Among the measures announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne,
in his pre-election Budget yesterday, were the following which may
affect Turn2us users:
Armed Forces: £25 million to support army veterans, including
nuclear test veterans.
Benefits fraud and error
Increased use of 'real time information' shared between HM
Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and
Pensions (DWP) to further reduce fraud and error in the benefits
The Bereavement Support Payment will replace three bereavement
benefits from April 2017 and will be exempt from income tax.
Widows of police officers and firefighters who choose to marry
again will have their existing pensions protected.
A new "Help to Buy" Instant Savings Account (ISA) will allow the
Government to top up by £50 every £200 saved for a deposit.
A package of measures was announced to better support
people with mental health conditions. This includes early access to
supported Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and the co-location
of Increased Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) staff in
Jobcentres. The latter will begin with Streatham Jobcentre
National Minimum Wage (NMW)
The Government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s
recommendations for increases to the adult, 18-19 and 16-17 (NMW)
rates. The adult NMW rate will increase by 3.1% to £6.70 from
October 2015. The apprentice rate will increase by 57p an hour to
There will be additional flexibility for pensioners outside the
scope of the Pensions Flexibilities announced in the 2014 Budget to
exchange their annuities purchased with their pension pots for a
capital sum. This will enable people who purchased an annuity
before the introduction of the new flexibilities the opportunity to
adjust their retirement provision to convert an income - in whole
or in part - to a capital lump sum. This will not affect their
entitlement to normal state pension. A full consultation document
will be published on this.
£19.5 million in 2015-2016 will be used to support the new
pension flexibilities and the new pensions guidance service,
Pension Wise, provided by Citizens Advice.
There will be a consultation on a proposal to offer loans of up
to £25,000 for UK students studying for PhDs and research-based
The first £1,000 interest on savings income is to be tax-free
for basic rate taxpayers and £500 allowance for 40% tax
The annual savings limit for Instant Savings Accounts (ISAs) has
been increased to £15,240. 'Fully flexible' ISA will allow savers
to withdraw money and put it back later in the hear without losing
any of the tax-free allowance.
Personal allowances will be increased to £10,800 in 2016-17 and
to £11,000 in 2017-18.
The Marriage Allowance will also rise in line with the personal
The Higher-rate threshold will rise in line with the personal
allowance to £42,000 in 2016-17 and £43,000 in 2017-2018.
Universal Credit and European Economic Area
The Budget also confirms a previously announced measure to
restrict the ability for EEA migrants to access Universal
Credit (UC). This means that EEA migrants residing in the UK as
'jobseekers' will not be able to access UC at all.
The Government's Welfare Budget
£12 billion in further welfare savings are needed by 2017/2018,
Mr Osborne said.
Working Tax Credit (WTC) and self-employed people
From 6 April 2015, self-employed claimants of WTC will be
required to be undertaking an activity that is commercial and
profitable or working towards profitability. This test will
apply to the working hours required to qualify for WTC as a
Charities' reactions to the Budget 2015
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Elizabeth Finn Care and
"Today’s budget will no doubt prompt renewed
debate – and disagreement – on the impact any economic recovery is
having on real people. Regardless of the politics, the fact remains
there are millions of people in the UK who are genuinely struggling
financially. We hear on a daily basis of families having to make
choices that most of us would find incomprehensible just to meet
"So, amidst any discussion on whether the
Budget is or isn’t going to help, it’s doubly important that people
who are affected by financial hardship know that there is practical
and immediate help available – help with understanding benefits
entitlements or seeking a grant to deal with an unexpected and
adverse event. Charities like Turn2us can provide practical and
simple help in understanding what financial support is available to
those who are struggling. Anyone who is worried about their
situation can find us at http://www.turn2us.org.uk/."
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens
Advice, said: "People on the lowest income and those without
savings benefit least from this Budget.
"The country’s improving financial situation is welcome but it
is important to remember it comes against a backdrop of years of
rising bills and stagnant wages.
"Positive moves on the personal allowance and fuel duty provide
some small gains for stretched households, but there was nothing to
address challenges around childcare, energy bills and private
Fiona Weir, Chief Executive of Gingerbread, said: "The UK’s two
million single parents are doing a brilliant job, but paying the
bills and juggling work and family life on your own can be a real
challenge. Single parents have been disproportionately hit by
benefit cuts, losing more money than other households. They also
face rising levels of in work poverty - one in five single parents
working full time cannot lift their family above the poverty line.
“Increasing the personal tax allowance will be of little help to
those struggling on the lowest incomes. For people already earning
too little to pay tax it makes no difference, while those on
universal credit will see any increase in take home pay offset
through reductions to their benefits – losing 65p for every extra
pound they get in take home pay.(3) (4)
“To really help some of the lowest paid, the government should
increase the amount people are allowed to earn before universal
credit is withdrawn and slow down the rate at which it is reduced
as people’s earnings increase. Gingerbread’s research has found
this is particularly important for those struggling with high
“This would help ensure a clear gain for every extra hour worked
- and make sure that work does actually pay.”
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of older people’s charity,
Independent Age, said:
"While on the face of it parts of this Budget could look like an
attempt to win the ‘grey’ vote with changes announced on pensions
reform and savings tax, in reality it has failed to address key
challenges facing many older people and their families today. The
Chancellor didn’t say anything about the hundreds of thousands of
older people who struggle to wash, dress and cook for themselves
who are missing out on vital care and support as council budgets
have been cut. And he didn’t tell us how he would plug the
estimated £4.3 billion care funding gap expected by 2020.
"We welcome the Chancellor’s plans to make changes to savings
tax. With interest rates at a record low many of the poorest
pensioners have had little return on their hard earned savings.
However 28% of older people have less than £5,000 in savings
anyway, so how much will they really benefit? And the Chancellor
said pensioner poverty is at the lowest level ever, but it can’t be
right that 1.6 million elderly people still do live in poverty.
What help has been announced for the very poorest and frail
pensioners in our society?”
HM Treasury information on the Budget 18 March 2015 (link opens in
a new window)
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Children's mental health
Date of publication; 19 March 2015