What is the benefit cap?
The benefit cap sets a limit on the total amount in benefits that most working-age people can claim.
How much is the cap?
The total amount you can currently claim in benefits is:
- £500 per week for single parents and couples with children
- £350 per week for single people
The cap applies to the benefits you get as a household. This means that benefits received by you, your partner and dependent children who live with you, are all included.
Your housing benefit or universal credit will be reduced to ensure that you don't get more than the benefit cap limit.
Changes to the benefit cap November 2016
The government has announced reductions to the benefit cap. These changes will take effect from November 2016.
The total amount a household will be able to claim in benefits is:
- £384.62 per week for single parents and couples with children
- £257.69 per week for single people
Are you affected by the benefit cap?
Families who receive working tax credits or who work enough hours to claim working tax credits are exempt.
If you have been employed continuously for 12 months and you lose your job through no fault of your own, the benefit cap won't apply to you for the first 39 weeks of your claim.
You are also exempt if you or your family receive:
- disability living allowance or the personal independence payment
- attendance allowance
- support component of employment and support allowance
- industrial injuries benefits
From November you will also be exempt if:
- You are a carer and entitled to Carers Allowance (whether living with the cared for person or not)
- You are in receipt of Guardians Allowance
The cap doesn't apply if you are of pension age or you receive war widows' or war widowers' pension.
Benefits included in the cap
These benefits count towards the cap:
- Housing benefit (unless you live in supported housing)
- income support
- jobseeker's allowance
- employment and support allowance (unless you are in the support group)
- incapacity benefit
- child benefit and child tax credits
- maternity benefits and widows benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions
- severe disablement allowance
- universal credit
- carer’s allowance (not included from November 2016)
- guardian's allowance (not included from November 2016)
Benefits not included in the cap
These benefits and payments don't count towards the cap:
- discretionary housing payments
- council tax support
- budgeting loan/advance
- free school meals
- child maintenance payments
- winter fuel payments
- statutory maternity, paternity or adoption pay
- statutory sick pay
Action to take if you are affected
- The benefit cap calculation is done automatically. You do not need to provide any documents
- You will need to make up any shortfall in your housing benefit from your existing income. Speak to your landlord if you think you will not be able to pay your rent out of your income
- If you are unable to cover your housing costs in the short term, you may be eligible for discrectionary housing payment
- If you are worried how you will manage your money once you start to receive reduced housing benefit you can get advice now.The help managing your money booklet produced by the council provides details of different organisations who can give advice.