There have been a number of changes to the UK benefits system. Some benefits are being replaced while others might have different rules for claiming them. Many benefit changes have already taken place in England, Scotland and Wales and are being gradually introduced in Northern Ireland. This page tells you more about what’s happening across the UK.
Living in Northern Ireland?
Universal Credit works differently in Northern Ireland. Find out more on the nidirect website.
In Scotland, you might be offered some choices about how your Universal Credit is paid. Read our guide to Universal Credit in Scotland.
Universal Credit is a new simpler, single monthly payment for people looking for work or on a low income.
It is replacing some of the benefits and tax credits you might be getting now.
Whether you can claim depends on where you live and your personal circumstances.
Personal Independence Payment replacing Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has been replaced by a benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for people aged 16 to 64.
If you’re already getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and your benefit is due to come to an end or you report a change in your needs, you’ll be contacted about reassessment for PIP.
If you have an indefinite or lifetime award for DLA you will be invited to claim PIP by December 2018.
The benefit cap
If you’re aged 16 to 64, there might be a limit on the total amount of benefit income you can get.
This is called a benefit cap.
The maximum amount you can now get in benefit income is:
- £23,000 a year if you live in London
- £20,000 a year if you live elsewhere in the UK.
Housing Benefit cuts for social housing tenants
If you’re renting from a local authority, housing association or registered social landlord, your Housing Benefit might be cut.
This is often referred to as the ‘Bedroom Tax’, the ‘under-occupation penalty’ or the ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’.
Your Housing Benefit might be cut by:
- 14% if you are considered to have one spare bedroom
- 25% if you have two spare bedrooms or more.
Housing Benefit if you’re aged between 18 and 21
All 18 to 21-year-olds will be able to claim supports for housing costs as part of Universal Credit.
Changes to the Social Fund
Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans
Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans have been replaced with support provided by your local authority in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.
Budgeting Loans and Budgeting Advances
If you need to borrow money for an emergency expense while you’re claiming certain benefits, you can ask for help from the DWP to help with the cost.
If you’re getting certain benefits you might be able to claim a Budgeting Loan.
Find out more about Budgeting Loans from the Social Fund
Budgeting Advances are replacing Budgeting Loans for people on Universal Credit.
If you’re claiming Universal Credit, you will need to ask for a Budgeting Advance.
Find out more about Budgeting Advances on the Citizens Advice website.
What you can do about the changes
If you’re affected by these benefit changes and you’re worried about managing on less money, the first step is to make sure you know exactly how much you have coming in and what you have to spend it on.
Every year your council is given a pot of money to help people in the short term who are having trouble paying their rent.
The council decides who should be given what they call ‘Discretionary Housing Payments’.
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