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Benefits

Autumn Statement 2015

The government announced a number of measures as part of the Autumn Statement and Spending Review on 25 November. Below is a summary of the key welfare measures and other proposed changes.

  • The tax credit income threshold of £6,420 and taper rate of 41% of gross income will no longer change from April 2016

  • From April 2016 the amount by which a tax credit claimant’s income can increase in-year compared to their previous year’s income before their award is adjusted (the income rise disregard) will be reduced to £2,500 as announced in Summer Budget 2015

  • No further changes to Universal Credit taper, or to the work allowances beyond those that have already passed through Parliament

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants will have to sign on for their benefit every week for the first three months and a more intensive support element of the Help to Work programme currently in place for the long-term unemployed will be brought forward

  • Government will introduce a new Work and Health Programme which will provide specialist support for claimants with health conditions or disabilities and those unemployed for over two years

  • Increase in funding to help those with disabilities and health conditions return to, and remain in, work.

Housing

  • Housing Benefit and Pension Credit will not be paid to people who have left the country for more than four weeks from April 2016. At present, Housing Benefit recipients can go abroad for up to 13 weeks while continuing to receive Housing Benefit
  • Capping Housing Benefit (HB) for social housing tenants to the same Local Housing Allowance maximum rates for HB as those in the private rented sector, including the Shared Accommodation Rate for single claimants aged under 35 without dependent children. The cap will apply from 1 April 2018 but only to tenancies signed after 1 April 2016
  • Local councils will receive direct payment from government for management of temporary accommodation for the homeless rather than a per household basis management fee.

Pensions

  • The single rate of the Pension Credit Standard Minimum Guarantee will increase by £4.40 to £155.60 per week in April 2016

  • From April 2016, the basic State Pension will rise to £119.30 per week, an increase of £3.35

  • New Single Tier State Pension introduced from April 2016, rate will be £155.65 per week.

Childcare

  • For the extended free childcare provision, doubling of hours from 15 to 30 hours per week for three and four year olds from September 2017, families will now also be required to work more than 16 hours (for at least the National Living Wage) and must not have an income per parent above £100,000.

Education

  • Student nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects funding grant will be replaced by loans

  • Student higher education maintenance grants will be replaced by loans. Part-time students will also be able to apply for the loans.

For further information see the Gov.UK Autumn Statement and Spending Review Guide 2015

Tax Credits - online change of circumstances

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is introducing a new digital service for tax credits customers that will allow for the reporting of changes in circumstances online.

The service will be launched in phases. Phase 1, which was supposed to start on 7 December but has now been delayed (date to be confirmed), will allow customers to access the online digital service to view details of their next tax credits payment and view the people who are included in their award.  

In early 2016, customers will be able to use the online digital service to report changes to their circumstances.

Grants

Turn2us Grants Spotlight charity: Buttle UK

Buttle UK helps around 23,000 children and young people every year by providing emergency items - such as children’s beds, washing machines and cookers - to those who would otherwise struggle without.

The charity can also pay towards school fees for independent or boarding school places for children whose home life is seriously affecting their development. Buttle UK can also assist young people who have no parental support to met an education or training goal.  

By giving this help, Buttle UK’s goal is to give more children and young people living in poverty.

Find out more about Buttle UK

Licensed Trade Charity - for people in the licensed drinks industry in England,  Wales and Northern Ireland

Did you know that Licensed Trade Charity supports people who work or have worked in pubs, bars, breweries, off licenses or licensed drinks production?

Licensed Trade Charity helps thousands of people who are having a tough time each year. The charity offers help on many issues including health, housing, debt, family matters and loneliness, and has a free helpline and a website with many useful resources.

The charity also provides a wide range of grants to people who are struggling financially and have worked in the industry for a minimum of five years.

New education support for families

Licensed Trade Charity has recently launched new help aimed at families in the trade. This support includes useful, downloadable guides on subjects such as how to deal with problems at school, and help with essential education costs, including grants for school uniforms and meals, text books, school trips and learning aids. The grants are available to families with a parent or a carer that has worked in the industry for a minimum of five years.

Find out more

These are just some examples of the many ways Licensed Trade Charity supports people in the trade. You can find more information about how we can help by visiting the Licensed Trade Charity's website or by calling our free helpline 0808 801 0550 (Calls are free from landlines and most mobile networks - check with your supplier).

You can also find the Licensed Trade Charity on the Turn2us Grants Search

Scotland: Scottish Licensed Trade Benevolent Fund (The Ben)

People in Scotland who have worked for three years or more full time in the licensed trade can apply for help from the Scottish Licensed Trade Benevolent Fund (The Ben).

For more information, see the Scottish Licensed Trade Benevolent Fund profile on the Turn2us Grants Search.

Flooding in the North West: Foundations charity launches emergency fund

Vulnerable householders hit by floods in the North West this week are to get help with repairs and heating, thanks to an emergency fund launched today.

The national charity, Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT), which helps older and vulnerable people living in England repair, adapt or maintain their own homes, when no other support is available. has launched the FILT Floods Fund and Appeal to support those affected by the flooding in the North West. This includes people on low incomes, living with a disability or homes that are uninsured or uninsurable.

FILT says that it is no coincidence that about 1 in 4 of its beneficiaries are from the North West - even more reason for the charity to be pledging its support to that region in the midst of the latest flood crisis to affect that area.

Home improvement agencies linked to FILT in places like Carlisle can help vulnerable householders with services to alleviate some of the immediate aftermath of floods and make their homes habitable again.

Read more about the FILT Floods Fund

Christmas money

Christmas can be a very anxious time for people on low incomes or facing life changing situations, such as bereavement, job loss, ill health, disability, family breakdown or homelessness.

Turn2us users often ask for information on sources of help at Christmas.  Read our brief guide below.

Charitable funds

Most charitable funds do not provide specific grants to help people meet the costs of Christmas.

However, some may consider applications of this nature, depending on your particular circumstances and background. Others might give grants to help with basic needs, which could free up some of your money to pay for Christmas expenses.  

Use the Turn2us Grants Search to find charitable funds that you or your spouse/partner has a connection with. You can then contact them to find out what support they might be able to offer you.

Please remember, however, that applications usually take some time to process and many receive an increase in requests for help in the months running up to Christmas.

Debt

Emergency support

Local sources of support

The following organisations may be able to advise you about local sources of support. Contact details should be in your local telephone directory or available from your local library or your local Citizens Advice.

  • Your local social services duty team
  • Local radio stations. These often have a community desk that can put you in touch with any local charities and other sources of help
  • Your local Citizen’s Advice bureau. You can find your local one using the Find an Adviser option on the Turn2us website
  • Your local volunteer bureau
  • Your local schools, especially the ones which your children attend
  • If you belong to a particular faith or community group, try your local church, synagogue, temple, mosque etc
  • The local mayor may be supporting a charity that may be able to help you
  • Local Rotary, Lions, Masons may also provide help.

Information on managing your Christmas money

Date of publication: December 2015