Benefit cap

Policy briefing – The problem with universal credit’s assessment periods and how to fix it

22 November 2021
UC claimants paid weekly, two-weekly or four-weekly sometimes receive an additional pay cheque in a single UC assessment period. This causes the claimant’s UC award to drop significantly even when there is no change in their circumstances. CPAG frequently hears from working claimants struggling to manage financially because their UC income is so volatile.

CPAG's submission to the Spending Review

08 October 2021
​​We are making recommendations to the government as part of its Spending Review.

Universal credit, benefit cap and those paid 4 weekly

R (Pantellerisco and others) v SSWP [2021] EWCA Civ 1454
On 12 September 2019, CPAG issued judicial review proceedings on behalf of a single parent and her children challenging the application of the benefit cap to the mother’s universal credit award. The cap is applied to the mother despite the fact that she works 16 hours per week at national living wage, simply because she is paid 4 weekly rather than monthly. Permission to apply for judicial review was granted on 5 December 2019 and the case was heard on 12 May 2020. Judgment was given on 20 July 2020 with the court finding in the claimants' favour. The SSWP appealed to the Court of Appeal and the SSWP's appeal was allowed on 8 October 2021. The claimants have made an application to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal and a decision on that application is awaited.

The problem with the ‘grace period’

21 September 2021
The number of families affected by the government’s benefit cap stood at 187,000 in May 2021. These families are living on less than what they need because they are not in work or not considered to be working enough. On average, they are losing out on £238 per month.

Post-COVID policy: child poverty, social security and housing

20 July 2021
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the life of every child and their family in the country. Families with children have been among the worst affected, with job losses and increased costs of living from repeated lockdowns and school closures, causing many families to struggle financially. The pandemic has made life much harder for low-income households, those already living in insecure housing and at risk of homelessness, and those with precarious immigration status.

Not getting by: the increasing impact of the benefit cap

22 June 2021
Figures just released by the Department for Work and Pensions show that in February 2021, soon after the start of the third lockdown, 200,000 households were subject to the benefit cap. Behind this statistic are families having to get by on less than their assessed need because of the government’s decision to limit the amount of income any ‘non-working’ household can receive in social security. The pandemic has seen the number of capped households drastically increase, with the latest figures an increase of 153 per cent since February 2020, when 79,000 households were subject to the cap.

Jump in ‘Covid job casualties’ hit by benefit cap – families lose £62 per week

22 June 2021
DWP figures out today show the number of households subject to the benefit cap has jumped by 13% since November to reach 200,000 at February 2021. The newly capped households are likely capped because they have lost jobs or working hours to Covid-19 and their wages have dropped below the earnings exemption threshold. But with the impact of the pandemic still being felt, few will be able to find replacement earnings to become ‘uncapped’. Average losses are £62 per week for capped families.

Understanding the jump in families affected by the benefit cap

22 June 2021
Today, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published the latest statistics on the number of households affected by the benefit cap in February 2021. This briefing summarises those statistics, explains how the benefit cap works and provides examples of how it affects real families using evidence from our Early Warning System.

‘Other people don’t have to think about which kid they love the most that month’: the realities of everyday life on the benefit cap and two child limit

11 June 2021
Since April we’ve been interviewing larger families who are subject to the two child limit and/or benefit cap as part of the Benefit Changes and Larger Families project. We’ll be interviewing many more families over the next 18 months, but already after 11 interviews it is striking how much common ground there is in larger families’ experiences of negotiating life on a low-income.

Hitting home: the benefit cap and child homelessness

31 May 2021
Since 2013, the benefit cap has meant that many families don’t have enough money to pay their rent. This isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s explicit in the way that benefits are calculated.