The freeze on working age benefits
Managing finances whilst on benefits is a struggle and this situation will not be improved by the government’s decision to freeze working age benefit rates for four years from April 2016.
We explain the upcoming change and how you can access further financial help and support that you could be entitled to.
Freeze on Working Age Benefits
Benefits rates have generally been increased (by a small amount) at the start of every tax year to take into account the rise in living costs that people will have to meet.
The government however announced in the Summer Budget 2015 that from April 2016 it will not increase for four years ‘ for people of working age’ the rates of Job Seekers Allowance , Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit , Universal Credit , Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and Child Benefit.
The rates freeze does not apply to disability benefits which include Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Support Group) and the disability elements in tax credits.
Carers and Pensioner benefits and Statutory maternity and sickness payments are also not affected by the rates freeze.
The government has made a strong commitment to continue to protect benefits which are specifically for pensioners including Pension Credit. The ‘triple lock’ on the State Pension will be maintained; and other benefits for pensioners including the Winter Fuel Allowance and free TV licences for over 75s are also protected
Why is the freeze on benefits being introduced for people of working age?
The government has stated that it has made the decision to freeze working age benefits for four years to help ensure that growth in earnings overtakes the growth in benefits, so that it is always financially better for people to be in work rather than claiming benefits.
The government also has a central aim to reduce the overall spending on welfare and has forecasted to save £4 billion a year by 2019-20 by freezing working age benefits.
What help is available if you are affected by the benefits rate freeze?
To ensure that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to you should check your entitlements. Even if you have checked your benefit entitlements in the past it is worth checking again, especially if there has been a change in your circumstances.
You can use the free Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check which benefits you are entitled to, the amounts you may receive and how to make a claim. You can also use the Turn2us Grants Search tool to see if you are able to apply to for any charitable grants.
There are further details on all the benefits mentioned in this article and how you can apply for them on the Turn2us website.
If you would like to seek face to face advice about your situation, you can locate a local adviser using the free Turn2us Find an Adviser tool to find one in your local area.