Welfare reform

Universal credit is created in the Welfare Reform Bill and the Government are planning to launch it in October 2013.  The new benefit is intended to simplify the benefit system and make work pay and combat worklessness.  It will only apply to claimants of working age. Any new claims for welfare benefits (including housing benefits) will be for universal credit from October 2013 onwards. Between 2013 and 2017 all existing working age housing benefit claims will be transferred across to universal credit.  Also it is proposed that pension credit will be changed (to include housing costs) from 2014.

The Department of Works and Pensions will manage the universal credit system so there will be a centralised approach to the implementation and delivery of the new system, rather than claims being processed locally.

Council Tax benefit is to be abolished under the Welfare Reform Bill from 2013, and  Councils will be expected to develop their own local schemes, within certain guidelines, by then.  However grant allocation to cover this benefit will be reduced by some 10%.

Benefit fraud will be dealt with by a Single Fraud Investigation Service and options for the development of this service are being investigated.

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