From April 2013, people of working age who receive benefits have their money limited. For couples or lone parents, the limit is £500 per week and for single people it is £350. The cap has been set at the same level as the average take-home pay for a working household.
This does not apply to people who receive Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Working Tax Credit, Attendance Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if paid with the support component, Carers or Guardians Allowance, Industrial Injuries benefits and war pensions.
From 7th November 2016, the Benefit Cap limits are being revised to £385 per week for couples or lone parents and £258 per week for single adults.
How could this affect you?
The Scott family have four children all under 16. They are not working at the moment and get weekly benefits totalling £530. The £500 benefits cap means they have £30 less each week to live on - £1,560 over the whole year.
This means that the Scotts will have to look at how they manage their budget and make sure that they are able to keep the family fed, clothed, clean and warm.
People identified as being impacted by the revised Benefit Cap were written to by DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) in June 2016.
The Scott family still have four children all under 16 living at home. They are not working at the moment and get weekly benefits totalling £560. Up to 7th November, the £500 benefits cap means they have £60 less each week to live on, and after 7th November, the £385 benefits cap means that they will now have another £115 less each week to live on - a total of £175 per week less - £9,100 over the whole year.
This means that the Scotts will have a much larger shortfall in income to manage in order to pay their rent and make sure that they are able to keep the family fed, clothed, clean and warm.
The family will be offered assistance from a Work Coach at Job Centre Plus to ensure they explore all avenues into work.
In Argyll and Bute we are working closely with our Registered State Landlords who have contacted each of their tenants identified by the DWP as due to be impacted. Additionally the Housing Support Coordinators have contacted all claimants who are in privately rented accommodation by letter at the end of July offering to make them an appointment to see a Council Welfare Rights Officer.
You can find out further information on affected benefits, exemptions and examples here:
Where can you get help?
Argyll and Bute Council’s welfare rights service can help – call 01546 605517.
Citizens Advice Bureau on 08456 123808 (low rate)
Argyll and Bute Advice Network (ABAN) - another source of advice for money, health and many more topics