Benefit Cap

What is the Benefit Cap?

The Government put a limit on the total amount of out of work benefits that working age people can receive.

The reason for the cap is so that no family or individual out of work will receive more in welfare benefits than the average family or individual could reasonable expect to earn from working.

The Benefit Cap will be applied if the income is above the limits set below:

A maximum of £500 per week

If your household is made up of a couple (with or without children), or

If you are a lone parent (and the children you have responsibility for live with you)

A maximum of £350 per week

If you are a single person and:

You have no children, or

The children you have responsibility for don't live with you.

Will this affect me?

If the cap applies to you, you should have already received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) telling you this. You can contact the DWP directly on their helpline 0845 6057064 (text phone 0845 6088551).

The DWP work out who will be affected by adding together your income from the following benefits;

Bereavement Allowance

Child Benefit

Child Tax Credit

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (except where it is paid with the support component)

Guardian's Allowance

Housing Benefit

Incapacity Benefit

Income support

Jobseekers Allowance

Maternity Allowance

Severe Disablement Allowance

Widowed Parent's Allowance

Widowed Mothers Allowance

Widow's Pension

Widows Pension Age Related

 

If, after adding these benefits together your income is over the benefit cap, then your housing benefit will be reduced to bring your total benefits income down to the level of the cap.

You can use the DWP online calculator to check whether the cap will apply to you. Go to www.gov.uk/benefit-cap

How will this affect me?

How it affects you will depend upon whether the amount of income you have over the cap is higher or lower than the amount of housing benefit you get. The basic position is that any benefit income over the cap is deducted in total from your housing benefit entitlement.

1) If your amount of benefit over the cap is less than the amount of housing benefit you get, it will be deducted from your housing benefit so that you will receive less housing benefit.  
For example: Your family receives a total of £600 a week in benefits, of which £150 is housing benefit. Your cap is £500, so you are £100 over which will be deducted from your housing benefit. You will receive only £50 housing benefit as part of your overall income of £500.

2) If your amount of benefit over the cap is more than the amount of housing benefit you get, your housing benefit will be reduced to a set nominal sum of 50p a week.
For example: Your family receives a total of £600 a week in benefits, of which £50 is housing benefit. Your cap is £500, so you are £100 over which should be deducted from your housing benefit. But, as you only get £50 housing benefit, your housing benefit would be reduced by £49.50 to the set nominal amount of 50p.

Will I be exempt?

You will not be affected by the cap if you, your partner or a dependant child who is living with you:  

1) receive any of the following benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independance Payment
  • The Support Component of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefit
  • War Widows or War Widowers Pension

If you are unsure whether you are getting any of these benefits you can contact the Department for Work and Pensions on 0845 6057064 (text phone 0845 6088551). 

2) work and receive Working Tax Credit  

3) have been in employment for 52 weeks or more when claims out of work benefits. This exemption will last for up

to 39 weeks.

What can I do?

You can check on the gov.uk website if you are entitled to any other benefits.

If you want to know how moving into work can exempt you from these changes, please contact your local JobCentre Plus.

You can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to top up your Housing Benefit. Forms are available from the Benefits Team at the Council on 01935 462462

The Citizens Advice service provides a wide range of advice. To find your local Citizens Advice Bureau, look in the phone book or Yellow Pages, or visit their website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk  You can contact the local advice line on 01935 421167

Shelter offers confidential housing, welfare benefits and debt advice through a network of advice services; freephone Housing Advice Helpline on 0808 800 4444 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 8am-5pm Saturday-Sunday and online at england.shelter.org.uk/get advice