On 8 January 2013, MPs debated a bill which in April saw benefits and tax credits capped at an increase of one per cent per year for the next three years, called the welfare benefits uprating bill.
Although benefits will still rise by a small amount each year under the bill, it means that people receiving benefits will experience a real-terms cut in the amount of money they get, because the rate of inflation is currently higher than one per cent.
- Here's what this means for the amounts of benefits and tax credits single parents can receive in 2013/14:
- Another big change this year is the introduction of benefit cap. This is a cap on the amount of benefits a working-age household can receive. For single parent families that amount is £500.
- In April, the benefit cap was introduced in four London boroughs - Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey. It will be applied in all other areas from summer 2013. Not sure if you'll be affected? Use our quick and simple tool to work it out:
- The benefit cap is applied to your housing benefit, meaning if you are receiving over £500 in benefits in total each week, your housing benefit will be reduced by that extra amount. Here's how it will work:
- The government has also introduced a new rule that applies to people who live in social housing and receive housing benefit. This new rule means tenants in social housing will have the amount of bedrooms they can have in their property restricted - any 'spare' bedrooms will be subject to a charge, taken from housing benefit.
- This is known as the spare room subsidy, sometimes called the 'bedroom tax'. Here's what that may mean for single parents:
- If you've been affected by either the 'bedroom tax' or benefit cap and are struggling to cover your full rent, it's worth seeing if you're eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment from your local council - find out more here:
- From April, council tax benefit has also been abolished - replaced with a localised Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Every local authority now operates their own scheme. Here's our guide to getting help with your council tax:
- Perhaps the biggest change this year will be the introduction of universal credit, which will replace the current benefits and tax credits system. It hasn't been rolled out fully yet, but there's lots to get ready for - here's the latest information on universal credit for single parents:
- It's definitely not been an easy time for many single parents. Lots of change often means lots of confusion, and it can be really hard to be sure what applies to you and what doesn't. The myths about who's claiming benefit and why are also muddying the waters for lots of people - and stigma and stereotyping have been rife.
- But many people have been hitting back with reasoned and hard-hitting arguments
- And the cold hard facts about poverty and welfare certainly make for illuminating viewing