Please note that information about some of these changes may be limited at present and also subject to further change. Although some will happen quickly, others may be introduced gradually over several years.
If you are worried about how you may be affected you should discuss this with a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find one in your area.
Personal Independence Payment
Since 28 October 2013 assessment for PIP has been carried out for some DLA claimants in certain areas:
If you have a fixed-term award of DLA which is due to expire
If you notify PDCS that there has been a change in your care or mobility needs
If you turn 16
If you choose to claim PIP instead of DLA
The reassessment areas were increased on 26 January 2015 and will be increased again from 30 March. See GOV.UK's Personal Independence Payment (PIP) postcode map (link opens in a new window) for up-to-date details of the reassessment areas so far.
From 26 January Universal Credit became available to job seekers with children in 26 more areas across the country (6 jobcentre areas began taking claims from families in November 2014). These areas are Ashton-Under-Lyne, Wigan, Oldham, Hyde, Stalybridge, Stretford, Altrincham, Southport, Crosby, Bootle, Preston, Leyland, Prestwich, Bury, Eccles, Worsley, Huyton, Kirkby, St Helens, Newton-le-Willows, Hammersmith, Bath, Rugby, Shotton, Harrogate and Inverness.
UC will be rolled out to 1 in 3 jobcentres by Spring 2015 rather than all jobcentres as was previously announced. This will still only be for simple new claims i.e. from single jobseekers with no children.
The areas that will see the introduction of Universal Credit between February and July 2015 have been released. Click on the link below for details of the areas and the dates they 'go live'.
National expansion of Universal Credit (link opens in a new window)
Cap on Welfare Spending
Total welfare spending, excluding the State Retirement Pension and some unemployment benefits including Jobseeker's Allowance and Universal Credit for Jobseekers, will be capped for 2015/16 at £119.5bn.
If more spending is required on one area of welfare, cuts will have to be made elsewhere in the welfare budget, to stay within the overall cap.
Shared Parental Leave and Pay
From 5th April 2015 Shared Parental Leave and Statutory Shared Parental Pay came into effect as part of the government’s policy package aimed at encouraging shared parenting from the earliest stages of pregnancy and adoption.
For further details see the Turn2us Shared Parental Leave and Pay information guide.
The government has announced that from April 2015, the earnings threshold for Carers' Allowance will be raised to £110 a week.
Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
From 27 April, all claimants in receipt of income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) will require an Annual Verification check to confirm their circumstances.
The check reminds claimants of their responsibilities to provide the Department for Work and Pensions with up to date information about their circumstances so that they continue to receive the correct amount of benefit.
An Annual Verification letter will be sent automatically 12 months from the date they first received income-based JSA and repeated every year as long as they are in receipt of benefit. People who already have an annual check for housing costs, capital and occupational pension will find the JSA check included as part of this.
Local Welfare Provision
Government intends to remove the Local Welfare Assistance fund. Local authorities receive money from the fund to help people in emergency and crisis situations through their own Local Welfare Provision schemes. This will have a substantial effect on the level of support a local authority is able to provide to people when they are at their most vulnerable.
Update: Government to review decision to abolish Local Welfare Provision. See Turn2us News Story 17 September 2014
Genuine Prospect of Work Assessment
Genuine Prospect of Work assessment extended to older EEA National JSA claims
From 9 February 2015, the DWP began to notify EEA nationals who have an existing claim to income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) made before 1 January 2014 that they will now also be subject to a genuine prospect of work assessment(GPoW) starting in three months time.
The first GPoW assessment interviews will start to take place in May 2015. If, during the assessment interview, the JSA claimant is unable to provide compelling evidence that they have a genuine prospect of work, their current right to reside and consequently their entitlement to income-based JSA will cease. The JSA claimant will have the opportunity to provide evidence of an alternative right to reside in the UK for the DWP Decision Maker to consider.
The aim of extending the GPoW assessment is to ensure that all EEA nationals claiming income-based JSA are treated in the same way, regardless of when they made their claim to benefit
Independent Living Fund
The Independent Living Fund (ILF) - which provides money to help people with disabilities live an independent life in the community - is to close on 30 June 2015 (it has been closed to new applicants since 2010).
Funding will be incorporated into local social care arrangements through local councils in England and the devolved governments in Wales and Scotland will make their own arrangements.
People who already have ILF care packages will have to transfer to new local arrangements.
See the Independent Living Fund website for more information (link opens in a new window)
Scottish Independent Living Fund
In light of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closing - see above - the devolved government in Scotland has proposed a new Scottish Independent Living Fund (SILF) to support those in Scotland who are currently receiving help from the ILF as well as being open to new applicants.
The new scheme will be run by the third sector from July 2015. Anyone eligible for help will be referred to the fund via local authority social services.
For more information see http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Scottish-Independent-Living-Fund-b69.aspx (link opens in a new window)
Tax Free Childcare
Tax Free Childcare is to be introduced as a replacement for employer supported childcare (childcare vouchers).
The government will contribute up to 20% of the first £10000 of registered childcare costs per child, per year. This equates to a maximum of £2000 per child, per year.
