It’s possible to receive financial support above the benefits cap, but this does not apply to the majority of households

27 October 2020
What was claimed

People are getting paid £850 a week in benefits.

Our verdict

Most people receiving universal credit or housing support receive less than this figure due to the benefits cap. Some can receive over the benefits cap, but most do not.

A post shared over 50,000 times on Facebook claims that people receiving benefits can get £850 a week in support. 

This can be the case, although that’s not necessarily a typical amount, because for the majority of households most major benefits are capped at a level significantly lower than this. This post seems to be based on a news story from 2017, about a mother of six children who reportedly received £850 a week in financial support.

A number of benefits, including Universal Credit and Housing Benefit, are subject to the benefits cap, the total amount of income a household can receive. This is currently far less than £850 a week. It ranges from £257.69 per week for single adults outside of London, up to £442.31 per week for couples or single parents living in London.

Not many households receiving benefits have the amount capped: the figure was 1.4% in February 2020, and the majority of households (57% of universal credit recipients and 58% of housing benefit recipients) were capped £50 or less. 

But over 98% of households not having their benefits capped doesn’t mean large numbers receive very high payments. Data from May this year says that 8% of all households receiving a Universal Credit payment received over £1,500 per month. On a per week basis, that still works out as significantly less than £850 a week. 

The average (mean) payment of Universal Credit was £780 a month, and the median was £690.

There are situations which mean a household would be exempt from this cap. This includes if a person, their partner or a child receive disability living allowance or personal independence payment if they or their partner receive support such as carer’s allowance or certain armed forces payments, working a certain number of hours per week while receiving universal credit or housing benefit, or in a grace period.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because information about the benefit cap is required here.

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