Last month's Budget now seems an age away and only the
headline-grabbing changes are likely to be remembered. Here, Gary
Vaux points out some of the changes that have not so far made the
Do you remember when the Budget only dealt with things that were
going to happen just in the year ahead? Petrol, fags and benefits
all went up, and the chancellor sat down knowing that he would be
back with a similar package next year. Well, that was then and this
The Budget 2000 was a brilliant exercise in spreading the good
news (and sometimes the bad) over a very long period.
Most of the changes that the chancellor Gordon Brown promised
will not happen until April 2001 or even later, which has caused
some confusion to people who did not check the small print. For
example, in one widely praised move, the savings limit for
pensioners on income support is to go up, but how many noticed that
this was not until April 2001?
Some changes do take effect this year - the extra £4.35 a
week in the working families tax credit applies from June 2000, and
the same increase in the child allowance in income support applies
from this October.
The increase in the Sure Start maternity grant to £300 also
begins in October 2000, and the winter fuel payment for households
containing someone over 60 increases this winter.
But most of the other goodies are held over until April 2001.
These are the main ones, many of which may have had little
· Unemployed people who move into self-employment will be
allowed to remain on jobseekers' allowance for up to six months.
Their profits will be put into a special account, which they can
access once they leave benefit.
· Lone parents, carers and disabled people who work for
fewer than 16 hours a week will have the first £20 of their
earnings disregarded against their income support or jobseekers'
allowance, instead of the present £15. (From April 2002 lone
parents on income support will also see up to £10 a week extra
of any maintenance paid to them disregarded).
· Lone parents will be eligible for free access to further
education courses and help with child care through access funds.
They will also be eligible to apply for a means-tested child care
grant if they are in higher education, which will be fully
disregarded for benefits purposes. From April 2001, lone parents
undertaking training and education will be eligible for a £15
per week premium on top of their income support to help them cover
the additional costs of studying.
· A job grant of £100 for people who move from welfare
into work will be introduced. The work will have to be of more than
16 hours a week, expected to last five weeks or more, and the
claimant must have been getting jobseekers' allowance, income
support, severe disablement allowance or incapacity benefit for at
least 52 weeks.
· The complicated and unworkable housing benefit extended
payments scheme for recipients of income support and jobseekers'
allowance who take a job will be simplified "to ensure that
payments are as near-automatic as possible", according to the
· Homeowners who receive income support for mortgage
interest schemes will continue to get this help during their first
four weeks in work.
· Everyone getting income support for mortgage interest
will also be able to requalify for it directly if they return to
benefits within one year of taking a job.
· From April 2002, the government will also suspend income
support and jobseekers' allowance claims for 12 weeks rather than
close them when people leave benefit, to make it easier for people
to reclaim benefits if a job falls through within that period.
· The government will introduce a "two strikes and you are
out" approach for benefit fraud - removing people's right to claim
for a specified time if they have been caught twice.
Your clients may need to know about these changes this year, so
that they can plan ahead - like Gordon Brown.