Benefit and debt advice

Welfare reform

Changes to benefits and tax credits

The government has introduced a number of changes to the welfare benefits system which may affect you if you're claiming benefit, tax credits or Universal Credit.

We have outlined the forthcoming changes below and where you can go to find out more.  You can also download our benefit change timeline outlining these changes.

Reduction to housing benefit (bedroom Tax)

From April 2013 the government decided that current and future working age tenants renting from a housing association or other registered social landlord may have their Housing Benefit reduced if they have one or more spare bedrooms. Find out more about the reduction to housing benefit (bedroom tax).

Benefit Cap reduction

From the 7 November 2016 the government is reducing the Benefit Cap from £26,000 to £20,000 for couples or single parents with one child or more, or couples without children living outside London.  For a single adult household without children, the cap will be reduced from £18,200 to £13,400 for those living outside London. Additional exemptions introduced for people getting Guardians Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and the carer’s element of Universal Credit.  Find out more about the Benefit Cap.

2017 changes 

From 1st April 2017

Removal of Housing element of Universal Credit for 18 to 21 year olds

Benefit will be dependent on a ‘Youth Obligation’. Parents whose children live with them, vulnerable groups, and those who were living independently and working continuously for the preceding six months will be exempt from this measure.

From 3rd April 2017

Employment Support Allowance reduction to Job Seekers Allowance rate

  • Reduced rate for new claimant in the work-related activity group.
  • Parents claiming Universal Credit, including lone parents, will be expected to prepare for work from when their youngest child turns two, and to look for work when their youngest child turns three, with support from their local Jobcentre Plus.

Employment Support Allowance permitted work limit removed

ESA claimants who undertake permitted work and earn between £20 and £120 per week will no longer have to give up their work or stop claiming ESA after 52 weeks.

Employment Support Allowance sanctions reduced

ESA claimants who are sanctioned will continue to receive 80% of their payments, instead of the current 60%. This change does not apply to ESA claimants who continue to receive the work-related activity component after 3 April 2017; they will remain subject to the 60% rate. 

From 6th April 2017

Removal of allowance for more than two children

For additional children born and for new claims after April 2017: Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Universal Credit. Some exceptions for multiple births and other exceptional circumstances. Some allowances for disabled children will remain.

Removal of family element from tax credits and Universal Credit

Applies to claims which would have qualified after April 2017 due to birth of a child and new claims.

Bereavement Support Payment

Replaced by £2,500 lump sum and 12 monthly payments of £150 for people without children or £5000 and 12 payments of £400 for people with children.

For further advice and guidance on welfare reform, visit GOV UKTurn 2 Us or Citizens Advice.

From September 2017

Free childcare extended

Free childcare entitlement will be doubled from 15 hours to 30 hours a week for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.

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