Your guide to the great welfare fiasco

Everything you wanted to know about care and benefit cuts but were afraid to ask.

The government claims to be simplifying the welfare system. In reality, its “reforms” have brought chaos, confusion and cuts. Some people have been left destitute; others are struggling to meet their basic needs. Others are fighting back – challenging individual decisions and campaigning against the injustice embodied in the welfare changes and the chaos and incompetence that has characterised their introduction.

This section explains the often complex changes in plain English.

A. Universal Credit

Universal Credit has merged six key means-tested benefits and tax credits into a single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income.

B. Benefit cap

The benefit cap is a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can claim.

C. Housing

Cuts to housing benefits are increasing the risk of homelessness and forcing people into rent arrears. As well as the notorious bedroom tax, changes to housing benefit for under-35s mean they can only claim for the cost of renting a room in a shared house.

1. Shared accommodation/under 35s

2. Bedroom tax

D. Disability benefits and support

People with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the changes in the welfare system. And they are often dealt a double blow when cuts to their disability benefits tip them into the maze of work and unemployment benefits.

1. Independent Living Fund – ILF

2. Personal Independence Payments – PIP

3. Employment and Support Allowance – ESA

E. Work and unemployment

Job Seeker’s Allowance is dependent on claimants fulfilling a whole range of requirements, some of them difficult, if not impossible to fulfil, as well as unjust and of no use in helping people find work. These schemes are outlined here, along with campaigns to challenge them.

1. Jobseeker's Allowance

2. Universal Jobmatch

3. The work programme

4. Mandatory workfare

5. Sanctions

F. Council tax benefit abolished

In April 2013, the government abolished council tax benefit – the benefit scheme which enabled people on benefits and low incomes to have some or all of their council tax paid.