The UK Government is in the process of phasing in significant changes to the welfare benefits system. The association will update this page with changes that may affect our members. If you have any concerns or worries about paying your rent or entitlement to benefits, please contact us to make an appointment to see our money adviser.

The Scottish Welfare Fund

Glasgow City Council manage the Scottish Welfare Fund on behalf of the government. This fund helps people on low incomes buy and replace essential household items. For further information on this scheme please contact Donna or Sharon at the office.

Under Occupancy Charge (Bedroom Tax)

From April 2013 those people under the qualifying age for state pension credit who have more bedrooms than required (under the government size criteria) may have their housing benefit entitlement restricted.

Those tenants with one bedroom more than required (under the size criteria) will have housing benefit payments reduced by 14%; for those under-occupying two or more bedrooms the reduction is 25%.

The Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) criteria states that a separate bedroom is required for:

  • Every adult couple (married & unmarried)
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • Any two children aged under 10
  • Any other child (other than foster children, or children whose main residence is elsewhere)
  • A carer (or team of carers) who do not live with the tenant but provide them or their partner with overnight care.

Association staff and our money adviser work closely with our tenants affected by the bedroom tax to try to reduce the impact on their income.  We can assist tenants by investigating a move to a smaller home, applying for exemptions from the bedroom tax, applying for discretionary housing payments (DHP) to help with the cost of the bedroom tax, and by making realistic arrangements to pay the rent charge caused by the bedroom tax where no other solution is available.

Universal Credit 

Universal Credit is a new benefit for people on a low income who are either in or out of work (including those who are looking for work or are unable to work due to health problems).  Universal Credit (UC) is now available to claim in Glasgow.  Single, unemployed people making a new claim to benefits will have to apply for UC.  It is still to be announced when those on existing benefits will be transferred on to UC.

Universal Credit:

·         is for those under the qualifying age for Pension Credit.

·         will replace Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, income based Jobseekers Allowance and income related Employment and Support Allowance.

·         will only be paid if you accept a “claimant commitment” which (for most people) will detail what you are expected to do to find work or increase your hours of work.

·         will be paid in one lump sum, monthly in arrears, and will not be paid for the first seven days of a claim.

·         claims will be made online (in the vast majority of cases). 

If you are claiming Universal Credit you should:

 

·         speak to your  Housing Officer to make arrangements to pay your rent as in most cases the “rent element” of UC will be paid direct to yourself and not your landlord.

·         contact us if you are worried about paying your rent as you can apply for the “rent element” to be paid direct to Copperworks HA.

·         make sure you are able to budget for your rent and other bills – we can refer you to a Money Advisor  for help with this.

·         make sure you have an account that your UC can be paid into.

 

For more information contact our office on 0141 552 7477

 

Personal Independence Payments

 

Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are a new benefit for adults (those aged between 16 and 64) with disabilities that was introduced in June 2013.

You can qualify for PIP whether you are working or not and the amount you are paid is not affected by any other income you have.

PIP has a mobility and a daily living component. Both these components can be paid at either a standard or an enhanced rate.

Whether you qualify depends on the extent to which your health problems impact on your ability to carry out certain activities. Similar to ESA assessments, you are scored points based on certain descriptors which are detailed in the regulations.

To apply for PIP you need to contact the claim helpline on: 0800 917 2222. During the call details will be taken of your name, address and national insurance number along with your doctor’s details and your bank account details. Thereafter a form will be issued which must be completed and returned within a month.

From 26 January 2015 Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants who reach the age of 16, who report a change in their care or mobility needs or whose claim is due for renewal (after June 2015) will be expected to claim PIP.  It is planned that by the end of 2017, all other DLA claimants will be required to claim PIP instead.

 

If you require any assistance with completing your PIP application form, please contact the office on 0141 552 7477 for an appointment with our Money Advisor.

 

 

Benefit Sanctions

 

As a result of Welfare Reform, tougher rules have been introduced which have led to a big increase in the number of benefit sanctions being applied. Sanctions can lead to benefit payments being stopped, or significantly reduced for a period of time.

 

Your Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) may be sanctioned if, for example, you:

 

·         leave a job voluntarily

·         refuse a suitable job offer

·         fail to accept a place on a training scheme

·         fail to carry out a jobseeker’s direction.

 

JSA sanctions can last for between 4 and 156 weeks, depending on the reasons for the sanction and whether sanctions have been imposed before.

 

Your Employment and Support Allowance may be sanctioned if you:

 

·         fail to take part in a work focused interview

·         fail to take part in compulsory work related activity.

·          

ESA sanctions will normally apply for as long as you fail to attend an interview or take part in work related activity. Sanctions cannot apply to ESA claimants who are in the “Support Group”.

 

If you have been given a sanction you can:

 

·         Challenge the decision by arguing that you had “good cause” for your actions or for failing to carry out tasks.

·         If “good cause” is not accepted, you can appeal the decision (you will first need to ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration to be carried out).

·         Arrange an appointment with our Money Advisor who will be able to help with appealing (most appeals against sanctions are successful).

·         Ask for hardship payments to be made (extra payments can be made if you would experience hardship because of a sanction).

·          

For more information contact the office on 0141 552 7477 for an appointment with our Money Advisor.

As detailed above, Universal Credit incorporates other benefits including housing benefit. This means once your payment is received you will be responsible for paying your rent direct to Copperworks. There are many ways in which you can pay your rent including by card at pay point or post office, online or at the office using your debit card or by direct debit. All of these methods can be discussed and a payment plan arranged with Donna or Sharon at the office.
 
At present there is no indication of any other benefit being affected by Universal Credit but we will keep you up to date with any information we receive. If you have any concerns or queries regarding Universal Credit please contact our office and discuss with Donna or Sharon.

Useful Websites

We have listed below are some useful websites with more information on welfare reforms and managing your money:

Money Advice Service

Citizens Advice Scotland

Welfare Rights - Help with Debt