Table of Contents
- Lone Parent Benefits Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance
- Lone Parents and Universal Credit Delays
- Universal Credit For Self-Employed Delays
- Bedroom Tax
- Representing Yourself in Court + Legal Aid
- Working Tax Credits Retained For 16 Hours if Carer
- Child Tax Credit for post-16 Home Education
- Links for Jobseeker's and Child Tax Credits
- Working Tax Credit and New Enterprise Allowance
- Housing Benefit + Benefits Cap
- Mandatory Work Activity Scheme
- Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment Regulations
Page last updated December 7th 2013Changes made possible by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 will mostly come into force by 2017 and welfare rights cases have been taken out of the scope of Legal Aid. See http://www.lapg.co.uk/need-legal-advice-poster http://www.cpag.org.uk/bookshop/wbtch Child Poverty Action Group Welfare Handbook 2013-14. See also http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/specialist-guides/decision-makers-guide/#new DWP new Decision Makers Guides and consolidated pdf Decision Makers Guides October 2013 https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3783983/Consolidated%20Ferret%20ADM.pdf via this page http://blog.cix.co.uk/gmorgan/2013/05/22/advice-for-decision-makers-a-consolidated-version/
Lone Parent Benefits: Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance
Lone parents' entitlement to Income Support ceases once their youngest child reaches age 5. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/874/regulation/1/made http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/m-23-12.pdf http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/factsheet/26/Claiming-Income-Support-and-other-benefits
Lone parents are eligible for Jobseeker's Allowance if they are seeking work of at least/no less than 16 hours a week See the Explanatory Note to Regulation 13A, The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Lone Parents) (Availability for Work) Regulations 2010 No. 837 which permits lone parents with a child under age 13 to restrict their working hours to the child's normal school hours. The JSA regime has been modified to take account of the caring responsibilities of all parents who have children living in their household.
"While people will need to demonstrate that they have made genuine efforts to locate such childcare, this will provide lone parents who educate their children at home with protection if no local services that meet their needs are available."
Read the letter from Minister Chris Grayling about home educators on JSA here.
To make a successful claim for Jobseeker's Allowance the lone parent must sign an agreement to look for at least/no less than 16 hours work a week During the course of the JSA claim, the lone parent will be expected to sign on at the JobCentre once a fortnight. Failure to attend interviews or to comply with requirements of the JSA regime may ultimately result in the parent's personal allowance being cut by 40%. Jobseeker's Allowance is made up of a personal allowance for the adult claimant plus an allowance for children, also known as Child Tax Credit. It should be noted that the Child Tax Credit element of the JSA payment will not be cut. (See the Gingerbread Fact Sheet for more information.) The only parents permitted to remain on Income Support after their children reach the maximum qualifying age will be those who receive Carer's Allowance. Entitlement to CA is only triggered by being the official carer for someone entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at medium or high rate.
Jobcentre Plus contact the lone parent 8 weeks before their Income Support is due to stop. At the start of a new claim for Jobseeker's Allowance, the claimant is required to attend an interview where the Jobseeker's Agreement will be drawn up and signed by the claimant. Normally, JSA lone parent claimants are expected to sign on 2-weekly and have an Action Plan for seeking employment of at least 16 hours. This is called the "fortnightly job review" or FJR. At the fortnightly signing-on or FJR, claimants are expected to indicate what activities they have undertaken in their quest for work. At set points during the first year of a claim for JSA the claimant is required to attend the JobCentre more frequently. Click here for information about postal signing for claimants who live more than an hour from the nearest JobCentre (by public transport).
