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

There have been some changes to benefits across the UK. These 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 the 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 might not apply if you, your partner or your child get certain benefits. These include:

If you are working, the benefit cap may not apply to you. You may have to stop working due to ill health. Your benefits will not be reduced for the first 39 weeks after you stop. But this only happens if you have been working for the past 12 months.

It is important to check if you will be affected by the benefit cap. For a full list of benefits that are not included in the benefit cap, visit gov.uk or call 0800 808 00 00 to speak to a Macmillan welfare rights adviser.

The benefit cap limits

If the benefit cap applies to you, the amounts you can claim are different depending on whether you live in London or not.

If you live outside of London, the benefit 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 benefit 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.

If you live in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, some people affected by the benefit cap may get a Welfare Supplementary Payment. This payment will be the same as the amount of money you have lost under the benefit cap. You can find out more information about Welfare Supplementary Payments at nidirect.gov.uk

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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.