A new “benefits” system has been introduced by the British Government, the reality is that there is little benefit to be had under this system and not to mention it was forced upon us by Westminster courtesy of Provisional Sinn Fein.
This article is not to condemn those who introduced the system but to put information that we have received in a clear way, to assist our people during these times of harsh austerity. Universal credit will be replacing 5 benefits they are:
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Tax Credits (both working and child tax credits)
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
So what way will this new system work, with the information we have the single benefit will be paid out twice a month.
It suggests that this system is done with a focus of getting you back to work which may require the claimants to attend sessions with a job advisor, at least 30 hours per week.
You must have an email account to open a Universal Credit account, which has to be applied for online and any updates to your information have to be completed the same way.
Claimants must be of working age to receive Universal Credit.
If you are in receipt of benefits already, you do not have to reapply, unless your circumstances change, you will be automatically transferred to Universal Credit between 2019 and 2022. Fresh claims can take up to 6-8 weeks.
ESA (sickness benefit)- will be paid at the same rate as those on Jobseekers so long as the claimant is put into what they call a work-related activity group, which means they have attend regular interviews with an advisor. The youth ESA benefit will lose its special condition which allowed young people who did not pay National Insurance, to claim contribution based ESA, to our knowledge they will now receive a lesser payment or none at all.
Appealing benefit decisions will require you to ask for ‘reconsideration’ before you can request an appeal.
The community care grants and crisis loans have been replaced by a Discretionary Support Fund and Benefits Advances. The use of the word discretionary in this new process would suggest that they will make it very difficult to obtain.
We were told by an advisor at the local Job and Benefits office in Derry that this system will be strict and any breaches will be met with sanctions, which include being struck of. Other information we received state that sanctions to benefits can last from 2 weeks up to 78 weeks (18 months).
If you are working and being supplemented by Universal Credit the introduction of Direct Earnings Attachments will allow the state to ask your employer to take any benefit overpayments directly out of your wages.
There is a benefit cap introduced and only a limited amount of benefit payments can be made into any one household, we are unable to ascertain how much but please do ask.
Below is a rough guide of what you are entitled to monthly
- Single and under 25: £251.77
- Single and 25 or over: £317.82
- In a couple and both are under 25: £395.20
- In a couple and both are 25 or over: £498.89
Extra amounts that you may be eligible for monthly
- For your first child: £277.08 (born before 6 April 2017)
£231.67 (born on or after 6 April 2017)
- For your second child: £231.61
- If you need help with childcare costs: up to 85% of your costs (up to £646.35 for one child and £1108.04 for two children)
- If you have a disabled or severely disabled child: £357.78 to £649.38
- If you are disabled or have a health condition that stops you from working: £318.76
- If you care for a disabled person: £151.89
- In certain circumstance you may receive a payment of £231.67 for more than two children
We would urge everyone to ask for advice immediately on these benefits changes, particularly house benefit as you are now responsible for paying your landlord the rent. We hope that the information provided is helpful and every Republican Sinn Fein activist will do what we can to help our local communities.