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Inclusive Consultation – people on benefits

Information summarised from OCPAS fact sheet on public appointments and benefits:

One of the key elements of consultation or involvement is showing that you value the time, energy and knowledge of the people who have given up their time to get involved. This is particularly true where people are involved in a personal rather than a professional capacity. There are many ways in which you can show appreciation and that you value their input, paying them is just one of the ways.

If you are paying expenses only in return for receipts then you should read the Department of Work and Pensions guidance on Volunteering while on Benefits (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2006/vg1-2006.pdf).

If however you wish to pay for people’s time (including payments in kind) this will be treated as income for the purposes of benefits and may have an impact any entitlements to benefits such as:

• Incapacity benefit
• Income Support
• Working Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit
• Council Tax Benefit
• Disability Living Allowance
• Tax credits

It is important to note that the impact will depend on the individual’s circumstances so they should seek advice from whoever pays the benefit, e.g. Department of Work and Pensions, Local Authority, HMRC or their personal advisor.

Some of the benefits, such as Incapacity Benefit, Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance, which replace income have an upper earning limit. Other benefits, such as Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, may be linked to this. Payments of both income related and any linked benefit may be reduced or cease if remuneration from consultation or involvement is over the permitted limits.

There is also a limit on the number of hours that can be spent on a remunerated work whilst receiving certain benefits. Individuals should seek advice in relation to their particular benefit(s).

The only exception is Disability Living Allowance which is assessed on the basis of care or mobility needs arising from a person’s illness or disability. It is paid irrespective of whether that person is working and earning or not.

Whether volunteering or being paid all income received must be declared to the relevant benefits office.

Further information

More information about benefit conditions is available from these sources:

Incapacity Benefit: This site includes information about the hours and earnings allowed under the “Permitted Work Rules”.
http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/JCP/Customers/WorkingAgeBenefits/008025.xml.html

Income Support: This site includes information about “Linking Rules” (these apply if you leave benefit for work but are unable to continue because of ill health or disability) and “Voluntary Work”.
http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/cms.asp?Page=/Home/Customers/WorkingAgeBenefits/493

Working Tax Credit: This site explains what tax credits are and how to claim them if you have been receiving an incapacity benefit.
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/wtc-keyinfo.htm

Housing Benefit:
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/lifeevent/benefits/housing_benefit.asp

Council Tax Benefit:
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/lifeevent/benefits/council_tax_benefit.asp

Disability Living Allowance:
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/lifeevent/benefits/disability_liv_allowance.asp

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