Welfare Reform and Benefit Advice

The government has made big changes to the welfare system. For people of working age the aim is to make the system simpler and is paid to make sure that there is a minimum standard of living for everyone. However some people will see their benefit payments go down. Find out more about the main changes to benefits this year below.

People of pension age are not affected by most of the changes. For more information on benefits for older people, visit the Age UK website.

Universal Credit

Universal credit is a new benefit payment for people of working age, bringing together the main means tested benefits and tax credits. The government is introducing universal credit gradually.

The initial roll out of Universal Credit in Worcester will be limited to certain single people with no dependent children who would have made a new claim for Job Seekers Allowance – they will have to apply for Universal Credit if they meet all of the criteria which has been set by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Worcester City Council is in tranche 3 of the roll out for Universal Credit and Universal Credit will go live on 5 October 2015.

Child Benefit

Child benefit has been reduced for higher earners from January 2013.Child benefit has not been increased since 2011. From 1 April 2014, it rose to £20.50 per week for eldest or only child and £13.55 per week for other children. From 1 April 2015, it will rise £20.70 per week for eldest or only child and £13.70 per week for other children.

Child benefit.GOV.UK more information

Under Occupation in Social Housing

From 1 April 2013, housing benefit may was reduced if you're renting a council or housing association home bigger than you 'need'. This is also being called the 'bedroom tax'.

The Benefit Cap

From July 2013 the government set a new maximum amount of benefit working age people can claim. For single people, this is £350 a week and for couples or those with children living with them, it is £500 a week. This is called the Benefit Cap.

Benefit cap.GOV.UK – more information

Local Welfare Assistance

From 1 April 2013, the South Worcestershire Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme replaced national crisis loans and community care grants. The scheme provides assistance in the form of goods or vouchers to help individuals or families facing exceptionally difficult circumstances or an emergency. This known as the DWAS Scheme.

Local Council Tax Support

From 1 April 2013, Council Tax Benefit in Worcester was replaced by a scheme called Council Tax Support and is awarded to those on low incomes, to help them pay their Council Tax.

Council Tax Support more information

Employment and Support Allowance

ESA is a benefit that may be paid to working age people who are unable to work because of health problems. This benefit has existed since 2008. It's paid to people who have an illness or a disability that affects their ability to work.

Employment and support allowance

Personal Independence Payment  (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit for people aged 16 to 64 with a disability or long-term health condition. PIP has now replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for anyone who wants to make a new claim.

It will also replace DLA for existing DLA claimants who were aged 16 to 64 on 8 April 2013 or who reach age 16 after that date.

All 'working age' people who get DLA will need to claim PIP instead, during the next five years.

Personal independence payment on GOV.UK.

Appeal a Benefit Decision

How you appeal a benefit decision depends on: the type of benefit you applied for and the date the decision was made

How to appeal a benefit decision more information

Support and information

If you are currently claiming benefits and you want to know how Universal Credit might affect you in the future, use the Universal Credit personal planner.

Watch the video

  • The Money Advice Service has a lot of help and information to help you with budgeting and planning for Universal Credit.
  • Turn2US is a free service that helps people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through our partner organisations. Their website can help you find financial support, quickly and easily, based on your circumstances. It features a free and easy to use Benefits Calculator, Grants Search and other information and resources
  •  Worcester Citizens Advice Bureau & WHABAC provide
    a free, independent, confidential and impartial service.They offer a range of services, supporting people, providing information / advice and directing people to the best source of help for their issue.
  • Worcestershire Advice Network website deliver advice and information services across the county. Their services are free, independent, impartial and confidential. Worcestershire Advice Network is a partnership between; Five Worcestershire Citizen Advice bureaux as well as South Worcestershire DIAL and North Worcestershire DIAL who provide information and advice to disabled people and others on all aspects of living with a disability.
  • To access the advice or information you need: Click on the subject area you need help with and follow the link to Adviceguide for self help advice and information
  • If you cannot find what you are looking for: Complete the online form. They  will get back to you within three working days.
  • You may like to discuss your problem. The let's talk connects you to one of their trained volunteers. They will offer information and options to help you resolve your issues.
  • Shelter the housing and homelessness charity, give free independent advice and information on housing to help you understand your rights and options.
  • The Housing Advice Team contact details