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1. Benefit Changes Timetable 2020

Please note that information about some of these changes may be limited at present and also subject to further change. Although some will happen quickly, others may be introduced gradually over several years.

If you are worried about how you may be affected you should discuss this with a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find one in your area.

2020

April 2020

Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

The government will introduce a new legal entitlement to two weeks’ leave for employees who suffer the death of a child under 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.  Employed parents will also be able to claim pay for this period if they meet the qualifying conditions.  However, we are awaiting further announcements on what the qualifying criteria is going to be.

July 2020

Claimants will receive an additional fortnight’s worth of Income-based Jobseekers’ allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support if they are on one of these benefits when they move over to Universal Credit

September 2020

Self-employed Minimum Income Floor Grace Period

Self-employed people, whose earnings are low, may have their Universal Credit worked out on higher earnings than they have.  This is called the Minimum Income Floor.  If you have started your business within the last 12 months then the minimum income floor does not affect you for the first 12 months of your Universal Credit claim.  The government have announced that they will extend this 12-month ‘grace period’ to all people that are gainfully self-employed. 

Although this will be available to a few claimants that the government will transfer over to Universal Credit from July 2019; it will be fully implemented from September 2020.

 

Updated: November 2018

2. Benefit Changes Timetable 2019

Please note that information about some of these changes may be limited at present and also subject to further change. Although some will happen quickly, others may be introduced gradually over several years.

If you are worried about how you may be affected you should discuss this with a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find one in your area.

2019

Universal Credit Roll-out

The phased introduction of Universal Credit has been pushed back numerous times. The rolling out of the  full digital service of Universal Credit  to all areas of the country was completed on 12 December 2018 for new claims or for people having to make a new claim due to a change of circumstance.

The government plans to start transferring a few people from the existing benefits or tax credits onto Universal Credit until July 2019. The Secretary of State has announced that they will not transfer more than 10,000 people in 2019. They won’t start moving people over to Universal Credit in great numbers until 2020.  They plan to complete this process, known as managed migration, by December 2023. See our Universal Credit Timetable to keep up with the progress of the roll out.

January 2019

Severe Disability Premium and Universal Credit

Claimants receiving the Severe Disability Premium will not be able to move on to Universal Credit, except through managed migration.  Managed migration is where the government transfers people from the existing system over to Universal Credit.  Managed migration starts in July 2019 for a few claimants, but doesn't get fully underway until the end of 2020.   

People moved over to Universal Credit by 'managed migration' will not be worse off when they are transferred.   If they are entitled to less under Universal Credit than under the benefits that are being replaced by it, they will receive a ‘transitional amount’ to top up their Universal Credit to the same amount, under managed migration.

February 2019

Universal Credit Two-child Limit

From 1st February 2019, families with more than two children who make new claims for Universal Credit will no longer be directed to claim Child Tax Credit instead. The two child limit will apply to those families. Families who have been awarded Universal Credit after April 2017 and have two or fewer children but who then have a third or subsequent child will have the two-child limit applied.

April 2019

Universal Credit Work Allowance Increases

Work allowances are the amount of your earnings from employment that you are allowed to keep before it is taken into account as income for Universal Credit.  These will increase by £1000 for the year, meaning that people in work who have children or have limited capability for work (or their partner has limited capability for work) will benefit by up to £630 per year.  

However if you are a worker who  has no children or you or your partner have not been assessed as having limited capability for work, you will still not receive help in the form of work allowances.

National Minimum Wage Increase

The National Living Wage will increase by 4.9% from £7.83per hour to £8.21 per hour  in April 2019.  The National Minimum Wage increases from £7.38 per hour to £7.70 per hour for people aged 21 to 24; and from £5.90per hour to £6.15per hour for people aged 18 to 20.  There is more information about the National Minimum Wage on the Gov.uk website.

Self-Employed National Insurance Contributions change

From April 2019, self-employed people will no longer pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions, which currently count towards entitlement to contributory benefits such as New State Pension. Clarification is awaited regarding how Class 4 National Insurance Contributions will count towards contributory benefit entitlement.

July 2019

Self-employed Minimum Income Floor Grace Period

Self-employed people whose earnings are low, may have their Universal Credit worked out on higher earnings than they have.  This is called the Minimum Income Floor.  If you have started your business within the last 12 months then the minimum income floor does not affect you for the first 12 months of your Universal Credit claim.  The government have announced that they will extend this 12-month ‘grace period’ to all people who are gainfully self-employed.

