Welfare Reform Update September 2018


The independent welfare changes Helpline has seen an increase in calls from clients who have due to their vulnerability, inadvertently made a claim for Universal Credit which was not in their best interests.
For example, a lady rang the Helpline worried about her brother.  She explained that her brother and his wife had had a reduction in their benefits.  Her brother and his wife were both vulnerable, saw the advertisements for Universal Credit and were under the impression that they had to make an application for this new benefit.
 
They had made the application online. 
 
The brother had been in receipt of Income Support, Carers Allowance and Personal Independence Payment (Standard Daily Living), his wife was in receipt of Contribution Based Employment Support Allowance (Support Group) and Disability Living Allowance (High Rate Mobility and High Rate Care). 
 
The adviser carried out two calculations: one under legacy benefits and one for Universal Credit to ascertain the impact of moving to Universal Credit. The reduction amounted to £226.86 per calendar month for this couple, attributable to the loss of the Severe Disability Premium.
 
After raising this at Social Policy level within Advice NI, the client was advised of the announcement in June by the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions Esther McVey that “we will provide both an on-going payment to claimants who have already lost this Premium as a consequence of moving to Universal Credit and an additional payment to cover the period since they moved. These changes will form part of the Universal Credit Managed Migration and Transitional Protection Regulations which we intend to bring forward in the Autumn.”
 
However at this stage the couple have to suffer the hardship of a significant drop in income while they await the introduction of these Regulations.