When Universal Credit and benefits will change in 2020 and how you’ll be affected – Kent Live

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The General Election result meant a lot of things but it also ensured the continuation of Universal Credit.

Campaigners had been hoping for an end to the controversial scheme, with  Labour promising to scrap Universal Credit  altogether.

However, there will still be a number of changes to the benefits system this year – some of which will be good news for claimants, reports BirminghamLive .

Here’s the timetable of what will be happening – see how it will affect you.

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1. April 2020 – End of benefit freeze

The end to the benefit freeze would mean Universal Credit and other working age benefits rising by 1.7 per cent from April 2020.

The freeze was brought in by the Tories and came into effect from April 2016. It has meant that most benefits and tax credits have not gone up in line with inflation for four years.

Other benefits that have been frozen but are now set to rise are Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), income support, housing benefit, child tax credits, working tax credits and child benefit.

Adam Corlett

The increase means someone on £1,000 a month in benefits will get an extra £17, equivalent to £204 over a year. Those receiving £500 a month get an extra £8.50.

But according to think-tank the Resolution Foundation, families will still be hundreds of pounds a year worse off due to the past five years of bills rising while benefits have remained at the same level.

The Resolution Foundation’s Adam Corlett said: “While the benefit freeze is over, its impact is here to stay with a lower income couple with kids £580 a year worse off as a result.”

2. April 2020 – Pension changes

The Government also said the state pension – which has not been frozen – will increase by 3.9 per cent.

This is expected to be announced in the Budget.

It means retired Brits are in line for £5.05 a week extra on the ‘old’ basic state pension and £6.60 a week on the ‘new’ state pension.

bank accounts

The bad news is that the  adult dependency payment is being stopped  in April, which could mean thousands of pensions cut by £70 a week.

In addition, the qualifying age for men and women will rise to 66 in October 2020.

It means anyone born after October 5, 1954, will have a state pension age of at least 66.

And there will be further rises too. The Conservatives have set out plans to increase the state pension age to 67 by 2028 and 68 by 2039.

3. April 2020 – Disability benefit changes

The Scottish Government is taking on responsibility for disability benefits from April 1 and will implement changes after that.

In summer 2020, Social Security Scotland will open to claims for the brand new Disability Assistance for Children and Young People, which is Scotland’s replacement for Child Disability Living Allowance.

By the end of 2020, Social Security Scotland will also open to claims for the new Disability Assistance for Older People. This is the Scottish replacement for Attendance Allowance and is for people over the state pension age who need someone to help look after them because of a disability or long-term illness.

Also by the end of 2020, children who receive the highest care component of Disability Assistance will be entitled to Winter Heating Assistance.

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Further changes will come in 2021, including PIP being replaced by Disability Assistance for Working Age People and Carer’s Allowance being replaced by Carer’s Assistance.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville says the system will have a redesigned application process and significantly fewer face to face assessments.

There will be rolling awards with no set end points and those with fluctuating health conditions will not face additional reviews due to changes in their needs.

She said: ““Since the Social Security Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June [2018], progress has been swift.

““Our next priority is delivering payments for disabled people, as this is where we can make the most meaningful difference for the largest number of people.

“We have a duty to quickly reform the parts of the current system which cause stress, anxiety and pain. And I have been moved by the personal stories I have heard, many of which criticise the penalising assessment process.”

Around half a million cases – the equivalent of around 10 per cent of people in Scotland – will transfer from DWP to Social Security Scotland in 2020.

Ms Somerville added: “This is not simply a case of turning off one switch and turning on another. For the first time in its history, our agency will be making regular payments, direct to people’s bank accounts and our systems need to work seamlessly with those of the DWP.

“It is therefore essential we have a system that is fully operational for those making new claims and ensure we protect everyone and their payments as their cases are transferred – that is what those who rely on social security support have told us they want. We must work to a timetable that reflects the importance of moving quickly but not putting people’s payments at risk.”

During the transfer no-one will have to reapply for benefits, no claims will be reassessed and payments will be protected.

She added: “The timetable I have set out is ambitious but realistic and at all points protects people and their payments. I have seen the mess the DWP has made when transferring people to PIP and introducing Universal Credit, and we will not make the same mistakes.    

“There is much hard work to be done but the prize is great – a social security system with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart and which works for the people of Scotland.”

4. June 2020 – TV licence changes

Free TV Licences, funded by the Government, for all those aged 75 and over will come to an end in June. So you can get a free licence up to May 31, 2020.

From June 1, a new scheme means you can only carry on getting a free licence if you – or your partner – are receiving Pension Credit.

