The Welfare Reform Act became law in March 2012 as part of the Government’s plan for making significant changes to welfare benefits and payments over the next few years. These changes started to take effect from April 2013.
A relatively small number of new benefit claimants in the Scottish Borders will be affected by the phased roll-out of Universal Credit as part of on-going welfare reforms, however the migration of all benefit claimants onto universal Credit is scheduled for completion by March 2022.
At the end of April 15, Universal Credit was introduced in the area. This is a new benefit that combines six existing benefits: Income Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income Based Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
This is a simplified benefit for people of working age and is designed to make it easier for people to move back into work. Anyone who is eligible to apply will be invited to do so online by Jobcentre Plus, after which they will have an interview with a Jobs Coach who will help them through the application process, arranging any additional support they might need and creating a ‘Claimant Commitment Agreement’.
Applications for Universal Credit will generally need to be made online and Scottish Borders Council, Housing Associations, Citizens Advice Bureaux and Jobcentre Plus are working in partnership to support people moving to Universal Credit by providing a range of joint services, including help to get online.
Because Universal Credit will also be paid directly to claimants each month, the partners are working to ensure people affected can access personal budgeting advice.
This initial roll out of Universal Credit only affects new claimants. However, in due course it will be extended to all existing claimants of the six current benefits.
As this transition takes place, the Council and partner organisations will continue to work together to ensure that local people are made aware of when the changes will take place and how they may affect them. The partners will also ensure that people have easy access to information about welfare reform and the advice and support available.
Further information on changes can be found on Scottish Borders Council’s website.
The changes will likely impact a tenant’s Housing Benefit if they’re of working age. We can help with advice on these changes and how they are likely to affect tenants. This can be arranged by tenants speaking to their designated Housing Officer or alternatively, by contacting our Customer Services team on 01450 364200 to make an appointment with their Housing Officer.
Other Useful Contacts
Department for Work and Pensions
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Scottish Borders Council
Customer Services: 0300 100 1800
Welfare Benefits Service: 01896 661394
Citizens Advice Bureau
Galashiels Office: 01896 753889
Hawick Office: 01450 374266
Kelso Office: 01573 223516