The Benefits Cap, which limits the amount of Welfare Benefit a household can receive, is being reduced from 7th November 2016. The amount that families, couples and lone parents can receive will be £385 per week (£20,000 per annum) and £258 per week (£13,400 p.a.) for single persons.

Households are exempt from the cap, if they are pensioners or where someone in the household receives Working Tax Credits, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Carers Allowance, Guardians Allowance, the support component of Employment Support Allowance, or War Widows or Widowers Pensions.

The 59 households in Swindon that have already been capped (at £26,000 p.a. previously) will be impacted by this reduced cap immediately from 7th November. Another 280 households, in the Swindon area, that have not been previously ‘capped’, will be ‘capped’ from December. Of these 340 households, the indications are that approximately 170 of these households will be capped by more than £50 per week. If the household is in receipt of Housing Benefit the capped amount will be taken from their Housing Benefit (for Universal Credit Claimants the amount will be taken from their Universal Credit).

For those receiving Housing Benefit, the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) will refer the cases to the Council and ask that the cap is implemented. The Council’s Housing Benefits team will have to reduce the Housing Benefit paid to the claimant by the amount of benefit they receive in excess of the cap. If the amount of all Benefits received in excess of the cap is more than the weekly Housing Benefit payment, the claimant will be given a minimum 50p per week Housing Benefit. Universal Credit claimants will lose the full amount of Benefit being paid in excess of the cap.

Over the last few months the DWP have been writing and visiting the households concerned and offering employment advice. The Benefits team have been working with the DWP, Citizens Advice, Housing and Childrens Services. When the cap is implemented claimants are offered the following support: • Employment advice from the DWP (Work Coaches can be contacted on 0345 608 8545.) • Budgeting advice from the Citizens Advice and Christians Against Poverty • Swindon College, New College, Swindon Academy and Learn Direct and the Council’s Tenants Academy are offering a number of courses and clubs to help individuals find employment, manage finances or learn new skills. • Discretionary Housing Payment as a short term measure to help those that are vulnerable and those that provide information on support programmes they are undertaking in order to obtain employment.

Contact the Benefits Office on 0345 302 2316.
Andy Stevens Head of Revenues & Benefits