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Welfare Reform 2014 Perspectives from the work of Sheffield Citizens Advice.

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Presentation on theme: "Welfare Reform 2014 Perspectives from the work of Sheffield Citizens Advice."— Presentation transcript:

1 Welfare Reform 2014 Perspectives from the work of Sheffield Citizens Advice

2 Features of welfare reform? Immense package of welfare changes with a wide range of implementation dates Eventually one in 7 Sheffield residents will be affected with working age people and people with disabilities in particular affected Households often experience multiple impacts

3 Scale of change?

4 The intended and the unintended consequences….. Scale of change = administrative fall-out, processing delays, confusion, misinformation Complexity increased, simplicity decreased Discretionary help (uncertainty for budgeting & forward planning) replacing entitlements (more certainty) Big gap in “crisis” help Coping strategies- how are families and individuals responding to the changes?

5 Keeping up with changes


7 Still impacting seriously……: Employment and Support Allowance replacing incapacity benefit – long term impact of difficulties with this ATOS & appeals, sanctions introduced Job-seekers Allowance sanctions increased frequency and length New rules on “Claimant Commitment” Sanctions often lead (wrongly) to stopping of housing benefit. This is due to an error in the DWP computer system which generates misleading correspondence.

8 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Relevant to new claimants i.e. people with deteriorating health problems (newly disabled) PIP intended to gradually replace Disability Living Allowance for 16-65 year olds (implementation of roll-out is delayed for timebeing) A points-based system similar to ESA Points will be assessed by ATOS (one assessment centre only in Sheffield) Stricter residence rules affecting some people severely… SEVERE ADMINISTRATIVE PROBLEMS AND DELAYS (5-6 MONTHS PROCESSING DELAYS 9 daily activities activities 2 related to mobility 2 components both at “standard” and “enhanced” rate Where to find out more…. rs_ew/benefits_personal_independence_payment_e.htm rs_ew/benefits_personal_independence_payment_e.htm

9 Benefit cap- what is it? Benefit ‘cap’ on the overall level of combined benefits and credits a workless household (with no disability benefits) can receive to around £500/week for lone parents/couples, or £350/week for single people. 155 Sheffield households (837 children) currently affected- about half in private rented accommodation Effects on private tenants/new refugees

10 Council Tax Support Replaced the national Council Tax Benefit scheme. In Sheffield all working age households now pay at least 23% of the bill (33,000 working age people in Sheffield affected) Large numbers receive liability summons (enforcement action on priority debt) Hardship scheme (discretionary) (7857 awards made – year to March 14)

11 Under-occupancy rule (bedroom tax/spare room subsidy) Housing benefit restrictions on council and housing association tenants “Extra rooms” beyond basic needs: 14% HB reduction for one extra room 25% HB reduction for 2 or more extra rooms 4076 tenancies in Sheffield affected (March 2014) Updates: Children with disabilities who share a bedroom (receipt of DLA is key) Pre 1996 “loophole” – now closed

12 Localised Discretionary Help includes: Discretionary Housing Payments (6617 awards made in year to March 14) A DHP can be awarded to top-up Housing Benefit, but the total amount cannot be more than your rent liability. The shortfall to Housing Benefit may exist for a number of reasons, for example: Housing Benefit has been restricted under the maximum rent rules. The presence of a non-dependent in the household. The level of income of the household. Single / Shared Room Restriction, due to the claimant being under 35 years of age. Council Tax Hardship Scheme (7857 awards made in year to March 14) SCC consider awarding assistance from the CTHS if you are suffering from severe financial hardship and you are unable to pay the difference between the Council Tax you are charged and the amount of CTS you receive.

13 Big gaps in “crisis” help Short-Term Benefit Advances (DWP) – hard to access Local Assistance Loans & Grants restricted to people on qualifying benefits Confusing array of other discretionary help

14 Short Term Benefit Advances (DWP) For people who have claimed a benefit and not been paid (excludes PIP & DLA or pending appeals) You have claimed a benefit and are waiting for your claim to be decided, or awaiting an increase, you have been awarded a benefit but it has not yet been paid (Only if the DWP think an award will be made?????) AND: You must also be able to show that, because of the delay in paying your benefit, or the delay in paying the correct amount of benefit, you are in financial need. This is defined as a serious risk of damage to your own health or safety, or the health or safety of a member of your family. You must also be able to show that you have no other access to funds, including help from other family members AND: You must be “in the know” about the scheme. The scheme is NOT being promoted & many clients are being wrongly refused and or signposted back to the LA

15 Local Assistance scheme Developed when DWP discretionary social fund- Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans were abolished in 2013 Local Assistance Grants- in place of Community Care Grants 1772 grants awarded in year to March 2014 NB- “Families under exceptional pressure” may qualify Sheffield Local Assistance Loans- in place of crisis loans 1225 loans awarded in year to March 2014 NB- Qualifying criteria excludes people whose benefit has been interrupted (unless they have hardship payment in place) Restricted to people on qualifying benefits Both elements are under-subscribed

16 (Eventually) Universal credit will combine… * Income Support * Income based Jobseekers Allowance * Income related Employment and Support Allowance * Child Tax Credit * Working Tax Credit * Housing Benefit

17 Potential issues with UC Universal Credit will normally: Be paid monthly in arrears Be paid to a single person in the household Housing Benefit that has been paid directly to the landlord, it will now come to the claimant instead. Childcare anomalies- need fixing mpaign_success/universalcreditcampaign.htm mpaign_success/universalcreditcampaign.htm

18 Statistics and Beyond…

19 Understanding the impact

20 Citizens Advice Service We help people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice, and by influencing policymakers.

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