DWP Guide

About the Department for Work and Pensions

dwp

[box]You can phone the DWP on 0843 557 4607[/box]

The Department for Work and Pensions (often shortened to DWP) is a division of the Government responsible for managing welfare, pensions and child maintenance. As the UK’s largest public service department, the DWP administers the State Pension as well as a range of disability, ill health and unemployment benefits to over 22 million claimants.

The DWP is made up of four smaller operating agencies. The Job Centre Plus, which issues working age benefits, for example Job Seekers Allowance, as well as deciding which claimants get Employment and Support Allowance following a work capability assessment. Then there is the Pension Service, which pays out the basic State Pension as well as Pension Credit, and is responsible for overseeing the recent pension reform. The Disability Carers service provides financial support to disabled people and their carers. Lastly, there is the Child Maintenance Group which oversees child support schemes, operating both the Child Support Agency and the Child Maintenance Service.

The DWP was formed back in 2001 as the result of a merger between the Department of Social Security, Employment Service and certain parts of the Department for Education and Employment. It’s initial role was to create the Job Centre Plus and the Pensions Service. The department has offices in Leeds, London, Blackpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Warrington.

 Searching for jobs with the DWP

universal job match

The Job Centre Plus, a division of DWP has a job searching tool which people looking for work can use to find a role for them. It is called Universal Job Match. You can use the service to search and apply for jobs across Great Britain and abroad. If you are claiming Job Seekers Allowance, this service is most likely what you will have to use to show that you have been applying for work.

To search for a role, you must create a Government Gateway ID. Doing this allows you to save job searches, upload your CV, set up job alerts to your email address and keep track of previous applications. You can also build a profile detailing which skills and industries you want to be matched for jobs with- meaning that you find a job that is suitable for you, rather than applying for anything and everything. You can also save up to five cover letters on your account, making the process of applying for jobs within the same industry much easier. Lastly, keeping record of applications makes it much easier to discuss your job search with your job centre adviser.

 How to calculate your State Pension

StatePensions

There is a tool on the Government website which allows you to calculate approximately how much State Pension you are entitled to receive. It gives you an estimate of your basic State Pension and information about the new pension reforms and how they affect you if you reach the pension age on or after the 6th April 2016. It will not be able to calculate any additional state pension. In order for the tool to calculate, it will ask you how many years you worked and paid National Insurance or claimed certain benefits. This is otherwise known as your years of National Insurance contributions that will go towards your state pension. To help the tool work accurately, you should count tax years from 6th April to the 5th April and be sure not to count any years twice. You should also not count the current tax year. It is also advised that you don’t take what the tool says and use it to make financial decisions that could affect your future, as it is only an estimate and doesn’t take into account circumstances.

 How to estimate which benefits you are entitled to

benefits11

The Government website has an independent benefits calculator tool which you can use to find out what benefits you could get and how to go about claiming them. The tool is free to use and completely anonymous- it has replaced the former Benefits Adviser service. There are two calculators: ‘entitledto’ for information on income related benefits such as tax credits and Council Tax reductions and ‘Turn2us’ for information on other income related benefits such as Universal Credit. To use the service, you will need several points of information to hand, for example: the amount of savings you have, yourself and your partners income, any existing benefits and pensions, council tax bill and information about your outgoings i.e. rent or mortgage payments. If you are under 18, you cannot use the calculator and they will not provide accurate results if you are: a student, prisoner, not a British/Irish citizen, on strike, living in a residential care home or living outside the UK.

For more help with any queries relating to your benefits, pension payments or job searches then please phone the DWP.

 

 

Companies House Guide

About Companies House

companies house logo

[box]The Companies House Phone Number is 0844 453 0195.[/box]

Companies House is the name of the registrar of companies in the United Kingdom. It is an executive agency as part of the Government and falls under the Department of Business. All forms of companies are registered with Companies House and all registered companies, including small and inactive ones, must file annual financial statements in addition to company returns- these are all public records. Only some unlimited companies are allowed to be exempt from this.

A system of registration has existed in the UK since 1844. The current legislation behind it is the Companies Act 2006.

