Welfare Reform 2013: How could the cuts affect you?
Thursday, March 21st, 2013 | Posted in Blog
The government’s Welfare Reform act will come into effect in the next two weeks, bringing big changes to the amount of benefits currently received by non-working UK families. Here FTCT’s Grants Co-ordinator Emma talks you through the changes and what these could mean for you.
From April 2013 a cap will be introduced on the total amount of benefit that working age people can receive. This means that households where neither parent works will no longer receive more in benefits than the average earnings of working households, totalling £500 per week per household.
The new £500 allowance will cover all houshold utilities including rent, utility bills, food and other household expenses. Non-working households will also now be expected to contribute towards their council tax, something which was previously paid on their behalf.
Single parent families living in privately rented accommodation are likely to be those most affected by the welfare reform. Private accomodation rents are generally higher, so your benefits will be forced to stretch further, or you may have to consider moving to more affordable accommodation, in the surrounding area or elsewhere in the country.
For those living in a council properties with a spare or unoccupied bedroom you will now be subject to spare room tax, which will see a reduction taken from your benefits, for each of the unoccupied rooms in your house. This means if you live in a house with 1 spare room you could lose 15% of your total beneift allowance, or 25% if you have two spare rooms.
These changes will come in to affect as of 1st April 2013, so if you think your benefits may be affected we would urge you to check your latest benefits statement for more information.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not on your own. There are a whole host of free advice services available, who could help you to not only understand why these changes are being made, but also help you to plan and budget around your new allowance. Here are just a few, which we would personally reccomend:
For advice around money and debt Payplan is great. They offer a completely free service to help people who are having problems with debt and debt-related issues.
For help with budgeting and making your money go further Money Advice is a great, government run, website to help you make the most of your money.
For advice on benefits, legal and housing issues the Citizens Advice Bureau is great, they have straightforward advice and you can always book an appointment to go and see one of their advisors face to face.
The Directgov website is also useful when it comes to advice about your rights, benefits and housing in the UK.
Don’t struggle alone, if you are confused about what the welfare reforms could mean for your family, get down to your local Citizens Advice Bureau or jump online and find out now. It’s so important you start to make a plan before the changes come into affect.