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Benefit changes timetable

Key information

Significant changes are being made to the benefits and tax credits system over the next few years.

A calendar of upcoming changes is provided on this page.

An archive of changes that have already happened can be accessed from the right hand side of this page.

Turn2us has also produced information sheets on the following aspects of welfare reform:

Please note: 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 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.


Index

You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Benefit Changes 2014

Benefit Changes 2015

Benefit Changes 2016

Benefit Changes 2017

 

Benefits changes 2014

July 2014

Child Tax Credit

Since January, EEA migrants who arrive in the UK looking for work face a three-month wait before they can claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. These rules limiting migrants’ access to out-of-work benefits will be extended to Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit from 1 July.

EEA migrants who arrive in the UK looking for work or not intending to work will need to live in the UK for three months before they can claim Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit.  This will not apply to those who are employed or self-employed.

Evidence and information will need to be provided to HMRC to show they have been resident for at least three months, such as bank statements or tenancy agreements.

After the three month waiting period, EEA jobseekers will only be able to get Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for 6 months - after 6 months, only those who have a job offer or compelling evidence that they have a genuine chance of finding work will be able to continue claiming, and then only for a short period.

The new rules will apply to people arriving in the UK for the first time, and to those returning after an absence of more than 52 weeks.

Maternity Allowance

Changes to Maternity Allowance (MA) mean that if your baby is due on or after 27 July 2014, and you help your partner run their own business, you might be able to get a new lower rate of MA for 14 weeks.

To qualify you must not be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or the higher amount of Maternity Allowance for the same pregnancy and for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due, you must:

  • be married or in a civil partnership with someone who is self-employed
  • not be employed or self-employed yourself
  • take part in the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner
  • not be paid for the work you do for the business

Your spouse or civil partner must be registered as self-employed with HMRC and should pay Class 2 National Insurance.

November 2014

Benefit rules for EU migrants

In January 2014, it was announced that EU migrants would not be able to claim out-of-work benefits until three months after arriving in the UK and would only be eligible for Jobseeker's Allowance for six months unless they have genuine prospects of finding work.

The prime minister is to announce that this time limit - which also applies to Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit - will be halved to three months from November 2014.

End of 2014

Universal Credit

By the end of 2014, Universal Credit will start to be rolled out across more of the North West of England.

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Benefit changes 2015

Cap on Welfare Spending

Welfare spending, excluding the State Retirement Pension and some unemployment benefits including Jobseeker's Allowance, will be capped next year 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.

April 2015

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.

June 2015

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

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

Autumn 2015

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.

October 2015

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.

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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 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.

Personal Independence Payment

Claimants aged 16-64 still receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will start to be contacted to claim Personal Independence Payment instead.

See the Turn2us Personal Independence Payment (PIP) information sheet

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Benefit changes 2016

Universal Credit (UC) - Roll out

Current plans will see new claims to existing benefits 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.

April 2016

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.

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.

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Benefit Changes 2017

Universal Credit

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.

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Last updated: 29 July 2014

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