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Saturday, April 13, 2013

County council's guidance on benefits shake-up

The Welfare and Tax Credits system is currently going through its biggest shake-up for 60 years with many planned changes to working age benefits by the UK Government and Denbighshire County Council is making people aware of the changes and support helplines available.

Many have already happened but some of the biggest changes are due to come into force after April 2013.

Some of the important changes are listed below:

■ Most benefits and tax credits started to be increased yearly at a lower rate from April 2011 using the consumer price index. From April 2013 Local Housing Allowances (LHA) will be increased yearly in the same way.

■ People on Incapacity Benefit are being moved over to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). ESA decisions are based mainly on face to face assessments, many of which are resulting in people being refused ESA.

Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claims from June 2013 which will involve a face to face assessment. People already on DLA will be asked to claim PIP between October 2013 and Spring 2016, earlier if you report a change in your circumstances.

Bedroom Tax: From April 2013 people under 61 who rent from the Council or a Housing Association will have their rent limited to the number of bedrooms considered to be suited to them. If you have one bedroom too many, your Housing Benefit will only be calculated on 86% of your rent, 2 or more too many then your benefit will be calculated on only 75% of your rent.

The DWP╩╝s Social Fund: made up of Community Care grants, Budgeting Loans and Crisis Loans will end during April 2013. A new grant scheme across Wales will be delivered by the Family Fund, based in Wrexham. This
scheme is likely to have less money.

The Benefits Cap: will limit benefits to the median income from April 2013. It is likely to affect out of work families who have a combination of several children and high rents.

Universal Credit: may be replacing the six main means tested benefits for new claims from October 2013. You will receive one monthly payment in arrears into your bank account. With this money you will have to budget to pay all your housing and living costs. For all existing working age benefit claims there will be a gradual transfer to the new schemes over a
number of years.

Information and advice on all of these changes can be obtained at:

DCC Welfare Rights Team
Free phone advice line: 0800 169 6625
(10am to 4pm)

Denbighshire Citizens Advice Bureau
Phone 01745 334568 or 814336

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