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There have been a number of recent changes to the benefits system. Universal Credit is being introduced between now and 2017. Disability Living Allowance is being replaced by Personal Independence Payment, and Council Tax Benefit has been replaced by local Council Tax Reduction Schemes. There are also changes to Housing Benefit and the Social Fund. And an overall cap has been introduced to the amount you can get in benefits.
Universal Credit introduced between now and 2017
Universal Credit is a new simpler, single monthly payment for people looking for work or on a low income. It is replacing some of the benefits and tax credits you might be getting now.
Find out more about Universal Credit and how it might affect you in our guide Universal Credit – an introduction
Personal Independence Payment replacing Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced by a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for people aged 16 to 64 between now and October 2017.
Find out more in our article Personal Independence Payment – an introduction
Council Tax Benefit abolished
Council Tax Benefit was abolished on 1 April 2013. Local councils have brought in their own Council Tax Reduction Schemes to replace it.
How will this affect you?
If you’re a pensioner on a low income there is no reduction in the amount you get.
For everyone else, how you are affected depends on where you live.
- If you live in England contact your local council to apply for their Council Tax Reduction scheme
- If you live in Wales contact your local authority to find out about their Council Tax Reduction scheme
- If you live in Scotland contact your local authority to find out about their Council Tax Reduction scheme
- If you live in Northern Ireland these changes will not affect you
Benefit cap introduced
If you’re aged 16 to 64, there is a limit on the total amount of benefit you can get. This is called a benefit cap and was introduced between April and September 2013.
Find out more in our article The benefit cap
Housing Benefit cuts for social housing tenants
If you’re renting from a local authority, housing association or registered social landlord, then your Housing Benefit may be cut if you are considered to have a spare bedroom. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘Bedroom Tax’, the ‘under-occupation penalty’ or the ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’.
Find out more in our guide Cuts to Housing Benefit for social housing tenants
Changes to the Social Fund
Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans
Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans were abolished on 1 April 2013. They have been replaced by support provided by your local authority in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.
- If you live in England, see this interactive map on the Children’s Society website to find your local welfare assistance scheme
- If you live in Scotland, find out more about the Scottish Welfare Fund on the Scottish Government website
- If you live in Wales, the Welsh Government has introduced the Discretionary Assistance Fund
- If you live in Northern Ireland find out more about changes to the Social Fund on the nidirect website
As people are being moved onto Universal Credit, Budgeting Loans are being replaced by a new system of Budgeting Advances.
Find out more about Budgeting Advances on the Citizens Advice website.
If you’re not yet getting Universal Credit you can still claim Budgeting Loans.
Find out more about Budgeting Loans from the Social Fund
What you can do about the changes
If you’re affected by these benefit changes and you’re worried about managing on less money, the first step is to make sure you know exactly how much you have coming in and what you have to spend it on.
Every year your council is given a pot of money to help people in the short term who are having trouble paying their rent. The council decides who should be given what they call ‘Discretionary Housing Payments’
You might also find it useful to read some of our pages on how to save money on household bills.