April heralds a number of changes to the benefits system as part of the government’s welfare reforms.
These changes will make work pay, improve support for disabled people, and help ensure the benefit system is financially sustainable in the future, whilst still supporting those who need it.
Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith said:
From the outset I stressed my commitment to create a welfare system that is fit for the 21st century. One that has incentives for people to get into work and increase their hours, that is fair to the people who use it, and fair for the taxpayer who pays for it.
We are ensuring there is support for the most vulnerable in our society, and our reforms mean that we will be giving more help - financial and practical - to those people who need it.
We’ve been working closely with local authorities and partners on the ground to ensure people are ready and supported through all our changes.
The changes are:
April 1 - Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy:
Working-age tenants in the social sector will receive Housing Benefit for the number of bedrooms their household needs, bringing the rules in line with the private sector. Housing Benefit will no longer pay for spare bedrooms.
April 1 - Crisis loans and community grants replaced by local provision:
The full funding for this will be given to local authorities or devolved governments, who are best placed to ensure this money goes to those who need it the most.
April 8 - Personal Independence Payment introduced:
New claims for PIP will start with the Bootle benefit centre. Bootle will handle the claims from areas including Merseyside, North West England, Cumbria, Cheshire and North-East England. PIP replaces Disability Living Allowance for working-age claimants.
April 8 - Benefit Uprating:
The State Pension will increase by 2.5% because of the triple lock. Working-age benefits and tax credits will be uprated by 1 per cent. Disability benefits will continue to be uprated inline with inflation.
April 15 - Benefit cap: Households on out-of-work benefits will no longer receive more than the average weekly wage after tax and National Insurance. To begin with, this rolls out in four London boroughs, and then nationally in the summer. Those on Disability Living Allowance and Working Tax Credits will be exempted.
End of April - Universal Credit rolls out in pathfinder areas: Some new claimants will receive Universal Credit, which is replacing the six main out-of-work benefits to simplify the benefits system and make work pay.