However, this will only apply to people who have been transferred over to Universal Credit by managed migration from July 2019 at the earliest.  Self-employed people who make a new Universal Credit claim or have a change of circumstance which moves them on to Universal Credit, will not benefit from this change until September 2020.

October 2019

Universal Credit Advance Recovery Reduction

From October 2019, the maximum rate at which deductions can be made from Universal Credit, to repay an advance payment, will be reduced from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance of Universal Credit.

The period over which advances can be recovered will be extended from 12 to 16 months, from October 2021.
 

Updated: December 2018

 

 

 

 

 

3. Benefit Changes Timetable 2018

Please note that information about some of these changes may be limited at present and also subject to further change. Although some will happen quickly, others may be introduced gradually over several years.

If you are worried about how you may be affected you should discuss this with a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find one in your area.

2018

January 2018

Universal Credit Advance

From January 2018, the amount a claimant could receive from an advance payment of Universal Credit will increase from up to 50% of their estimated entitlement to up to 100%. Claimants will be able to receive an advance payment within five days of applying. The period in which the advance is recovered will be increased from six months to 12 months

February 2018

Universal Credit

From February 2018, the government will remove the seven-day waiting period for Universal Credit, so that the claim starts from the date of application. This means that if Universal Credit is paid on time, claimants will wait five weeks for their first payment instead of six weeks.

April 2018

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) payments

From 6 April 2018, Support for Mortgage Interest will no longer exist as a benefit for new or existing claimants. Claimants will instead be invited to apply for a loan if they want to continue to be supported.  Loans will be repaid upon the sale of a claimant’s house; or on a claimant’s return to work if the borrower can afford it.

Universal Credit

From April 2018 those already on Housing Benefit will continue to receive their award for the first two weeks of their Universal Credit claim. This will be an unrecoverable payment.

The government will also make it easier for claimants to have the housing element of their award paid directly to their landlord

Claimants who live in privately rented properties who have their Housing Benefit paid directly to landlords have this option at the beginning of a claim for Universal Credit.  The government will also make it easier for claimants to have their housing element paid direct to their landlords.

Universal Credit full digital service will be rolled out to all areas of the country by the end of December 2018 for new Universal Credit claimants. Families with three or more children, however, won't be able to start Universal Credit claims until 1st February 2019 onwards. They will be moving claimants on the existing benefit system over to Universal Credit from July 2019.  To follow the progress of the Universal Credit roll-out see our Universal Credit Timetable.

Autumn 2018

Carers Allowance Supplement introduced in Scotland

From Thursday 13 September a new extra payment called Carer's Allowance Supplement will be paid to carers in Scotland who are receiving Carers Allowance. You don't need to claim the Carers Allowance Supplement. You will get this automatically if you get Carer's Allowance and live in Scotland

Employer Childcare Vouchers will no longer be available to new claimants

New claims for Employer Supported Childcare (Childcare Vouchers) will not be accepted from October 2018.  Existing claims will continue until the child is 15 years old (or 16 years old if disabled) or the claimant starts claiming under another scheme (Childcare element of Working Tax Credit, Childcare element of Universal Credit or Tax Free Childcare), whichever is earliest.

Maximum time limit for claiming Sure Start Maternity Grant extended

From 18 October 2018, a person can claim Sure Start Maternity Grant up to six months after the baby’s birth or of adopting a baby. At present the rule is three months. 

December 2018

Best Start Grant in Scotland

The Best Start Grant is set to replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant in Scotland. It aims to provide lower-income families in Scotland with financial support during the key early years of a child's life. The Best Start Grant will be made up of three separate grants which you can get if you are eligible:

  • A Pregnancy and Baby grant paid to people who have a new baby, or  paid if you're adopting or become responsible for a child under the age of one. 
  • A Nursery and Early Learning Grant paid once your child reaches the age of two.
  • A School-age grant paid when your child reaches the age to attend school.

The Pregnancy and Baby grant is due to be introduced in December 2018. The other grants will be introduced in 2019.  We will provide more detailed information on our website shortly.

Universal Credit Housing Support for 18-21 year olds

18-21 year olds will automatically be entitled to housing support in Universal Credit from December 2018  This reverses a cut that was previously introduced for this age group.

Universal Credit Full Service Roll-out

From 12 December 2018, the full digital service will be rolled out to all areas of the UK, for new Universal Credit claims or people having to make a new claim for Universal Credit due to a change of circumstance.

