Universal Credit and the benefit cap

Over the last few years, the government has been implementing a wide range of reforms to the welfare benefits system. Their aim is to get Britain working, fight poverty, support the most vulnerable, and help people break the cycle of benefit dependency. 

Two of the major changes have included the introduction of Universal Credit and the benefit cap. You can read more about these below.

Universal Credit

Full service is coming to Barnsley from 5 July 2017.

Universal Credit (UC) is a key part of the Governments Welfare reform policy and replaces the following benefits with a single monthly award:

  • income based Job Seekers Allowance
  • income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • income support
  • tax credits
  • housing benefit

A limited number of people are able to claim Universal credit in Barnsley before this date but this gateway restriction is due to be lifted from the 5th July 2017 meaning that everyone will be able to apply unless they are

  • Of state pension age – see here the link to see when this will happen for you. https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-age
  • Living in a postcode area not due to go live with full service UC until the 13th September 2017: S36 6, S36 7, S36 8, S36 9, S71 1, S71 2, S71 3, S71 4, S71 5,  S75 1, S75 2, S75 3, S75 4, S75 5, S75 6
  • You have three or more children living in your household
  • You are resident in “supported exempt accommodation”. These are generally hostels or sheltered accommodation.

If you’re already claiming benefits, your local Jobcentre Plus or Tax Credits office will tell you when you have to move to Universal Credit.

However, for new claims, or if you have a change in your circumstances that would mean you claiming one of the benefits listed above or changing from one benefit to another, you will have to claim Universal Credit instead. You will no longer be able to claim Housing Benefit and we will need to cancel it from the date that you claim Universal Credit

This means that you’ll be responsible for paying your rent to your landlord.

Universal Credit doesn't cover help towards your council tax or free school meals so you'll still need to apply for these separately:

Apply for council tax support (this includes free school meals)

Read more about Universal Credit at Gov.UK (free school meals only)

How Universal Credit will be paid

Universal Credit is paid differently to current benefits. You'll get a single payment for your household and it'll be paid once a month into your bank or building society account. If your Universal Credit payment includes rent you'll need to pay this to your landlord.

For more information

View the Universal Credit video

Read more about Universal Credit at Gov.UK

Benefit cap

The benefit cap limits the total amount of benefit that most people of working age (currently aged 16 to 64) can receive each week. 

How much the Benefit Cap is

In Barnsley, it changed in November 2016 to:

  • £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.

Read more about the Benefit Cap at Gov.UK 

Experiencing financial difficulties?

If you're finding it difficult to pay your rent, you may be able to get a discretionary housing payment (DHP) on top of your usual housing benefit or Universal Credit payment.