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The Benefit Cap - How it will affect you

What is the benefit cap?

From 15 July 2013 the Government set a limit on the amount of benefit that  working age people can get. This is called the benefit cap. The aim of the benefit cap is to stop people getting more in benefit payments than the average wage (after tax and National Insurance).

The benefit cap will only apply to working age people. This means people aged from 16 up to 'pension age'. 'Pension age' is increasing from 60 (before April 2010) to 66 (from April 2020) and is currently around age 63 3/4. You can use the online calculator and calculate your state pension to check when you reach 'pension age'.

How much is the benefit cap?

.From 7 November 2016 the limit on your benefits has been reduced from 350 to 257.69 per week if you're a single person and from 500 to 384.62 per week for couples or lone parents.

Which benefits count towards the benefit cap?

These benefits all count towards the benefits cap:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (except where it includes the support component)
  • Housing Benefit (not including HB paid for Supported Exempt Accommodation)
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance
  • Widowed Mother's Allowance
  • Widow's Pension

Are there any exceptions?

You are exempt if you, your partner or any children you are responsible for and who live with you receive any of the following benefits:

  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer's/Guardian's Allowance or Universal Credit with the Carer Element (only from 7/11/16)
  • Disability Living Allowance (This was replaced by Personal Independence Payment from April 2013)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if it includes the support component)
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • Personal Independence Payment (from April 2013)
  • Universal Credit and your joint take home pay from earnings is at least 430 per month
  • War Widows or War Widowers pension
  • Working Tax Credit

     

    The benefit cap does not apply for 39 weeks from the date you claim benefit if you or your partner have been working continuously for the previous 12 months and you lost your job through no fault of your own. This is known as the 'Grace Period'.

How does the benefit cap work?

If your total income from benefits is more than the cap, your housing benefit will be reduced so that you do not get more than the benefit cap. This means you may have to use money from your other benefits to pay some or all of your rent.

Example:
A couple with children receive income from benefits of 450 per week, including housing benefit of 100 per week. The benefit cap for a couple is 384.62 per week; therefore their housing benefit is reduced by 65.38 per week. They will have 65.38 more rent to pay from their remaining income.

Benefit Cap Calculator

You can use the benefit cap calculator to get an estimate of how much your housing benefit could go down if your benefit is more than the cap limit. To answer the questions you will need to know the weekly amount of all your benefits.

What options are open to me?

If you're getting benefits and are affected by the benefit cap, the DWP should already have contacted you to explain what it means.

For households that receive a letter, the DWP have provided a helpline for more information about how the change may affect you. The helpline staff will provide general information about the changes and the support you can get but they will not have access to all of your benefit information. You can contact the benefit cap helpline on 0345 6057064 or, for people with hearing or speech impairments, textphone 0345 6088551. The helpline is open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Contact a Personal Advisor at Jobcentre Plus to discuss what kind of support you can get to help you find work (they may have already been in touch with you about this).

Find out more about Working Tax Credit at the Government's website including how many hours you need to work to qualify for it. If you or your partner get Working Tax Credit, the benefit cap doesn't apply.

Work out how much extra you will need to pay towards your rent and consider getting help with managing your money.

Could you move to a home with a lower rent? Talk to your landlord about this.

Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if the change will cause you hardship and your circumstances mean it's difficult for you to move. This is a very limited fund administered by the council and is usually only for temporary difficulties.

Where can I get more information?

Visit the Government's benefit cap website. You can use the calculator there to help you work out if you will be affected by the cap.

How to contact us

You can contact us by email, telephone or in person by one of the following methods:

By email: benefits@aberdeencity.gov.uk
By telephone:03000 200 292 (lines are open Monday- Friday 8 am to 6pm)

In Person:

  • Customer Service Centre, Marischal College, Broad Street, Aberdeen AB10 1AB
  • Mastrick Customer Access Point, Spey Road, Aberdeen AB16 6SH
  • Tillydrone Housing Office, Formartine Road, Aberdeen AB24 2RW

Any housing related queries should be addressed to your local Housing Team.

Back to the Housing Benefit home page.