Updated November 2018

4. Benefit Changes Timetable 2017

Please note that information about some of these changes may be limited at present and also subject to further change. Although some will happen quickly, others may be introduced gradually over several years.

If you are worried about how you may be affected you should discuss this with a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find one in your area.

2017

During 2017

Tax Free Childcare

Tax Free Childcare is to be introduced as a replacement for employer supported childcare (childcare vouchers).

The government will contribute up to 20% of the first £10,000 of registered childcare costs per child, per year. This equates to a maximum of £2,000 per child, per year.

The scheme will be available to people who have an annual income under £150,000 and are not receiving help with childcare via tax credits. It is expected to reach more people than the current scheme. For further details see our Tax Free Childcare information sheet.

April 2017

ESA Work-Related Activity component abolished

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 and the equivalent in Universal Credit. 

Benefit Cap exemption for Universal Credit claimants changing

From 1 April 2017 the earnings threshold that applies to the Benefit Cap exemption for Universal Credit claimants will be changed from a fixed amount of £430 per month to the amount claimants would earn if they (or one of them, if a couple) was working 16 hours per week at national minimum wage.

The change means that for example, after April 2017 a working Universal Credit claimant aged over 25 in receipt of the Housing element (who is not otherwise exempt from the Benefit Cap) would have to earn £520 instead of £430 per month to be exempt from the cap. 

The same change will be applied to the earnings threshold for the 9 months grace period but will not affect people who have already started a grace period. Read more about how the Benefit Cap is applied in our Benefit Cap guide.

ESA permitted work limit removed

From 3 April 2017, ESA claimants who undertake 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.

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. 

Bereavement Support Payment

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

Tax Credits and Universal Credit two child limit

In the summer budget 2015, the government proposed that support for children through Tax Credits and Universal Credit will be limited to two children from April 2017.

For Child Tax Credit, elements will not be included for a third (or more) child born on or after 6 April 2017 unless an exception applies. Elements will continue to be included for all children born before 6 April 2017.

For Universal Credit, elements will not be included for the third (or more) child who joins the family on or after 6 April 2017 unless an exception applies. Elements will continue to be included for all children who were part of the family before 6 April 2017. Families with more than two children cannot make a new claim for Universal Credit until November 2018, even if they are in a full digital service area. They will have to claim Child Tax Credit in the meantime.   

Equivalent changes will be made to the Housing Benefit rules.

Tax Credit Family Element removed

People starting a family after April 2017 will no longer be eligible for the Family Element in tax credits. The equivalent in Universal Credit, known as the First Child Element, will also not be available for new claims from April 2017.

Universal Credit requirements for parents to look for work

Parents with a youngest child aged 3, including lone parents, are expected to look for work if they want to claim Universal Credit.

Universal Credit Youth Obligation

From April 2017, 18-21 year olds who have been claiming Universal Credit for six months will have to either apply for training/ apprenticeships or attend a work placements, unless they are exempt (considered to be vulnerable). 

Universal Credit Housing Costs Element removed for young people

It was proposed in the summer budget 2015 that single unemployed claimants aged under 22 would not have a Housing Costs Element included in their Universal Credit from April 2017 unless an exception applies.

Universal Credit taper to be reduced from 65 per cent to 63 per cent

From April 2017 the taper rate that applies in Universal Credit will be reduced from 65 per cent to 63 per cent. This means that claimants will be able to keep 37p for every £1 earned in work above work allowances rather than 35p for every £1 earned.

Autumn /End of 2017

Free Childcare Extended

Free childcare entitlement will be doubled from 15 hours to 30 hours a week for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds from September 2017.

Change in Hardship Payments for mentally ill and homeless

The government proposed that hardship payments (of 60% of the benefit amount) be automatically payable to jobseekers who are mentally ill or homeless when they are sanctioned. These claimants currently have to wait two weeks before they can apply for hardship payments when they've been sanctioned, and may be refused. The proposal means to add them to the group of vulnerable people who can apply for hardship payments immediately (such as claimants with children or long-term health problems). The date of this change is yet to be announced.

5. Benefit Changes Timetable 2016

Please note that information about some of these changes may be limited at present and also subject to further change. Although some will happen quickly, others may be introduced gradually over several years.

If you are worried about how you may be affected you should discuss this with a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find one in your area.
 

