Big benefit changes are taking place now and in the future, called welfare reform. It may be possible they do not apply to you and that they may be avoided or reduced.
Are you exempt from the changes?
Some of the changes may not apply to you. View information on the benefits affected below and check carefully if there is an exemption or if certain situations do not apply to you.
- Changes to benefits for families, children and young people.
- Changes to benefits for older people and the retired.
- Changes to benefits for people of working age (including unemployment, in work and sickness benefits)
- Changes to benefits for people with care or mobility needs (disabilities) and carers
- Changes to housing related benefits (including 'bedroom tax ' and Council Tax support)
Can you challenge the decision?
Some decisions you can challenge and some you can't. It depends on the reason and the benefit.
Here are a few examples of decisions you can challenge:
- You may have been tested for Employment and Support Allowance but failed.
- Your claim for Personal Independence Payment may have been refused or reduced.
- You have an overpayment decision.
- Your Jobseeker's Allowance has been reduced - due to a sanction.
For most benefits you first have to ask for the decision to be reconsidered. If still unhappy, you can appeal to an independent tribunal. Whether you win your challenge depends on a lot of things.
More information about challenging a decision
Our advice to you is:
- Remember there are strict time limits for appealing, usually 28 days or one month of the date of the decision.
- Read the information carefully and see if you can challenge the decision.
- You can get help from a number of advice services in Newcastle.
Can you increase your income?
Nationally, billions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed each year. The Department for Work and Pensions say that over one million older people do not claim the Pension Credit they are entitled to; over half a million do not claim their Income Support or income related Employment and Support Allowance and about a million people are missing out on Housing Benefit.
There are many ways for you to check if you are missing out on a benefit - or even an increase in benefit.
Our advice to you:
- Use an online benefit calculator to check what benefits you may be entitled to.
- Get a benefit check from an independent advice service in Newcastle.
Check out benefits you may be entitled to
Can you get a job or increase your hours?
Part of the Government's aim by making these welfare reform changes is to encourage claimants to find work. This does not mean coming off benefit altogether as there are several benefits you can get whilst in work, such as Housing Benefit, or Working Tax Credit. They can give you and your family that extra support to stay in work.
Our advice to you:
- Find out if you are entitled to any 'in work' benefits. Calculate your entitlement to benefits online.
- Get advice about finding and taking a job from your local Jobcentre Plus.
Problems with paying your bills for example, rent, fuel or mortgage?
Some of the changes may mean you have:
- Less money to live on;
- Less money for essentials like gas, electric and rent.
It is important that you do not get into debt. There are ways you may do this.
Our advice to you:
- Get information on saving or managing your money from our Money Matters service.
- Contact your landlord for help and advice. If you are a Your Homes Newcastle tenant visit their website.
- Contact your fuel supplier - you may be entitled to a lower tariff. You can also get help finding your Best Energy Deal at your local Customer Service Centre and some libraries.
- See if you can get a Discretionary Housing Payment from the Council.
For a comprehensive list of benefit changes see our benefit changes timeline