Grand Union Housing Staff at the Towcester office. January 22 2016 Matthew Power Photography www.matthewpowerphotography.co.uk 07969 088655 mpowerphoto@yahoo.co.uk @mpowerphoto

The government are making a number of changes to welfare benefits from April 2017, which may affect the support that you can get. Here are some of the main ones.

Summary

  • Universal Credit (UC) FULL service rolling out at more Jobcentres this year. If you live near the following Jobcentres, from the following dates most working-age people will have to claim UC if making a new claim for benefit due to having low or no income.
    • 1 February 2017: Corby Jobcentre – Corby and Stanion
    • 3 May 2017: Bedford Jobcentre – includes areas like Cranfield, Marston, Ampthill and Flitwick (click here for a full list)
    • Read future issues of insight for updates on other areas
    • NB: Daventry Jobcentre went live on 2 November 2016 (click here for a full list of villages in South Northants affected by this)
Important points about UC:

  • Paid monthly
  • In one lump sum including any help with rent
  • First payment takes six weeks to arrive
  • In many cases you will not be paid for the first week of your claim (including for the rent)
  • You need an email address to claim
  • You will need to regularly access your online UC account
  • You have to claim help for Council Tax separately.
  • Two child limit: New claims to benefits, except Child Benefit, will only pay for two children from 6 April 2017 and current claimants with two or more children will not be able to get extra support for children born after that date too, with a few exceptions. Those with current claims or who claim within six months of a previous claim will continue to get support for all their children.
  • Family premium cut: New claims to UC and Child Tax Credit by people with children will no longer get an extra £545 per year that claims including children get. This cut was already made to Housing Benefit a year ago.
  • Reduction for some ill people: New claims to ESA and Universal Credit from 6 April 2017 will no longer get the extra £29.05 per week current claimants get if they are placed in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’, which is for people who are judged to be too ill to work, but not too ill to do things like training to get themselves ready for work in the future.
  • Reduction for 18-21 year olds: People aged 18-21 who claim UC in a FULL service area (see above) will not be eligible for help with rent, unless they meet one of a number of exceptions, including for parents, those who left care, those who are working or worked for at least six months before they claimed and those who are at risk if they stay at ‘home’. They will also be expected to be in education, employment or training within six months to keep their entitlement to Universal Credit.
  • Changes to Bereavement Benefits: The current Bereavement Benefits system is being replaced with one new Bereavement Support Payment, which pays a lump sum followed by 18 monthly payments, set at two rates depending on whether or not the bereaved has children. This system opens up support to under 45s without children for the first time, but reduces the period of time many widowed parents will get support in the future. Current claimants of Bereavement Benefits are not affected.
  • Some low paid workers see small positive changes:
    • national minimum wage rise
    • more generous taper on Universal Credit which means they will keep an extra 2% of their earnings while claiming benefits.
    • Some part-time workers on ESA who are limited to a year’s work can now do that work indefinitely

Need help?

If you would like more support or advice on the above changes, please call Customer Services on 0300 123 5544 and ask to speak to a Welfare Benefits advisor.