The gap between the increase in benefits this week and the reality of price rises is going to be huge.
Almost all UK benefits will go up by 3.1 per cent in the week of 11 April. Inflation is expected to be more than double that as electricity and gas costs soar, petrol continues to rise in price, and the tax on cars increases by 5.4 per cent. The cost of broadband and telephone services is increasing by more than nine per cent, and a first-class stamp will be up nearly 12 per cent. It’s going to be a difficult time for the millions of people who rely for at least part of their income on disability or out-of-work benefits – or on the state pension when it rises next week by less than half what is needed to keep up with the cost of living.
There is better news in Scotland where eight benefits will rise from 1 April by six per cent, nearly double the increase in benefits set by Westminster.
If you get a state pension the DWP should already have told you what your pension will be. The basic pension paid to people who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016 will increase by £4.25 a week to £141.85; and the new state pension paid to younger pensioners will go up by £5.55 to £185.15 a week.
This year the Government abandoned the “triple lock” – which would have seen pensions rise by 8.3 per cent, the increase in earnings last autumn. That will cost most state pensioners £372 in the year and new state pensioners £486. It will also mean the pension is lower forever, as subsequent increases will be applied to this year’s level. Pension credit, the guaranteed minimum income for pensioners, will rise £5.50 a week to £182.60, and by £8.40 a week to £278.70 for couples. Call 0800 99 1234 if your income is less than that.
Disability benefits will increase by around £2.80, or £1.85 for those on lower rates. Carer’s allowance will increase by £2.10 a week. Universal Credit for a single person aged over 25 will be £10 a month more, but that does not begin to make up for the cut of £87 a month
Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4. QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com. Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in his column