There are currently 3 main out of work benefits that individuals can claim;

Jobseekers Allowance

Probably what you come across most often. This benefit is available to those who are able to work and who are ACTIVELY seeking work. There have been some strict guidelines put into place with this benefit to ensure those claiming are seeking and making themselves available to work and giving themselves the best opportunities to do so. They sign fortnightly sometimes more if the work coach feels it necessary. They attend regular appointments with a work coach and will be supported with any training/work experience that would help them progress into work. However if the claimant does not do what is being reasonably asked, does not attend appointments/training/work experience etc their benefits will be affected.

Income Support

This is the benefit the majority of lone parents with children under 5 years claim. They have regular appointments at the jobcentre, which currently are usually every 6 months, but they do not have to be actively seeking employment. If they want to find work, they can be seen more frequently and obtain support with job searching/training/work experience and quite often financial support around childcare for training/work experience (although this is looked at on an individual basis).

Employment Support Allowance

This is the health related benefit. For those individuals who are unable to work due to health reasons. This can be a temporary health condition or long term condition.

With this benefit, the claimant will be required to complete a medical questionnaire and then attend a face to face medical assessment. Depending on the outcome of the assessment depends on whether or not they will be have to attend appointments with a work coach and participate in work related activity (i.e. to make progress to returning to work).

Generally these will not be the only benefits your families will be in receipt of. The most common they may also be receiving are;

  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Child Benefit
  • Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments
  • Carers Allowance

To find out more information about any of these benefits please visit;

www.gov.uk

Update on Employment and Support Allowance Welfare Reform Changes

As of 3rd April 2017, new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), will no longer receive the Work Related Activity Component (WRAC) as part of their benefit entitlement. (The WRAC is an additional payment on top of the basic benefit payment. This will bring ESA WRAG payments in line with Job Seekers Allowance)

The policy intent is to protect existing ESA claimants at the point of change in April 2017. This means claimants in the following categories will still receive the WRAC when placed in the WRAG following a Work Capability Assessment (WCA);

  • Existing claimants who claimed ESA prior to 3 April 2017 (even if they undergo a further WCA after 3 April 2017 and are placed in WRAG, even if they move from the Support Group to WRAG).
  • Incapacity Benefit Reassessment (IBR) cases will not be affected if they are converted into the WRAG after 3 April 2017 and any transitional protection they currently attract will remain.
  • Claimants who have a break in their claim and come back to ESA within 12 weeks and their original date of claim was prior to 3 April 2017.
  • Claimants can request their claim is backdated for up to 3 months and this brings their date of claim prior to 3 April 2017.
  • Claimants that are placed in the WRAG following a successful Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) or appeal and this brings their date of claim prior to 3 April 2017.
  • Claimants entitled to ESA prior to 3 April 2017 where their ESA was terminated due to receiving Maternity Allowance (MA) and they subsequently make a repeat claim for ESA within 12 weeks of the date that their MA ending.
  • Furthermore Pensioner Premium will be paid in full where no WRAG component is in payment,

In addition the following changes will also be delivered ;

  • From the 3 April 2017 the 52 week time limit for Permitted Work (PW) will no longer apply, for ESA, Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) claimants, the equivalent changes will also be delivered in HB .The change will apply to all WRAG claimants who are undertaking permitted work at the point of change or who apply for permitted work after the point of change, and will also include claimants in the assessment phase. There are no changes for Support Group claimants who can already undertake PW for an unlimited time.
  • For new claims made on or after 3 April 2017 ESA hardship amounts will be aligned with the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) rate of 80% of the single person rate for people with a serious illness or are pregnant.
  • Additional awareness / communications for staff ,WRAG claimants and their representatives to ensure they are clear on the existing process for reporting a deterioration  in their condition 

 

 

All changes take effect and are aligned to be delivered on 3 April 2017.

 

Asylum Seekers/Refugees/Persons from Abroad

Do you understand the different categories of 'Refugee'? Are you getting confused as to who can and cannot claim benefits when they are 'persons from abroad'? Do you want to know what support is available for those who have been granted 'Asylum'? Click onto our mini-guide below for more information in these areas.

Mini-guide

Welfare reforms

In 2013 there were certain changes the government made to the benefits system. Many families had their benefits capped as part of the welfare reform. and changes were made to housing benefit payments with regards to over occupancy (or bedroom tax as many called it).

The government has announced it is going to reduce the welfare bill further, and as part of this we are seeing plans to reduce the benefit cap even further.

For up to date information please visit;

GOV.UK

National Housing Federation

Universal credit

What is it?

A new benefit payment to replace some existing benefits. It is available to those on a low or moderate income and includes those in work, those out of work who are seeking work, too ill to work or have caring responsibilities. It is means tested, which means that entitlement depends on income, savings and personal circumstances.

Why is it being introduced?

The main aim is to simplify the benefit system, help prevent fraud and error and ultimately help to 'make work pay'.

What benefits is it replacing?

  • Income based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income based Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit

Other benefits not included, will continue to be paid in the normal way. This includes Child Benefit, Carers Allowance, Council Tax Benefit, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments. Free school meals will also continue.

When is it coming to Nottingham?

Universal Credit was rolled out in Nottingham in February 2016 initially to new, single claimants. Universal credit full service will be introduced into Nottingham City in July 2018 and all new claims to benefits will be to Universal Credit. Existing claims to JSA, ESA, IS and tax credits will be migrated on to Universal credit following this and it is anticipated that the migration will be completed by 2022.

How will it be paid?

Universal Credit will be paid monthly into a bank account, post office card account, or credit union current account.

When someone claims, they will receive their first payment one month and 7 days later, then calendar monthly thereafter.

What happens to current benefit deductions?

These can continue to be taken from their universal credit payment, although they will need to contact DWP to request this.

Is there support for vulnerable people?

It may be possible for vulnerable claimants to receive additional support, such as split payments (splitting the UC payment between couples), paying landlords their rent directly, more frequent payments etc. This is not guaranteed and is looked at on a case by case basis.

How to claim

Claims can be made online at

 www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

Those without internet access can use computers within Jobcentre offices, libraries or local council offices. For those unable to use the online service can claim over the phone - 0345 600 0723. Once a claim has been made, they will then need to attend an appointment at their local jobcentre to sign their claim, create a claimant commitment and provide any documents required.

What is a claimant commitment?

In order to be entitled to Universal Credit, everyone claiming must sign a claimant commitment. This outlines what they need to do in order to receive their benefit payment ongoing.

All claimants are required to complete their claimant commitment, but the content will differ depending on circumstances. Failing to keep to their claimant commitment could result in losing some of their benefit entitlement, referred to as a sanction to their benefit. Sanctions can be from 2 weeks to 3 years!

What happens if circumstances change?

The individual must notify DWP immediately of any changes to their circumstances. For example going into or coming out of work, no longer caring for an individual, moving in with a partner etc.

They can call 0345 600 0723 to notify of any changes.

How does it help those moving into work?

Currently when someone moves from benefits into work, the process can be daunting and complicated. They have to notify DWP, Housing and Tax Credits individually and they have a period of financial difficulty whilst waiting for their first pay check and Tax credit to be paid.

Universal Credit will simplify this process, it will be 1 phone call to adjust their benefits accordingly. As housing and out of work elements reduce, working tax credit elements will increase - no new claims. They will be used to receiving monthly payments as part of UC, and will be used to having the responsibility of paying their own rent and budgeting, so monthly salary payments will continue to help with their budgeting.

If their working hours changed, a simple phone call will again make the necessary adjustments to their UC elements.

Universal Credit Presentation

Tools to help