The main changes to benefits being introduced this month are
- the introduction of the under-occupancy penalty – the ‘bedroom tax”
- the replacement of crisis loans and community care grants from the Social Fund by local provision
- the benefit upratings, and
- the new system replacing Council Tax Benefit by localised systems.
Other changes are being piloted or introduced in part:
- new claims for Personal Independence Payment, replacing Disability Living Allowance: this starts in northern England
- the benefits cap, starting in four London boroughs
- the first pilot of Universal Credit, now in only one pilot area.
Most of these are cuts, rather than changes in principle. The changes to housing benefits won’t lead to people moving, because there is nowhere to move to; the upratings are there to reduce the minimal level of support. Localisation will lead to some differences, but the substance of what happens will be driven by the lack of funding rather than any differences in the rules.