Benefit and other changes for single parents from April 2017
This page summarises the changes to benefits and tax credits, income tax and the minimum wage that may affect you as single parent from April.
Benefits and tax credit changes
Tax Credit and Universal Credit will be limited to two children.
Rule changes from 6 April 2017 mean that Child Tax Credit (CTC) awards will no longer contain an amount for every child you are responsible for (including any qualifying young people under 20 in full-time, non-advanced education). The changes only apply to people who have children born on or after 6 April 2017.
If you currently claim Universal Credit for two children or more, additional elements will not be included for any child who joins the family on or after 6 April 2017 unless an exception* applies. Elements will continue to be included for all children who were part of the family before 6 April 2017.
*Exceptions to the two child limit:
You are entitled to claim universal credit and child tax credit for a third (or more) child if they are:
- part of a multiple birth where there were previously fewer than two children in your household;
- living long tem with you because they are unable to live with their parents and could otherwise be at risk of entering the care system; or
- born as a result of rape.
Families with more than two children cannot make a new claim for Universal Credit until November 2018, even if they are in a full digital service Universal Credit area. They will have to claim Child Tax Credit in the meantime.
Removal of the Tax Credit family element and Universal Credit first child element
New claims from families with children will no longer be eligible for the family element of tax credits or the higher first child element of Universal Credit from April 2017.
Universal Credit requirements for parents to look for work
From April 2017 single parents with three year-olds and above will be expected to find work that fits with childcare or school hours in order to receive universal credit.
Work related requirements for single parents under Universal Credit:
You will be expected to
- have work focused interviews when your youngest child turns 1
- start work preparation when your youngest child turns 2
- look for work when your youngest child turns 3
Single parents will still be able to restrict the number of hours and job search they can manage around their caring responsibilities and available childcare, while their child is under 13 years old. There are no work-related requirements for single parents with a child under one.
Employment Support Allowance (ESA) work-related activity component abolished
From 1 April 2017, new ESA claimants who are placed in the work-related activity group will no longer receive the work related activity component. Instead they will receive the same rate of payment as those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and the equivalent in Universal Credit. Summer Budget 2015: key announcements
Carer’s Allowance earnings limit will be increased from £110 to £116 a week from 6 April. If you earn £116 after tax you will not be entitled to carer’s allowance. See our Disability Benefits for Single Parents and Their Children factsheet for more information or call the Lone Parent helpline on 0808 801 0323 if you need advice about this.
Increase in the amount you can earn whilst claiming Universal Credit
You can now earn a little more whilst claiming Universal Credit due to reduction in the earning taper rate from 65% to 63% This means for every £1 you earn over your work allowance (if you are eligible for one) your Universal Credit will be reduced by 63 pence instead of 65 pence as it currently stands.
Changes to bereavement benefits
The current system of bereavement benefits, including Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance, will be replaced with a new one off lump sum called Bereavement Support Payment.
Changes to Housing Benefit for 18 – 21 year olds
From April some 18 -21 year olds making new Universal Credit claims will not be entitled to help with housing costs. Please note this will not affect you if you have dependent children.
- those with dependent children
- people exempt from the Shared Accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance
- people unable to live with their parents
- young people who have been working (more than 16 hours per week) for the previous 6 months
- existing claimants.
Full regulations available from legislation.gov.uk/pdf
Personal tax allowance
Workers will see their personal tax allowance rise to £11,500 from 6 April. This means you can earn £11,500 before you have to pay any income tax.
The National Living Wage
The national living wage will be £7.50 per hour from 6 April. More information about these changes are available on our updated factsheets or by calling the lone parent helpline on 0808 801 0323.