Benefits & Debt Advice

This section summarises the benefits that someone who is unwell may be entitled to. The government is currently implementing significant reforms to the welfare benefits system. If you would like further details of any of the benefits you will find more comprehensive information at www.gov.uk.

If you are unwell and unable to work, on a low income or if you have care or mobility needs, you may be entitled to claim some benefits that could help.

Whenever you have a change in circumstances we recommend that you get a benefits check done to ensure you are receiving everything you are entitled to.

If you are having difficulties with benefits you should seek advice and support from our advisers.

Universal Credit

The main changes are that Universal Credit is a calendar monthly benefit which replaces means-tested benefits and housing benefit. Universal Credit will be paid direct to one member of the household, into a nominated bank account. A payment will not be made direct to your landlord

Universal Credit will replace:
•Child tax credits
•Housing benefit
•Income-related employment and support allowance
•Income-based jobseekers allowance
•Income support
•Working tax credits

Universal credits must be paid into an account. If you do not have a Bank Account or other type of account, then you should ask for more information about this. There are a large range of bank accounts available and some may not be suitable for you.

If you have been refused a bank account or think that you will have difficulty managing your money on a monthly basis, or if you know someone that would need help with their Universal Credit payments, please get in touch with us on (phone 01414 258 4848) mobile 07970 625 256 Raj.

DLA

DLA is a benefit for people who need help with their personal care, need supervision and/or need help getting around.

It has two "components", a care component and a mobility component.

As of June 2013 you cannot make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

If you need help with the additional cost of ill health or disability, you will now need to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

You will continue to receive your current award of DLA until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contacts you about reassessment for PIP

You can get DLA on top of other benefits. DLA does not reduce your other benefits. In some cases getting DLA can actually increase the amount you get in other benefits. You can receive DLA and be in work.

PIP

This section is an overview of the new disability benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). It explains how it is being introduced, what the qualifying criteria is, how to claim, and summarises the assessment and appeals processes.

PIP is a benefit paid to help with the costs incurred due to ill health or disability.

It will replace Disability Living Allowance for people of working age (16 to 64 years).

It is being gradually introduced over a number of years starting in April 2013.

There are two components ‘daily living’ and ‘mobility’.

Each component is paid at either a ‘standard’ or ‘enhanced’ rate.

You need to explain how your mental health problems can affect your ability to perform daily living and mobility activities. Entitlement is based on scoring enough points on a daily living and mobility test. You may have to attend a face to face medical assessment as a part of the claim process. You will be able to provide supporting evidence from your own health care professionals.

Benefit & Appeals

This information aims to provide information about what do to if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or your Local Authority (LA) make a decision about your benefits that you don’t agree with. This information covers the revisions and appeals process. It also covers how to prepare your own case and represent yourself at tribunal.

This information is applicable to you if:

  • You disagree with a decision made about Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) before 28th October 2013
  • You disagree with Housing Benefit decisions made by your local authority.

For all other benefits appeal processes (including Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Universal Credit (UC)) please see our information on: ‘Welfare Benefits: Mandatory Reconsiderations and Appeals’.

If you disagree with a decision the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Local Authority (LA) make about your benefits, in most cases you can ask them to look at it again. If you disagree with a Council Tax Support Decision from your LA you will need to follow the local appeals procedure. There are strict time limits for revisions and appeals- you need to ask for a revision or submit an appeal within 1 month of the date on your decision letter. If the DWP/LA agrees to revise the decision, it is back dated to the date of the original decision.

If you appeal it is heard by an independent tribunal panel.

The tribunal will look at all the information provided by the DWP and yourself and decide whether the decision should change or stay the same.

If you decide to appeal you may be able to seek help from a welfare benefits specialist. Alternatively you will need to prepare the appeal yourself.

The Welfare Benefits system is currently undergoing significant reform. This information is correct at time of publication. However the information will be reviewed regularly and updated with further information as soon as it becomes available.

ESA

This section gives information about the out of work benefit called Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). It will explain who the benefit is aimed at, how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are reassessing people receiving the old-style sickness benefits for ESA, the different types of ESA, how you will be assessed, how to challenge a decision you do not agree with and how you may claim the benefit on behalf of someone else.

ESA is paid to people who have ‘limited capability for work’ the weekly rate paid is £72.40.

To start a claim for ESA you need a note from your GP to confirm that you are not fit for work.

You are then asked to take part in a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) so the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can decide whether you are eligible for ESA.

If you are eligible for ESA you will be placed into either the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ or the ‘Support Group’.

If you are in the Work Related Activity Group you have to attend meetings with a personal adviser to discuss and prepare for an eventual return to work.  You will receive £28.75 extra a week in this group.

If you are placed in the Support Group you don’t have to prepare for a return to work but you can if you want to. You will receive an extra £35.75 a week in this group.

If the DWP decide that you don’t qualify for ESA then you will be expected to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

If you disagree with any of the decisions the DWP make you have the right to ask them to look at the decision again its called Mandatory Reconsideration or lodge an official appeal.

Debt Advice Signpost to CAB or Money Matters.

Living with debt can be stressful, however there can be a number of ways to deal with it.

Seek help. There are organisations that provide free and confidential help and advice. You don’t have to deal with the debts by yourself.

Ensure any income that is being paid into a bank account is protected by opening an account that is not linked to your debts.

Complete an income and expenditure sheet in order to make sure any offers you make are realistic and sustainable.

Separate your debts into priority and non-priority – deal with priority debts first.

Non-payment of priority debts may result in the loss of something, for example your home or fuel supply.

Non-payment of non-priority debt may result in the debt getting passed to a debt collection agency or the creditor applying for a County Court Judgment (CCJ).

If you are unable to repay your debts at the rate agreed when you entered into the agreement, it will be noted on your credit reference file. This can make it more difficult to obtain credit in the future.

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