The regulations for home educating lone parents on Jobseeker's Allowance are the same as for all other lone parents. While receiving Income Support home educating lone parents must attend mandatory Work Focused Interviews or face benefit sanctions unless different arrangements have been agreed in advance with the JobCentre. Home educating lone parents who take the view that home education is a full time job and that therefore the parent is not in any conceivable circumstances available for paid work will not meet the requirements of Jobseeker's Allowance. Home educators who refuse to consider any options for formal childcare in order to be available for work will also not meet the requirements of Jobseeker's Allowance, Staff at the JobCentre should not suggest using school or older siblings for childcare purposes so that the home educating lone parent can take a job. Nor should staff at the JobCentre suggest that children may be left alone while the parent goes out to work. If there is no appropriate affordable childcare, the home educating lone parent is currently entitled to turn down a job offer or to leave a job. In Committee on April 26th 2011 Minister Chris Grayling assured MPs that "Jobcentre Plus cannot instruct a grandparent to look after a child. We recognise the importance of informal child care—in many family situations, it may be the best option available—but Jobcentre Plus cannot require a third-party adult to provide unpaid, informal child care."
Lone Parents and Universal Credit Delays
Further delays to the introduction of Universal Credit were announced in parliament on December 5th 2013.
From summer 2104 a limited number of Jobcentres will start to process new claims for Universal Credit from couples without children. In autumn 2014 new claims will start in some areas for families. By the end of 2016 the aim is for all new claims to be for Universal Credit "with the majority of the remaining legacy caseload [ie existing claims] moving to Universal Credit during 2016 and 2017"
When Universal Credit is brought in for lone parents, lone parents whose youngest child is aged 1 will have some conditionality attached to their benefits and may be required to participate in "work readiness" schemes. There will be 4 grades of conditionality: full conditionality; work preparation; keeping in touch with the labour market; and no conditionality. Read the Universal Credit Regulations here, published December 2012. 91.—(1) For the purposes of section 20(1)(a) of the Act (claimant is the responsible carer for a child aged at least 1 and under a prescribed age) the prescribed age is 5." [ie work-focused interview only] (page 50). 88.-2(b) where the claimant is a responsible carer for a child under the age of 13, the number of hours that the Secretary of State considers is compatible with the child's normal school hours (including the normal time it takes the child to travel to and from school)"
Lone Parents, Self-Employment and Universal Credit Delays
Further delays to the introduction of Universal Credit were announced in parliament on December 5th 2013.
DWP Press Release October 28th 2013 Universal Credit starts in Hammersmith only - for single claimants with no dependants, disabilities, or earnings.
"In future, if you are self-employed and on benefits, you may be moved onto Universal Credit if
your circumstances have not changed for some time. If this happens, you will not be subject
to a minimum income floor for the first six months of your claim. This will give you time to
increase your earnings and makes sure that you do not lose out due to the change."
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/209511/universal-credit-toolkit-quick-guide-self-employment.pdf PUBLISHED APRIL 2013
Universal Credit will bring substantial changes for the self-employed as the Government envisages a Minimum Income Floor, which will apply after the first or "trial year" of self-employment (known as "the start-up period." Regulations on the Minimum Income Floor and the Start-up Year can be found here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/376/part/6/chapter/2/crossheading/gainful-selfemployment/made For lone parents the change will probably start to take effect from May 2014 to 2017 as existing claimants are migrated on to Universal Credit. The start-up period (exemption from assumed Minimum Income Floor and job-search requirements) relates to the first year of a new business, which must have begun trading in the 12 months preceding the claim for Universal Credit. The controlled start from April 2013 did not apply to self-employed claimants, see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/386/contents/made
63.—(1) A "start-up period" is a period of 12 months and applies from the beginning of the assessment period in which the Secretary of State determines that a claimant is in gainful self-employment where—
(a) the claimant has begun to carry on the trade, profession or vocation which is their main
employment in the 12 months preceding the beginning of that assessment period; and
(b) the claimant is taking active steps to increase their earnings from that employment to the level of the claimant’s individual threshold (see regulation 90).
(2) But no start-up period may apply in relation to a claimant where a start-up period has previously applied in relation to that claimant, whether in relation to the current award or any previous award of universal credit, unless that previous start-up period—
(a) began more than 5 years before the beginning of assessment period referred to in paragraph (1); and
37(b) applied in relation to a different trade, profession or vocation which the claimant has ceased to carry on.
