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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.