Benefit Cap Rules
The benefit cap limits the total amount of certain benefits a household can receive.
It is set at a different level depending on whether you live inside or outside of London.
The benefit cap is:
- £442.31 a week if you are a couple or have children and live in London;
- £384.62 a week if you are a couple or have children and live outside London;
- £296.35 a week if you are a single person and live in London;
- £257.69 a week if you are a single person and live outside London.
If you are affected by the benefit cap your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be reduced.
Benefits included in the cap
The benefits included when seeing if your benefit income exceeds the benefit cap are:
- Housing Benefit;
- Child Benefit;
- Child Tax Credit;
- Jobseeker's Allowance;
- Incapacity Benefit;
- Income Support;
- Employment and Support Allowance (except when in the support group);
- Maternity Allowance;
- Severe Disablement Allowance;
- Widowed Parent's Allowance & Bereavement Allowance;
- Universal Credit.
Council Tax Support, which replaced Council Tax Benefit, is not included in the cap. One-off payments like the social fund are also not included.
You will not be affected by the cap if:
- you are over pension age;
- you are in work and entitled to Working Tax Credit (even if you don't receive a payment because your income is too high);
- you are in work and, between you and your partner, you are earning at least the amount you would get for 16 hours per week on national minimum wage if receiving Universal Credit. You are still counted as employed when on statutory maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave or when receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP);
- you have recently been in work. There is a “grace period” meaning that if your circumstances change because your job has ended there is a 39 week period before your benefits are reduced. This applies to people who are over the benefits cap but had been in work for at least 16 hours a week for 50 out of the 52 weeks immediately before their last day of employment;
- you, your partner or a child receives a disability benefit - see exemptions for disability;
- you or your partner receive Carer's Allowance (or are entitled but do not receive a payment because of other benefits you receive);
- you, or your partner receive Guardian's Allowance;
- you live in supported exempt accommodation;
- you do not receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
Exemptions for disability
If you receive any of the following disability benefits you will be exempt from the cap:
- Disability Living Allowance;
- Personal Independence Payment;
- Constant Attendance Allowance;
- Attendance Allowance;
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit;
- Employment and Support Allowance with a support component;
- Armed Forces Independence Payment;
- Limited Capability for Work Related Activity element of Universal Credit;
- War widows and widowers will also be exempt.
How is the Benefit Cap applied?
If you receive more than the benefit cap allows then we will reduce your housing benefit. Alternatively, the DWP will reduce your Universal Credit until you are brought back within the cap.
Your local council may be able to provide some assistance through a Discretionary Housing Payment if you struggle to meet your housing costs as a result of the benefit cap.