(3) The Secretary of State may terminate a start-up period at any time if the person is no longer in gainful self-employment or is no longer taking the steps referred to in paragraph (1)(b). Meaning of “gainful self-employment”
64. A claimant is in gainful self-employment for the purposes of regulations 62 and 63 where the Secretary of State has determined that—
(a) the claimant is carrying on a trade, profession or vocation as their main employment;
(b) their earnings from that trade, profession or vocation are self-employed earnings; and
(c) the trade, profession or vocation is organised, developed, regular and carried on in expectation of profit.
See also http://www.permaculturehouseintotnes.co.uk/1/post/2013/03/universal-credit-and-the-self-employed.html and Briefing Paper (8 page pdf) July 2013 http://www.permaculturehouseintotnes.co.uk/uploads/7/5/5/9/7559725/universal_credit_briefing.pdf
DWP Universal Credit Personal Planner
October 2013 Contact-a-Family: http://www.cafamily.org.uk/news-and-media/further-bedroom-tax-developments-%E2%80%93-advice-for-families/?utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite DWP Drops Appeal Against Disabled Children Sharing Bedroom: High Court says Regulations Must Reflect This: http://paullewismoney.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-bedroom-tax.html At the end of July the High Court directed that the Government must now make Regulations very speedily to show that there should be no deduction of housing benefit where an extra bedroom is required for children who are unable to share because of their disabilities. Background: Disabled Children Not Able To Share Room: Bedroom Tax update March 12th 2013 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hb-bulletin-g32013 via http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130107093842/http:/www.dwp.gov.uk/ See also https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/184207/discretionary-housing-payments-guide.pdf DWP Discretionary Housing Payments Guidance Manual Including Local Authority Good Practice Guide April 2013
Right to Court of Appeal Granted September 2013: http://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2013/September-2013/Bedroom-Tax-to-be-challenged-in-the-Court-of-Appea See also http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewforum/8/ and Benefits and Work Newsletter October 2013 which has further details of Bedroom Tax appeals
Representing Yourself in Court + Legal Aid
People representing themselves in court are known as "litigant in person". This practice is likely to increase following the huge cuts to the legal aid budget as a result of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. Here are some useful links:
http://www.thelawyer.com/practice-areas/litigation-/-dispute-resolution/how-can-lawyers-learn-to-love-litigants-in-person/3003817.article The judiciary and the bar have downloadable pamphlets offering help and guidance to litigants in person http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/JCO%2fDocuments%2fCJC%2fPublications%2fOther+papers%2fSmall+Claims+Guide+for+web+FINAL.pdf (wider applicability than just small claims) and http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media/203109/srl_guide_final_for_online_use.pdf
http://bam.turn2us.org.uk/fact-sheets Benefits Cap; Universal Credit; Council Tax Benefit; Housing Benefit; Social Fund; Disability Living Allowance
Latest ESA 50 questionnaire interactive guide
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/housing_benefit_and_local_housing_allowance/housing_benefit_problems_delays_and_appeals/housing_benefit_reviews_and_appeals/appealing_a_housing_benefit_decision Shelter Guide to Housing Benefit Appeals
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/377/contents/made Web page for Welfare Reform Act regulations
In early 2012 the Government consulted on the new thresholds and assessment process for PIP, which will replace DLA for over-16s. My consultation response to download/read as web page http://edyourself.org/PIPconsultation.pdf
http://edyourself.org/articles/PIPconsultation.php Click here for the We Are Spartacus consultation response http://wearespartacus.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/wearespartacus-pip-submission-30-4-12.pdf (contributor)
Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carer's Allowance may be claimed online. It is necessary first to register with Government Gateway and receive a unique ID number through the post
Two grades of PIP vs 3 grades of Disability Living Allowance
Maximum level of support via disability additions cut from £54 to £27 p.w.
