As outlined in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday 10 May fast-track benefit access is to be extended to those nearing the end of their life for Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance. The Social Security (Special Rules for End of Life) Bill will mean that people considered by a clinician as having 12 months or less to live (rather than the current six months) can have fast-tracked access to these benefits. The extended fast-track access means those eligible are not subject to a face-to-face assessment, or waiting period, with the majority of individuals receiving the highest rate of those benefits. In April 2022 the same changes were introduced for people on Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance.

Get help arranging child maintenance digital service

Get help arranging child maintenance is a new online service which supports separated parents to understand their options around making financial arrangements for their children. It has replaced Child Maintenance Options in England, Scotland and Wales. The service is available 24/7 and explains customers’ options and includes information about family-based arrangements as well as the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). The digital and telephony services have been streamlined so customers can now make their application in one sitting as there is no longer a need to arrange a call-back. The new service is also quicker to use, taking only 15-20 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes previously. Customers who are unable to use the online service or have no one to help them can speak to a CMS case worker on 0800 171 2345 which is available 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

Deductions: Driver of Poverty

At a time when living costs are increasing, deductions from Universal Credit are leaving many people unable to afford basic necessities and driving up debt. This report from the Lloyds Bank Foundation looks at the realistic steps that the Government could implement now to simplify the system, taking necessary action to ensure people can weather the storm. For more information or to read the report please click here.

Mental health and debt booklet

MoneySavingExpert, Martin Lewis has updated the Mental Health and Debt guide for 2022. It includes information on how to handle debts when unwell, work with banks, and specific tips for people with bipolar disorder or depression. Further information is available here. If you, or someone you are supporting, is worried about money help is available, visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/debthelp.

Food banks provide more than 2.1 million food parcels to people across the UK

New figures show that food banks in the Trussell Trust network provided more than 2.1 million food parcels to people in the UK experiencing financial hardship between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022, representing a 14% increase compared to the same period in 2019-2020 (prior to the pandemic). More than 830,000 of these were provided for children – an increase of 15% from 2019-2020. Further information is available here.

Food Foundation survey

More than 2 million adults in the UK have gone without food for a whole day over the past month because they cannot afford to eat, according to a survey revealing the “catastrophic” impact of the cost of living crisis. The research by the Food Foundation thinktank found millions more people – including 2.6 million children – report they now have smaller meals than usual, regularly skip meals altogether or do not eat when they are hungry, as food insecurity returns to levels last seen at the start of the first national lockdown. For more information please click here.

Free Courses for Jobs

Free Courses for Jobs has expanded to help even more adults take a free level 3 qualification (equivalent to A levels) to help them access new job opportunities or increase their wages. Courses are now available to those aged 19+, living in England, if any of the below apply:

• They do not already have a level 3 qualification such as A levels or an Advanced Technical Diploma (and do not have a qualification at a higher level)

• Are unemployed

• Earn below the National Living Wage annually (£18,525)

For information on the range of qualifications available visit Free Courses for Jobs.

Single Service Phone Life in Bereavement

From 11 April 2022, the way citizens contact DWP Bereavement Services is changing. Citizens will now be able to access the following bereavement services through a single phone number 0800 151 2012, to:

• Report a death, provide information and find out what support is available following a bereavement;

• Make a new or, manage an existing claim for Bereavement Benefit or Bereavement Support Payment

• Make a new or, manage an existing claim for Funeral Expenses Payments

• Request State Pension updates following the death of a spouse or civil partner

Energy saving tips

The Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, published ‘Heat the Human not the Home’ to offer practical tips to keep warm when people are unable to afford to hear their home. Further information is available here.

Updated: 16.05.2022

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