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Benefit Changes 2018

Benefit Changes 2018

The following benefit changes are set to take effect during 2018-2019. Some may be subject to change or approval.

 

Universal Credit changes

From January 2018 - Advance payments of up to 100 per cent of estimated entitlement will be available within 5 days of applying. There will also be a 12 month repayment period.

From February 2018 - The seven waiting days at the start of Universal Credit claims is to be abolished meaning claimants will have to wait 5 instead of 6 weeks for their first payment. 

From April 2018 - The housing costs associated with stays in temporary accommodation are to be paid through Housing Benefit even if you are claiming Universal Credit. As these costs are often for short periods the Universal Credit system is not best suited to handle these.

From April 2018 - For those transferring from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit, Housing Benefit payments will be allowed to continue for an extra 2 weeks after the start of the Universal Credit claim. This is an attempt to reduce the threat of eviction caused by delays in housing cost payments at the start of a new Universal Credit claim.

In December 2018 - Universal Credit will be fully rolled out meaning all new claims will be for Universal Credit instead of the benefits it replaces. The only exceptions will be those with 3 or more children.

From 16 January 2019 - Those in receipt of a Severe Disability Premium in any of their benefits will be prevented from making a new claim for Universal Credit and will have to claim legacy benefits such as Housing Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance. Those who were getting SDP but have already moved onto Universal Credit will remain on it.

From 1 February 2019 - Families with 3 or more children can make new claims for Universal Credit, before this time new claims are not accepted from this group. This was expected to happen towards the end of 2018 but has been pushed back.

From July 2019 - A pilot will take place in Harrogate in which 10,000 existing benefit claimants will be moved onto Universal Credit. This is called managed migration and transitional protection will be paid to ensure no one who is moved over will be worse off on Universal Credit. 

For further information about Universal Credit or the full service roll out please see our Universal Credit Guide and Universal Credit roll out information.

Tax Credits

There will be no new claims allowed for Tax Credits from 1 February 2019. If you are already claiming Child Tax Credit you could have Working Tax Credit added to your award and vice versa but if you don't have an existing tax credit award you will have to claim Universal Credit instead.

Pension Credit child element

Due to there being no new claims to Child Tax Credit from 1 February 2019, a child element has been added to Pension Credit for any claimants responsible for a child and not already in receipt of Child Tax Credit.

From 15 May 2019 the age rules for entitlement to Pension Credit guarantee element are changing for couples. Couples used to qualify when the eldest partner reached pension credit age but from 15 May couples will not qualify until both partners are pension credit age. This means 'mixed age' couples, where one is under and one is over pension credit age, will have to claim Universal Credit instead and face a significant loss in benefit.

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) becomes a loan

Support for Mortgage Interest helps with interest payments on mortgages and some home improvement loans if you are in receipt of certain benefits. Support for Mortgage Interest as a benefit is ending on 5 April 2018, and will be replaced by a loan. If you currently get Support for Mortgage Interest as a benefit, you'll get a letter by February 2018 telling you about the loan and other options available to you.

For more information see our Support for Mortgage Interest help page or our Support for Mortgage Interest under Universal Credit help page.

Childcare Voucher changes

New claims for Employer Supported Childcare (Childcare Vouchers) will not be accepted from April 2018. Parents already using childcare vouchers can continue to do so after this date, as long as the employer continues to offer them.

For more information about the options available to help with childcare costs, see our Childcare costs help page.

New Scottish income tax rates introduced

Two new Scottish income tax bands and rates will be introduced from April 2018.

There will be a new 'starter rate' band charged at 19% before the 'basic rate' of 20% kicks in, and there will be a new 'intermediate rate' band charged at 21% between the 'basic rate' and the 'higher rate' of 41%.

See the Scottish Government's income tax help page for more information about this and the income bands associated with each rate.

Self-employed national insurance contributions changes

The government has decided to delay this for a year, presumably until April 2019, in order to fully consider the implications on low earners.

It was originally planned that from April 2018 Class 2 National Insurance contributions would be abolished. This means that instead of paying two classes of contributions (Class 2 and Class 4), the self-employed will pay just one (Class 4) in the future.

Class 2 NICs currently allow the self-employed to access a range of benefits such as the state pension, bereavement benefits and maternity allowance.

This change may adversely affect those earning below the Small Profits Threshold if they aren't eligible for National Insurance credits via receipt of certain benefits (Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit), having a child under 12, being a foster carer or receiving Carer's Allowance. For these low earners, it will cost up to five times as much to protect their state pension and entitlement to other contribution based benefits.
 

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