Welfare Reform - Changes to Benefits
Benefits are changing for people of working age. Information about the changes can be found on Glasgow City Council's website. Click here for more information about the Benefit CAP, Housing, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit, Job seeking, Social Fund changes and Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Some recent changes include:
From April 2013 working age people renting a property from the Council or a Housing Association may find their housing benefit is reduced if they are deemed to have an extra bedroom (also referred to as the 'bedroom tax').
This does not impact on people over state pension age.
Click here for more information about the bedroom tax.
If you would like someone to help you to understand how this might affect you, click here to find your nearest GAIN agency or call the GAIN Helpline on 0808 801 1011 Mon- Fri 10am to 8pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm. Calls are free from land-lines and some mobile numbers.
Change to Housing Benefit in January 2012
The age threshold for the shared accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will be increased from 25 to 35.
This means that single claimants up to the age of 35 will have their LHA based on a room in a shared property rather than a self contained one bedroom property. There will be exceptions for a limited number of claimants. This change will apply for all new claimants from 1 January.
Existing claimants who are reaching the end of their nine month's transitional protection from the April 2011 LHA changes will also be affected by this change and will have a single reduction in their housing benefit to take account of these changes, rather than two reductions in close succession. The changes will take effect when their protection period from the April 2011 changes ceases.
Existing claimants whose claims were made between 1 April 2011 and 1 January 2012 will be moved to the shared accommodation rate on the anniversary date of their claim.
To find out more about LHA click on the link to Glasgow City Council's Local Housing Allowance leaflet
For more information on Housing Benefit contact your local authority. Click on the link for Glasgow City Council or telephone Glasgow City Council on 0141 287 3525.
Change to Contributory Employment and Support Allowance
Change: The government proposes that as of April 2012 anyone who receives contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and is in the work related activity group will have their ESA time limited to 12 months. At the point of this change any time already spent in receipt of contributory ESA whilst in the work related activity group will count towards these 12 months and could see some recipient’s benefit cease immediately once the change is implemented. All claimants have the option of claiming income related ESA however this is means tested and their income and savings and that of any partner (including the number of hours their partner works) is taken into account.
Change: From April 2012 there will be no new claims for Contributory ESA in youth. Any ESA in youth recipients who are in the work related activity group will face the same limitations on entitlement as highlighted above.
Change to Tax Credits from April 2012
Change: From 6 April 2012, the 50-plus element in tax credits will no longer exist. This means a customer aged over 50 will need to work at least 30 hours per week to qualify for tax credits unless they fall into one of the exceptions, i.e. a lone parent or disabled. Customers who do not fall into one of the exceptions will lose their entitement to working tax credit. Subsequently, these customers will no longer qualify for the additional earnings disregard in Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit.
Change: From 6 April 2012, couples with children must now work at least 24 hours per week to qualify for working tax credit. This means if only one person works, that person must be working at least 24 hours per week. If both claimant and partner work, the joint weekly hours must be at least 24, with one person working at least 16 hours.
If they do not fall into this category, working tax credit will stop from 6 April 2012. There are some exceptions to the new rules, where the minimum weekly hours remain at 16. This is when the customer is aged over 60, entitled to a disability premium or the partner is incapacitated or in prison.
However, there is currently no change to the HB/CTB regulations and the additional earnings disregard will still apply where at least one member of the couple is working 16 hours per week.
If you have any questions about benefits or would like to talk to someone about the changes to benefits, a GAIN adviser can help you. Click here to find your nearest GAIN agency or call the GAIN Helpline on 0808 801 1011 Mon- Fri 10am to 8pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm. Calls are free from land-lines and some mobile numbers.
Turn2Us is a charity which provides information on benefits and their website includes a section on welfare reform www.turn2us.org.uk. Click here