You are now leaving the Turn2us site. Turn2us is not responsible for content on third party sites.



We have been contacted by KEO Films about a four part documentary that will look at the reality of financial hardship in the UK.

The documentary will follow a range of people through the course of looking for and receiving help, and it is due to be broadcast on BBC 2 in the Summer of 2018.

It will aim to tell the stories of some of the many families that are just about managing, or living in poverty, despite being in work. This series aims to give people in these situations a voice. It will explore what it is like to live on a low income in the UK – and the difficult choices this often leads to.

It will build on KEO Films’ long history of making powerful, touching and sensitively produced films about social issues. These include ‘The Last Miners’ (about the people working in Britain’s last deep coal mine), ‘Welcome to Lagos’ and ‘Welcome to Rio’ (exploring poverty in both cities), and ‘The Big C & Me’ (documenting the lives of those going through cancer treatments).

Would you like to speak to KEO Films about their documentary?

The team at KEO Films would like to speak to individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet. All conversations would be confidential and initially over the phone and there is no requirement to be filmed at any stage if you contact them.

If you would like to speak to KEO Films, get in contact with Una Farrell, Communications Manager at Turn2us, at una.farrell@turn2us.org.uk or on 020 8834 9259. She will tell you more about the documentary and will put you in contact with KEO Films.

Helpline - UC - FAQ

The calculator results still show SMI where there is an entitlement

There is a 39 week wait before entitlement for Support for Mortgage Interest will begin and the changes to the benefit system from April 2018 which will change Support for Mortgage Interest from a benefit to a loan, it does mean that the Benefits Calculator may show that a new claimant is entitled to it but in practice will only be able to receive the scheme as a loan. However, we would still need to show this award for users who are already receiving this. We have logged this as an issue and investigate possible solutions for this. 

Can you tell me please if, as an ESA claimant in the support group, I will be made to go onto UC?

Although Universal Credit may now be fully rolled out in your area it does not mean that you will automatically start to receive it. This is because the DWP have not yet begun to transfer people who are receiving the benefits that are being abolished (i.e., Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income Related Employment Support Allowance, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. These are called legacy benefits.) over to the new Universal Credit system. 

As it has now been rolled out in your area, what this actually means that anybody looking to make a new claim for a legacy benefit will have to make a claim for Universal Credit instead. Currently, he only way you would be transferred over to Universal Credit is if you have a change in your circumstances which would have meant that you would need to claim one of the legacy benefits in the old system, although the DWP will start manually transferring people over to Universal Credit. This is due to be complete by 2022. 

It is also worth noting that it is only the Income Related version of Employment Support Allowance which is being abolished. If you are in receipt of the Contributions version of Employment Support Allowance you may be able to continue receiving this alongside any potential Universal Credit award. 
 

On the Calculator, it appears to take all the premiums off of them and puts them into what was the assessment rate.

The reason that this happens on the Benefits Calculator is because Employment Support Allowance is more generous than Universal Credit. Under ESA rules you are “treated as having a limited capability for work,” for the first 13 weeks of the claim. This is called the assessment phase. After this period the Work Capability Assessment is carried out and based on the results you are either put into either the Work Related group or the Support group and receive the extra amounts associated with this. 

The rules for Universal Credit are different. The first three months of your claim for Universal Credit is called the “relevant period”. After this period a Work Capability Assessment is carried out and a decision is made whether the client has a “limited capability for work or not”. Unlike ESA, for the first three months of your claim you are not “treated as having a limited capability for work” and therefore are not entitled to the extra element within the award until a Work Capability Assessment has been taken and passed. If you are being moved from ESA to Universal Credit and already had been placed in the Work Related or the Support group, you will still need to pass another Work Capability Assessment before the extra element can be awarded – however in these circumstances the new assessment would take place at the beginning of your claim. 

Unfortunately this means that we cannot show Universal Credit in the results page with this extra element awarded as you cannot be treated as having a limited capability for work. However, we will look into using further messaging to make this more clear to clients who have completed the application. 

