To access most social security benefits and tax credits, a EEA national has to have a 'right to reside' in the UK. Broadly speaking, this means they must be economically active. The European Commission has stared infingement proceedings agains the UK on the basis that the test discriminates against non-UK nationals from other Member States, but the UK Government has pedged to fight any challenge.
Article discussion the implications of the June 2010 Budget Coalition Government announcement that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) would be used to uprate benefits, and state pensions, including public service pensions.
The Commons Report Stage and Third Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill took place on 13 and 15 June. Amendments relating to the Universal Credit, housing support, the Social Fund and the Personal Independence Payment were debated, but other groups of amendments –including those on Employment and Support Allowance changes and the benefit cap – were not discussed as proceedings on each day reached the deadlines specified in the programme motion before they could be considered.
The Habitual Residence Test is applied to people (unless they are exempt categories) who have recently arrived in the country and who make a claim for certain means-tested social security benefits, or seek housing assistance from a local authority.
This paper has been prepared for the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons. For information on the provision in the Bill relating to the introduction of Universal Credit, please see the complementary Library Research Paper, 11/24. Besides Universal Credit, the Bill proposes a number of other significant welfare reforms, including replacement of the current Disability Living Allowance, restriction of Housing Benefit entitlement to social housing tenants whose accommodation is larger than they need, time-limiting the payment of contributory Employment and Support Allowance to twelve months, and capping the total amount of benefit that can be claimed.
On 11 November 2010 the Government set out plans for a 'Universal Credit' to replace most in work and out of work benefits for people of working age. This note gives an overview of the main features of the Universal Credit and looks at some of the issues raised by the proposals.
The June 2010 Budget announced that a new "objective medical assessment" would be introduced for both new and existing working age DLA claims from 2013-14, saving over £1 billion a year by 2014-15 and reducing the DLA caseload by 20%. On 6 December the Government published a consultation paper, Disability Living Allowance reform, which sets out plans for an entirely new benefit - the "Personal Independence Payment" - to replace DLA, starting from 2013-14.
The June 2010 Budget announced that from April 2011 the Sure Start Maternity Grant would be restricted to the first child only in a family, saving around £73 million a year. The Social Security Advisory Committee believes that the measure "lacks a coherently argued rationale", and the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee has suggested that the Government needs to set out more clearly the rationale for the change and its anticipated impact. A particular concern is that changes to the Social Fund Budgeting Loans scheme to mitigate the impact on families will not come into effect until early 2012.
In a recent test case brought by the Child Poverty Action Group, the Supreme Court ruled that the Department for Work and Pensions did not have the power to recover benefit overpayments caused by administrative error under common law. The Government has indicated that it intends to amend the law to enable it it recover a wider range of overpayments, including those caused by official error. Measures are expected in the forthcoming Welfare Reform Bill.
The Spending Review on 20 October 2010 announced that, from April 2012, for those Employment and Support Allowance claimants assessed as eligible for the Work Related Activity Group, contributory ESA will only be payable for up to one year. Some claimants affected by the change will be able to claim income-based ESA, but it is estimated that around 280,000 could lose entitlement to ESA completely.
From April 2011 rates of many benefits and Tax Credits will increase; this will mainly be in line with the 3.1% annual increase in the CPI to September 2010. Exceptionally, this year the basic state retirement pension will be increased by the 4.6%.
The Government is committed to a "triple lock" for uprating the basic state pension, which means in future it will be increased by the highest of the increase in earnings, prices (as reflected in the CPI increase) or 2.5%. This year, to ensure the basic state pension is in line with the previous uprating rules, the increase in the RPI is being used. There is a requirement for Pension Credit to be increased in line with earnings. However, to ensure the least well-off pensioners benefit from the triple guarantee, the standard minimum income guarantee in Pension Credit will increase in April 2011 by the cash rise in a full basic State Pension.
This note sets out the basis for the April 2011 uprating. It focuses on the Retirement Pension and Pension Credit but also contains a summary of the main benefit and tax credit rates before and after the uprating.
Child Benefit is frozen until April 2014.
By April 2011 most lone parents with a youngest child aged seven or over will no longer be able to claim Income Support but will instead have to claim Jobseeker's Allowance and be available for and seek paid work.