How the benefits system is changing

In 2012, a law called the Welfare Reform Act was passed in England, Scotland and Wales. This was followed by the Northern Ireland Welfare Reform and Work Order in 2016.

These laws are introducing many changes to the benefits system. Some of these changes are happening gradually. Speak to a welfare rights adviser if you are worried about how these changes will affect you.

Changes to benefits

Changes that are happening across the UK include:

We explain these changes throughout this information.

In Northern Ireland, extra payments have been introduced for people who may lose money because of changes to benefits system. These are called Welfare Supplementary Payments.

The benefit cap

There may be a limit to how much you can get in benefits each week. This is called the benefit cap.

The cap will not apply if you get certain benefits, or if your partner or young child does. These benefits include:

For a full list visit of benefits that are not included in the benefit cap, visit gov.uk or speak to a welfare rights adviser.

If you were working for a year before you claimed benefits, the benefit cap will not normally apply to you for 39 weeks.

The benefit cap limits

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

If you live outside of London, the cap is:

  • £257.69 a week (£13,400 a year) if you are single and do not have children who live with you
  • £384.62 a week (£20,000 a year) if you are single and have children who live with you
  • £384.62 a week (£20,000 a year) if you are in a couple, whether you have children who live with you or not.

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

  • £296.35 a week (£15,410 a year) if you are single and do not have children who live with you
  • £442.31 a week (£23,000 a year) if you are single and have children who live with you
  • £442.31 a week (£23,000 a year) if you are in a couple, whether you have children who live with you or not.

In Northern Ireland

If you are affected by the benefit cap and are responsible for a child or young person, you may get a Welfare Supplementary Payment. This payment will be the same as the amount of money you have lost under the benefit cap.

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Macmillan Grants

Every week, over 600 people receive a grant from Macmillan Cancer Support.