Other benefit changes

A number of changes to benefits have been introduced by the government in recent years.

  • Personal Independence Payments – Personal Independence Payments have replaced Disability Living Allowance from 8 April 2013.
  • Local welfare provision – Local welfare provision has been introduced to replace Community Care grants and other crisis loans previously administered by the Department of Work and Pensions.
  • Council Tax support – Council Tax support has replaced Council Tax Benefit from 1 April 2013.

Social Tariff Scheme

Starting in August 2022, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will run a new social tariff scheme to assist struggling families with access to cheaper broadband. It will allow internet service providers to verify – with customers’ permission – whether they receive a relevant benefit and, therefore, are eligible for extra financial support. These benefits include universal credit, pension credit, income support, income-based job seekers allowance, and income-related employment support service.

In line with this, the government has called on all broadband providers to offer and promote social tariffs – discounted broadband and mobile deals for people on Universal Credit and other benefits.

DWP anticipate that this service could save customers over a hundred pounds a year in some instances. The new system will also simplify the process by removing the need for customers to prove their entitlement to broadband providers as regularly as every month.

Under occupancy or the ‘bedroom tax’

In April 2013, the government introduced new rules about housing benefit if you have a spare bedroom.

How will this affect you?

If you claim Housing Benefit, live in a council or housing association house and the council decides you have a spare room, you may receive less Housing Benefit.

Exemptions to this tax are listed on the Shelter website.

Cost of living payments

Millions of people on means-tested benefits will receive the first of two Cost of Living Payments totalling £650 from 14 July 2022, as part of a £37billion government package to help families with cost of living pressures.

The first £326 instalment for qualifying low-income households in England will be paid by their usual payment method from 14 July 2022, continuing to the end of the month. For those eligible, the rest will follow in a second instalment in the autumn.

People receiving tax credits and no other eligible benefits will receive their first payment from HMRC in autumn and the second in winter.

In total, millions of vulnerable households will receive at least £1,200 from the Government this year to help cover rising costs. There are specific payments for those on means tested benefits, for pensioners, those on disability benefits and to help people with energy bills.

Check eligibility here: https://gov.uk/government/publications/cost-of-living-support/cost-of-living-support-factsheet-26-may-2022

There is also helpful information about further support available on the Cost Of Living campaign website.

Going abroad?

If you go abroad for more than four weeks, you won’t be entitled to Housing Benefit. So if you’re planning on leaving the country, for any amount of time, you must tell your local benefits office when you’re leaving and when you plan to return. If you don’t tell them, it might even be considered benefit fraud.

There are some exceptions to the four-week limit, including:

  • if you’re in the armed forces
  • if you’re fleeing domestic violence
  • if you’re doing some approved training
  • if you’re receiving or providing approved medical care.

For more information, get in touch with your local authorities’ benefits department.