April is always a time of change in the world of welfare benefits. So, it seems a good time to focus on what has changed and tell you about other helpful bits of information for the coming benefits year.
The good news is that some benefits have increased from April 2019. Not all of them, as the Government imposed a 4 year freeze on increases back in 2016! However, the following weekly increases did happen from April 2019:
DLA (for those aged under 16 and also anyone not yet migrated to PIP)
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For people receiving ESA and in the support group, their weekly extra component for being in this support group increased from £37.65 to £38.55.
For people receiving Universal Credit and in the support group, their monthly element for being in this support group increased from £328.32 to £336.20.
Finally, carers also saw an increase to their benefits. Carer’s Allowance increased from £64.60 to £66.15 weekly. For carers who receive the carer premium within benefits such as Income Support or Housing Benefit, this increased from £36 to £36.85 weekly. Carers in receipt of Universal Credit saw their monthly carer element increase from £156.45 to £160.20.
Hopefully, next April will see an increase to all the benefit rates as many of them have not kept pace with the rate of inflation and general living costs.
Migration from DLA to Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
In late March 2019, the Government announced that the full roll-out of Personal Independence Payment will not be completed until February 2021. They have had to postpone moving some people from DLA to PIP because they don’t have enough staff to complete the transfer. Why? Where have the staff gone??
Well, 250 staff who were busy undertaking the transfers from DLA to PIP have been moved on to another piece of work – namely, correcting a large number of earlier PIP decisions. This was caused by a successful court case which meant the DWP had to go back and correct lots of previous PIP decisions!
So, if you haven’t already been transferred from DLA to PIP, you may be waiting a little bit longer.
Universal Credit (UC)
People can hardly have avoided hearing about Universal Credit (UC). The news reports mention lengthy delays, people being worse off than before, incorrect and late payments, and people being forced to manage everything online – even if they don’t have, or can’t use, a computer! All very worrying if you have a disability and require support with benefits and computers.
However, unless you are a brand newbenefits claimant, you will probably not have had to claim UC yet. In fact, you will probably not have been contacted about it at all. Why is this?
The reason is simple. The move to UC is proceeding very slowly as the Government is, very sensibly, trying to iron out lots of the problems, before asking claimants of existing benefits to move over to UC. So, when will you be asked to make the move?
There are two ways in which people might move to UC – managed migration or natural migration. How do these work?
Managed migration to UC: Most people will not move to UC until the Government officially asks them to do so (known as managed migration). The details of how this will happen are still being finalised, but the Government are testing out the migration process starting July 2019 in Harrogate. Only after they have got this process working properly, will they start moving people in other geographical areas. So, it could be 1-3 years before the letter lands on your doormat asking you to make your UC claim.
Some people may be worse off under UC, but managed migration has built-in protection. So, if your UC award pays you less than your old benefits, you will be paid an amount of Transitional Protection to make up for the shortfall. This means that you will not be worse off.
It is important to stress that not everyone will be worse off under UC. Some people will actually be considerably better off! To find out how much UC you will be entitled to, you could check using one of the online benefits calculators – like the one at www.turn2us.org.uk
Natural migration to UC: Some people might have to move to UC before the Government requires them to do so. This could happen where someone has a change of circumstances, which would require them to make a brand new claim for one of the benefits that UC has taken over from. Unfortunately, in most cases, you are now not allowed to do this, so you have to claim UC instead. This is known as ‘natural migration’. This is not such good news. Within ‘natural migration’, if your monthly income from UC is less than your previous benefits income, there is no Transitional Protection. You will just be worse off.
This problem means that people, understandably, want to avoid moving to UC until ‘managed migration’ – to ensure they are not worse off financially.
Well, there is good news for one group of claimants who can avoid moving to UC until ‘managed migration’, even if they have a change of circumstances! They are claimants who receive a Severe Disability premium within their existing benefits (such as ESA or Housing Benefit) – or did receive that premium within their benefits within the last month. Why does this exception apply? It is to ensure the most vulnerable people are guaranteed their right to Transitional Protection should they be worse off on UC. Sadly, this only came into place as some claimants challenged the Government in court to get it put in place.
So, that’s the round up complete! Remember – if you need help with your benefits claims, Mandatory Reconsiderations or PIP or ESA or UC Appeals, then please contact our Benefits Consultants: Amy Swinnerton or Jayne Knights by emailing email@example.com