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United Kingdom (UK) - Social Security and Welfare

The website offers accessible information regarding social security and welfare. Information can also be found by contacting the Department for Work and Pensions, which oversees employment and welfare needs. In 2013, the welfare system became a target for rejuvenation. The system has been seen as faulty, allowing those who can work to remain on welfare benefits for fear of further financial risk. The current system is widely considered to be overly complex, with insufficient incentives for people to start working again.

This has led to the introduction of Universal Credit, which has not yet been completely rolled out. Any benefits a person is receiving will now be paid in one lump sum. The idea is to encourage people to find paid work, increase their working hours, and have a smooth transition into a new working environment. The system is supposed to be simpler, so that people who find jobs do not have to worry about increased poverty. The system changes are also being put in place to reduce error and fraud.

A couple of types of welfare exist in the system: DLA and Allowance Claimant Commitment. Disability Living Allowance is now going to be Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Anyone who has a long term illness that stops them from working at all or in a great capacity will be able to benefit from this welfare option. The Allowance Claimant Commitment is for job seekers who need support while searching for a job. There is a cap on time and benefits that can be received for this allowance in order to encourage more people to actively seek employment.

The Employment and Support Allowance, or ESA, is also undergoing changes to the benefits provided for new claims relating to incapacity or illness. The changes made in 2008 and rolled out in 2010 will be used going forward.

Welfare systems also include help with housing and food. People with low incomes can enrol for housing help and be moved into a council-sponsored housing system with lower rates. There are also a number of charity initiatives to help people afford basic groceries.

Social security can be accessed for those who have retired, or who are over 55 years of age. Social security benefits may come from a state pension, bereavement coverage, incapacity benefits, ESA or income support. Social security benefits can also come in the form of industrial death benefit or invalid care allowance.

In order to access any of the welfare or social security benefits available one has to meet certain terms. The amount paid out is based on how long a person worked, since their contributions to the system dictate the allowance available to them. Benefit categories generally do not overlap, meaning that only one type of allowance is usually paid out.

Expat Details for Social Security/Welfare

Expats pay into social security, which means they are eligible for benefits based on unemployment, sickness, maternity, age, disability and death. The rate is dependent on how long they have worked in the UK and paid UK taxes and social security (National Insurance). Expats from a European Economic Area (EEA) will be able to get benefits either from the UK or their home country. For medical services there are specific rules with regards to countries in the EEA or EU.

The bi-lateral social security agreement between the EEA and EU means that there is also a chance of state pensions being offered to expats. This again depends on spent time in the UK versus the home country. For state pensions, as long as an expat has been contributing to the pension, they can access benefits when they reach retirement age. Like UK citizens, the state pension is accessed early only if there is an illness that warrants it; decisions are made on a case by case basis. If the expat can receive benefits from their home country, they may be required to accept these benefits instead of a UK pension, social security, or welfare. The system does not allow people to receive benefits from more than one system.

It is also recommended that expats take out private insurance to ensure full coverage. Benefits from the state are dependent on how much is paid out beforehand, thus insurance can help add to the eventual income.

Department for Work and Pensions

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