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Social Security Benefits

The UK benefits system is undergoing a major overhaul at the moment and the information you receive from Statutory Agencies may be confusing.

The principal points to remember are:

 

UNIVERSAL CREDIT ▼ 

This benefit has been introduced since April 2013 gradually across the country.

Universal benefit replaces the following six benefits with a single monthly payment:

  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

To check whether Universal Credit has been introduced for your postcode please check at: www.gov.uk/universal-credit/eligibility

FOSTERING INCOME IS IGNORED WHEN ASSESSING YOUR ELIGIBILITY TO UNIVERSAL CREDIT

And therefore you may well be eligible to claim this benefit.

If Universal Credit has not been introduced in your area then you have various options.

 

INCOME SUPPORT ▼

FOSTERING INCOME IS IGNORED WHEN ASSESSING YOUR ELIGIBILITY TO INCOME SUPPORT

You may be eligible to income support if:

*You are aged between 16 and pension credit age

* You are pregnant, or a lone parent with a child under 5 years of age

*You are a lone foster carer with a foster child under the age of 16

* You have no income/low income

*You work less than 16 hours a week (and your partner works no more than 24 hours a week)

* You live in England, Scotland and Wales (there are different rules for Northern Ireland)

 

However you usually won’t qualify for income support if:

  • Your savings exceed £16,000
  • You need permission to enter the UK
  • You get Job Seekers Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • You are a young person being looked after by a local authority

Foster carers can say that they are working less than 16 hours a week BUT can only claim Income Support whilst they have Foster children in placement and must inform the authorities if they do not have any placements.

 

WORKING TAX CREDIT ▼

If you do not claim Income Support you may be eligible to claim working tax credit.

Working tax credit is calculated on a household basis and a Foster carer can claim working tax credit regardless of whether they have children in placement.

WHEN ASSESSING A FOSTER CARER’S ELIGIBILITY TO WORKING TAX CREDIT DWP NEED TO KNOW YOUR PROFIT FROM FOSTER CARING. YOUR PROFIT IS YOUR INCOME LESS FOSTERING ALLOWANCES (AS CALCULATED UNDER HMRC HS 236) NOT THE INCOME YOU RECEIVE FROM YOUR SERVICE PROVIDER.

You will be eligible for Working Tax Credit if:

  • Aged over 16
  • Work a certain number of hours
    • Over 30 hours a week if you are under 60
    • Over 16 hours a week if you are over 60
    • Over 16 hours a week if you are single with 1or more birth child
    • Over 24 hours a week if you are a couple with 1 or more birth children
  • If you get paid for the work you do

  • Have income below a certain level

 

Basic Working Tax Credit is up to £1,940 a year but you could be eligible for more.

Foster care is a self-employment for the purposes of Working Tax Credit and a Foster carer can say they work over 30 hours a week.

Foster children are ignored when calculating eligibility to the benefit (a Foster carer with no birth children will be treated as having no children).

 

HOUSING BENEFIT - The Bedroom Tax ▼

From April 2013 if you live in rented council accommodation or other social housing and are assessed as having at least 1 extra bedroom in your house i.e. a bedroom that is not in use, your housing benefit could be reduced by:

 

  • 14% If you have one extra bedroom
  • 25% If you have two or more extra bedrooms

Under current regulations one bedroom is allowed for:

  • Every adult, couple or person over 16
  • Any two children under 10
  • Any two children of the same sex under 16

In addition to the above 1 room is allowed for use by a Foster child- if a room is currently being used by a foster child or a foster child has been in the room within the last 12 months.

The allowance is limited to only one bedroom –so if you use more than one bedroom for foster children the additional rooms will be excluded From Housing Benefit claims.

 

COUNCIL TAX ▼

From April 2013 Council Tax benefit was abolished and replaced with a system of localised support- each claim will be assessed individually by your Local Authority. Government funding of the scheme has been reduced and council tax benefit payments have reduced as a consequence.

 

Don’t forget …

The benefits system is highly complex and each individual’s circumstances are different. You may not be given accurate information by the Statutory Agencies if the person you speak to has not dealt with Foster care and the special tax rules applied to Fostering income.

 

If you have any questions…

As a FosterTalk member you and your family members have the advantage of access to your own confidential tax, accountancy and benefits helpline where our advisers will be happy to help you:

 

Ring           01527 836910

E-mail        enquiries@fostertalk.org

 

The advisers are available Mon-Fri 9am-5pm excluding bank holidays.

We guarantee to respond to e-mail enquiries within 1 working day


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