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April is the cruellest month: Welfare Reform takes hold

Whether you side with TS Eliot or Iain Duncan Smith it is worth reminding ourselves what April brings as part of the Coalition Government’s Welfare Reform Package in the words of the Department for Work and Pensions (apart from the brackets in the first line!):

April 1 – Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (known to everyone but the DWP as the bedroom tax)

Working-age tenants in the social sector will receive housing benefit for the number of bedrooms their household needs, bringing the rules in line with the private sector. Housing benefit will no longer pay for spare bedrooms.

April 1 – Crisis loans and community grants replaced by local provision

The full funding for this will be given to local authorities or devolved governments, who are best placed to ensure this money goes to those who need it the most.

April 8 – Personal Independence Payment introduced

New claims for PIP will start with the Bootle benefit centre. Bootle will handle the claims from areas including Merseyside, North West England, Cumbria, Cheshire and North-East England. PIP replaces Disability Living Allowance for working-age claimants.

April 8 – Benefit uprating

The State Pension will increase by 2.5% because of the triple lock. Working-age benefits and tax credits will be uprated by 1 per cent. Disability benefits will continue to be uprated inline with inflation.

April 15 – Benefit cap

Households on out-of-work benefits will no longer receive more than the average weekly wage after tax and National Insurance. To begin with, this rolls out in four London boroughs, and then nationally in the summer. Those on Disability Living Allowance and Working Tax Credits will be exempted.

End of April – Universal Credit rolls out in pathfinder areas

Some new claimants will receive Universal Credit, which is replacing the six main out-of-work benefits to simplify the benefits system and make work pay.