Applicants can get a maximum of £23,000 per year in London and £20,000 outside the M25 under the current DWP scheme.
According to statistics, hundreds of thousands of Universal Credit households are losing more than £240 every month because of the benefit cap.
Claimants can get a maximum of £23,000 a year in London and £20,000 outside the M25 under the current Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) system.
Those who lose their job or experience unexpected life events are entitled to a nine-month grace period during which their payments are not restricted.
This was true during the epidemic, but no longer applies to many people. According to the latest DWP data, 43,000 households were restricted for the first time between November 2020 and February this year.
This brings the total number of households subject to the restriction to 200,000, including 180,000 Universal Credit claimants and 24,000 Housing Benefit claimants, many of whom are in employment but on low incomes.
According to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), families who fall below this poverty line lose £62 a week, or £248 a month.
According to the organisation, many of these families may struggle to make up the gap because of the shortage of jobs at the moment.
“Thousands more households who have lost work because of the pandemic are now subject to the cap,” said CPAG executive director Alison Garnham, “although it is considerably more difficult to find methods to make up their lost wages and be exempt during the epidemic.”
Families struggling to cope with necessary payments, rent, household crises or even transport fares can apply for a Budget Loan to help them get by.
The extra money can be used to pay for critical payments and even repairs, and was put in place to prevent people from turning to shady payday lenders or illegal moneylenders in times of need.
The loan works in a similar way to a Universal Credit advance in that it is interest-free and must be repaid within two years.
You can find more information on how to apply here.
Any time you have been claiming Universal Credit after being converted from Pension Credit counts towards the six month period.
If you are currently claiming Universal Credit, you will not be eligible for a Budget Loan, as advances are made through that scheme. If you are a single parent, we have a number of schemes that may be of help to you.
People who live alone or who have a specific vulnerability may be eligible for council tax rebates, and parents can apply for help with school uniform costs.
Parents can now use Universal Credit to be reimbursed for up to 85% of childcare costs.
For one child, workers can earn up to £646.35 per month, and for two or more children, they can earn up to £1,108.40 per month. Visit the Understanding Universal Credit page for more information.
If you qualify for the Jobcentre Plus travel discount card, you can save 50% on train and bus travel.
This can help you get to interviews, appointments and other travel. Jobseeker’s Allowance recipients are also eligible.
People on low incomes can also benefit from the government’s Help to Save initiative, which offers incentives to save from £1 to £50 each month.
The government will pay you an extra 50 pence for every pound you save after two years of saving.
What does the benefit cap involve?
- 1,916.67 per month for couples and lone parents in London.
- Outside London, couples and lone parents – £1,666.67.
- 1,284.17 per month for a single person with no children in London.
- 1,116.67 per month for a childless single person living outside London.
Parents should receive more financial support
If you are a parent who is struggling to pay your expenses, you may be entitled to extra income support. See the list below to see what you are entitled to.
- If you are pregnant when you start treatment, you can get free NHS dental care. You will need a MATB1 certificate from your midwife or GP, as well as a valid prescription maternity exemption certificate, to get free NHS dental treatment (MatEx).
- You will also be eligible for free NHS dental care for the first year after the birth of your child. You will need to present a valid pregnancy exemption certificate, a birth notification form (provided by your midwife) and your baby’s birth certificate to confirm your entitlement.
- Eligible female employees can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. The first 26 weeks are called “ordinary maternity leave” and the last 26 weeks “additional maternity leave”. The first 6 weeks are paid at 90% of average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax, while the remaining 33 weeks are £151.20 or 90% of your AWE (whichever is less). These are the rules for those claiming shared parental leave.
- If your child is under 18 and does not live with another adult, you can claim a 25% reduction in council tax.
- Child Benefit is available to all parents. This is a weekly state payment of £21.05 for your first child and £13.95 for each additional child.
- If you are on sick leave due to the pandemic but do not qualify for sickness benefit, the government will offer a one-off payment of £500 per cottage.
- The Healthy Start scheme offers food vouchers to parents. If you are 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four and you are on Income Support or other benefit, you may qualify. Payment vouchers are available for as little as £3.10 a week.
- If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to benefits such as Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Housing Benefit, which can help you pay your rent. Here is a summary of the many benefits available.
- If your child is three or four years old, you can also join the government’s 30-hour free childcare scheme.
- For parents who are still in education, the Care to Learn scheme can help with childcare costs. If you live outside London, it’s £160 a week; if you live in London, it’s £175 a week. Your childcare provider will receive all payments.
- You can also get savings on water bills, free medicines, free school transport (including uniform allowance) and reductions in energy bills, in addition to the above.