The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed an array of changes to the social security system as a result of Brexit.
Under the new withdrawal agreement reached between the UK and EU after last-minute negotiations, Brexit has finally happened.
From January 1, 2021, Britain is no longer part of the European Union and there are a number of ramifications for welfare payments such as Universal Credit and Child Benefit.
1. Universal Credit five-year ban
A Brexit benefits ban is being imposed to prevent anyone coming to the UK from claiming income-related payouts such as Universal Credit for five years.
EU migrants who come to Britain from January 1 will be treated the same as non-EU migrants.
EU nationals already living in Britain and those from Ireland will not be affected.
Up until December 31, 2020, when the Transition Period ended, EU migrants could claim income-related benefits within their first year of coming here.
Leaving the EU has enabled the Government to change the rules so all migrants arriving from January 1, 2021 are treated the same.
Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said:“We have delivered on our Manifesto commitment to restore fairness in access to our welfare system, by treating EU and non-EU migrants equally.
“It is both right and fair that people making the UK their home should pay into the tax system for a reasonable period of time before they can access the benefit system.”
2. Child Benefit blocked
EU migrants who come to the UK after January 1 will also not be able to apply for Child Benefit for five years.
And, in a major rule change, they will no longer be eligible to claim Child Benefit for any of their children who still live outside the UK.
It won’t affect anyone from the EU who is already living in the UK.
3. Winter Fuel Payments stopped
The DWP said that EU migrants who come to the UK after January 1 won’t qualify for Winter Fuel Payments.
These are automatic payments of between £100 and £300 towards heating bills for those born on or before October 5, 1954.
Normally, recipients must also have lived in the UK for at least one day during a ‘qualifying week’ each year (for 2020 it was September 21 to 27).
Before Brexit, the Winter Fuel Payment could also be given to those from the EU who were not here during the qualifying week but have “a genuine and sufficient link to the UK” – this could include having lived or worked in the UK, or having family in the UK.
But post-Brexit, the payment won’t be given to EU residents who start a new life in Britain.
4. State Pension rights retained
The DWP says that you can carry on receiving your UK State Pension if you move to live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension from these countries.
The EEA (European Economic Area) consists of the member states of the European Union (EU) and three countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway; excluding Switzerland).
Your UK State Pension will be increased each year in the EU in line with the rate paid in the UK.
You can also count relevant social security contributions made in EU countries to meet the qualifying conditions for a UK State Pension.
Attendance Allowance – Usually every 4 weeks
Carer’s Allowance – Weekly in advance or every 4 weeks
Child Benefit – Usually every 4 weeks – or weekly if you’re a single parent or you or your partner get certain benefits
Disability Living Allowance – Usually every 4 weeks
Employment and Support Allowance – Usually every 2 weeks
Income Support – Usually every 2 weeks
Jobseeker’s Allowance – Usually every 2 weeks
Pension Credit – Usually every 4 weeks
Personal Independence Payment – Usually every 4 weeks
State Pension – Usually every 4 weeks
Tax credits, such as Working Tax Credits – Every week or every 4 weeks
Universal Credit – Every month (except in Scotland and Northern Ireland)
This guidance is for UK nationals, but the same rules on the State Pension apply to everyone regardless of nationality and when you moved.
The Government says Brexit should not have any effect on UK workplace pensions paid to ex-pats.
Your bank should contact you if they need to change the way you receive your work pension because the UK has left the EU.
5. Benefits changes if moving to EU
If you are moving, or thinking of moving, from Britain to an EU, EEA country or Switzerland from January 1, 2021, the rules on which UK benefits can be paid in those countries have changed.
If you are eligible, the following benefits and payments can be paid while you are living in the EU:
Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay
Bereavement Support Payment and other bereavement benefits
Industrial injuries benefits
Statutory Sick Pay
Social security contributions made when you are working in an EU country can help you qualify for some UK benefits during any periods you are back in the UK – including New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance and New Style Employment and Support Allowance.
For further information, see the Government guidance on where you pay your social security contributions when working in the EU.
Universal Credit is the biggest change to the welfare system in a generation.
But what exactly is it and how does the system work? Here’s all you need to below. Follow the links below to find out more.
Universal Credit is a new social security benefit that was approved in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and first appeared in 2013. By the end of 2018, it was rolled out to all jobcentres.
It replaces six existing benefits, now known as ‘legacy benefits’. Find out more by clicking on the link above.
The amount you are given is calculated according to various factors.
The Government says if you have children, a disability, or you need help paying for your rent, you may be entitled to extra amounts on top of the standard allowance. Find out more by clicking on the link above.
Among the qualifying criteria, you must be on a low income or out of work.
And it’s important to bear in mind your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account, even if they themselves are not applying for the benefit. Find out more about eligibility by clicking on the link above.
To get Universal Credit, TWO accounts are needed.
One is a Universal Credit online account where your details (such as the date of the next payment) are available to look at, the other is a payment account at a bank or building society where the Government pays in your money. Find out more by clicking on the link above.
There are some special helpline numbers to call if you want assistance. They have been changed to freephone numbers so there is no charge for calling. Find out more by clicking on the link above.
Claimants need to be aware the first payment doesn’t come through until five weeks after a claim – and then every month after that.
If you’re not used to waiting a whole month for your payment, it can prove difficult. But there is a little-known way around that. Find out more by clicking on the link above
There are occasions where the Department for Work and Pensions imposes sanctions on claimants if they appear to have broken the rules, for instance by not showing up at jobcentre appointments.
In such cases, Universal Credit can be cut or stopped altogether. Find out what to do by clicking the link above.
Rules are still being updated for those permanently moving to Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
You will still be able to claim some benefits abroad for a limited time if you move temporarily, such as for medical treatment, as long as you meet the criteria.
Brits already living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by December 31, 2020 can keep getting any UK benefits they already receive as long as they still meet eligibility requirements.
They may also be able make new claims for some UK benefits from January 1, 2021 but could be asked to provide evidence they had been living abroad by December 31, 2020.
-- to www.birminghammail.co.uk