According to Theresa May quoted in The Guardian, the government introduced Universal Credit because some people were getting up to £100k in benefits:

May says the government introduced UC because the “legacy system” left by Labour was flawed. Some people were getting up to £100,000 in benefits.

That seems like a grand claim to make. Is this accurate? Were some people getting up to £100k in benefits?

Perhaps the PM counts mortgage deduction as benefits?

  • I think this question would benefit from rephrasing at least the title to be more specific about what benefits are involved. At least to me, there are a very large number of things that I would describe as "benefits", which I "get" and many of them have monetary value, but the claim in the quote seems specific to benefits received due to or from whatever "legacy system" was/will be replaced by Universal Credit. Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 15:38
  • Based on comments in the answer given below I think you need to specify if you mean per household or per individual.
    – GordonM
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 12:42
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    @GordonM: The OP shouldn't get to specify what the claimant meant. The answer should attempt to establish that.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 2:38

1 Answer 1


If you understand the phrase "some people" to refer to households, it is true.

Independent fact checking organisation FullFact got the data. The number of families receiving such a large amount of money seems to be about 5. Such large amounts are very rare. 80% of claims get less than £100/week (£5,200 per year).

Chart showing distribution of claims [...]

While the evidence suggests that there are a small number of Housing Benefit claims of more than £100,000 per year - perhaps around five - these cases are very much the exception rather than the rule. Focusing exclusively on these outliers without first putting them into context, where over 80% of claims are below £100 per week, could distort the debate around this important topic.

This Daily Mail article from 2012 describes one family getting benefits worth £95,000 per year.

Pete and Sam Smith receive £95,000 a year in state benefits to look after their ten children aged one to 15.

The couple have not worked since Mr Smith, 40, resigned from the Army in 2001 to care for his wife, who has curvature of the spine. At that time they had three children. The family receive child benefits, disability living allowance, carer’s allowance, tax credits and income support totalling £44,954 a year. They also have a £950-a-week bed-and-breakfast deal where the council pays for breakfasts delivered to their home.

This comes to £49,400, making a grand total of £94,354 a year.

This Daily Express article, also from 2012, says that a Freedom of Information Act request had found "at least 5 families" receiving in excess of £100,000 per year in Housing Benefit (so presumably they also receive other benefits as well).

  • 5
    @GordonM theguardian.com/politics/2013/apr/06/… "A freedom of information request by Full Fact showed that in August 2010, there were fewer than five housing benefit claimants receiving the equivalent of £100,000 a year. " also:fullfact.org/news/…
    – Murphy
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 17:04
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    It deserves saying that this £100k is divided by twelve people, so they are getting about £8k each. Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 17:11
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    To be more explicit, as @DJClayworth's comment indicates, the claim "Some people were getting up to £100,000 in benefits" is false according to the information in this answer. So why is the first sentence in this answer "It appears to be true"?
    – De Novo
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 22:57
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    @user5341 the claim is very specific, and false in the way it is phrased.
    – De Novo
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 16:19
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    @user5341 "some people were getting up to £100,000 in benefits" means, unambiguously, that there are individuals receiving that much each. Interpreting it as a total of £100,000 spread over some number of people is very odd indeed.
    – De Novo
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 18:16

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