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Summary of Social Security Changes announced in Autumn Statement

25 Nov 2015

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced the UK Government’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement. It contains a number of changes to social security benefits. As has been widely reported, previously announced cuts to tax credits have been reversed (although not in their entirety), but the equivalent changes in Universal Credit remain. The Chancellor also announced changes to Housing Benefit, JSA and ESA.

Tax Credits – previously announced changes reversed 

  • The tax credits income threshold will remain at £6,420 from April 2016 [it had been planned to reduce this to £3,850]

  • The tax credits taper will remain at 41% of gross income [it had been planned to increase to 48%]

Tax Credits – previously announced changes continuing

  • The tax credits income rise disregard will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,500 from April 2016

  • Child Tax Credit payments will be limited to the first two children from April 2017 [not mentioned in statement, measure in Welfare Reform and Work Bill]

  • Child Tax Credit family element will be abolished from April 2017 [not mentioned in statement, measure in Welfare Reform and Work Bill]

Universal Credit – previously announced changes continuing

  • Universal Credit work allowances reduced to £4,764 per year for people without housing costs, and £2,304 for those with housing costs from April 2016

  • Universal Credit work allowances will no longer apply for non-disabled claimants without children from April 2016

  • Those transferred by DWP from tax credits to Universal Credit will receive transitional protection

Universal Credit – newly announced changes

  • Universal Credit will extend the same Jobcentre Plus support and conditionality that people on JSA get to 1.3 million additional claimants [This appears to be people who are currently entitled to income-related ESA, although it is not made clear].

  • The individual threshold in the Minimum Income Floor for the self-employed is uprated in line with the ‘National Living Wage’ rather than the National Minimum Wage

Housing Benefit changes

  • The government will cap the amount of rent that Housing Benefit will cover in the social sector to the relevant Local Housing Allowance. This will include the Shared Accommodation Rate for single claimants under 35 who do not have dependent children. This will apply to tenancies signed after April 2016, with HB entitlement changing from April 2018 onwards. [N.B. it is unclear whether this will apply to the housing element of Universal Credit or not]

  • People who leave the country for more than a month will lose entitlement to Housing Benefit and Pension Credit


  • Jobseekers will be required to attend the Jobcentre weekly for the first three months of their JSA claim.

  • The more intensive support of the Help to Work Programme – currently for the long-term unemployed – will be brought forward [This also appears to be for the first three months of a JSA claim]

Other measures

  • Spending on Access to Work will be increased

Other changes previously announced in the Summer Budget will go ahead as planned.

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