BENEFITS EXPERT: How the changes to Universal Credit will affect claimants
Readers will probably be aware of the changes to Universal Credit announced in the recent budget, at the time these were announced the date given for the changes to come into law was late 2021/early 2022 with a pledge to try and introduce these sooner.
These changes will now take affect from 25/10/2021, so anyone with an assessment period on or after this date will potentially benefit. It is worth pointing out however that these changes will benefit people in employment (the changes were to the earnings disregard and UC taper was dropped from 63% to 55%). Those claiming UC as job seekers, those on sickness grounds and those with caring responsibilities (whether children or caring for a disabled person) will see no change to their UC.
Readers may also be aware of the court case regarding people on legacy benefits who did not get any additional benefit uplift whereas UC and Working Tax Credit claimants did. The court hearing date was postponed due to judge shortages, however we understand arguments at The High Court concluded Monday 22/11/2021. As of writing there have been no interim decisions issued by The High Court so we have no current indication as to whether they accepted arguments put forward by the applicants.
Q. I am caring for my mother who has spinal problems. She is going into hospital and is expected to be in hospital for around 6 weeks. I understand that her disability benefits will stop after 4 weeks, but I am wondering about my Carer's Allowance payments as I will still be visiting her every day and doing jobs at home for her.
A. You are correct that your Mother’s disability benefits will stop after 4 weeks of being in hospital; this is the case for Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance, unless paid for a child or someone who is terminally ill.
Unfortunately, your Carer's Allowance will also stop at the point that the disability benefit ceases to be paid. If you are receiving Income Support as a Carer then you can continue to receive that for up to 8 weeks after your Carer's Allowance ends, which would be 12 weeks in total from when your Mother goes into hospital. As Income Support is a means tested benefit, your payments would increase while your Carer's Allowance is not in payment, so you would actually receive Income Support at the same rate as Income Support and Carer's Allowance usually are as a combined payment meaning that you will not be worse off financially.