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 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 is due to change after autumn 2016. The date when this will happen has not been decided at the time of writing.

Before autumn 2016

If the benefit cap applies to you, the total amount of benefits you can get from April 2016 to autumn 2016 is:

  • £350 a week if you are single and don’t have children who live with you.
  • £500 a week if you are in a couple.
  • £500 a week if you have children who live with you.

After autumn 2016

  • If you live outside of London, the cap will be £257.69 a week if you are single, or £384.62 if you are a couple or have children.
  • If you live in London, the cap will be £296.35 a week if you are single, or £442.31 if you are a couple or have children.

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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.