Changes to the benefits system in the UK | ͵͵


Skip to content
Please donate

Changes to the benefits system

Some welfare benefits have changed over the past few years. Find out how they've changed and if this affects you.

Introduction of Universal Credit

Universal Credit has been rolled out nationally and now replaces new claims for a number of working age benefits (benefits for people under State Pension age).

You’ll be transferred to Universal Credit in the next few years if you already claim any of the following 'legacy benefits':

People are already being transferred to Universal Credit. If you receive a letter inviting you to claim, your legacy benefit may stop if you don't make a Universal Credit claim before the date in the letter.

If you already claim one of the legacy benefits listed above and you're thinking of switching to Universal Credit before you receive a letter asking you to switch, it's a good idea to seek professional advice before doing so – in some circumstances, you may end up worse off.

If you’ve reached State Pension age, you may not be affected unless you're a couple and your partner is below this age. New claims for Pension Credit can normally only be made if both partners in a couple are over State Pension age. If they're already receiving Pension Credit, couples with only one partner over State Pension age can continue to claim it.

Changes to Pension Credit

Here are some of the things that may change with Pension Credit, although it’s not clear when these changes will take place:

  • As Child Tax Credit is being phased out, Pension Credit now includes additional amounts for dependent children.
  • Pension Credit may include a new housing credit to help towards rent in the future, but this may not happen until 2028 at the earliest.

Find out more about Pension Credit

Changes to bereavement benefits

Bereavement benefits have been extended – you no longer need to have been married or in a civil partnership with your partner to claim Bereavement Support Payment (BSP). If you have a child or children and were living with your partner when they died, then you can now claim BSP.

The law changed on 9 February 2023. If your partner died before that date you can now make a claim for BSP or Widowed Parent’s Allowance and you may receive some backdated benefit.

Find out more about Bereavement Support Payment

Personal Independence Payment is replacing Disability Living Allowance

For new claimants, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Here’s how you could be affected if you currently get DLA:

  • If you were under 65 on 8 April 2013, you'll be reassessed for PIP at some point in the future.
  • If you were over 65 on 8 April 2013, you'll continue to receive it for as long as you're eligible.

Find out more about Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Changes to Support for Mortgage Interest

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) provides loans that pay towards the interest on a mortgage or other eligible home improvement loans.

SMI loans were introduced on 6 April 2018. If you claim SMI, it may not pay all of your interest and won't pay towards capital repayments. This means you might also need to make an additional payment. The loan is voluntary and you have the choice to accept it or not.

Find out more about Support for Mortgage Interest loans

Are you entitled to extra money?

Do you know what benefits you're entitled to? Our online benefits calculator can help you quickly and easily find out what you could be claiming.

Get a free benefits check

Housing benefit reductions and the ‘bedroom tax’

Housing Benefit is reduced if you're considered to have more bedrooms than you need in your home. This is sometimes referred to as the 'bedroom tax'.

This could affect you if all of the following apply to you:

  • you’re under State Pension age
  • you rent a property from your local council or a housing association
  • you have more bedrooms than you need.

Or if both of the following apply to you:

  • you’re a mixed age couple (one of you is over State Pension age and one of you isn't)
  • you claim Universal Credit.

Find out more about Housing Benefit

How could the benefit cap affect me?

There's a cap on the amount of benefits you can claim if you’re not working. The cap depends on whether you're single or a couple and where you live. 

What is the Benefit Cap in Greater London?

  • If you're a couple (with or without children), or single with a child of qualifying age, the cap is £25,323.
  • If you're a single adult household without children, the cap is £16,967.

What is the Benefit Cap in the rest of Great Britain? 

  • If you're a couple (with or without children), or single claimants with a child of qualifying age, the cap is £22,020.
  • If you're a single adult household without children, the cap is £14,753.

Whether you live in Greater London or the rest of Great Britain, you may be affected if you’re under State Pension age, or if you’re over State Pension age but live with a spouse or partner below State Pension age and you or your partner claims:

The cap won't apply if you receive any of the following:

If you're over the cap, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit payments may be reduced.

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local ͵͵s.

Share this page

Last updated: Jul 09 2024

You might also be interested in...

Housing Benefit

If you're on a low income and struggling to cover your rent, you might be able to claim Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit

If you're on a low income or you're out of work, you might be able to claim Universal Credit to boost your income.

Pension Credit

If you're over State Pension age and you're struggling to make ends meet, Pension Credit could help top up your income.

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top