Financial hardship?

The four-year freeze to working-age benefits and tax credits, which starts this week, will no doubt add to the pressures that millions of families already face in meeting everyday costs.

While not a direct cut, the freeze essentially erodes the value of benefits and is set to affect a large number of claimants, many of whom are on the lowest incomes.

As a charity supporting people in financial hardship, we know that other significant benefit changes taking place this month and beyond are also likely to cause confusion and concern.

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This includes a change in the tax credit ‘income rise disregard’, the amount a claimant’s income can increase in-year without seeing a reduction in tax credit entitlement. The disregard is being reduced from £5,000 to £2,500, the same level as when tax credits were first introduced, with an estimated 800,000 people seeing their tax credit entitlement reduced as a result.

April also brings changes to support for housing costs, a reduction in Universal Credit Work Allowances and the introduction of a new single-tier state pension.

We urge anyone who is worried to visit where they can find further information on the changes and check their current benefits entitlements.

Anyone who thinks they might see a reduction in their income as a result of the changes can check if they’re entitled to any extra help through our benefits calculator, and also use our grants search to see if they might be eligible for a charity grant or other support.

Alison Taylor

Director of operations, Turn2us