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Welfare Reform


Summary (optional)
Welfare Reforms On 8 March 2012 the Welfare Reform Act received Royal Assent. The Act legislates for the biggest change to the welfare system for over 60 years.
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January 2012 - Shared Accommodation room rate changed

The age threshold for the shared accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) increased from 25 to 35 years of age.  This change applied to private tenants only.  This means that single claimants up to the age of 35 will have their benefit based on LHA for a room in a shared property (£55 per week). This change applied to all new claimants from 1st January 2012.  Existing claims will be moved onto the shared room rate at the next anniversary of their benefit claim.

April 2012 - Tax Credits

The 50+ element of Working Tax Credit (WTC) is no longer available, this means if you have no dependant children and are over 50 you will be required to work at least 30 hours per week in order to qualify for WTC.  Working hours for couples with children increased.  Most couples must work at least 24 hours a week between them, with one working at least 16 hours to qualify for WTC.  Couple and lone parent rates of WTC have been frozen.

January 2013 - Child Benefit

You may be liable to this new tax charge if you, or your partner, have an individual income of more than £50,000 and one of you gets Child Benefit or contributions towards the upkeep of a child. More detail can be found here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefitcharge.

April 2013 - Council Tax Benefit (CTB) replaced with Local Council Tax Support schemes

From 1st April 2013 Council Tax Benefit was replaced nationally by a local support scheme and renamed Council Tax Support which is a means tested benefit.

April 2013 - Under-occupation rule in the social rented sector

Restrictions will apply to housing association tenants living in houses larger than they need.  A 14% reduction will apply if tenants are under-occupying by 1 bedroom and a 25% reduction will apply if they are under occupying by 2 or more bedrooms.  This will only affect people of working age who receive help to pay their rent. By working age we mean anyone under state pension credit age.  Those facing a reduction in Housing Benefit due to this change will be informed in writing.

April 2013 - Benefit cap introduced

There will be a cap on the total amount of benefit a working age household can receive.  Benefit levels will be capped at the level of the average working family income after tax, which is expected to be £500 a week for families and £350 a week for single people.  (The exceptions being those households with a war widow, a Disability Living Allowance claimant or a Working Tax Credit claimant are exempt from this reduction).  The cap will be applied by local councils first of all, with councils reducing the amount of the Housing Benefit payment until the cap is reached.

April 2013 - Social fund scheme transferred to Third Sector

Community care grants and crisis loans currently paid by the Department for Work and Pensions for general living expenses, will be abolished and replaced by a new local provision nationally. In Wales, this provision will be provided by the Third Sector, not the Local Authority.

April 2013 - Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to be replaced

DLA will be replaced with a new benefit called Personal Independent Payment (PIP).  Revised assessment criteria will be introduced to decide who is eligible.  PIP will be for all new claimants, with all existing DLA working age claimants being reassessed.

April 2013 - Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates up-rated by Consumer Price Index (CPI)

LHA rates will change to annual up-rating, using the CPI inflation rate or the actual increase in rents used by the Rent Officer Service to up-rate LHA in the Private Rented Sector, whichever is the lower figure.  This replaces the current monthly up-rating based on local rents.

Changes from April 2015 (keep open) – link to new page and gov.uk

Introduction of Universal Credit

Universal Credit is the new single benefit which will replace Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income related Job Seekers Allowance, Income Based Employment and Support Allowance and Working and Child Tax Credits.  Most claims will be made online and payment will normally be a single household payment, including the housing costs, paid monthly in arrears directly to the claimant.  All new claimants for out of work benefits will claim Universal Credit from May 2015 in Conwy.  There will be a phased approach of migrating existing claims to Universal.

Proposed changes - Universal Credit Changes to Pension Credit

Universal Credit will eventually replace Housing Benefit and Tax Credits for Pension Credit qualifying age customers.  There will be a phased approach of migrating existing claim to Universal Credit.

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