If not, you’ll have to fork out the cost of a TV licence – which is £154.50 per year for a colour TV, and £52 for black and white. You can choose to pay monthly (£12.87 a month), quarterly (£39.87 every three months) or yearly.

Brits

So it’s worth checking if you can get Pension Credit to avoid the licence fee.

Pension Credit is a top-up benefit payment available if you or your partner have reached state pension age, or if one of you is getting housing benefit for people over pension age. You get more if you’re responsible for a child or young person who lives with you and is under the age of 20.

There are two elements to Pension Credit. Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it’s below £167.25 (for single people) or £255.25 (for couples), while Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement and is up to £13.73 for single people and up to £15.35 for couples.

The Pension Service helpline is available on 0800 731 0469. Call Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. Calls to 0800 numbers are free.

5.  July 2020 – Universal Credit transition protection extended

From July 22, claimants are to get an additional two weeks of income-related Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Income Support if they receive one of these benefits when moving across to Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is intended to replace six existing benefits in total.

People are transferred on to UC if their circumstances change – such as moving home or having a child. This is called natural migration.

Everyone else on the six old benefits will have to move across in a managed migration scheme by the DWP that is set to be completed by December 2023 and is currently being tried out in Harrogate from July 2019 to July 2020.

Normally, existing benefits are terminated when a Universal Credit claim begins but the Government has amended the rules to allows a “two-week run-on” of the three benefits named above.

6. September 2020 – Universal Credit change for self employed

The DWP works out Universal Credit for self-employed people using what’s called a Minimum Income Floor (MIF).

This is roughly equivalent to the national minimum wage for each hour the claimant is expected to work.

It can mean Universal Credit is calculated on a higher level of earnings than you were actually paid.

However, this Minimum Income Floor is not applied to those who started a business within the past 12 months .

And from September 2020, this 12-month exclusion period will also not apply to “those who are naturally migrated in self-employment and all those existing UC claimants who become new gainfully self-employed.”

‘Naturally migrated’ means switched across to Universal Credit because of a change in circumstances.

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Early, quality antenatal care can reduce birth of preterm babies

sports ball

A medical expert, Dr Gbemisola Boyede, Consultant Paediatrician and Founder of “Ask The Paediatricians Foundation”, an NGO, stressed the need for early and quality antenatal care to reduce complications affecting preterm babies.

Boyede disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, in commemoration of the World Prematurity Day, annually celebrated on Nov. 17 to raise awareness on preterm birth and concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide.

The theme for 2019 World Prematurity Day celebration is “Born Too Soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place.’’

Preterm babies, also known as premature, are babies born before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy.

A 2018 World Health Organisation (WHO) report states that premature birth is a leading cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide and may lead to health issues with long term health problems that may affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.

According to the medical expert, the day is set aside to increase awareness on preterm births, as well as deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple proven cost effective measures that can prevent it.

She said “it is important to prevent prematurity because of the difficulties babies go through to survive. The most important strategy is essential and high quality antenatal care.

“Experienced mothers, don’t do ‘too-know’ and wait unti last trimester before registering for antenatal care because each pregnancy is different. Early registration will help doctors to pick out high risk pregnancy that needs more specialist care.”

She explained that mother’s age, multiple gestation, excessive maternal activity/stress, infections and substance abuse are some of the risk factors that may lead to preterm birth.

She added that acute or chronic maternal illness, abnormalities involving the womb, detachment of the placenta, low economic status, black race, previous preterm birth, abnormal trauma/surgery are other risk factors that could contribute to preterm deliveries.

The paediatrician noted that most preterm babies’ organs were not fully matured and had sub-optimal function, hence they often encounter difficulties in adapt ing to life outside the womb.

“ These problems are also related to the degree of prematurity, the more preterm the more the likelihood of problems. Some of these problems are early and some could be long term,’’ she said.

She noted that some of the early difficulties of preterm babies may include birth asphyxia with hypoxia (inadequate oxygen) especially to the brain, jaundice, poor control of body temperature, low blood sugar, infections, bleeding in the brain.

According to her, poor growth, learning disability, behavioral disorders, hydrocephalus (big head), epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing and visual impairment, intellectual disability and increased risk of child abuse and neglect were possible long term complications.

Boyede stressed the need for antenatal care in high risk pregnancies and their deliveries in hospitals to access specialists and appropriate care for mothers and babies, which would enable them to manage challenges that might arise.

She added that “preterm babies, especially the very small ones born less than 32 weeks, must be managed in hospitals neonatal intensive care and placed in incubators.

“They will be managed by paediatricians until they are fit to be left alone with the mother.”

She, therefore, advised mothers with preterm babies to ensure regular follow-up visits at the hospital, maintain excellent care and hygiene in the home environment, regulate temperature by wearing appropriate clothing, feed according to paediatrician’s directives.