Changes to benefits in 2016

Universal Credit (UC) - Roll out

Current plans will see new claims to existing benefits being replaced by UC during 2016. This will mean that all new benefit claimants across the country will claim Universal Credit instead of the benefits it replaces. Progress on these plans is still slow at present as not all areas are yet under the UC system.

Roll-out to the full UC digital service will also gradually take place which will allow new claims from all claimant types. The government expects this process to be completed in September 2018.

The Government currently believes that existing benefit claimants will be moved over to the full UC service from July 2019 and the process will be completed by March 2022. 
 

February 2016

Tax Credits Digital Update Service

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have launched a new digital service for tax credits customers that allows them to check their next tax credits payment details online.

HMRC will continue to update the service over the coming months to allow customers to report changes in their circumstances online instead of having to phone in. Future release date to be confirmed.

March 2016

PIP Assessment Change Announced in March 2016  Budget

The Government announced in the budget a proposed change to the assessment process for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The proposed change would see a reduction in the number of assessment points that can be awarded for needing to use an aid or appliance to carry out two of the ‘daily living’ activities which are assessed.

The change is planned to be implemented for new cases and re-assessments from January 2017. It would mean that people who would have scored points for use of aids and appliances may in some cases no longer qualify for PIP.

UPDATE: Government confirmed on 21 March 2016  that it will not proceed with the planned change to  Personal Independence Payment.

 

April 2016 Changes

State Pension Age

Proposed Change: Plans to bring women’s pension age in line with men’s will be sped up from April 2016 so that women’s pension age reaches 65 in November 2018.

Pension age for men and women will then increase to 66 from December 2018 to April 2020.

Update: The Pensions Bill has been amended after concerns that some women would have to wait for up to an extra two years to collect their pensions. The proposed rise in the state pension age to 66 by 2020 is to be delayed by six months, from April 2020 to October 2020 capping the increase at a maximum of 18 months.

The Government has also proposed raising the State Pension age from 66 to 67 gradually between 2026 and 2028.

See the Turn2us State Pension age changes information.

New Single Tier Pension

The Government is introducing a flat rate (single tier) State Pension for people who reach state pension age from 6 April 2016.

The new single tier pension will be a flat rate without the additions and complexities of the current system, and without the right to inherit or get rights to a pension on the basis of your spouse or civil partner's contributions.

The rate will be £155.65 per week which is  more than the basic means-tested support currently available (the guarantee part of Pension Credit)

To qualify for the full single tier pension you will need 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions (NICs) or credits.

If you don't qualify for the full pension you can get a smaller amount based on how many qualifying years you have.

You will usually need ten qualifying years to get any new state pension.

If you qualify for the new single tier pension you will not be able to get the Savings Credit part of Pension Credit.

If you are already over State Pension age when the New State Pension is introduced you will continue to receive your Basic State Pension under the current system and can continue to get the Savings Credit part of Pension Credit if you are entitled to it.

The Savings Credit will not however be available to couples where one reaches pension age before 6 April and the other after this date, unless one of the couple was already getting Savings Credit immediately before 6 April 2016 and has been entitled to it at all times since 6 April 2016.

As part of a campaign to raise awareness of the single-tier state pension, the DWP says that a statement service will provide people with a personalised written estimate of what they can expect to receive under the new system based on their national insurance contributions and work history to date.

The statement service will initially be available to the approximately 2.5m people who reach state pension age in the first five years of the new scheme (April 2016 and August 2021).

For more information, see the Age UK information on What the new pension reforms mean for you.

Universal Credit - Childcare element

An additional £200m of support will be provided within Universal Credit, which is equivalent to covering 85% of childcare costs for households qualifying for the Universal Credit childcare element where the lone parent or both earners in a couple pay income tax.

This is planned to be phased in from April 2016 as childcare support moves from tax credits into Universal Credit. Details will be set out in future spending reviews.

Freeze on Working-age benefits

From April 2016 government plan to introduce a four-year freeze to working age benefits whilst still protecting pensioners, and benefits related to the extra costs of disability.

New National Living Wage

From April 2016 New National Living Wage will be introduced- starting at £7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 and above. Rising to £9.00 an hour by 2020. 

Personal Tax Allowance Increased

The tax free Personal Tax Allowance, the amount you can earn before paying income tax, will be increased from £10,600 to £11,000 from April 2016.

Reduction in Income Rise Disregard in Tax Credits

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 from £5000 to £2,500 as announced in the Summer Budget 2015.

