The Welfare Reform Act represents the biggest change to the welfare benefit system for the past 60 years. It aims to:
- simplify the benefit system
- protect the most vulnerable in our society
- reduce benefit dependency
- get more people into work
Who do the changes affect?
All existing and potential working age benefit and tax credit claimants will be affected by the changes.
Welfare Reform will also have a significant impact not only on claimants but also on local authorities, housing associations, service providers, support agencies and the wider local and national economy.
When are the changes happening?
The Act became law on 8 March 2012. The government intends to implement the changes on a phased basis - the main changes began in April 2013 and full implementation is expected to be complete by the end of March 2022 .
This means that some changes have already happened but there are more to come. These include changes to:
- the way benefits are claimed
- what benefits are called
- what you are eligible for
What are we doing in the Borders?
- Organisations and groups across the Borders are working together to ensure you know what's happening, how it will affect you and where you can get information and advice.
- If you are a tenant who gets housing benefit, you can get advice from the Council on 0300 100 1800 or your housing association.
- You can also speak to your local Department for Work and Pensions office or Citizens Advice Bureau.
Benefit Cap changes
From November 2016 the DWP introduced the new Benefit Cap which may affect the amount of benefit you and your household are entitled to.
The Government have lowered the cap from £500 per week to £385 per week for couples or single parents whose children live with them and from £350 per week to £258 per week for single people without children.
The Department for Work and Pensions will work with the Council to ensure that households who may be impacted are informed of the changes and advised of the support available to help them.
Further details on how these changes may affect you can be found on UK Gov website.
Help getting a job
Finding work could mean that the cap wouldn't apply if you're entitled to Working tax Credit, or if you or your partner get Universal Credit, and if your earnings are more than £430 a month after tax and National Insurance.
You can find out more about Working Tax Credit, including how many hours a week you need to work to get it on GOV.UK.
The Jobcentre can help you look for work and help you get the skills you need to find a job. You may already meet regularly with one of their work coaches. If so, they will continue to help you.If you don't have a work coach the Jobcentre will contact you and ask you to come in and see them. They can help you find work, learn new skills, support you to manage your money better and with options for childcare. If you contact Jobcentre Plus, they can arrange an appointment for you more quickly.
Other support available
You can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) if you're affected by the benefit cap. We have limited funds to be able to offer this help, so any awards are likely to be for the short-term and dependent on you taking steps to find work.
Information on how to find help and support from Citizens Advice Bureau.
If your landlord is a registered social landlord they may be able to advise you of further advice and support available to you.