Boyede encouraged pregnant women to ensure they receive Tetanus Toxoids (TT) immunisation, anti-malaria, iron and vitamin supplements, use insecticide treated bed net and avoid smoking and alcohol.

She called on government to invest more in newborn intensive care resources, which would promote access to better care.

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Yes, you need to talk to your kids about porn. Here’s how to do it

Health

(CNN)At a certain age, every kid learns about the difference between fantasy and reality, whether it applies to fairy tales, video games or superhero movies.

For the generations who’ve never lived without Wi-Fi, the internet is often the first place they’re exposed to sexual imagery. And in the absence of good, comprehensive sex education, some kids may think it’s the only way to actually learn about sex.
“The sad fact is that more than half of our children get their first ‘sexual education’ from adult films on the internet,” said Dr. Mark Schoen, founder of SexSmartFilms.com and former director of sex education at the Sinclair Intimacy Institute. What’s missing is a sense of context and conversation around this imagery — a conversation that would help a young person distinguish between real sex and porn sex.
    Although many sex educators are advocating for this kind of porn literacy in schools, the conversation also needs to happen at home.
    news
    In general, there can be real benefits from having frank discussions about sex, said Debby Herbenick. In one recent study by Herbenick and her colleagues at the Indiana University School of Public Health, exposure to porn was only associated with an increased probability in having unprotected sex when parents had little-to-no sexual health communication with their children. When parent-teen sexual health communication was high, pornography use was unrelated to teenagers’ engagement in unsafe sex.
    Here’s how to approach “the talk” in the age of online porn.

    Start early

    “Parents would be wise to start discussing sexually explicit media during childhood,” said Herbenick. “It’s not just porn that they need literacy about — it’s Hollywood movies, music and social media, too.”
    Rather than viewing access to porn as a negative, welcome it as an opportunity to educate your kids. “In my experience, the more sex ed a child receives from their parents, the less likely they are to develop shame around sex and use pornography in a compulsive or unhealthy manner,” said sex therapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson.

    Just do it

    Yes

      Teens make the case for porn literacy

    “Starting the conversation can be as easy as saying something like, ‘I know this might seem like it’s coming out of nowhere, but I’m concerned about the messages you are getting about sex, sexual behaviors and what’s real or normal from the stuff that’s out there,'” said sexologist Lanae St. John.
    Or you might do some advance planning. “A conversation on sex and porn should allow for honesty and the time it takes to have a serious discussion,” advised sex therapist Heidi Crockett. “I recommend arranging an agreed upon time so that both parent and child can bring their questions and thoughts to the table.”

    Explain the differences

    Remind your child that porn is meant for entertainment, not education, in terms they can understand.
    you need to talk to your kids about porn. Here's how to do it - CNN

      What it’s really like to be an adult film star

    “I tell them that just as the ‘Fast & Furious’ movies are not driver’s ed, porn is not sex ed,” said St. John. Explain that just like movies, porn portrays how we might fantasize about things but not act on them.
    Likewise, you can stress that masturbation — to porn or otherwise — and sex are two different experiences. “It’s fun to text our friends or play video games with them online, but it’s another thing to hang out in person,” said sex therapist Kristen Lilla. “Porn can also be fun to watch, but it doesn’t mimic or replace real-life sex and relationships.”

    Don’t make assumptions

    Part of what makes porn tough to talk about is how divisive it’s become. You might hear from some adults that porn use has led to dependency, erectile dysfunction, fear of intimacy and other problems. For others, it’s simply part of a healthy sex life.
    The truth is that medical experts don’t know for certain whether porn use is truly responsible for all of the effects attributed to it; so far, there isn’t a clear scientific consensus around the influence of porn on the human adult brain, much less the teenage brain.
    Health
    While some experts say that porn is highly addictive, others say that the concept of true porn addiction isn’t supported by scientific evidence. Impulsive or compulsive porn use, this camp says, is usually a symptom of something else, such as depression or anxiety.
    The only thing we do know for certain is that the more open parents are with their kids about sexual health, the better.

    Don’t limit it to sex

    View your conversations as laying the foundation for helping children question all the media they consume.
      “We begin this process of becoming aware of how roles or stereotypes are portrayed when you watch TV or PG movies with your kids beginning when they’re 7 to 8 years old,” said sex therapist Sari Cooper. “Bringing up some of the uncomfortable feelings one has when watching a film with younger ages because of the way a woman, person of color, or a person with disability was portrayed begins a training of critical thinking with your children.”
      However you choose to approach it, know that “the talk” is really a series of conversations. When you discuss topics like sexuality, masturbation and porn early on, you open the door for trust and honesty with your kids — and that helps build a foundation for good sexual health throughout their lives.

