Welfare reform

The Welfare Reform Act was introduced in 2012. Here is a summary of existing or planned changes, you may find useful.

If you have debts or require further benefit advice and help, please click here to see details of agencies who may be able to help.

If you have concerns or are unable to pay your rent, please do contact us to discuss this.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is being rolled out across the UK, and in December 2016 went fully live or ‘full service’ as this is known, in the Swindon Job Centre Plus area. Further information about this plus frequently asked questions are available here.

The DWP has produced this video about UC which you may find useful.

This video gives an overview of how to make a claim, and what this looks like.

 

Which benefits will be included?
UC replaces working tax credit, child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, and income-related employment and support allowance.

Will I need to claim UC?
UC is being rolled out across the country gradually. Further details of this can be found here.
Once the area you live in is ‘full service’, certain things trigger a UC claim. These can include:

  • Losing a job
  • Change in working hours
  • Changes in tax credits
  • Moving house to a different local authority area.

It is not an option to opt out of UC – once a change in circumstances has triggered this, it is not possible to go back to benefits you may have claimed previously such as housing benefit.

It doesn’t include disability living allowance (DLA) or carer’s allowance. Measures in the Welfare Reform Act replace DLA with Personal Independence Payments, which will also be excluded from UC.

How will it be paid?
For most households, UC will be paid in arrears as a single monthly payment - aiming to replicate the experience of most people in work. Where a couple make a joint claim, they will have to decide who receives the single payment.

This method of payment will be a change for many people already receiving benefits who are used to budgeting on a fortnightly basis. Many current claimants of housing benefit, who are used to their benefit being paid directly to their landlord, will also face changes in the new system. Most working-age tenants will not be able to choose to have their benefit paid directly to their landlord and will start to personally receive the housing costs element of the new UC as part of their monthly payment.

How can I pay my rent?
Ways to pay your rent are available here.

How can I prepare for Universal Credit?

  • Go online. UC will be applied for and managed online. Your local Job Center Plus will be able to help you to do this. Local libraries and community halls may also offer courses and access to computers.
  • Open a bank account. All UC payments are made into a bank account, a month in arrears. Be ready for this by setting up a bank account in preparation.
  • Get a month in advance of your rent. UC payments are a month in arrears, so prepare for this by paying a little extra each week now to get ahead.

Gov.uk have created a guide for preparing for UC, which you can find here.

If you think you may be affected or wish to discuss this with us, please do contact us.

Benefit cap

In the budget of 8 July 2015, the Government further announced their intention to reduce the benefit cap further for couples and families to £20,000 per annum outside of London. This came into effect in November 2016. Any benefit above this cap rate are deducted from housing benefit or housing costs if you receive UC first.

For many households, this will mean you have no entitlement to housing benefit or housing costs and you will be liable for full payment of rent.

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