BC says savings in a house that you live in wouldn't count towards the savings limit for ESA

If you own the home in which you normally live, the value of the property is not counted as capital for Income-related ESA. If the £40K has already been invested in the house when it was purchased, then that would go towards the value of the property and not be counted as capital. However, if the £40K is money sitting in a bank account then it could count as savings and count as capital. You should get benefits advice on the matter to check your situation. You can find advice locally to you by using our Find-an-adviser tool (http://advicefinder.turn2us.org.uk/)

The Department of Work & Pensions have to apply the law. The rule in Income-related Employment and Support Allowance for the value of property you live in being ignored is Schedule 9, paragraph 1 of Employment & Support Allowance Regulations 2008

If you have paid or been credited with sufficient national insurance contributions, then you could claim a different version of ESA called Contributory ESA which is not affected by your income or capital. You would normally have had to have worked and paid NI at some point within the last two to three years.

I'm afraid we don't provide specific leaflets on areas of benefit law and I've not been able to find information from other sites.

If you have not done so already you should also check if you are living in an area where the full service of Universal Credit has been rolled out (the results page on the calculator will tell you this if you are in such an area). If you do live in a full service area you will be invited to claim Universal Credit instead of Income-related ESA. However, you can still claim contributory ESA in a full service area, if you have paid or been credited with sufficient National Insurance contributions.

Helpline - BC - FAQ

If the DWP are reclaiming overpayments, then Housing Benefit cannot also claim overpayments. I have not heard this elsewhere

The section applies to Civil Penalties of £50 that can be added to the overpayment. A Civil Penalty can be applied in certain circumstances when the claimant has given an incorrect statement, or negligently made an incorrect statement which led to a recoverable overpayment. You can find out more about Civil Penalties here: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Benefits-Overpayment/Civil-Penalties-for-benefit-overpayments#guide-content

Therefore the information is not saying that if DWP are reclaiming an overpayment then the Housing Benefit department cannot also recover an overpayment. What it is saying is that according to DWP guidance is that only one Civil Penalty of £50 will be applied where the failure of the claimant to give correct information resulted in overpayments of more than one benefit. 

I will check the DWP Guidance to check that this still applies. I will amend the information accordingly if there have been any changes.

In the above calculation I would expect someone to be awarded working tax credits, but the calculator suggests they are not entitled.

Hello. Thank you for your response and for providing your completed calculation reference. We have now had a look into this issue for you. The Benefits Calculator did not calculate an award of Working Tax Credit in this scenario as you have asked it not to. The question which says, “We will calculate your benefit entitlements based on the tax credit amounts you have told us you are receiving, unless you want us to do a tax credit calculation. Do you want us to calculate your tax credits?” appears on part 6 of the calculator, on the Income for Tax Credits page. You have answered this question no. Therefore, the results page shows the amount of Child Tax Credits you have said that you are already receiving and the Benefits Calculator has not calculated potential tax credit entitlement.

In order to change this please click on the link below which will take you back onto the calculation provided. On part 6, please answer the highlighted question yes, at which time further questions will appear which you are required to answer to gain an accurate calculation of your potential tax credits entitlement. 

description of permitted work is misleading and too specific to be correct

The Information on the page is correct and details all the possible ways in which you could meet the Permitted Work criteria. However, we could perhaps order it in a more user-friendly way.

The paragraph starts ‘Permitted work’ includes – which means that you can meet any of the conditions highlighted in order to qualify. The fourth condition in the list is the one where someone meets the criteria by working less than 16 hours per week and earning less than £120 per week. We have to mention all the usual ways people would qualify, but we could consider changing the order so that we move the fourth condition to the highest bullet point as this scenario is probably the most common. We will be looking into this shortly. 

