Ongoing benefit changes
The benefit changes mentioned below apply to England, Scotland and Wales. Most of the changes also apply in Northern Ireland although there may be differences in the date when this happens.
All means-tested benefits and tax credits for people of working age will be replaced by a new Universal Credit.
Currently families with a disabled child are not expected to claim Universal Credit in most areas. However, this is gradually changing as the government rolls out the Universal Credit full service to more and more job centres. In these full service areas, a family with a disabled child will be asked to claim Universal Credit if they have fewer than three dependent children and they try to make a new claim for any means-tested benefit or for tax credits.
By December 2018 the full Universal Credit service should also apply to new claims by families with fewer than three dependent children everywhere in the country.
The government also intends to move existing claimants of means-tested benefits and tax credits onto Universal Credit. This is scheduled to start in July 2019, being completed by March 2022.
We concerned that many families with disabled children will be worse off on Universal Credit over time.
From April 2018
Support with mortgage interest (SMI) will be turned from
a benefit into a loan
Listen to our parent adviser Jill explain changes to support with mortgage interest
Home owners claiming certain means-tested benefits, including income support, can get payments towards the interest on their mortgage.
From April 2018, the existing SMI scheme will be scrapped and replaced with a new scheme where any payments towards mortgage interest made after that date will be treated as a loan rather than as a benefit.
This is a special type of loan. Rather than a lump sum, the loan will be made up of regular payments to your mortgage lender. This means the total amount you will need to pay back will go up with each payment that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (Department of Communities in Northern Ireland) makes towards your mortgage.
You will have the choice of whether you sign up for a loan or not, but if you don't, you will stop getting any payments from the government towards your mortgage.
If you do take up the offer of a loan, this must be repaid (with interest) from the equity in your property when it is eventually sold or when it is transferred to someone else. These rules will apply to existing claimants who are already getting SMI as well as to new claimants.
The DWP will be writing to claimants on SMI between now and February 2018, to tell them about changes that are happening.
From summer 2018
In Scotland only, Carer's Allowance awards will be brought into line with Job Seekers Allowance . This means that the basic rate of carer's allowance in Scotland should increase from £62.70 per week to £73.10 per week.