The scheme will be available to people who have an annual income under £150,000 and are not receiving help with childcare via tax credits. It is expected to reach more people than the current scheme.
For further details see our Tax Free Childcare information sheet.
Winter Fuel Payment
Announced as part of the Spending Review in June 2013, it is planned that Winter Fuel Payments will be cut for those living in hot countries from Autumn 2015.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, said that the payment would be withdrawn from expats living in a European country with an average winter temperature higher than the UK.
The seven countries affected are: Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain.
This change would save the Treasury about £30m. Legislation needs to be passed before the change can be made.
Pension Credit modified
Universal Credit is replacing Housing Benefit and Child Tax Credit so if you are over Pension Credit age you will get help with your housing costs and costs of bringing up a child through a new modified Pension Credit.
If you are currently claiming Housing Benefit and are over Pension Credit age you will be moved onto the new modified Pension Credit, between October 2015 and October 2017.
Update: This has been delayed and may not take place until 2017
State Retirement Pension top-up scheme
A new top up scheme will be introduced to allow existing pensioners, and those who will reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016, to increase the amount of pension they get.
By making a lump sum Class 3A Voluntary National Insurance contribution, pension income can be boosted by up to £25 per week. The amount people will need to pay to receive the additional pension will depend on their age. For example, to get an extra £1 per week State Pension for life, the lump sum payment for a 65-year-old would be £890, compared to £674 for someone who is 75.
A State Pension top up calculator (link opens in a new window) is available on the GOV.UK website to show the lump sum contribution needed to increase pension income by between £1 and £25 per week.
Disability Living Allowance / Personal Independence Payment
Claimants still receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will start to be contacted to claim Personal Independence Payment instead.
DWP will randomly select DLA claimants in receipt of an indefinite award or a fixed term award, and notify them about what they need to do to claim PIP.
DWP will invite claims as early as possible from recipients who have turned 65 after 8 April 2013, when PIP was first introduced. If you turned 65 before 8 April 2013 you will remain on DLA.
All DLA claimants will have been invited to claim PIP by late 2017.
See the Turn2us Personal Independence Payment (PIP) information sheet.
Universal Credit (UC) - Roll out
Current plans will see new claims to existing benefits being replaced by UC closed during 2016. This will mean that all new benefit claimants across the country will claim Universal Credit instead of the benefits it replaces.
The Government also currently believes that most existing benefit claimants will be moved over to UC during 2016 and 2017.
Bereavement Support Payment
The current bereavement benefit system will be replaced with a single system of Bereavement Support Payments (BSP).
State Pension Age
Proposed Change: Plans to bring women’s pension age in line with men’s will be sped up from April 2016 so that women’s pension age reaches 65 in November 2018.
Pension age for men and women will then increase to 66 from December 2018 to April 2020.
Update: The Pensions Bill has been amended after concerns that some women would have to wait for up to an extra two years to collect their pensions. The proposed rise in the state pension age to 66 by 2020 is to be delayed by six months, from April 2020 to October 2020 capping the increase at a maximum of 18 months.
The Government has also proposed raising the State Pension age from 66 to 67 gradually between 2026 and 2028.
See the Turn2us State Pension age changes information sheet.
Single Tier Pension
The Government is introducing a flat rate (single tier) State Pension for people who reach state pension age from 6 April 2016.
The single tier pension will be a flat rate without the additions and complexities of the current system, and without the right to inherit or get rights to a pension on the basis of your spouse or civil partner's contributions.
The rate will be more than the basic means-tested support currently available (the guarantee part of Pension Credit) which is £148.35 per week for a single pensioner and £226.50 for a couple.
To qualify for the full single tier pension you will need 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions (NICs) or credits. If you don't qualify for the full pension you can get a smaller amount based on how many qualifying years you have. However, you will need a minimum of between seven and ten years.
If you qualify for the single tier pension you will not be able to get the savings credit part of Pension Credit.
If you are already over State Pension age when this is introduced you will continue to receive your State Retirement Pension under the current system and can continue to get the savings credit part of Pension Credit if you are entitled to it.
As part of a campaign to raise awareness of the single-tier state pension, the DWP says that a statement service will provide people with a personalised written estimate of what they can expect to receive under the new system based on their national insurance contributions and work history to date.
The statement service will initially be available to the approximately 2.5m people who reach state pension age in the first five years of the new scheme (April 2016 and August 2021).
For more information, see the Age UK information on What the new pension reforms mean for you (link opens in a new window)
Universal Credit - Childcare element
An additional £200m of support will be provided within Universal Credit, which is equivalent to covering 85% of childcare costs for households qualifying for the Universal Credit childcare element where the lone parent or both earners in a couple pay income tax.
This is planned to be phased in from April 2016 as childcare support moves from tax credits into Universal Credit. Details will be set out in future spending reviews.
End of 2017
The Government expected that the roll out of Universal Credit would be complete by the end of 2017. Iain Duncan Smith has since admitted that at least 700,000 claimants will not be on UC by the end of 2017. See our Universal Credit Timetable to keep up with the progress of the roll out.