Starting this April, the UK is set to face a number of amendments to the benefits system in an aim to streamline the scheme and interest more people in work. The changes however are controversial and have been met with a large degree of opposition from the likes of other politicians and a number of charities who feel that the changes will threaten the stability of families with the potential to cause widespread debt.
One area of benefits expecting a change is disability living allowances, which are to be removed in place of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). PIP will be applicable to those of working age and will be distributed progressively throughout England starting on the 8th of April. The change has met opposition because it means that one fifth less people will be able to claim PIP than those who claimed Disability Living Allowance. PIP is expected to have a fraud rate of 0.5% and seeks to simplify disability benefits, in spite of this a number of disability organisations have argued that the introduction of PIP is merely a way to save the government money.
A benefits cap will be brought in from the 15th of April which will cap benefits for one adult of working age at £350 a week while two parents or a single parent will expect to have a cap at £500 a week with the number of children not being taken into account. This will mean that those affected will not be able to receive any more than this cap despite what they could earn if they received all of their benefits.
Universal credit will replace Working tax credit, Child tax credit, Income support, Income-based jobseeker’s allowance, Income-related employment support allowance and Housing benefit. It will allow 3.1 million households to receive more benefits with an average gain of £16 a month. In contrast 2.8 million household will receive less.
Housing benefit changes will mean that families living in council houses will see their housing benefit reduced by 14% if they have one spare bedroom, families with two and over spare bedrooms will see a loss of 25% of their housing benefit.
Council Tax Benefit will be replaced by government funding to councils throughout England, Scotland and Wales for Council Tax Support Schemes. This will see an average loss of £137 per year for over 3 million families in England alone.
Benefits are set to receive an uprating cap of 1% on the 8th of April below inflation, close to what public sector pay rises which are at 1% and will affect 4.1 million households in 2013-14 (receiving an average of £0.90 less per week) and 9.6 million households in 2014-15 and 2015-16 (receiving an average of £3 less per week).