The Benefit Cap - what you need to know
The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits you can get if you are of working age.
The Benefit Cap only affects you if you get Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. If the cap affects you, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced.
How could the Benefit Cap affect you?
You can use the benefit cap calculator on GOV.UK to find out how it impacts you.
If the cap applies to you, the amount of money you get above the Benefit Cap limit will be taken off your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit which will reduce the amount of benefit you receive.
This will only affect you if you get Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. No deductions will be made from your other benefits because of the cap. So, if you don’t receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, your benefits can’t be capped.
It's important to know the Benefit Cap doesn't apply to everyone - some people are exempt (see below for more information).
How much is the cap?
From 7 November 2016, there were different rates for the Benefit Cap applied depending upon where you live - one for Greater London and one for the rest of the country.
If you’re getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, the cap outside Greater London is:
- £384.62 a week if you’re a couple - with or without dependent children.
- £384.62 a week if you’re a lone parent with dependent children.
- £257.69 a week if you’re a single person without children.
If you're getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, the cap in Greater London is:
- £442.31 a week if you're a couple - with or without dependent children.
- £442.31 a week if you're a lone parent with dependent children.
- £296.35 a week if you're a single person without children.
The cap may reduce our benefit by a small amount, or leave you with the equivalent of 50 pence per week.
Who is exempt from the cap?
Some people are exempt from the Benefit Cap. This means their benefit isn't capped, even if their benefit income is above the limit of the cap.
Your benefit won't be capped if one of these circumstances apply:
You, or your partner (if you have one), or a child/young person for whom you are entitled to Child Benefit receive:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA);
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
You, or your partner (if you have one), are receiving:
- Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Payments or Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance;
- Carer’s Allowance (including where you are entitled but don’t actually receive it) or the Carer’s Element within Universal Credit;
- Employment and Support Allowance that includes the support component or Universal Credit that includes the Limited Capability for Work Related Activity element;
- Guardian’s Allowance;
- Industrial Injuries Benefit
- War Disablement Pension
- War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension
You, or your partner (if you have one), are:
- Claiming Universal Credit and earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage
- Claiming Housing Benefit and work enough hours to claim Working Tax Credit
- Are old enough to claim Pension Credit
Which benefits are included in the cap?
The cap applies to your household income from most benefits, including Child Tax Credit. However, there are some benefits which the cap doesn't apply to. These benefits are ignored when working out your total benefit income.
- Bereavement Allowance;
- Child Benefit;
- Child Tax Credit;
- Employment and Support Allowance (unless you get the support component);
- Housing Benefit;
- Incapacity Benefit;
- Income Support;
- Jobseeker’s Allowance;
- Maternity Allowance;
- Severe Disablement Allowance;
- Universal Credit; and
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance (including widowed mother’s allowance and widow’s pension
What can you do if you are affected by the cap?
If your benefit income is capped, your options are limited. However, there may be ways of making up any shortfall. For example, are there any benefits you can claim which aren't included in the cap? Can you or a member of your household claim any benefit that would exempt you from the cap?
What are the options if I am affected by the Benefit Cap.
If you're receiving housing benefit, you can find more information about the Benefit Cap, including a useful online calculator, on the GOV.UK website www.gov.uk/benefit-cap
If you are claiming Universal Credit, the Benefit Cap will not be applied for nine months if:
- You (and your partner) earned at least the amount you would get for working 16 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage for the previous 12 months
If you are claiming Housing Benefit, the Benefit Cap will not be applied for a 39 week period if:
- You (or your partner) were working for at least 50 out of the previous 52 weeks, and
- While you (or your partner) were working, you were not entitled to Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
If you are struggling because of the Benefit Cap, you can contact us by calling 0300 123 3399 or by emailing Raven@ravenht.org.uk to receive support.