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Welfare reform

Changes to benefit that you need to know about

What is welfare reform?

The government has introduced some recent changes to the benefits system. If you get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support you may be affected by the changes.

Benefit Cap

If you're aged 16-64 there is a 'cap' on the amount of benefit you can get.

How much is the cap?

From 7 November 2016 the maximum amount of benefit you can get is:

  • £384.62 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)
  • £384.62 a week for single parents whose children live with them
  • £257.69 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them

The total amount of benefit that you can get as a household must not go over the cap amount. This may mean that how much you receive for certain benefits might go down. This is to ensure you are not over the cap level.

Who is not affected?

You will not be affected if anyone in your household has qualified for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independent Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if you get the support component)
  • War Widow's or War Widower's Pension
  • War Pensions
  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Guardian's Allowance

For further information see Benefit Cap on GOV.UK (opens in a new window)

If you're affected by the Benefit Cap

Finding work could mean you qualify for Working Tax Credit. You would then be exempt from the Benefit Cap.

Reducing your rent will reduce your Housing Benefit, which may mean your total weekly benefits are less than the Benefit Cap. You can speak to your landlord about lowering your rent or finding cheaper accommodation.

If the Benefit Cap means you don’t have enough Housing Benefit to pay your rent you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. This can help you by paying the difference on a short term basis so you can improve your situation. You can find out more on our Discretionary Housing Payment page.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work. It joins certain benefits and Tax Credits into one payment.

It is being rolled out across the UK, and aims to replace the following benefits:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

How will it be paid?

Universal Credit will be paid directly into your bank account. It is paid once a month in arrears. It will be paid directly to your account and not your landlords. It will be your responsibility to pay your rent and manage your other household bills.

When will I be affected?

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages. Whether you can claim depends on where you are living and your personal circumstances.

For more information see Universal Credit on GOV.UK (opens in a new window)