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The following are changes of note for autumn/winter 2016/17.

Warm Homes Discount

The winter 2016/17 scheme helpline opens on 17/10/16. People in receipt of Pension Credit Guaranteed Credit will be eligible if they were receiving the benefit on 10 July, are named on the electricity bill( or their partner is), and their electricity supplier is part of the scheme. Letters will go out advising claimants they should expect the £140 discount to be applied automatically to their bills by January 2017, or that they should contact the helpline to register on 0345 603 9439.

National Minimum Wage Increases

The National Minimum wage increases from 1 October to :-
£3.40pw for apprentices
£4.17pw for 17 year olds
£5.50pw for 18-20 year olds
£6.95pw for 21-24 year olds
The National Living wage payable to anyone aged over 25 remains at £7.20pw

Benefit Cap

From 7th November Benefit cap is being reduced to

£384.62 per week for couples and lone parents
£257.69 per week for single people

The cap only applies to working age (below Pension Credit Age) claimants.

The number of claimants potentially affected through the reduction will be more than through the previous cap.

Exemptions to the cap:

  • People on UC earning at least £430/month
  • People working and eligible for Working Tax Credit
  • People who were working for at least 50 weeks in the year before they lost their job – cap doesn’t apply for 39 weeks
  • Where somebody in the household has a disability or long term illness and recives one of the following
    • DLA
    • PIP
    • AA
  • People receiving CA or Guardians Allowance (rule applies from November 2016)

The cap will reduce the amount of Housing Element (of UC) or Housing Benefit the claimant can receive. Unlike the Bedroom Tax, moving house will not exempt them from the cap. Many may qualify for an exempting benefit but have not yet applied.