What can I do if I'm affected by the benefit changes?

What can I do if I'm affected by the benefit changes?

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.

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 or Universal Credit has been reduced - due for example, to a sanction
  • Your Universal Credit has been refused, underpaid or stopped

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:

  • Usually, you have to ask for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ first, then you can appeal to an independent tribunal
  • Remember there are strict time limits for challenging, usually 28 days or one month of the date of the decision
  • Read the information carefully to 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 (DWP) 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:

Can you get a job or increase your hours? 

The government say that part of the aim of welfare reforms 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 or Universal 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:

For a comprehensive list of benefit changes see our 'timeline of benefit changes' on our changes to the benefits system page

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