Advice on benefits and savings

We are not an organisation that gives advice to the public, so we can only give you information on the matter. It is recommended that you seek benefits advice on this matter. The CAB would normally give benefits advice. However, you may be able to find other advice agencies in your area by using our Find-an-adviser tool

As you have stated the amount withdrawn from this pension will be counted as income for tax credit purposes. However, as PIP is a non means tested benefits (this means that the entitlement of this is not based on the level of your income or capital) it will be unaffected by this change in your circumstances. For Housing Benefit (and Pension Credit) this amount should be disregarded as capital and not taking into account in the calculation of your award. However, you should seek specialist benefits advice to confirm that this is the case in your situation, before taking action.

As you have stated you might not be able to receive Working Tax Credit due to the increase to your income. However, you may be entitled to other benefits such as Pension Credit. Please complete a calculation using our Benefits Calculator to see what you are potentially entitled to. 

As Council Tax Support is now localised and each Local Authority operates their own schemes we are unable to inform you on whether or not this change of your circumstance will affect your award. As such you should seek independent local advice using our Find An Adviser tool. 

I used to be able to calculate benefits for historic years, this no longer appears possible

Thanks for your email. The calculator carries out calculations based on the current benefit rules. We always try and make sure it's as up to date as possible so that our estimations are as accurate as possible. This has always been the case I'm afraid. We store calculations for a maximum of 6 months, however if you have a reference of a calculation within that time period I can retrieve the results for you. 

Your web page clearly states that contribution based ESA is not means tested

Contributory ESA is classed as a non-means tested benefit because income and capital is usually not taken into consideration when working whether you are entitled to it or how much you are entitled to. However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule concerning personal or occupational pensions. 

On the page you report, we do indeed say that contributory ESA is non-means tested. If you click on ‘non-means tested’ then this takes you to another page which explains this in more detail: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/jargon-buster/Non-means-tested-benefit 
The page explains all the types of benefits that are classed as non-means tested, but that they have their own rules which have to be met. Under the heading ‘Contributory benefits’ it is stated:
‘These benefits are to replace earnings, for example when you lose your job or are unable to work because of illness or disability. Whether you get the benefit depends on if you (or in some cases your partner) have paid or been credited with enough national insurance contributions. They are not means-tested, but if you have income in the form of earnings or pension payments the amount you get may be affected.’

In the light of your comments, we will look at how we can display the information about pension income affecting contributory ESA (and other contributory benefits) more prominently.

You should seek advice to see if there is any way you can challenge the overpayment decision or request that it is not recovered. You can find out what advice exists locally to you by using our Find-an-adviser tool on our website. http://advicefinder.turn2us.org.uk/ You should check whether the letter from DWP awarding you the ESA, made it clear what information you should tell them about, in the event of a change of circumstance. If they did not clearly tell you of your right to disclose this type of information then there may be a legal case to say it should not be recoverable. https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Benefits-Overpayment/Will-I-have-to-repay-the-overpayment#guide-contentYou have one month from the date of the decision to ask them to change their decision (called a mandatory reconsideration). If it turns out that you don’t have a legal case to overturn the decision, the DWP have the discretion not to recover overpayments if recovery would cause hardship or would be detrimental to your health, and you should request that they exercise this discretion in your case.

I noticed on your website that if the DWP are reclaiming overpayments, then Housing Benefit cannot also claim overpayments. I have not heard this elsewhere. Please can you confirm?

The section applies to Civil Penalties of £50 that can be added to the overpayment. A Civil Penalty can be applied in certain circumstances when the claimant has given an incorrect statement, or negligently made an incorrect statement which led to a recoverable overpayment. You can find out more about Civil Penalties here: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Benefits-Overpayment/Civil-Penalties-for-benefit-overpayments#guide-content

Therefore the information is not saying that if DWP are reclaiming an overpayment then the Housing Benefit department cannot also recover an overpayment. What it is saying is that according to DWP guidance is that only one Civil Penalty of £50 will be applied where the failure of the claimant to give correct information resulted in overpayments of more than one benefit. 

I will check the DWP Guidance to check that this still applies. I will amend the information accordingly if there have been any changes.