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Welfare Reform

Welfare Reform

 

“Will they affect me?” The Government says...

Welfare reforms will:

Simplify the benefits system by introducing one benefit, Universal Credit, for all working age claimants. This will be means tested and will replace Income Support, JSA, ESA, Tax credits and Housing Benefit.

Make it easier for people to move into work by ensuring work pays and by paying claimants monthly in the same way that salaries are paid.

Reduce the amount of money that is spent on benefits, particularly on housing costs.

WELFARE REFORM ACT: THE WAY FORWARD

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the Government’s Welfare Reform Act which will change the way in which many benefits are assessed and paid. If you receive benefits of any kind, then welfare reform changes could affect you. The guidance we’ve put together here is based on our understanding of the current proposals and legislation.

Two major changes which may affect you are:

1.The introduction of Universal Credit. – Tenants born before the 6th January 1952 will be excempt from Universal Credit.

2. Reduced benefit if you are under-occupying your home.

Managing your own money.

From October 2013, new working-age claimants will receive one single benefit payment called Universal Credit. This payment will include any amount you receive towards housing, Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. By 2017, all existing claimants, who have not previously had a change in circumstance, will receive Universal Credit. This payment will be made directly into your bank account once a month. What we currently call Housing Benefit will no longer be paid directly to Ruchazie Housing Association. This means that you will need to pay your rent from your Universal Credit and you will need to set up a way to make your rent payment. Older people (over working-age) and some vulnerable people will have the opportunity to have the amount they receive towards housing paid directly to Ruchazie Housing Association.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT WILL BE ROLLED OUT IN 3 PHASES.

-Phase 1 Oct 2013 to April 2014 – all new claims and change of circumstances

-Phase 2 April 2014 to Dec 2015 – existing claimants who have a change of circumstances

-Phase 3 Dec 2015 to Dec 2017 – all remaining households transferred - geographically

Do you have a spare bedroom?

The help you get with your rent will be reduced if you under-occupy your home. Rent for Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14 % OR 25% if the household exceeds the size criteria. The Government has said it will set out more details regarding the size criteria in regulations , expected to be published in May 2012.From April 2013, if you are of working age and claim for help with your rent you will be assessed in the following way:

It will be assumed that you will require one bedroom for each single adult or each couple.

Children under the age of 16 and of the same gender are expected to share a bedroom. Children under ten and of different genders, are expected to share a bedroom. If these rules are applied and you have at least one spare bedroom, the amount of benefit you receive for housing will be reduced and you will have to make up the difference to your rent.

At Ruchazie we are continually monitoring the changes and the impact they may have on many of you. We will keep you updated and let you know what we can do to help and support you through the changes.

If you would like any support or advice or are concerned about anything you’ve read, please contact or office of make an appointment with our GEMAP Money Advisor.