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      Controversial As It May Be, ‘Screen Time’ Makes Me A Better Mom

      Before I became a parent, I vowed to do (and not do) a lot of things. My daughter was going to be breastfed until she was 1, and she’d eat all-natural, organic, homemade meals. She would never use a binkie and would rarely touch a bottle. Screen time? She would be limited to 30 minutes a day. 

      Of course, my plan seemed fail-proof. I was 29 when I conceived my daughter: a work-from-home, stay-at-home mom. And my husband supported me. We agreed today’s kids were too distant and distracted. We were “those people,” the ones who judged the parents who broke out the iPads at dinner. Plus, we had read all the studies. Childless me knew best — or so I thought. Or so I believed. Until we had kids and “dinner dates” and things to do on our own.

      You see, it is easy to live in a disillusioned little bubble. Before children, I was smug. Scratch that: I was stupid and naive. And while I felt guilty, at least in the “early days” — the first time I used the television to distract my daughter, I felt like a bad parent; I convinced myself I was a “bad” mom — these days I believe the opposite to be true.

      Screen time makes me a better mom. 

      The first time I used the television to distract my daughter, I felt like a bad parent; I convinced myself I was a ‘bad’ mom — these days I believe the opposite to be true.

      Now I know what some of you might be thinking: That’s ridiculous. That’s absurd. Only crappy parents rely on Netflix and cable to care for their kids. Plus, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly suggests parents limit media use. Kids under 5 should watch no more than 60 minutes each day, and those under 2 should watch no TV … at all. And while I do not dispute or refute the experts — these guidelines are in place for good reason — there are things science and studies fail to consider.

      My daughter is a Type A personality. She is high-strung, high-stressed and always on the go. She attends school every morning, dances almost every evening, and her weekends are spent running, both miles and errands. Some days I need to help her destress and decompress.

      Like most 6-year-olds, she gets worked up and “amped up” and watching a cartoon (or two) gives her a chance to shut off her mind.

      But there are other reasons — more selfish reasons — I let her watch TV. I am a stay-at-home and work-from-home mom. I have virtual meetings to attend and deadlines to meet, and giving her screen time gives me “me” time. I am able to write while she catches up on ”She-Ra,” “Sesame Street” and ”DC Super Hero Girls.” And while this may sound bad, at least on paper, I believe I am teaching my daughter responsibility. Through my actions, she knows women work. Hard. I am helping my daughter become more independent. When Mommy works, she gets her own snacks, drinks and toys, and I am teaching my daughter about balance. When the episodes are over, I’m done. I put my phone down and laptop away and we play.

      I am active, engaged and fully present.

      I am also calmer. News writing can be a fast-paced, demanding industry but setting boundaries — for her and me — has helped me unwind.

      I believe I am teaching my daughter responsibility. Through my actions, she knows women work. Hard. I am helping my daughter become more independent.

      There are other benefits, too. Television helps me talk to my child on her level. “Sesame Street” has spurred conversations about race, anxiety, diversity and disability. I’ve used Oscar the Grouch to explain that we cannot change another’s attitude but can love them in spite of it. He is also a key example of why you cannot (and should not) judge a book by their cover, and countless “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” songs have worked their way into my home. I’ve found Daniel’s “When You Feel So Mad” song particularly useful.

      In short, television has opened dialogues between me and my daughter. Cartoons have helped me be more engaged with my kids.

      The TV has taught my daughter. Thanks to “Super Why,” she knew her alphabet at 2, and thanks (again) to “Sesame Street,” she was able to count to 20 by age 3. And I use the screen as a motivator. My daughter earns episodes or “tablet time” when she completes chores, e.g., making her bed earns 15 minutes while doing her homework gets her 30.

      TV time also gives us a chance to cuddle — something I fully appreciate as the mom of a high-energy kid — and to make memories. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a Halloween tradition, and we always spend Christmas week watching “Rudolph,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “The Grinch.”

      Television has opened dialogues between me and my daughter. Cartoons have helped me be more engaged with my kids.

      That said, I have a few “rules.” During meals, the TV is off. The dinner table is a screen-free zone. All programming must be supervised. I will not let my daughter watch a new series unless I can watch an episode with her first, and on weekdays, she is limited to two hours max, and that’s what works for me and my family.

      To each their own because I know better. I know not to judge other parents and how they parent. 

      So at the end of the day remember: It doesn’t matter what our kids watch or eat, it matters what they do, what they say, what they feel and how they act, and only you know what is best for them. Only you can decide what works for your family, your child and you.

      Have a compelling first-person story or experience you want to share? Send your story description to pitch@huffpost.com.

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