Tag Archives: budget

Joint press release from Ipswich Citizens Advice and Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau

Response to Budget announcements ‘Household finances mirror the instability of the wider economy’

Ipswich Citizens Advice and Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau response to the Budget 2016 around Personal Independence Payments and the importance of more investment in front-line money and debt advice services.

We have seen an increase in demand for support with all aspects of access to disability benefits from completing applications to appealing decisions on Personal Independence Payments in Ipswich over the last 12 months. This benefit is designed to maximise people’s ability to play an active role in our society, whether to go out to work or to be able to stay in their own home.

Nicky Willshere, Manager Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“Disabled people who rely on PIP for help to get dressed or use the toilet will be worried about the impact this Budget has on their ability to live an independent life. We have helped over a 1000 clients with benefits issues since April and almost 800 clients with debt worries.”

Pat Ramsey, Manager of Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau said:

“We dealt with over 1400 enquiries about PIP issues and took on 718 PIP related cases in 2015. Issues related to the complexity of the whole process – getting together the information required to make the initial claim by phone, helping to complete the 36 page form, the large number of people asked to travel to Colchester, Braintree or Norwich for their medical assessment as the Ipswich facility has limited capacity, as well as representing those who feel their decision is wrong – with an 88 percent success rate. Government is planning to make this significant change before they have a full picture of the impact of PIP on the lives of people with disabilities, as most claimants of Disabled Living Allowance (DLA) have yet to be contacted about the compulsory change to PIP.”

“The planned changes to PIP will impact on all aspects of the lives of people with disabilities as they relate to help with their basic needs – getting in and out of bed, using the toilet, washing and dressing as well as preparing, and taking, food and drink. The changes fail to recognise the fact that disabled people research and purchase themselves to try to be as independent as possible. This news comes just a week after the announcement of parliamentary agreement to remove the Work Related Activity component from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The potential effect on the physical, mental and financial well-being of people with disabilities, their carers and families is enormous.”

On the commitment by the Government to invest more in front-line debt and money advice both charities welcomed this news. Both charities have specialist debt and income maximisation teams who can help clients manage their money, deal with their debts and ensure benefits are claimed.

Nicky Willshere, Manager Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“Household finances mirror the instability of the wider economy. Increasing the personal tax allowance threshold to £11,500 from April 2017 and helping households to save are both very positive steps. We help with debt issues every working day and know there are many people struggling to balance the books. It is crucial that people can access free and impartial advice at every step of the way, not just when things start to go wrong. In these difficult times it is vital that everyone who needs it has access to professional, free, impartial advice. We can help to get effective financial guidance to people early which is key to improving household finances and economic security. The Government’s commitment to invest more in front-line debt and money advice is good news. It’s crucial financial help isn’t just available at crisis points, people should be able to access it at key moments in their lives, like when they move jobs or have a baby.”

Help is at hand from Ipswich Citizens Advice as Universal Credit roll out continues

Ipswich Citizens Advice is encouraging people to turn to them for help if they have questions about Universal Credit and how it affects them, as new government figures reveal 50 people across Ipswich are now on the benefit and with all single, non-home owning people claiming an out of work benefit being moved on to this benefit, the numbers will grow exponentially.

Since its introduction in Ipswich in November 2015, Ipswich Citizens Advice has helped people with 17 issues relating to Universal Credit. This represents almost a third of claimants.

Most enquiries to Ipswich Citizens Advice are about who is eligible for the benefit and requests for help with the application process. ‘We are keen to help people through this new benefits roadmap and particularly to help them understand the major changes that claiming this benefit will mean for them in terms of payment periods and the necessary budgeting and money management that will be needed to avoid debts building up or threatening tenancies,’ says Nelleke van Helfteren, Deputy Manager at Ipswich Citizens Advice.

Data released by the Department for Work and Pensions on 17 February shows that nearly 200,000 people are now on Universal Credit.

Universal Credit rolls six working-age benefits into one single monthly payment, supporting people who are on a low income or out of work. It is being introduced in stages across the country, in the first instance to single people who are making new  claims. It will eventually be rolled out to couples, families and people who are sick or disabled.

As new Universal Credit figures are released, Ipswich Citizens Advice is sharing its five key things you need to know about Universal Credit:

  1. Universal Credit is a new benefit for people in and out of work, which will eventually merge six benefits into one: Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. Currently you can still apply for ESA separately from Universal Credit.
  2. Universal Credit does not include Council Tax Support – you will still need to apply for this locally.
  3. You apply for Universal Credit via a single application; you’re usually expected to do this online, but you can apply over the phone or in person if you need to.
  4. Universal Credit payments are made on a monthly basis, rather than weekly or fortnightly like previous benefit.
  5. You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you’re waiting for your first payment. This is called a ‘short term advance’.

Nicky Willshere, Manager at Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“Many people will need help getting to grips with Universal Credit. Since it was introduced in Ipswich there has been a gradual increase in the number of people turning to us for help with their Universal Credit claim. We are very pleased that we now have an income maximisation worker who is assisting our clients with money management and budgeting to support them through this changing landscape.

“Simplifying welfare and making every hour of work pay are good principles. We know that without the right help and support people across Ipswich may struggle with Universal Credit and how to manage their money on the new benefit. The Jobcentre has an important role to play in making it clear that help is available and that it effectively signposts to where people can get the support they need.”

Benefits is one of the most common type of enquiry people turn to Citizens Advice for help with and Ipswich Citizens Advice helped people with 2796 benefit queries in the last year.

In the last 12 months local Citizens Advice across England and Wales have helped people with over 150 Universal Credit issues every week.

For more information contact us on 0300 330 1151 or see our website citizensadvice.org.uk