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Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus.
Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.

Issue 54 April 2015

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Welfare reform and older people in Scotland

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 is making substantial changes to many people's benefit entitlement and income. Download Age Scotland's factsheet for information on how this will affect older people in Scotland (updated February 2014.) Full details of some changes have yet to be released, so please call the Silver Line Scotland 0800 4 70 80 90 for the latest information.

January 2014: Further changes for 'working age' Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants
*If you were 65 or over before the 8th of April 2013 this does not apply to you.
Some disabled people who are currently claiming DLA for their care and/or mobility needs will be affected by the changes to the rules surrounding Personal Independent Payment (PIP) sooner than expected.

Anyone who reports a change of circumstances to the DWP and lives in a Scottish 're-assessment' area will be told to claim PIP instead OF DLA. The 're-assessment area' covers the following post code areas - EH, TD, DG and ML. Existent claimants of DLA who live in this area also have the option to claim PIP instead if they wish. We are urging people to think carefully about their options if this applies to them.

April 2013: Housing Benefit for 'working age' people in social housing
People who rent a home from a Council or Housing Association can claim Housing Benefit to help pay their rent if they are on a low income. The amount of Housing Benefit that 'working age' people can receive will now be reduced by 14% or 25% if they are considered to have more rooms than they need in their home. The restriction does not affect people of Pension Credit Age, but may do so in future if someone has a younger partner.

April 2013: Council Tax Benefit
The way Council Tax Benefit is funded changes from April 2013, but it will still be administered by your local Council and in 2013 you may see no difference in the amount of Council Tax you pay apart from increases in water charges.

April 2013: The Social Fund and the Scottish Welfare Fund
At present, some people who need lump-sum payments in special circumstances can get help from the Department for Work and Pensions Social Fund. From April 2013 parts of the Social Fund will be abolished. In Scotland a new fund called the Scottish Welfare Fund will provide a source of funding in the form of crisis grants and community care grants to people in certain circumstances who meet the criteria. Local Councils will be administering the fund on behalf of the Scottish Government.

June 2013: Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment
For people aged between 16 and 64, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is going to be replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP). PIP will be assessed based on a points system, and will be quite different from DLA. Some people who currently qualify for DLA will not qualify for PIP or may qualify for a lower amount.
The budget for PIP is expected to be 20% less than the budget for DLA, and there will be four types of payment instead of the five which can be paid as DLA. Age Scotland advises that anyone who thinks they may qualify for DLA should make a claim immediately. From June 2013 no-one will be able to make a new claim for DLA, they will have to claim PIP instead.

If you are under 65 when PIP is introduced, you will need to claim DLA when your circumstances change, or over the next few years when the DWP contacts you and tells you to claim PIP instead of DLA. If you already receive DLA and are 65 when PIP is introduced, under current plans your DLA will not be affected.

Universal Credit and Pension Credit
Universal Credit is due to be introduced from October 2013 to gradually replace means-tested benefits and tax credits for working age people (child and working tax credit, income based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Income related Employment and Support Allowance, and Housing Benefit.)

As Housing Benefit and Child Tax Credit will be abolished, Pension Credit will change in future to provide help with rent, and to provide support for people who have dependent children.

When Universal Credit is introduced, couples in which one partner is 'working age' and the other is 'pension age', will no longer be able to make a new claim for claim Pension Credit, they will need to claim for Universal Credit instead.
Other changes

In April 2013 there will be changes to the benefits appeal system, the piloting of a 'benefit cap' for many working age households and the 1% uprating of most working age benefits and tax credits which will also affect people over pension credit age that care for dependent children. The new White Paper on Pension Reform proposes an increased standard basic rate of retirement pension for people retiring from 2017.

Members please note: some of the above Welfare Reform information may not affect you due to your age, but may affect some member of your family and friends.

Contact points for Age Scotland:
Silver Line Scotland
For information, advice and friendship, all day, every day.
0800 4 70 80 90
General Enquiries
Call this number if you want to get involved with our work.
0845 833 0200
Write to us
Causewayside House
160 Causewayside

Age UK is the main site for pensioners information in UK. Most of this information covers Ireland Wales; England; and Scotland, but some information can vary in Scotland. I will always try to indicate which information is from Age UK, or Age Scotland, but if in doubt I would suggest you call Age Scotland first to see whether data is applicable in Scotland.

www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland or www.ageuk.org.uk
(Apologies to Age Scotland for any mis-quotes in this information) 
Mae Stewart


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