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Benefits Update: April 2017

An outline of the welfare changes coming into effect from this month

A lot of important benefit changes have been introduced this April.  Here is a summary of the main points.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

From 3 April 2017, new ESA claimants who are placed in the Work-Related Activity Group will receive the same rate of payment as those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you make a new claim for ESA on or after the 3 April 2017 and are put in the work-related activity group following your medical assessment, you will not receive the extra amount of ESA called the work-related activity component. People who have been on ESA from before 3 April can still receive the work-related activity component if placed in the work-related activity group.

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

You can read our information on 'How much Employment & Support Allowance?’ for further details.

ESA sanctions reduced

From 3 April 2017, ESA claimants who are sanctioned will continue to receive 80% of their payments, instead of the current 60%. This change does not apply to ESA claimants who continue to receive the work-related activity component after 3 April 2017: they will remain subject to the 60% rate.

ESA permitted work limit removed

From 3 April 2017, ESA claimants who do permitted work and earn between £20 and £120 per week will no longer have to give up their work or stop claiming ESA after 52 weeks.

Universal Credit and Limited Capability for Work

From 3 April 2017, you cannot receive an amount with your Universal Credit for having limited capability for work, if you are also required to do work-related activity by Jobcentre Plus. If you are assessed as having limited capability for work before 3 April 2017, you can still receive this element of Universal Credit.

You can still receive an element for having limited capability for work-related activity, if following the medical assessment you are not required to participate in work-related activity. 

Go to our information on Additional Elements of Universal Credit for further details

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

Before April 2017, you could get a child element for each of your children, paid within your Child Tax Credit. 

From April, you will not get the child element for a third (or more) child unless they were born before 6 April 2017, unless an exception applies. If the third (or more) child is disabled you can get a disabled child element for them, if they meet the qualifying conditions.

If you make a new claim for CTC on or after 6 April 2017, you will not receive the family element of Child Tax Credit unless you (and your partner) are responsible for a child or qualifying young person born before 6 April 2017. 

You can go to our information on Child Tax Credit for further details on these changes.

Universal Credit (UC) if you have children

From 6 April 2017 if you are getting UC you will not receive an extra amount for a third (or more) child unless they were on your claim before 6 April 2017. If you make a new claim for UC on or after 6 April 2016 you will not receive a higher amount for the first or eldest child.

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. You can read our information on Universal Credit elements for further details.

Universal Credit (UC) if you are working

Your earnings counts as income for working out your UC entitlement, meaning that the amount you get, goes down when you earn more. From 6 April 63% of your earnings will count as income instead of the current 65%. This means that for every £1 you earn above the work allowance amount, 63p is taken into account as income when working out your Universal Credit. You can read how your earnings affect your Universal Credit in our Universal Credit Income and Capital guide.

The Benefit Cap

Before April, you were not affected by the Benefit Cap if you or your partner got Universal Credit and your household income was more than £430 a month after tax and national insurance. From April 2017, you must be earning at least the amount you would get for 16 hours per week work at national minimum wage. See our Benefit Cap guide for further information.

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

If you are 18-21 years old and have been on UC for over 6 months, you will be required to apply for training courses, apprenticeships and work placements or you could lose your benefit,

If you are single and aged 18-21 years old and claiming UC, you will not receive any help towards your rent unless you are working and your earnings at least match the National Minimum Wage level for 16 hours a week work. Exceptions do apply to this rule. Please read our Universal Credit Housing Costs Element information for tenants to see who can still get help.


The current bereavement benefits (Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payment, Widowed Parent’s Allowance) are being replaced with the new Bereavement Support Payment. This will be introduced for new claims from April 2017.

You could get Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife, or civil partner died on or after 6 April.

It consists of an initial lump sum followed by monthly instalments. It is paid for a maximum period of 18 months. It does not count as income for other benefits.

If your husband, wife or civil partner died before 6 April 2017, you may be able to claim Bereavement Allowance, Widowed Parents Allowance or Bereavement Payment instead if you meet the conditions for these. If you are getting Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent's Allowance, you will continue on these benefits.