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This year is going to see a lot of changes to the benefits system, which are likely to have an effect on many people struggling with debt. The first of these changes was the removal of child benefit for those with high levels of income.
There are more changes to come too, here’s a rundown some of the biggest changes, who they will affect and when they will happen. If you think you might be entitled to benefits you don’t currently receive then you should use our online benefit checker.
Child benefit changes
From Monday 7 January changes will be made to Child Benefit that will affect anyone who claims this benefit and lives in a household with someone who earns more than £50,000 a year.
Those who have someone living in the house that earns more than £60,000 a year will not be entitled to anything, with a decreasing amount of entitlement if you are between £50k and £60k. Moneysavingexpert.com has more information about the practicalities of the changes to child benefit.
Council tax changes
In April 2013 there will be huge changes to the Council Tax Benefit system. The current system will be abolished and replaced by a system of localised support. These will be dealt with by local councils in England and by the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Alongside these changes the Government will cut the central funding for council tax support by 10%. If you currently receive council tax benefit then you will be informed by your local council how these changes will affect you shortly.
Another change coming by the end of September (starting in April and launching country-wide in July) will be the introduction of the benefit cap. This will mean that there will be a maximum amount of benefits that a household can receive. The cap will be £500 per week for couples or lone parents and £350 a week for single adults.
Some people will be exempt from these changes, such as those receiving disability living allowance, working tax credit and other selected benefits listed here.
It’s estimated that 56,000 households will be affected by the cap in the 2013/14 tax year.
Universal Credit is a new benefit that is being introduced to replace the following benefits:
- Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
- Income based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (which replaced Incapacity Benefit)
- Income support
- Child Tax Credits
- Working Tax Credits
- Housing benefit
It will be introduced in October 2013 for new benefit claimants and slowly rolled out to existing claimants between 2013 and 2017, area by area.
You can read more about about these changes in our Universal Credit explained blogpost.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) changes
April 2013 will also see the start of a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which will replace DLA. New claimants will be affected from April 2013 and existing claimants will be gradually moved over to the new benefit from October 2013.