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Benefits Update: March 2017

An outline of changes to welfare support coming into effect from next month

Keep up-to-date with changes to benefits with our Benefit Changes Timetable. We’ve outlined some of the main changes below.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

When you claim ESA, and once you have been assessed, you are put in the work-related activity group or the support group.

If you make a new claim for ESA on or after 3 April 2017, and you are put in the work-related activity group, the work-related activity component will not be added to your entitlement. If you are already receiving the work-related activity component, which is an extra £29.05 per week in your ESA, you will still get it after April 2017.

If you are put in the support group, you can still get the support component.

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

When you claim Tax Credits, your entitlement usually goes up when you have more children (depending on you and your partner’s work hours and income).  From April 2017, you will not get any extra for a third (or more) child unless they were born before 6 April 2017, or they are disabled or an exception applies.

Also, if you make a new claim for CTC on or after 6 April 2017, you will not have the family element included unless you (and your partner) are responsible for a child or qualifying young person born before 6 April 2017.

Read more about these changes in our February 2017 Benefits Update.

Universal Credit (UC) if you have children

When you claim UC, your entitlement usually goes up when you have more children.  From April 2017, you will not get any extra for a third (or more) child unless they were on your claim before 6 April 2017 or they are disabled or an exception applies.  Plus, if you make a new claim for UC on or after 6 April 2017, you will not get a higher amount for the first or eldest child.  Read more about the changes to the child elements in our February 2017 Benefits Update.

From April 2017, if you are claiming UC and you have children, you will have to start looking for work when your youngest child is three years old, instead of five years old.

Universal Credit (UC) if you are working

When you claim UC, your entitlement goes down when you earn more.  At the moment, the taper rate is 65 per cent, which means that for every £1 you earn over your work allowance, you lose 65p of your UC so you are better off 35p.

In April 2017, the government plan to change the taper rate to 63 per cent, so for every £1 you earn over the work allowance amount, you will be better off 37p. You can read about how your earnings affect your Universal Credit in our Universal Credit Income and Capital guide.

Universal Credit (UC) if you are under 22 years old

The government plans to introduce tougher conditions for 18-21 year olds who claim UC. From April 2017, if you are 18-21 years old and you have been claiming UC for over 6 months, you will have to apply for training courses, apprenticeships and work placements to keep receiving your benefit.

Plus, if you are 18-21 years old and you are claiming UC; you will not receive any help towards your rent unless you are working.

 

Coronavirus Information

My child's school is closing due to the coronavirus outbreak. What can I do?

The government has announced that schools will be closing for the majority of students from 20 March 2020.

Children in the following groups will still be able to go to school if their parents choose to send them:

  • The children of key workers
  • Children receiving support from social services
  • Children with disabilities
  • Children with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs​)
  • Young carers

If you need to take time off work to care for your children, you should check your employment rights on the ACAS website.
 

What if I am well but my employer tells me not to work because of the coronavirus outbreak?

This will depend on your contract and is an employment law issue. You may be able to get advice from ACAS on this. You will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

What if I have been in contact with someone with coronavirus and don’t want to go to work and risk infecting my colleagues and customers?

You will only be able to get special help under the coronavirus rules if you are self-isolating in accordance with NHS advice. You can find the current NHS coronavirus advice on the NHS website

What if I am not getting any customers in my self-employed business because of the coronavirus?

You may be able to claim Universal Credit, but you will not be entitled to any special support because of the coronavirus outbreak. You may have the minimum income floor applied to your claim, or you may be required to look for full time-employment.

I’m on a zero-hours contract, will I get paid if I’m told to self isolate?

If you are self-isolating in accordance with NHS guidance and you usually earn at least £120 per week, you should get Statutory Sick Pay even if you are on a zero hours contract.

What if I am homeless with no income so can’t self-isolate and need funds for accommodation?

The government has not published any guidance for what you should do if you are homeless and develop coronavirus symptoms. It would be best to contact your local authority for advice. You should do so by telephone if at all possible.