REAL MONEY... The money stories affecting real people
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Welcome to the March 2016 edition of Real Money, where we share the money stories affecting real people. Our community is now more than 2000 people strong and is made up of an inspiring cross section of customers, creditors, debt advisers, campaigners, the media and policy makers across the UK.

What a dramatic few days we've had. As George Osborne delivered his 2016 budget to the nation, no-one could have predicted what would happen next...

The fallout was instant. The budget included planned changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and it was estimated up to 640,000 disabled people could see a cut to their PIP payments. The unfairness of another attack on disabled people was not lost and the government quickly came under pressure for yet again targeting disabled people for cuts.

By Thursday, all hell had broke loose on the issue. BBC Question Time saw the audience strongly against any PIP cuts and MP's from all political parties, along with disability charities and campaigners, were lining up to criticise the plans. 

As Friday morning rolled around I was on the BBC 5 Live 'Wake Up To Money' programme explaining that the PIP cuts policy as included in the budget was now 'only a suggestion' and by Friday night, we had the most dramatic news of all that the Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith had resigned over the issue, sending a shocking and revealing public resignation letter to the PM in the process.

As I write this on Saturday, the Prime Minister David Cameron has accepted IDS resignation and penned his own response letter. The suggested PIP cuts have now been 'kicked into the long grass' by the government and Stephen Crabb, Conservative Member of Parliament for Preseli Pembrokeshire has been appointed as the new Work & Pensions Secretary. What a job he has on his hands, and what a turn of events.

The full story is right here in this month's edition, so scroll on down to get the full low down and more, including other budget welfare announcements. You'll find news on the Money Advice Service being abolished, possible good news for prepayment energy customers and more news on Martin Lewis' new Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. It's our most comprehensive issue yet. 

I hope you find this month's edition useful.

Take care, and I'll see you next month.  

Lee Healey @income_max
Founder & Managing Director of IncomeMax
Budget 2016 

Some of the things the government have announced in the budget

Budget 2016 - full documents 

Key points at a glance 
IDS quits

Iain Duncan Smith resigns

'IDS resignation undermines everything' says BBC Laura Kuenssberg 

In full: IDS resignation letter

In full: PM David Cameron's written reply to Iain Duncan Smith

IDS gives his first interview since resigning on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show at 9:00 GMT on Sunday 20 March 2016 
Stephen Crabb appointed new Work & Pensions Secretary

BBC reports on the appointment of Stephen Crabb

Who is Stephen Crabb?
Budget 2016 welfare & money advice announcements

HMRC to provide a 7-day a week service by 2017. 

Face-to-face support from Jobcentre Advisors for self-employed working tax credit claimants will be trialed. 

The government plan to improve support for ESA and Universal Credit work-related activity group claimants. 

The 52 week work time limit on permitted work rules for ESA claimants in the work-related activity group will be removed from April 2017.

From Autumn 2016, the government will introduce exemptions for recipients of guardians allowance, carer’s allowance and the carers element of universal credit from the household benefit cap. 

New or renewed tenancies in the social sector subject to the cap on housing benefit at the relevant local housing allowance rate will be deferred for supported accommodation from April 2016 to April 2017.

The ending of payments of housing benefit and pension credit to claimants who travel outside of Great Britain for longer than 4 weeks consecutively will now come into force in May 2016

The government will increase the number of presenting officers in attendance at employment and support allowance and personal independence payment tribunal hearings from 2017.

The government will introduce a new Help to Save scheme for those on low incomes who wish to regularly set aside some of their income.

The government will restructure statutory financial guidance providers the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

Planned PIP changes to the assessment as outlined in the budget should NOT now be going ahead, but this is subject to official government confirmation. Look out for further updates.  

For the latest welfare and money advice news subscribe to Rightsnet
Money Advice Service to be abolished

The government will restructure the statutory financial guidance providers the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise to ensure that consumers can access the help they need to make effective financial decisions.

A full CONSULTATION has now been launched

This is a MUST READ for creditors and debt advice services. 

2016 welfare changes

Benefit rates frozen - download the new and updated Rightsnet 2016/2017
rates sheet
 and check out the new tax credits rates from HMRC

Benefit Cap reduction changes due to kick in from Autumn 2016 so look out for further updates

Housing Benefit 'Family Premium' removed from 1 May 2016

Housing Benefit can only be backdated for 4 weeks from April 2016

From April 2016 the tax credits income disregard will be reduced from Â£5000 to £2500 (please be careful to avoid overpayments)

New State Pension available from 6 April - see the latest Age UK information on the new pensions reforms

Universal Credit work allowances reduced from 6th April

Government to provide an extra £200 million of childcare costs support within Universal Credit from April 2016

Support for mortgage interest waiting time within working age benefits changing back to 39 weeks from April 2016

From 6 April 2016 - Savings Credit closed to people reaching state pension age on or after 6 April and assessed income periods abolished. Remember Savings Credit MAY STILL BE AVAILABLE if state pension age prior to 6 April

4 year freeze to Local Housing Allowance from April 2016

For more information and changes visit the Turn2us benefits update page
IncomeMax news

IncomeMax Paula is a finalist in the Adviser of the Year category at the 2016 IMA Money Advice Awards!

We love our customers! Read some of the amazing thank you notes the team receive on a weekly basis #TakeControl

Nationwide Building Society publish a great review of the 2016 Budget

We're on Facebook! Please LIKE US
IncomeMax support thousands of customers to take control of their finances each year. The personal advice we provide helps people to increase their income, take control of bills and deal with debt.

We're specialists in real issues, like benefits, energy, water bills and budgeting, and our advice is delivered by real people. 

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ESA cuts

ESA cuts WILL now go ahead
Money & Mental Health Policy Institute 

Mental Health and Debt - we have to act

Complete the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute survey

Visit the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute website
Energy & Water

Millions could see a cut in energy bills

CMA sets out energy market changes

The high street scandal that makes people on low incomes pay more for less

How much of a savings buffer do people need?

The new 'Help to Save' scheme. How will it work? 

Basic bank account problems - make sure you get a truly FREE basic bank account

More than 8 million adults have problem debt
Struggling with debt? Help is out there

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It's real world money advice for real people with money worries like debt, changes of circumstances, benefit problems and messy finances. 

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