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

Barnsley is a full service area for Universal Credit.

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

New claims must be made to Universal Credit, unless:

  • you, and your partner (if applicable) are of state pension age – find out when this will happen for you or you receive pension credits as of 14 May 2019. If your Pension Credits end and only one of you are pension age, you may be required Universal Credit. 
  • you're resident in temporary or supported exempt accommodation; these are generally hostels or sheltered accommodation.  If you already claim Universal Credit and move into one of these accommodations you will need to apply for Housing Benefit for help toward your rent. 
  • you, and you partner (if applicable) are entitled to a severe disability premium within your current benefit and don't live with any other adults.

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'll no longer be able to claim Housing Benefit and we'll need to cancel this from the date that you claim Universal Credit. This means that you’ll be responsible for paying your rent to your landlord. If you're eligible, you may be paid an additional two weeks Housing Benefit.

If you are currently receiving Universal Credit and you reach State Pension age, you may be eligible to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit instead.  Please note that from 15 May 2019 both you and your partner (if applicable), will need to be State Pension age to be eligible. You will need to contact Universal Credit for more advice about transferring to pension age benefits.

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)

Apply for 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 the housing element you'll need to pay this to your landlord.

For more information:

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 on 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.