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 is a new Department for Work and Pensions benefit for working age people who are out of work or on a low income.
It was introduced in Barnsley on 2 March 2015 to replace Jobseekers Allowance for single claimants.
In July 2017, it will be rolled out to couples and families; anyone currently claiming the following benefits will transfer to Universal Credit in stages:
- income based Job Seekers Allowance
- income related Employment and Support Allowance
- income support
- tax credits
- housing benefit
Some people will be excluded from Universal Credit and continue to receive housing benefit to help them pay their rent.
How Universal Credit will be paid
Universal Credit will be paid directly into your bank account each month. Any help towards your rent will be included in your monthly Universal Credit payment.
This means that you’ll be responsible for paying your rent to your landlord.
Universal Credit doesn't cover help towards your council tax so you’ll still need to apply for council tax support if you need it.
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.
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.