Disability Living Allowance: Cooking a Main Meal Test
Carers' Working Tax Credits Retained for 16 HoursCouples will continue to receive the credits IF one partner works 16 hours per week AND their partner is entitled to Carer’s Allowance. See http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/21/03/2012/118088/tax-credit-u-turn-for-families-with-disabled-children.htm Income Support may be claimed when a person is receiving carer's allowance which is payable where the person cared for gets the middle or highest rate of disability living allowance (DLA) care component
Child Tax Credit for post-16 Home Education
Child Tax Credits are payable for children under the age of 16 and for children over the age of 16 who are in full-time education, including home education. Home education is recognised as a valid form of full-time education for Child Benefit and for Child Tax Credit purposes. See our page on Child Benefit for further information. The young person must be taught or supervised for 12+ hours a week and will be "working towards qualifications". In both college-based further education and home-based education, "working towards qualifications" does not mean that the student must be signed up for an exam course. It should be noted that certain types of work-based education are excluded from Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit, as is Higher Education (Level 4).
The deadline for returning Child Tax Credit paperwork is July 31st and the previous year's CTC may be affected if HMRC does not receive the information in time. Gov.uk page on tax credits
In Work Benefits, Working Tax Credits and New Enterprise Allowancehttp://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130705033944/http://dwp.gov.uk/docs/in-work-credit-faqs.pdf In Work Credit, £40pw inc self-employment ceased in October 2013
Citizens Advice Bureau Guide to Working Tax Credit
Tax Credits Guide from Contact-a-Family
How Do Tax Credits Work for Self-Employed
Low Income Tax Reform Group: Self Employment
Rightsnet forum: Working Tax Credit minimum hours/earnings
HMRC Manual Tax Credits Guide Self Employed
Department Work and Pensions page on New Enterprise Allowance
When Can You Get Help with Your Mortgage?(Money Saving Expert)
Housing Benefit + Benefits CapThe Government limits the amount of Housing Benefit that can be paid for certain types of privately rented property. This is known as the Local Housing Allowance. Parliamentary Briefing Paper on Housing Benefit Changes and here and here http://www.turn2us.org.uk/information__resources/benefits/benefits_news_and_changes/benefit_cap.aspx for information on the Benefit Cap which will be introduced in 2013. See http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/housing_benefit_and_local_housing_allowance/housing_benefit_changes_2013 http://www.spartacusforum.org.uk/forum/index.php/topic,2585.msg6189.html#msg6189 phased introduction of Benefits Cap, only 4 London boroughs in April 2013. Letter from DWP 19th December 2012 here http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/pdfs/DWP_benefit_cap_letter.pdf
Mandatory Work Activity Scheme
From June 2011 the Mandatory Work Activity Scheme Regulations came into effect. The regulations give the employment services the discretion to direct claimants on Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment Support Allowance into a period of mandatory work activity if it is felt that the claimant is out of touch with the job market. The Department of Work and Pensions Press Release on Mandatory Work Activity has further details. In March 2011 the House of Lords Merits Committee registered a complaint against this scheme and on 10th May 2011 the House of Lords introduced a Motion to Regret. In response, the Minister Lord Freud assured peers that childcare costs would be paid to participants on the scheme and that "lack of suitable childcare is good cause for failing to attend. Therefore there would be no sanction." See also Single Parent Action Network and the Work Programme, December 2011
Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment Regulations
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/2231/introduction/made Personal Independence Payment (Transitional Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 coming into force October 6th 2013
Universal Credit Regulations 2013 Statutory Instrument No.376 Made 25th February 2013 Came into force 29th April 2013
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/377/made The Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/386/contents/made The Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2013, came into force 29th April 2013
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/358/contents/made The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.8 and Savings and Transitional Provisions) Order 2013
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/universal-credit-pathfinder-update and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21972026 Early roll-out scaled back, March 2013
http://www.turn2us.org.uk/information__resources/benefits/universal_credit/uc_overview.aspx Universal Credit overview
Motability statement, transitional arrangements. October 1st 2013