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worried about new benefits squeeze and universal credit

(12 Posts)
lizzie479 Mon 07-Jan-13 22:15:51

Thanks Jake bullet. I live in hope that it gets better.

JakeBullet Sun 06-Jan-13 16:04:42

The Lone Parent Advisor was equally complimentary about the Governments job search website.

sorry this is happening to you, I have been in your position too but thankfully am 5 years down the line now. It does get better.

JakeBullet Sun 06-Jan-13 16:03:09

I spoke to a Lone Parent Advisor recently as although I am currently a Carer I don't want to do this forever and a day. While I was there we got chatting about the changes. He said to me that all this has been tried before and it didn't work before and won't work now, So lots of confidence in it from the Jobcentreplus folk.

I am a single parent with one child in a two bedroom house so these changes will not start to affect me as quickly as some which point I may be back in work anyhow.

lizzie479 Sun 06-Jan-13 15:57:32

Thanks for all your advice ladies. Especially about not worrying about things you can't control. I just hate my ex for leaving me in this worrying position. Seriously amazed that you will be expected to seek work when your youngest is one! That beggars belief! My sister works for the job centre and has said she does not know what is happening with universal credit as they are being kept in the dark too. But by the tone of her voice on the phone I think she is witholding frightening facts from me sad

StormyBrid Sun 06-Jan-13 00:03:21

Others have covered the housing and council tax benefit so I'll not add anything to that.

April 2013 is when the pilots of universal credit are set to begin, in various parts of the northwest. It rolls out nationally in October, in theory. I say in theory because there are that many flaws in the system, I'm hopeful it'll be rather longer before it goes nationwide.

Under universal credit you'll be expected to seek work when your youngest child turns one, not five. It's looking increasingly likely that "seeking work" is going to involve thirty five hours a week applying for inappropriate jobs on a shambles of a website run by a company with a reputation for losing sensitive personal data. If you find a part-time job you'll be required to do everything in your power to secure yourself additional hours, potentially even if that means abandoning permanent work in favour of temporary work. Something like eight hundred thousand people on the lowest incomes are expected to be less well-off under universal credit, and single parents are set to be some of the worst affected.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm coping by assuming the government are out to screw me over, because they're completely ignoring all evidence that universal credit is a disaster waiting to happen. Although as Cogito says, try not to worry - there appears to be bugger all any of us can do about the upcoming changes, so why waste the energy on worrying?

redhappy Fri 04-Jan-13 10:52:49

That's intereating stoofadoof, I haven't heard anything from my council about council tax changes. I am hoping that means that effectively nothing will change for me, but I will give them a call anyway.

stoofadoof Fri 04-Jan-13 09:08:36

sorry, should have also added - lots of the local authorities are facing massive changes and it's possible yours hasn't sussed out yet exactly what it's going to do…

also, redhappy 's right - UC is introduced in October but initially it will only apply to new income based JSA claims, and initially only in defined geographical local authority areas which haven't yet been determined… it's likely to be the smaller local authorities as the computer system they are building to handle all the UC claims hasn't yet been finalised and initial processing is going to be done manually, so no immediate worries for October… I think though lizzie that you do need to suss out if you're going to be hit by the changes that are coming in April in relation to housing benefit and council tax benefit...

stoofadoof Fri 04-Jan-13 08:39:12

lizzie if you're renting you may well be hit by the 'bedroom tax' which comes in with immediate full effect in April. This is part of the reforms that came in with the comprehensive spending review and emergency budget back in 2010, and not to do with the introduction of Universal Credit as part of hte Welfare REform Act from October…

the CSR introduced a number of things, including increasing the non-dependent deduction tapers, changes to the local housing allowance, the 'bedroom tax' and the abolition of council tax benefit.

All of these should be explained to you by your local authority housing benefit department - they will be able to advise you if you're going to be affected by any of them.

the local housing allowance changes will impact if you rent privately and the bedroom tax changes if you rent from a housing association or local authority.

The bedroom tax will cause you to lose 14% of benefit if you have 1 'spare' room and 25% of benefit if you have 2plus spare bedrooms… the definitions of 'spare' are tight eg they have changed the ages to which children should share and they do not allow older couples to sleep separately even if for medical reasons.

the bedroom tax changes (ie the 14 and 25% cuts) are universal, but the abolition of council tax benefit isn't. The benefit is being abolished universally, but is to be replaced by local schemes which will be designed and implemented by the individual local authorities, so it very much depends on where you live as to what will happen. The local authorities have to make savings of 10% on what was their 'council tax benefit' - some local authorities will choose to reduce 'benefit' payments by 10%. Others have abandoned the lone person discounts in order to cover 'benefit' payments for those on low incomes. Others have increased their charges to second home owners or owners of empty properties in order to fund the 10% shortfall…

I suggest that you give your local authority housing benefit team a call to see if they can explain to you what will happen with your individual circumstances. If you're unable to get through, or if you find them unhelpful (neither of which is unheard of!!) I suggest trying your local CAB, or law centre, or benefits advice centre for some more advice (assuming these services haven't been completely cut yet in your area!)

the benefit cap may or may not apply - two main things to consider here - either the rate of benefit that you're currently receiving from DWP (eg are you on high rated benefits?) and the area you live in (ie how much rent and council tax you pay) The benefit cap when it comes in will apply to ALL benefits including housing and council tax, so for many of those in the south east where rents and council tax tends to be highest, you may be hit, even if your DWP 'benefits' income is fairly low.

The information you need to be able to work out what will happen with your individual circumstances is probably available on the net somewhere - ie on your local authority website, but these can often be difficult to get to and understand which is why I suggest asking for some help - also to help put your mind at rest or at least allow you to plan for what's coming!

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Jan-13 22:15:17

The main 'squeeze' so far has been to withdraw benefits like tax credits etc. from people on fairly good incomes. The Universal Credit will amalgamate lots of different benefits into one monthly payment and the aim is that no-one loses out. At the same time there will be a cap of something like £25,000 for the total amount you can claim... probably not applicable to you. There's a lot of scaremongering going about but the whole idea is that there is more money for people who genuinely need it ie. you.... and less wasted. Try not to worry.

lizzie479 Thu 03-Jan-13 20:56:58

Oh, I thought they were starting in April 2013 so thats a relief. My youngest child is one. Its just my housing benefit is not fullt paid and now I have received a letter to say the council tax benefit will be cut but not sure by how much and by what conditions???? Its all very daunting especially when I turn on the radio and hear the PM banging on about the benefits squeeze. Bad time to become a single mum!

redhappy Thu 03-Jan-13 20:45:29

The changes will start in Oct 2013, so that is a little way away, also they will just afect new applicants to start with. How old is your youngest child? You will be expected to look for work once they turn 5.

lizzie479 Thu 03-Jan-13 20:25:19

Hi I have just become a single mum and have just worked out I can just about manage on benefits until I find a job (because there are so many out there sad But am worried about all the benefits being reduced. It seems to be a drip drip effect of reducing the money and I am scared. I am dreading universal credit coming in. How is everyone else coping?

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