and pensioner claims and in Council Tax support for pensioners.
If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax support on 30 April 2016 you will retain your entitlement to the Family premium as long as your claim continues in payment and you remain responsible for a child.
2 child restriction
From 6 April 2017 the number of child allowances within your applicable amount for Housing Benefit is restricted to a maximum of 2 children. This applies to new entitlements awarded after 6 April 2017 OR if a new baby, child or young person joins your household on or after this date AND the child is not included in your Child Tax Credit assessment.
There are exceptions to this, such as multiple births, however, Child Tax Credit will decide whether you will be entitles to an additional allowance.
From 1st April, 2013 Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants within the DWP Discretionary Social Fund will be abolished.
From that date, within Lancashire, a new local scheme will be established, administered by Lancashire County Council, called The Care and Urgent Needs Support Scheme.
The new local scheme is there to support vulnerable people in urgent need who have no access to other means of support. This might be to allow them to live in the community or to deal with a particular crisis.
For more information go to our Housing page.