TF16313 Barrhead report 2014
Jen McCann, providing advice on welfare benefits

Important Social Security changes which may affect you from April 2017

Child Tax Credits

From the 1st April 2017 anyone claiming Child Tax Credits who already have two or more children will not be able to make a claim for any additional children. HMRC have capped claims to a maximum of two children per household.

Existing claims will not change however from 1st April you will not be able to add any more children on to your claim. There are some circumstances that will be exempt from the rule, so please speak to us to get more information.

Employment & Support Allowance

If you claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from 1st April and are assessed as having some capability for work and placed into the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) did you know that you will no longer receive any additional money to your Employment and Support Allowance?

You will now receive the same amount as those on Job Seekers Allowance. If you are placed into the Support Group then you will receive an additional payment to your Employment and Support Allowance.  Existing claims are not affected.

Minimum Wage and impact on Carers Allowance

The Minimum Wage will increase on the 1st April 2017. If you are currently in receipt of Housing Benefit you will need to contact East Renfrewshire Council and let them know about this change of income, as this is not done automatically. It you do not notify the benefits section of any change in your family income then this can lead to an overpayment of Housing Benefit which you will be expected to pay back.

If you are in receipt of Carers Allowance then please be aware that any increase in your minimum wage could also mean that you no longer qualify for Carers Allowance.

This is because the maximum that you can earn after deductions is £110 per week.

For example, if you are over 25 and work 16 hours at £7.50 you will earn £120 per week, this is above the amount that you can earn to qualify for Carer’s Allowance.

Minimum wage rates from 1st April 2017

25 and over £7.50 per hour

21 – 24 £7.05 per hour

18 – 20 £5.60 per hour

Under 18 £4.05 per hour

Apprentice £3.50 per hour

Bereavement Benefits

From 6th April 2017 Bereavement benefits will be changed and a new Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) will replace the three existing bereavement benefits, being:

Bereavement Payment; Bereavement Allowance and  Widowed Parents Allowance.

BSP can be claimed if someone’s husband, wife or civil partner dies on or after 6th April 2017. Deaths prior to this date will fall under the current Bereavement Benefit process. The eligibility rules are very complex and dependant on your age and the type of benefits you are on. If you think that you may be affected by any of these social security changes due to be implemented on the 1st April then please contact Jennifer McCann our Welfare Rights Officer. She will be happy to talk through the changes and how they will affect you. She can be contacted on 0141 881 0638 or by email at jenniferm@barrheadha.org alternatively you can contact the Association and arrange a suitable appointment to discuss any benefit issue or get advice

 

The Welfare Reform Act took effect in 2013, when it is due to roll out Universal Credit to replace the following benefits with one single payment:

Jobseekers Allowance – Income Support – Child Tax Credit – Working Tax Credit – Employment Support Allowance – Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit payments will include housing benefit and one single payment will be made to the claimant directly, as opposed to the current arrangement where the cost of rent is paid directly to the housing provider, like Barrhead HA, from the local authority. Universal Credit only applies to working age tenants, and doesnt apply to anyone over pensionable age (61years) at present. There are plans to look at a single pension Credit in the future.

From April 2013, the changes have introduced the under occupancy charge, commonly referred to as the bedroom tax, to those tenants in receipt of housing benefit. The amount of housing benefit received will be reduced if the property you live in is considered too big for your household.

I bedroom will be allowed for – every adult couple; every adult aged 16 or over; any 2 children of different sex what are under 10 years of age; any 2 children of the same sex under 16 years of age; any other child; a carer who regularly provides overnight care to you or your partner if you are disabled.

Housing Benefit will be cut by 14% if you have one spare room based on these criteria and up to 25% if you have two or more spare rooms. Currently there is funding available from East Renfrewshire Council for discretionary housing benefit to combat this under occupancy charge but tenants must apply for this. Please contact the Association or East Renfrewshire Council for assistance.

HOUSING BENEFIT SUSPENSIONS – currently the Department of Works and Pensions is in the process of reviewing all claimants in receipt of Income Support and Incapacity Benefit. When reviews are carried out, housing benefit payments to the Association are automatically suspended. Please contact us if this has happened to you so that we can assist you to re-apply.