Some major changes have been made to the benefits system, and others are being introduced. These particularly affect people of working age, but some of the changes will affect older people too.
Here are some of the main changes:
Universal Credit is being rolled out nationally and will replace the following benefits for people of working age (people below Pension Credit age):
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit.
If Universal Credit is being introduced to your area, anyone who is making a new claim will have to claim it. If you’re already claiming any of the above benefits you will eventually be transferred to Universal Credit.
It's expected most people will move to Universal Credit by 2021. If you have reached Pension credit age (63 years in April 2016), you may not be affected unless you are part of a couple and one of you is below this age.
Find out more about Universal Credit
As Housing Benefit is being abolished, Pension Credit will change. It may include a new housing credit to help towards rent. It’s unclear when this will happen.
As Child Tax Credit is being abolished, Pension Credit will include additional amounts for dependent children. It's not clear when this change will happen but it's unlikely to be before October 2016.
There may be a new savings limit for Pension Credit. There is currently no savings limit. The Savings Credit element of Pension Credit will also no longer be available to those who reach State pension age from 6 April 2016.
Find out more about Pension Credit
Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claimants. PIP is a benefit for adults under the age of 65, who are disabled or have long-term health conditions. When someone receiving PIP reaches 65, they can keep claiming it as long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria.
If you currently get DLA you may be reassessed for PIP. If you were under 65 on 8 April 2013, you'll be reassessed for PIP at some point in the future. If you were over 65 on 8 April 2013 and getting DLA you'll continue to receive it for as long as you're eligible.
Find out more about:
Council Tax Support
Council Tax Benefit has been abolished and replaced with local Council Tax Support schemes. If you're of State Pension age, you'll continue to get the same level of support as under the previous system. Contact your local council to find out whether you qualify for help under their scheme.
Find out more abut Council Tax Support
If you’re under Pension Credit age and rent a property in the social housing sector (local authority or housing association), Housing Benefit is reduced if you're considered to have more bedrooms than required. This has been called the 'bedroom tax'.
As explained above, under Universal Credit you are treated as ‘working age’ if you're a pensioner but have a younger partner - so some pensioners may be affected by this in the future.
Find out more about Housing Benefit
The benefit cap is the maximum amount of benefits you can claim if you’re not working. Currently the cap is £26,000 a year, although it will be reduced later in 2016 to £23,000 in London and £20,000 elsewhere.
You may be affected if you’re under Pension Credit age, or if you’re over 63 and live with a spouse or partner below that age and:
- you or your partner claims Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- you or your partner claims Universal Credit.
The cap won't apply if you receive Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Working Tax Credit, ESA support component or war widow’s pension. Initially the cap reduces Housing Benefit payments, but in future any deduction will be through Universal Credit.