The Income Support scheme is expected to launch in July, 2018.
The existing Rent Rebate scheme, which is currently available only to social housing tenants, will end. Instead, housing support and Supplementary Benefit will merge into one scheme, called Income Support. It will operate according to a single set of rules enabling all households in Guernsey and Alderney to access financial support sufficient to ensure an acceptable standard of living.
The majority of low income households will be better off under Income Support. In some cases the removal of Rent Rebate may mean that the rent a tenant is charged will increase more than their cash benefits do. In these cases the rent increases will be staggered in £10 increments every 6 months over a period of up to 3 years. This will allow people time to adjust to the new arrangements. It should also be noted that many more people will be entitled to non-cash benefits such as coverage for medical expenses. The value of these benefits may mean that some people who appear worse off, will be better off.
Housing and Social Security wrote to tenants and people who claim supplementary benefit last December to let them know about the proposed changes. They will contact people again in the coming months to let them know their specific entitlements under the new scheme, and outline extra support services, which will include focus groups, drop-in clinics and one-to-one Job Centre help sessions.
The latest press release is available on the Link section at the bottom of this page. The policy letter (January 2018) on Income Support is available in the Downloads section of this page.
A brief explanation of the main changes proposed is provided below.
New Benefit Rates
- The new income support benefit rates being proposed are set out in the Policy Letter available in the downloads section of this page. The new rates are expected to come into force during 2018, uplifted in line with inflation. The exact start date of the new scheme will be announced after more detailed planning work has been done.
New Extra Needs Allowance
- This allowance will provide extra help to people who have particular needs that result in extra energy, clothing, laundry and dietary costs. More details will be provided as soon as possible. It is not available if you are already in receipt of severe disability benefit.
Treatment of Savings
- There will be changes to the way we take capital (e.g. savings) into account in the Income Support means test and changes to the total amount of money you will be able to have while claiming Income Support - we call this the capital limit. The capital limit is currently £20,000. If you have between £5,000 and £20,000 we apply a "notional income" to your claim. This means that a reduction is made to the amount of benefit you receive on a weekly basis. The amount we reduce it by increases until you reach £20,000 when you are no longer eligible to receive supplementary benefit.
- Under the new Income Support Scheme, new capital limits will apply. If you have capital over the capital limit that applies in your case then you will be unable to claim Income Support for a set period of time. The length of time will depend on the amount of capital you have. If you have capital of less than the capital limit, there will be no reduction in the amount of benefit you receive because of your capital.
- Proposed Capital Limits
Proposed Capital Limits
Family, one child
Family, two children
Family, three or more children
New Rules for Non Dependants
- A non-dependant is someone that has reached school leaving age, is not in full time education and is living in your house. This could be someone living at home with their parents, someone living with adult children, or someone living with friends.
- If you are a non-dependent member of a household and are in receipt of income support you may be entitled to receive a non-dependent rental allowance.
- If you are currently contributing towards the household that you are residing in you will need to advise us how much rent (board) you have been paying for the last 3 months so we can calculate the correct amount of rent allowance to pay you.
- If you aren't currently expected to contribute towards the household we will not look to award an allowance.
- We will pay a non-householder rent allowance of up to £75 per week to cover your rent (board).
- If you currently pay more than that to the person whose house you live in you will have to make up the difference.
- The Committee for Employment & Social Security has begun the work needed to join the two schemes. More details of how the changes might affect you will be provided as soon as possible. The earliest that any changes to either Scheme are likely to occur would be July 2018. The Committee for Employment & Social Security will write to households affected as soon as correct and helpful information can be provided.