April 23, 2013 | Benefits Loan | Leave a comment How Does this effect you? From 8 April we will start to make the first Armed Forces Independence Payments to eligible service and ex-service personnel. Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) has been designed to provide financial support to service personnel and veterans seriously injured as a result of service, to cover the extra costs they may have as a result of their injury. There are expected to be around 700 initial claims to the benefit which will be handled by a small dedicated team based within the Motability Operational Unit at Warbreck House in Blackpool. The successful design and delivery of AFIP has been the result of joint working between DWP and colleagues in the Service and Personnel Agency (SPVA). The SPVA, which is part of the Ministry of Defence, is responsible for deciding entitlement to AFIP, while DWP is responsible for the payment and maintenance of the claims. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) have introduced a new benefit for injured service or ex-service personnel. This aims to simplify and streamline the financial support system for members of the Armed Forces who have been seriously injured as a result of their service. This new benefit is called the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) and was introduced on 8 April 2013. Eligibility for AFIP is decided by the MoD?s Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, DWP are responsible for making and maintaining payments. Key features of Armed Forces Independence Payment? ? AFIP claimants are eligible to a flat payment of ?134.40 per week, equivalent to the enhanced rates of the daily living and mobility components of Personal Independence Payment. ? AFIP is awarded for life and is not subject to review or further medical assessments. ? AFIP is not stopped when the claimant is in hospital (except Royal Chelsea Hospital), care home or prison. ? It is non-taxable, not affected by income and is payable anywhere in the world. ? Claimants who choose to claim AFIP will not also be eligible for PIP, DLA or Attendance Allowance (AA). ? Claimants who choose not to apply for AFIP will be treated as a DLA, PIP or AA applicant in the usual way. This month sees the introduction of the biggest reform to the welfare system in 60 years. On 1 April, Council Tax Benefit and elements of the Social Fund were abolished, with local authorities and the Scottish and Welsh governments developing alternative schemes to meet local needs. Job Grant payments have also stopped and changes to Housing Benefit will see payments based on the size of property a household needs. The Department or Work and Pensions commitmnet to work with partner organisations to help claimants move off benefits and into work has always been a key target. Increased penalties for benefit fraud also came into effect on 1 April with a loss of benefit for 13 weeks for a first offence, rising to three years for repeat or serious organised offenders. Monday 8 April will see the first claims for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which replaces Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16-64. It will be based on how a person?s condition affects them, not the condition they have, and includes a needs assessment by a health professional. New claims for PIP will start on 8 April for people living in parts of northern England, and for the rest of Great Britain in June. New benefit rates come into effect in the week of 8 April, with some working age benefits increasing by one per cent rather than the rate of inflation, reflecting Government policy. From 15 April, the benefit cap will be introduced in four London boroughs before going nationwide from mid-July. The cap limits benefit payments, including Housing Benefit, to any household to ?26,000 a year, which is equivalent to the average wage. Finally, at the end of April, Universal Credit goes live in parts of Greater Manchester and Cheshire to test how it works in practice ahead of national roll-out from October. A new simpler, single monthly payment for working-age people in-work or out-of-work, Universal Credit merges six main income-related benefits. Claimants should be better off in-work and benefits won?t automatically stop when someone starts a job but will slowly decrease as they earn more. Such a huge change will be introduced gradually, taking four years to complete.