Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is to replace Disability Living Allowance for people of working age, between April 2013 and March 2016. The changes will affect existing working age DLA claimants, as well as those making a new claim. For those existing DLA claimants found not to satisfy the conditions for PIP on reassessment, their DLA will stop.
Starting from next year, Universal Credit (UC) will begin to replace a range of means-tested benefits and tax credits for working age families. The intention is to simplify and streamline the benefits system for claimants, making it easier for people to understand; to reduce the financial and administrative barriers to work; to tackle in-work poverty; and to bear down on fraud and error.
Cold Weather Payments of 25 pounds a week are made to certain recipients of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit during periods of very cold weather. To ‘trigger’ the payments, the average temperature at a specified weather station must be recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees or below for seven consecutive days.
Statistics on working-age claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and its predecessor incapacity-related benefits in each constituency in Great Britain. In November 2011 there were 2.57 million claimants of these benefits in Great Britain.
The 2010 Spending Review announced that contributory Employment and Support Allowance for claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group would be limited to 12 months. The time limit takes effect on 30 April 2012. For some claimants, benefit will stop immediately. All recipients of contributory ESA in the WRAG, including Incapacity Benefit claimants “migrated” to ESA on reassessment, will be affected by the time limit. Savings of almost £1.5 billion a year are expected by 2015-16.
At the Conservative Party conference in October 2010 the Chancellor announced that from January 2013 Child Benefit would be withdrawn from families with a higher rate taxpayer. Revised proposals were set out in Budget 2012 under which Child Benefit will instead be clawed back gradually from families with a taxpayer with an income between £50,000 and £60,000 a year.
At the moment, couples with children need only work at least 16 hours a week in order to qualify for Working Tax Credit. From April 2012, this will increase to 24 hours for most couples. Over 200,000 families will be affected, and there are concerns about the impact on those unable to increase their hours to meet the new threshold. The change does not affect lone parents, for whom the 16 hour threshold for WTC will still apply.
The Welfare Reform Bill has its Third Reading in the House of Lords on 31 January 2012. At Report Stage in the Lords, the government suffered defeats on amendments relating to under-occupation of social housing, the Employment and Support Allowance, the proposed benefit cap, and child support maintenance
Most but not all benefits are uprated in April each year, by reference to the increase in prices over the year to the previous September. The current Government has adopted the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) as the measure of inflation for uprating purposes. CPI tends to rise more slowly than the measures used. previously. The CPI for September 2011 was higher than expected, and media reports have suggested that the Government was considering changing the basis for uprating benefits. In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced that while benefits would increase by the full CPI from April 2011, the couple and lone parent elements of Working Tax Credit would be frozen and the child element of Child Tax Credit would increase by less than was planned.
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.
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.