How the benefits system is changing

A new law called ‘The Welfare Reform Act’ was passed in 2012. This has introduced many changes to the benefits system. Some of these changes are happening gradually, over time.

Changes to benefits

These changes include:

  • two new benefits, called Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit
  • changes to some older benefits.

We explain these changes throughout this section. If you are worried about how the changes might affect you, speak to a welfare rights adviser.

The benefit cap

There are new limits to how much you can get in benefits each week. This is called the benefit cap.

Some benefits are not included in the benefit cap. This includes Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance and Working Tax Credit. The government has said it plans to add Carer’s Allowance to this list.

Visit gov.uk/benefit-cap or speak to a welfare rights adviser to find out which benefits are not affected. If you get any of these benefits, the benefit cap will not apply to you at all.

The benefit cap may also not apply to you if you live with a child or partner and they get any of these benefits. However if they are grown-up children or people who don’t depend on you financially (non-dependents), the cap will still affect you.

If you were working for 50 out of 52 weeks before you claimed benefits, you may be exempt from the benefit cap for up to 39 weeks.

The benefit cap from 7 November 2016

The benefit cap changed on 7 November 2016. The amounts you can claim were reduced and different cap levels were introduced for London and outside of London. 

This may affect you if you were already certain claiming benefits before 7 November. In this case your local authority or the DWP will write to you to tell you the date that you will be affected from. You can also call our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00 to find out more. 

If you live outside of London the cap is:

  • £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) if you’re single and don’t have children who live with you
  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not
  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re single and your children live with you.

If you live in a Greater London borough, the cap is:

  • £296.35 per week (£15,410 a year) if you’re single and don’t have children who live with you
  • £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not
  • £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re single and your children live with you.

Back to About benefits

Macmillan grants

A Macmillan grant is a one-off payment for adults, young people or children with cancer, to cover a wide range of practical needs.