To help you understand what changes are happening to benefits in 2014, entitledto have put together this simple guide. You can find out how you are affected personally by using our benefits calculator.
With effect from April 1, 2014 (in addition to the right to reside requirement) a Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) Income based (IB) claimant (who is not in the exempt group) cannot be treated as habitually resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland unless that claimant has been living in any of those places for the past three months (“the three month rule”). Where this condition is not met, such a claimant will be a person from abroad and not entitled to JSA(IB).
Where the three month rule condition is met and the claimant has a qualifying right to reside, the Jobcentre Plus will need to go on to consider whether the claimant is actually habitually resident, in accordance with the guidance.
In April 2013 the Government made changes to Housing Benefit to ensure that it covered households for those bedrooms that people actually need. The new regulation, which comes into force from 4 December 2013, means that disabled children can be considered for a room of their own if:
• They are entitled to the highest or middle rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA);
• Their local authority is also satisfied that sharing a bedroom would pose either a risk of physical harm or cause frequent and significant disruption to either the disabled child or the child with whom they would normally be expected to share.
The new Regulations will also:
• Provide for an extra bedroom where a joint tenant or their partner needs overnight care or is a qualifying parent or carer;
• Change the definition of a ‘young individual’ to exclude those who are approved foster carers – in Scotland, approved foster carers or kinship carers. This is to prevent the shared accommodation rate from applying to single claimants under 35 who are approved foster carers.
From April 2013 Council Tax Benefit as it existed was replaced by local Council Tax Support schemes. Many local councils stayed with a similar scheme to Council Tax benefit and others decided on their own scheme which is reflected in the calculator. From April 2014 local councils may be changing their schemes again as all councils are receiving less money from the Government to fund these schemes. The Scottish and Welsh schemes will remain the same as 2013.
Universal Credit is one of the biggest changes to the benefits system in the Government’s welfare reform programme. Universal Credit changes the way people receive help with living and housing costs. It affects the amount of benefit paid to customers, the conditions of receiving that benefit and the way payments are made.
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages. In 2013 it was introduced in Tameside, Wigan, Warrington, Oldham, Hammersmith, Rugby, Inverness, Harrogate, Bath and Shotton. The Claimant Commitment was rolled out to all Jobcentres from October with all Jobcentres moving to the new universal commitment regime.
The rest of the timetable for the rollout of Universal Credit is not clear at the moment. The original government timetable for 2014 onwards is below. However, it is likely to be subject to review. Please check back here for updates on the rollout timetable:
• From April 2014 it will affect new claims for tax credits
• From April 2014 it will begin to affect existing benefit claimants
• By 2017 every claim will have been moved onto UC
If you’d like to find out more about previous changes to benefits see our Benefits changes in 2013 guide.