When will the key provisions of the Welfare Reform and Work Act come into force?

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The Welfare Reform and Work Act received Royal Assent last weekNow it’s here, when do its key provisions come into force?

Which changes kick in this week?

1. Benefit cap

The Secretary of State now has powers (and the ability to make regulations) to introduce the new benefit cap levels (the Government says it will reduce the cap to £23,000 a year for households in London, £20,000 for those outside London).

The DWP has said it will publish rollout plans after Royal Assent, but the new levels are expected to be rolled out from autumn 2016.

2. Tax credits and benefits freeze

Child benefit has been frozen at £20.70 (first child) and £13.70 until 5 April 2020. This would mean the real value of child benefit having fallen by around a quarter over the decade.

Other benefits and tax credit amounts are also frozen in cash terms.

Which changes have force in 2 months time?

The Act effectively repeals the Child Poverty Act, renaming it the ‘Life Chances Act’. It scraps the targets, measures, reporting duties and requirements for national and local child poverty strategies.

The Act also introduces new reporting requirements on full employment, apprenticeships and on life chances (workless households and educational attainment).

The Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission will be repurposed and renamed the Social Mobility Commission.

These changes come into force 2 months after Royal Assent – 16 May 2016. This may be a smart bet for the day the life chances strategy and the next child poverty figures are published.

The reporting obligation on troubled families will come in at an unspecified time.

The duty on the Secretary of State to publish child poverty statistics, secured through campaigning by CPAG and others, also comes into effect on 16 May 2016.

Which changes come into effect from April 2017?

From 6 April 2017, a maximum of two children in family will be eligible for child tax credit.

The broadly equivalent restriction to Universal Credit is also expected to take effect on new claims from April 2017 - but, unlike with tax credits, this requires a commencement order before it takes effect. For both tax credits and UC, ministers have promised to make exceptions for rape victims, multiple births, kinship carers and adopted sibling groups. These exceptions will need to be made by regulation.

The first child premium in Universal Credit may go at the same time, although the timing has not yet been indicated.

The cut in support for those in the Work Related Activity Group of the Employment and Support Allowance is expected to take effect in April 2017 – this also requires a commencement order.

What about the other measures in the Act?

At the moment, we don’t know when the Act’s other provisions, such as those on social rents, will come into force. The Act allows the Secretary of State to bring into effect, via regulation, other measures when he or she wants.


Related Publication

OUT NOW - NEW Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook 2017/18Welfare Benefits & Tax Credits Handbook 2017-2018

Known as the 'adviser's bible' CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook is the essential and best-selling guide to all benefits and tax credits.

Our definitive guide to all benefits and tax credits is an essential resource for all professional advisers serious about giving the best and most accurate advice to their clients. 

With detailed information on all the recent changes to the social security system, including the latest on the roll-out of universal credit, the right to reside test and the sanctions regime, the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook provides comprehensive advice about entitlement in 2017/18.

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Upcoming events for 2017

Two Child Limit – Implementation, Challenges and the Policy Context Two Child Limit – Implementation, Challenges and the Policy Context

London Thursday 22 June 2017 

This seminar will examine the two child limit in tax credits and means-tested benefits and its inevitable impact on child poverty.

Click here to book your place and for more information


Welfare Rights Conference 2017Welfare Rights Conference 2017

Universal Credit – Understanding and Managing the Risks for Families 

Manchester Thursday 7 September 2017
London Thursday 14 September 2017

This year's conference focuses on the very real risks facing families as the roll out of Universal Credit continues.

Click here to book your place and for more information


Some of our Training courses

Benefits for students
Thursday 8 June 2017, 10:00-16:30, London
£138 voluntary organisations, £195 statutory/other organisations, CPD hours: 5
More information - Book now

Challenging ESA Decisions
Friday 9 June 2017, 10:00-16:30, London
£138 voluntary organisations, £195 statutory/other organisations, CPD hours: 5
More information - Book now

Universal credit
Tuesday 13 June 2017, 10:00-16:30, Manchester
£138 voluntary organisations, £195 statutory/other organisations, CPD hours: 5
More information - Book now

View all our Training courses