When registering, England and Wales are treated separately, but you can apply for a unified register meaning that your company will be registered in both England and Wales. Your company must advise Companies House of where you are planning to house your registered office, otherwise known as the official address of the company- this could be in England, Scotland or Wales. Once you have done this, your company will be known as ‘registered in Scotland’ or ‘registered in England’.

The office for Companies House is based in Cardiff, Wales and it handles companies which are incorporated within England and Wales. There is also an office in London but this is used solely as a facility to file and view documents which will later be processed in Cardiff.

How to find out information about a company

company records

Using the Companies House service, you can get limited information about a company for free, including: it’s registered office address, directors details, previous names of the company, whether or not it has been dissolved, when the companies’ accounts were filed or due and a history of filed documents. You can also use this service to check whether the name of a company has already been taken.

For other filed documents, such as company accounts, returns and reports, there is a £1 charge. You must register with Companies House to order these and pay the charge via Paypal.

You can monitor any company to find out when it is due to file information for free. You just need to register with the Companies House WebCheck service- you can also use it to check on your own company.

Lastly, you can also join a subscription service if you wish to get access to: all historical company records, detailed mortgage information, document packages and online certified copies. To do this, you will need to get a Companies House Direct account which costs £4 per month and £1 per document.

 Filing your Companies House annual return

annual return

Every year, a company must file an annual return which will feature information such as who the directors are, where the registered office is and shareholders. You can also use the Companies House service to file your annual accounts, although it is possible that you may be able to do this in conjunction with your Tax Return. For a guide to processing your tax return, look here.

Your annual return must be sent to Companies House once a year if you are the director of a registered company. It is separate from your companies accounts and tax returns and will be done at a different time. You will receive an email alert or reminder letter and the due date is generally a year after your company was incorporated or the date that you filed your last return.

You have up until 28 days after your due date to file your return. After that, you may be fined up to £5,000 and your company could be struck off.

Your return must include details of the company’s directors and secretary, a description of what the company does (including industry classification codes), the type of company that it is e.g. private/public, its registered address and the address of where its records are kept.

How to file changes to a company

companies house online

If you make specific changes to your company, you must tell Companies House about them. This includes new appointments of directors and secretaries, name changes, registered office address changes, changes to your accounting reference date, changing where the company records are kept, changes to the structure of your shares and details of any new mortgages.

To file your changes, you will need to log on to the Companies House database using the email and password that you use to sign up for the online service. If you are having any trouble with this or for more information call Companies House now.

 

 

 

 

 

A Guide To Child Tax Credits

If you have children you may be entitled to Child Tax Credits. Use this guide to understand how to apply for the payments. [box type=”info” style=”rounded” align=”right”]Call Child Tax Credits now on 0843 658 6843[/box]

How to Qualify

child tax credits

You could get Child Tax Credit for each child you are responsible for if they are under 16 or under 20 and in ‘approved’ training. You do not have to be working to claim, you can get it for each child you have and it won’t affect any Child Benefit claims. The amount you get will depend on your individual circumstances.

What You Will Receive

ctc

You could receive a basic amount of up to £545 a year- this is known as the family element. You may also be eligible for extra elements on top of this, depending on factors such as your income and circumstances, for example, if one of your children suffers from a disability.

Child Tax Credit Rates for the 2015/2016 tax year

For each individual child         Up to £2,780.

For each disabled child            Up to £3,140.

For a severely disabled child   Up to £1,275 on top of the two elements mentioned above.

How Child Tax Credits Is Paid

Hand Putting Deposit Into Piggy Bank

Like any type of benefits, pension or allowance, Child Tax Credits are paid into an account, such as a bank account of the person who is mostly responsible for the child. You will be paid every week or every month up until the end of the tax year, which ends on April 5th, providing your circumstances do not change.

Your income can affect tax credits. There is no set limit for income because it depends on your individual circumstances, as well as those of your partner. For example, in one case the limit could be £26,500 for a one child family but it could be higher than that if the child is disabled or you pay more for approved childcare.

When circumstances change your tax credits can go up or down. If your child leaves home, your income changes or your partner dies, you must report these changes to the Tax Credit Office.

