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What is the benefit cap?
The benefit cap is a limit on the amount of benefit that working age people can claim. The aim of the benefit cap is to stop people getting more in benefit payments than the average wage (after Tax and National Insurance).
How much is the benefit cap?
Single people: £257.69 per week
Couples and lone parents: £384.62 per week
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 allowed to claim more than the benefit cap 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 (from November 2016)
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- 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 called 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.
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. 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 Governent's website 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 can you do if you are subject to the benefit cap?
If you're getting benefits and are affected by the benefit cap, the DWP should already have contacted you to explain what it means.
- Contact your Personal Adviser 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.
- Contact a money adviser for help with budgeting or to reduce debts.
- Consider moving somewhere with lower rent. Talk to your landlord or contact our housing advice service.
- Apply for Discretionary Housing Payment. This is a very limited fund and not everyone who applies will receive a grant.
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.
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