From April many households across the country will see changes to the level of their benefits. Make sure you are aware of the changes and how they may affect you. The best way to do this is to check with your local council or the DWP, but here at HomeCareDirect we are doing a series of blogs which give you an idea of some of the big changes that may affect you.

Today’s blog focuses on some state benefits that may affect you:

From 1st April 2013 the benefit cap comes into effect and will limit the amount of benefit couples and lone parents households can receive to around £500 per week or £26,000 per year.  Benefits claims for single people will be limited to around £350 per week.  The DWP have begun writing to people whose benefits may be capped, giving them the opportunity to ring the helpline and help and support.  Also the Jobcentre Plus and local councils will be told which claimants may be affected to enable them the help and support they may need.

Pensions – As State Pensions has increased more than the rate of inflation from 1st April 2013 the standard minimum guarantee will increase by £2.70 to £145.40 a week for a single person and by £4.15 to £222.05 a week for a couple.  Pension Credit (savings credit) maximum amount will reduce from £18.54 to £18.06 a week for a single person and from £23.73 to £22.89 for a couple.

Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance – DLA and AA which are the benefits specifically for disabled people are increasing by 2.2% in 2013.  This increase also affects Carers Allowance.

Government ministers want to replace DLA with a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) however these changes are proving worrying for many disabled people and there are ongoing discussions regarding these changes and how they will be enforced and regulated to ensure they are fair and do not negatively affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Universal Credit – Universal Credit is a new single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income.  Universal Credit will bring together a range of working-age benefits into a single payment.  It will replace Housing Benefit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-based Employment and Support allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.  It will be paid on a monthly basis and will usually be paid in arrears directly to claimants, just like a monthly salary.

Universal Credit is currently expected to be administered by the Jobcentre Plus and is likely to be put in place between October 2013 and 2017.

For further information see www.dwp.gov.uk

If you believe you could be affected by any of these changes the best this to do is to check with your local council to see how your personal circumstances and allowances may be affected, but here at HomeCareDirect we’re happy to help point you in the right direction if you wish to contact us here.