Contact A Family -News and Information

Post date: Nov 30, 2016 3:49:28 PM

News and information from Contact a Family - for families with disabled children and professionals that work with them.

Welcome to the latest edition of Contact a Family’s What’s new: benefits special, our quarterly e-publication focusing on all the latest benefit and welfare changes that might affect families with disabled children. If you know someone who might find this free monthly e-newsletter useful, let them know they can simply sign up to receive regular copies straight to their inbox.

And remember, if you care for a disabled child and need advice, support or information, please call Contact a Family’s free helpline on 0808 808 3555 to talk to one of our expert advisers.

Contact a Family calls for compensation fund for families with disabled children who have missed out on tax credit extra payments

Last week the Chancellor Philip Hammond set out the government’s plans for the economy in his Autumn Statement. In it we learned that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have identified 28,000 families with a child in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but who are not getting the disabled child element(s) paid with their child tax credit. For these families, their awards will be amended and the extra amount paid from April 2016. Some of the families should have been getting extra awards for several years so have missed out on up to £20,000.

Contact a Family featured in the Guardian and Daily Mirror over the weekend about this. We are calling for a compensation fund for families with disabled children who have missed out on tax credits due to a government administrative issue. We urge families to make sure they tell the Tax Credit Office as soon as an award of DLA is made or an existing award is increased so they don’t miss out. You can read more here.

Benefits of earnings limit increase for Carers Allowance cancelled out by rise in National Living Wage

The earnings limit for Carer’s Allowance will be increased to only £116 per week from April 2017. While this maybe be good news for some carers, for others who work 16 hours or more per week, the increase will be of little or no benefit. This is because the National Living Wage will also be increased to £7.50 per hour from April 2017. So, from April, if you work 16 hours per week, at the National Living Wage rate, your earnings will be £120 - and as a result you will not qualify for Carer’s Allowance. Read more about it and find out why we will continue to campaign for the government to either raise or scrap the earnings limit for Carer’s Allowance altogether.

More about Carer's Allowance

You can find out more about Carer’s Allowance by downloading our Carer's Allowance summary factsheet [PDF] or reading our guide on how to get a carer's needs assessment.

More Universal Credit roll outs this autumn

This autumn the full Universal Credit 'digital service' is being extended to a number of new postcodes. Anyone of working age - including a parent with a disabled child - who lives in these areas and who makes a new claim for one of the means-tested benefits that Universal Credit is replacing will be asked to claim Universal Credit instead.

Find out which areas are affected by this or take a look at the new postcode checker to see if you can claim Universal Credit in your area. Visit our Universal Credit webpageto find out more about the digital service, how it might affect your family, and the timetable for its roll-out.

Is your child nearly 16? Read our new guide for parents, Personal Independence Payment and other benefits at 16

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the new benefit for young people and adults aged 16-64 that’s gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA). To help guide you through how to claim if your teenager is asked to claim PIP and what to do if they're not yet able to manage their own affairs, our expert advisers have written this helpful parent guide: Personal Independence Payment and other benefits at 16 [PDF]. Alternatively you can call our freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555 for your free print copy of the guide.

Money matters – more help and advice from Contact a Family

You might also be interested in these free guides for parents, also available from our helpline 0808 808 3555:

88,000 households affected by lowering of benefit cap

On 7 November the household benefit cap was lowered from £500 per week to £442 in London and to £385 elsewhere. An extra 88,000 households are expected to be affected by this lower cap. The good news is that in addition to being exempt from the benefit cap if you have a dependent child who is on either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), you can also be exempt if you are entitled to Carer's Allowance (including those who qualify but are not paid Carer's Allowance due to receipt of another benefit) or get a carer element in your Universal Credit.

Read more about the cap and answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about it.

Bedroom tax update - Supreme Court upholds family’s bedroom tax challenge

In November the Supreme Court dismissed the government’s appeal against the Rutherford family’s successful challenge to the bedroom tax. Last February the family challenged the decision to cut their housing benefit under the 'bedroom tax' rules and successfully argued they needed an extra bedroom because their severely disabled grandson needed an overnight carer. The government’s attempt to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision was dismissed in November by the Supreme Court who unanimously agreed that not allowing an extra bedroom for a child needing an overnight carer is 'manifestly without reason'. Read Contact a Family’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision.

Government to scrap ESA reassessments for those with lifelong severe conditions

In October the Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green, announced that the government will abolish Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) reassessments for those with life-long severe health conditions with no prospect of improvement. Read our response.

Extra Costs Commission highlights the extra costs of disability

In October the Extra Costs Commission - an independent inquiry into the extra costs faced by disabled people and their families - made recommendations to help drive down the additional costs of disability.

Contact a Family's own research [PDF] shows that a quarter of the 3,500 parents who took part in our Counting the Costs survey said that every month they face £300 or more extra costs relating to their child's disability or health condition.

Claiming Disability Living Allowance to help with extra costs

Don’t forget, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is the main benefit for disabled children and is there to help meet some of the extra costs of having a disabled child [PDF]. Families describe getting DLA as life-changing - that's why it's so important to claim DLA and not miss out. However, we know that take-up of DLA is low and millions goes unclaimed. We want more families to get advice on this life-changing benefit. Call our helpline so we can talk you through the rules for getting DLA and send you our free DLA guide.

We want your thoughts on improving our advice service

Have you called our helpline recently? Do you use our website to find advice on caring for your child? Are you an active member of our Facebook community? If the answer is yes, we'd like to hear from you.

Help support our work

This free newsletter takes many hours to research and write. If you have found it useful, please consider a one-off or recurring monthly donation of your choice to support Contact a Family’s work with families of disabled children in the UK. You can find out more on our donation page.

What kind of fundraising activity takes your fancy?

Do you like the sound of hosting a coffee morning for your loved ones? Got your eye on a fitness challenge like a fun run or a marathon? Could you gather your friends together for a quiz night?

If the answer to any of these is yes, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the kind of fundraising events you might interested in to support Contact a Family. And if the answer is no? We want to hear from you too! We want to know what barriers put you off fundraising - maybe the events don't appeal, or you're pushed for time? If you’d like to help please answer the questions in our short survey now and find out why we are asking.