Cut to in-work Tax Credits

From April 2016, the income threshold limit - the level of earnings at which a household’s tax credits and Universal Credit award starts to be withdrawn for every extra pound earned will be reduced from £6,420 to £3,850.
 
Tax credit taper – The rate at which a person’s or household’s tax credit award is reduced will be increased from 41% to 48%.

Update - U-turn on cut to in-work Tax Credits:

On 25th November 2015  the Chancellor in the combined Autumn Statement and Spending Review announced that the tax credit income threshold and taper rate changes described above would in fact not go ahead. The u-turn was in response to strong public opposition and a House of Lords vote in October 2015 suggesting that the tax credit changes should be delayed and transitional protection considered for those affected.

From April 2016 the tax credit income threshold will remain at £6,420 and the taper rate will also remain at  41% of gross income.

Universal Credit Work Allowances

Universal Credit work allowances will be reduced to £4,764 for those without housing costs, £2,304 for those with housing costs, and removed altogether for non-disabled claimants without children.

Limiting backdating in Housing Benefit

From April 2016, Housing Benefit claims will be backdated for a maximum of one month ( period was previously six months ). 

Reduction in Social Sector Rents

The government will reduce rents paid by tenants in social housing in England by 1% a year for 4 years from 2016.

Freeze to Local Housing Allowance

There will be a four-year freeze to Local Housing Allowance rates for 4 years from 2016-17 to 2019-20.

Support for Mortgage Interest(SMI) Waiting Period Increased

From 1 April 2016, the SMI waiting period will change from 13 weeks and will return to the pre-recession length of 39 weeks, but the capital limit will be maintained at the higher level of £200,000.

Removal of Pension Credit Assessed Income Period

From 6 April 2016 households on Pension Credit will now need to report all changes in their circumstances that will affect their benefit as they happen. Pensioners aged 75 and over who have an indefinite assessed income period in place will not be affected by the change unless the assessed income period would end under current rules. For more information see GOV.UK Pension Credit factsheet

May 2016

Removing Housing Benefit Family Premium

Housing Benefit family premium will be withdrawn for new claims in England, Scotland and Wales from 1 May 2016.

Housing Benefit and Pension Credit: limiting temporary absence

The government will delay the ending of the payments of  Housing Benefit and Pension Credit to claimants who travel outside of Great Britain for longer than four weeks (with no gap). This will now come into force in May 2016.( rather than April)

Benefit Cap

From 24 May 2016, the DWP is sending out notifications to tenants likely to be affected by the changes to the benefit cap levels to be introduced from Autumn 2016.  The letters are expected to detail the likely impact of the changes and the advice and support that is available from Job Centres and Councils.

The Benefit Cap will be introduced in Northern Ireland from 31 May 2016. Potentially affected households will be contacted in advance by letter.


Autumn 2016

Benefit Cap

The government in the 2015 summer budget put forward proposed plans to reduce the Benefit Cap for families to £23,000 in London (£15,410 single claimants) and £20,000 elsewhere (£13,400 single claimants).
The new benefit cap levels will come in from 7 November 2016 .

Exemptions from the benefit cap for more groups

The government also announced in the March Budget 2016 that it will introduce exemptions for people getting  Guardians Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and the carers element of Universal Credit from the benefit cap from autumn 2016.

Removing Housing Benefit Family Premium in Northern Ireland.

Housing Benefit Family Premium will be withdrawn for new claims in Northern Ireland from 5 September 2016. This is in line with the rest of the UK. 

Reducing the Backdating Period for Housing Benefit Claims in Northern Ireland

From 5 September 2016, the maximum period for which Housing Benefit claims may be backdated for working age claimants in Northern Ireland has been reduced from six months to one month. This is in line with the rest of the UK.

November 2016

 Universal Credit to be a qualifying benefit for Healthy Start Food Voucher Scheme

From 1 November 2016, Universal Credit will be a qualifying benefit for the Healthy Start Food Vouchers scheme, if your family’s net earnings are £408 or less per month.  Healthy Start is a voucher scheme for women who have young children or who are pregnant and receiving  certain benefits.

Benefit Cap Reduction

From 7 November 2016, the Benefit Cap has been reduced for families to £23,000 in London (£15,410 single claimants) and £20,000 elsewhere (£13,400 single claimants).  People getting Guardian's Allowance, Carer's Allowance and the carer's element of Universal Credit are exempt from the Benefit Cap from 7 November onwards.

 

Last Updated: November 2016