The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced a number of welfare measures as part of today’s Summer Budget.
These measures will be phased in and will not affect any claimants until April 2016 at the earliest, with many changes affecting only new claimants.
The main changes include:
• a four-year freeze to working age benefits whilst still protecting pensioners, and benefits related to the extra costs of disability
• lowering the Benefit Cap to £23,000 in London and £20,000 elsewhere
• a package of reforms to Tax Credits and Universal Credit, including reducing some entitlements, ensuring claimants are always better off in work. As a result we now expect parents with a youngest child aged 3, including lone parents, to look for work if they want to claim Universal Credit
• reform to housing and housing support, including removing the entitlement to housing support in Universal Credit for those aged 21 or under, lowering rents in the social rented sector, changing Support for Mortgage Interest into a loan and a four-year freeze to Local Housing Allowance rates
• from 1 April 2017, new claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) who are placed in the Work-Related Activity Group will receive the same rate as those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and the equivalent in Universal Credit. Existing ESA claimants will be unaffected
• confirmation that free childcare entitlement will be doubled from 15 hours to 30 hours a week for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds
” It seems Mr Osborne has not been as “harsh as he said he was going to be” on welfare cuts, which would be spread over a longer period. However, should we be grateful at a time when health and welfare is in a ‘right mess’, needing funding, not cuts, and much structural improvement?”