Can you fare well on welfare?
The country needs to reduce spending. Drastic welfare reforms mean many benefit claimants under 65 will be worse off. To save money, however, there are few extra services to help people cope. Fair or realistic or not, employment is seen as the best option for working age people who may depend on welfare.

The pages in this section are a beginner’s guide to welfare: How it works (for new claimants) and the changes (for those on benefits already). We offer an overview but cannot give too many as things are changing all the time. Look for specialist advice if you think you will be affected.

The Government may want to save money but millions of pounds remain unclaimed and you might be able to claim cash. Visit this Benefits Checker if you are:

  • On a low income (employed or seeking work)
  • Pregnant, if you have recently had a baby, or still have dependent children
  • lll or disabled – or if you are a carer
  • Aged 60 or over
  • Alone, having lost a partner

What you need to know about the changes
The cuts have started but there are hundreds of changes coming in gradually. The system is smart enough to introduce some changes person by person, on the anniversary of your first claim, for example. Others affect everyone at the same time. Others again are different depending on your local authority. (That’s why it’s a nightmare to try to give you detailed advice here.) There may also be some differences between countries across the UK, so it’s worth checking local details.

Let’s start with the Caps
Each benefit may change (see our links) but you may also be affected by the benefit cap. The Government wants no household living on benefits to be better off than the average working household, which is an average income after tax of £26,000 per year or £500 per week. This is bad news for large families. Single people will also be unable to claim more than £350 per week.

The caps start in April 2013 in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey. They’ll be phased in elsewhere from the summer. There are exemptions for disabled people on certain benefits and people who are made redundant, for example, may not face caps for up to nine months.

Charities, Grants and Additional Help
Things will get really tough for many people. To help people hit hardest, we include links to help from charities and groups who offer help and support. There are still some loans and grants available but there are fewer than before.

Things are changing all the time so if you notice something is out of date or wrong, let us know and we’ll check and put it right. Let us know if these pages help you or if your organisation wants to be listed by clicking here.

Benefits Links

Welfare Reform:

Quids in! Info:

Benefits Checkers:

See our list of calculators

General Info from Specialists: