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Benefits

Access to Work scheme changes

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced changes to the Access to Work scheme, which gives practical support to people who have disabilities or a health condition (mental or physical) to help them start working, stay in work or move into self employment/start a business.

These include changes to the way the scheme is delivered, offering personal budgets, a cap on the level of awards and exploring ways to improve services to people who:

  • Have mental health conditions
  • Are deaf and use British Sign Language
  • Use Access to Work to pay for taxis to get to work
  • Want to start their own businesses.

For more information, read the Gov.UK website press release: New measures to support more disabled people into work (12 March 2015)

Benefit rates April 2015-March 2016

The Government has published the list of new benefits rates on the Gov.UK website. These start on Monday 6 April 2015.

Read the list of new benefit rates 2015-2016

Cap on welfare spending

Total welfare spending, excluding the State Retirement Pension and some unemployment benefits including Jobseeker's Allowance and Universal Credit for Jobseekers, will be capped for 2015/16 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.

Carer's Allowance

From April 2015, the earnings threshold for Carer's Allowance will be raised to £110 a week. It is currently £102 a week.

Universal Credit

From 2 March Universal Credit is available to families in 96 jobcentre areas.

See GOV.UK for list of jobcentres currently taking claims for Universal Credit

Read the Turn2us Universal Credit information

General

Department of Health consultation: Strengthening rights and choices

The government has opened a public consultation on new proposals to give more rights to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions. The link below has more information on how you can participate.

This consultation is now closed.

Date of publication: March 2015

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.