Eligibility

home

Being eligible for tax credits depends on the age of the child that you are claiming for and if you are responsible for them.

In order to qualify, the child must be under 16 (you can claim until the 31st August after their 16th birthday) or under 20 and in approved education or training, such as education for more than 12 hours a week (i.e. A Levels, NVQs, traineeships.) Unfortunately, BTEC or university courses do not count as approved. Approved training includes apprenticeships and pathways, general contracted jobs are not included.

Responsibility for a child can be decided by examining a range of factors such as: living arrangements- do they live with you all the time?, are you the main carer? do they keep their clothes and toys at your house? and lastly, if you pay for their meals and give them pocket money. If you share joint custody and you are not sure who is most responsible for the child, both parents can apply and the tax office will decide for you.

You can also claim for a fostered or adopted child if you do not receive money from your local council.

Ways to Claim

child

If this is your first time claiming tax credits, you can order a claim form online by using the tax credits calculator or online tool found on the Government website. Alternatively, you can order one by calling Tax Credits. If you are already claiming, you just need to call the helpline to get your claim updated. A new claim can take five weeks to process and you must renew your claim once per year.

 

 

 

 

About The Social Fund

The discretionary Social Fund doesn’t exist now, which includes Community Care Grants, Budgeting Loans and Crisis Loans, as it was abolished in April 2013. It has now been replaced with funding services from your local authority.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Call the Social Fund on 0844 453 0151[/box]

Why Doesn’t The Discretionary Social Fund Exist?

Money 9The coalition government of the United Kingdom abolished the discretionary Social Fund, with this taking effect from April 2013, by the means of the legislation that was contained in the Welfare Reform Act of 2012.

As a follow on from this, community care grants and crisis loans were also abolished at the same time and the funding was instead made available through localised services from the appropriate local authority. This was the case across England, with the respective devolved governments of Scotland and Wales making the decisions for these areas.

When it was announced that the Social Fund would be localised, many pressure groups were particularly vocal about their concerns for this development. The main issues were about the lack of ring-fencing and doubts regarding how efficient the funding being transferred to local authorities would be at meeting the needs of the people in the area.

What Was The Social Fund?

The Social Fund consisted of two separate categories, known as the regulated and the discretionary social funds. These were introduced in 1987 as a review of benefit overall, by Norman Fowler. who was the Secretary of State for Health and Social Security. It replaced the original system of single payments from the Supplementary Benefit scheme.

At the moment, the regulated Social Fund is still available, but the discretionary Social Fund isn’t, as of April 2013.

The Regulated Social Fund

The regulated social fund consists of maternity, funeral and cold weather expenses.

MaternityMaternity Grants

Maternity grants can sometimes be referred to as Sure Start maternity grants and is a fixed amount of £500 given to help those on a low income to purchase clothes and equipment for a new born baby. You are free to choose how the money should be spent.

You do not have to repay a maternity grant. You are only eligible for this sort of grant if the new baby is the only child in the household under the age of 16. There are different rules for twins or if you give birth to more babies.

FuneralFuneral Payments

Funeral payments are to help those on a low income to cover the essential costs of a funeral. You do not need to repay the cost of funeral payments, although, it may be recovered from the estate of the deceased.

You are not eligible for funeral payments just because you are paying for it. If you are living in the UK, the Jobcentre Plus office has to accept that there is no-one else who could be paying for it and it is reasonable for you to be the person responsible. In Northern Ireland, the Social Security Agency will make this decision.

Cold TemperatureCold Weather Payments

Cold weather payments are given to those who are on a low income and provides assistance with fuel costs in periods of colder weather. There is no requirement for what the money is spent on and this money does not have to be repaid.

This works based on weather station reports, as each UK postcode is linked to a specific one. When the weather is forecasted or reports an average daily temperature of 0 degrees centigrade or lower for 7 consecutive days, a payment is made.

You can get cold weather payments if you are receiving Income Support or Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least one of the days during the period of cold weather. You will also need to have either a child under the age of 5 in your family, a child that you get Child Tax Credit for with an extra amount for their disability or you are getting an extra amount for disability or being over the age of state pension and do not live in a care home.

