THOUSANDS of families on Universal Credit are missing out on cash because of the cap on benefits.
New figures reveal that 180,000 Brits have had their payments limited under the rules on how much people can claim,
First brought in by the government in 2013, the benefit cap is set at £20,000 a year for families, or £23,000 in London.
For individuals the limit is £13,400 a year or £15,410 for those living in the capital.
Universal Credit counts towards the cap, along with other benefits like child benefit, housing benefit and jobseekers allowance.
There are some exemptions when the benefit cap does not apply, for example if you're entitled to working tax credits.
If your benefit payments are more than the cap then your Universal Credit or Housing Benefit is reduced.
The latest data from the government shows that households are missing out on an average of £54 a week – or £234 every month.
Most read in Money
Studio flat costs £1,250 per month to rent – but can YOU spot what's missing?
Four ways struggling families can get FREE cash to help pay for food this Xmas
I lost £300M Bitcoin after tossing hard drive, I've hired NASA expert to find it
Martin Lewis says 1m Brits are missing out on hundreds in Universal Credit
The number affected by the benefit cap is "significantly higher" than in March 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the government figures show.
Over a million more claims for the benefit were made during the Covid lockdowns.
In total 180,000 are subject to the cap as of August 2021 and nearly 30,000 had their benefits capped for the first time in the four months up to that date.
That's down slightly from 190,000 who were affected in the previous quarter, but is still more than double the 79,000 who were hit at February 2020.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive at charity Crisis, said: “These figures once again confirm the difficulties being faced by thousands up and down the country because of the economic pressures of the pandemic.
"Since the time of this data, we’ve seen the cost of living and renting rapidly rising, putting people under more financial strain, and edging them even closer to homelessness."
The cost of living crisis has seen bills and everyday costs rocket in price, piling pressure on hard-up households.
A DWP spokesperson said: “The benefit cap, up to the equivalent salary of £28,000 in London, ensures fairness for hard-working taxpaying households and a strong work incentive, while also providing a much-needed safety net of support.
"Through our Plan for Jobs, we are supporting people into work, to progress and earn more. Returning to employment will significantly increase the likelihood of a household not being affected by the cap."
Here's how the benefit cap could hit you – and the extra help you could get if it does.
How much is the benefit cap?
The benefit cap outside Greater London is:
- £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re in a couple
- £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re a single parent and your children live with you
- £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) if you’re a single adult
The benefit cap inside Greater London is:
- £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re in a couple
- £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re a single parent and your children live with you
- £296.35 per week (£15,410 a year) if you’re a single adult
What benefits count towards the cap?
- Universal Credit
- Bereavement Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance (or Widowed Mother’s Allowance or Widow’s Pension if you started getting it before 9 April 2001)
If you're over state pension age you won't be affected by the benefit cap.
You also won't have your payments limited if you get working tax credit, have limited capability to work because of a health condition or disability on Universal Credit, or look after someone else with a disability and get UC.
If you or your partner earn £617 or more a month combined, after tax and National Insurance contributions, you won't be affected by the cap.
You may also get a nine-month "grace period" where the cap doesn't apply when you first start claiming Universal Credit.
What can I do if I'm hit by the benefit cap?
You should check if you're getting all the benefits you're entitled to, charity Turn2Us suggests.
There are some benefits that are not subject to the cap, like Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and attendance allowance, so if you get these they can boost your income.
You can use a free benefits checker to see what you might be entitled to, but be aware it won't be for certain until you apply.
Entitledto's free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.
If you don't want to register, consumer group MoneySavingExpert.com and charity StepChange both have benefits tools powered by Entitledto's data that let you save your results without logging in.
Use Policy in Practice's calculator to not only find out which benefits you could receive but also to find out how much cash you'll have leftover each month after paying for housing costs.
Charity Turn2Us' benefits calculator works out what means-tested benefits you might be entitled to, as well as whether you qualify for carers allowance.
It points out that it doesn't calculate non-means tested benefits and contributory benefits, but it will include these in your results if you’re already getting them.
Extra help you can get if you're on Universal Credit
If you’re on Universal Credit, you can apply for a Budgeting Advance to help with unexpected costs.
The money can help you replace white goods, for instance, but beware you'll have to pay the money back and it will come out of future benefit payments reducing how much you get.
Low income households can get £25 a week to help with energy bills during the winter thanks to the cold weather payment scheme.
You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is zero degrees celsius or below over a seven day period.
Payments should be made automatically to the bank account where you get your benefits and you can check if your area is eligible.
The warm home discount scheme offers £140 off your heating bill over the winter for those on low incomes.
You need to apply for this directly from your energy company and it's dished out on a first come first served basis, so do it sooner rather than later.
Customers of failed energy firms are being urged to apply to the new company they've moved to.
You may able to get cash that you don't have to pay back from charity grants.
You can use the Turn2us online grant search to find out what grants you could be eligible for based on your circumstances.
Your local council may offer specific support in your area for those on low incomes too.
They are also dishing out cash and vouchers to help with food and bills this winter, through the £500m Household Support Fund.
You can find your local council using this tool and searching you postcode to see what help there is.
Anyone trying to gt back into work could get cash from the the Flexible Support Fund (FSF), for instance to pay for train journeys to intereviews.
You could save money on your council tax bill, for instance if you're eligible for a discount.
You can check how to get an reduction of exemption on the household bill in our guide.
We pay for your stories!
Do you have a story for The Sun Money team?
Email us at [email protected]
Source: Read Full Article