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.