Cold weather payments are different from Winter Fuel Payments, which are made to every winter to everyone over the age of state pension, no matter what the temperature is.

The Discretionary Social Fund

The discretionary social fund was made up of community care grants, budgeting loans and crisis loans. These are no longer available due to cuts made by the coalition government, and started to take effect as of April 2013.

A Benefit Fraud Guide

Benefit Fraud StampHow Can You Commit Benefit Fraud?

There are two main ways you can commit benefit fraud. The first is to purposely not report a change in your circumstances, such as returning to work after a period of sickness. The other way is by being dishonest to start getting benefits in the first place, an example would be lying about your age or occupation.

[box type=”alert” style=”rounded” border=”full”]To report a suspected Benefit Fraud call 0843 557 4539 in full confidentiality now.[/box]

How Can You Report Suspected Benefit Fraud?

You can report someone you suspect of benefit fraud online or over the phone. The online form can be accessed in both Welsh and English.

When making a report, you don’t have to give the name of the person you suspect if you don’t want to and any information you provide will be kept confidential. When completing the online form, it is important to give as much information as you can.

What Will Happen If You Are Suspected Of Committing Benefit Fraud?

Question Mark PersonIf you are suspected of committing benefit fraud, you will be contacted by the relevant department. This could be the Department for Work and Pensions (the DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (also known as the HMRC), the Service and Personnel and Veterans Agency or your local authority.

You may also get a visit from Fraud Investigation Officer, who are also known as FIOs. The job of the FIO’s is to get the correct facts about your particular case and decide whether or not to take further action. Another option is that you could be asked to attend an interview to discuss your claim.

While you are being investigated, you could have your benefits stop. If this is the case, you will receive a letter detailing the situation.

What Will Happen After An Investigation For Benefit Fraud?

If you are found to be guilty of committing benefit fraud, there are a number of different courses of action that can take place. Sometimes there can be more than one of these things that takes place:

  • You are taken to court
  • You are asked to make a penalty payment, rather than going to court. This can be from £350 to £5000.
  • You have your benefits reduced or stopped entirely
  • You are told to pay back the money you have been overpaid with

Will I Lose My Benefits If I Am Convicted Of Benefit Fraud?

Money 7If you are convicted of fraud, you may find that you lose your benefits entirely or have them reduced. This can last for a period of up to 3 years, but this will vary depending on how many times you have committed the fraud.

There are only certain benefits that can be stopped and/or reduced. These are sometimes referred to as ‘sanctionable benefits’. If you are found to have committed fraud on a benefit that can’t be reduced or stopped entirely, you could find that this happens to your other benefits instead.

What Benefits Can Be Stopped?

Sanctionable benefits, or benefits that can be stopped or reduced if you are found to be guilty of benefit fraud, include:

  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • War Disablement Pension
  • War Widow’s Pension
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries
    • Disablement Benefit
    • Reduced Earnings Allowance
    • Retirement Allowance
    • Unemployability Supplement
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Housing/Council Tax Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Industrial Death Benefit
  • War Pension
    • Unemployability Supplement
    • Allowance for Lower Standard of Occupation
  • Widowed Mother’s/Parent’s Allowance
  • Widow’s Pension/Bereavement Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit

What Benefits Cannot Be Stopped?

There are certain benefits that cannot be stopped or reduced, even if you are found to have committed benefit fraud. These are:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Graduated Retirement Benefit
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Constant Attendance Allowance (when a Disablement Pension is payable)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Bereavement Payment
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Industrial Injuries Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance (when a Disablement Pension is payable)
  • Christmas Bonus
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Child Benefit
  • State Pension
  • Social Fund Payments
  • War Pension
    • Constant Attendance Allowance
    • Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance
    • Mobility Supplement

Are There Any Exceptions?

There are some exceptions. If you have been committing benefit fraud, and are receiving any of these benefits, none of them can be stopped or reduced:

  • Maternity Allowance
  • Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme (2008)
  • Pneumoconiosis (Workers’ Compensation) 1979
  • Health in Pregnancy Grant
  • Statutory Adoption, Maternity, Paternity or Sick Pay