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Changes to the benefit system

You may have heard that some welfare benefits have been changing in the last few years. Find out on this page how these changes might affect you.

The introduction of Universal Credit

Universal Credit has been rolled out nationally and replaces new claims for a number of benefits for people of working age - i.e. people younger than State Pension age (as of April 2021, this is 66 for both men and women. For further infomation on State Pension age, see the UK Government website).

You’ll eventually be transferred to Universal Credit if you already claim any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

If you’ve reached State Pension age, you may not be affected unless you are part of a couple and one of you is below this age. Since 15 May 2019 both members of a couple must have reached State Pension age to claim Pension Credit. If this is not the case, they will have to make a new claim for Universal Credit. 

Find out more about Universal Credit

Changes to couples benefits

The way benefits are given to couples where there's an age gap between them has changed. As mentioned above, mixed age couples (where one partner is over the State Pension age (SPA) and the other partner has not yet reached SPA) are no longer able to choose whether they claim Universal Credit or Pension Credit and pension age Housing Benefit. Instead, they can only claim Universal Credit until they both reach SPA.

If you were already claiming these benefits on 15 May 2019, you should not be affected. However, if your circumstances change or you take a break from claiming, it might mean you have to claim Universal Credit instead.

Some of the changes that might affect your claim include:

  • a change of address to a different local authority area
  • going abroad for more than 4 weeks
  • a change in the amount of capital you have
  • stopping claiming a benefit that helps you qualify for Pension Credit or Housing Benefit
  • separating from your partner and then getting back together.

In these circumstances, it's best to get advice on your situation. Contact your local Age Cymru or call Age Cymru Advice.

Future 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 Housing Benefit is being abolished, Pension Credit may include a new housing credit to help towards rent. This may not happen until 2028 at the earliest, however.
  • As Child Tax Credit is being phased out, Pension Credit now includes additional amounts for dependent children.

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 (PIP) is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

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

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

Find out more about Disability Living Allowance

Changes to Support for Mortgage Interest

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

Since 6 April 2019, SMI loans were introduced. This means that if you claim SMI, you'll need to make sure that you pay interest on your mortgage or home improvement loans, either yourself or using the loan. The loan is voluntary and you have the choice to accept it or not.

Find out more about Support for Mortgage Interest loans

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 has been called the 'bedroom tax'.

This could affect you if the following apply to you:

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


  • you’re a pensioner and have a younger partner, and claim Universal Credit.

Find out more about Housing Benefit

How the benefit cap could affect you

There is a cap on the amount of benefits you can claim if you’re not working.

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 (the cap amounts are higher in London).

You may be affected by the cap if:

  • you’re under State Pension age; or
  • if you’re over this age, but live with a spouse or partner who is below State Pension age and you or your partner claims Income Support; income-based Jobseeker's Allowance; income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), or Universal Credit.

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

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

What you should do next

What extra money are you entitled to?

For more information call Age Cymru Advice on 0300 303 44 98


Last updated: May 07 2024

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