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Benefit cap


Benefit cap places a limit on the total amount of benefits that any working age claimant can receive.

How it affects you

The Government aims to make it so workless households should not receive more in benefits than the average earnings of working households. The maximum amount of benefit(s) per week is:

  • £257.69 for single people without children, or whose children don't live with them
  • £384.62 for single parents whose children live with them
  • £384.62 for couples with or without children

If you're of working age and receive certain benefits, you may see your total payments reduce. The reduction will be from your housing benefit payments. If you're a pensioner, you are not affected.

Which benefits are taken into account?

If you are not yet receiving Universal Credit

If you are not yet receiving Universal Credit, and you are currently receiving any of the following benefits, they will be taken into account:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Housing Benefit (HB)
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (contribution-based and income-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (contribution-based and income-related), except where you are in the 'Support' group.
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance (or any Widowed Mother's Allowance or Widow's Pension you started to get before 9 April 2001).

You can use the benefit cap calculator to estimate how much you might lose.

If you are already receiving Universal Credit

If you are already receiving Universal Credit, the benefits taken into account are:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance (contribution-based), except where you are in the 'Support' group
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (contribution-based)
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Universal Credit (before any sanctions are applied)
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance (or any Widowed Mother's Allowance or Widow's Pension you started to get before 9 April 2001).

Are there any exemptions?

Yes, there are some important exemptions. You will not be affected by the benefit cap if:

  • You are pension age.
  • You or your partner work, and either of the following apply:
    • you or your partner are eligible for Working Tax Credit
    • you or your partner get Universal Credit, and your household income is more than £430 a month after tax and National Insurance.
  • You are classed as a war widow or widower and receive a pension paid from the War Pension Scheme, Armed Forces Scheme or similar.
  • You live in supported accommodation.
  • You receive Carer's Allowance or the carer's element of Universal Credit.
  • You receive Guardian's Allowance.
  • You, your partner or children for whom you are responsible and who live with you, are entitled to or are in receipt of any of the following payments:
    • Attendance Allowance
    • Disability Living Allowance (or its replacement Personal Independence Payment)
    • Industrial injuries benefits (and equivalent payments)
    • the support component of Employment and Support Allowance
    • the limited capability for work and work related activity element of Universal Credit

If you live in supported exempt accommodation, your housing benefit payment will not be taken into account when working out your total amount of benefits, but you may still be subject to the benefit cap.

If you have recently worked

If you have recently worked, the benefit cap will not be applied for 39 weeks if you have been in paid work continuously for at least 50 of the 52 weeks before you made your claim for benefits.

Where Universal Credit is introduced, this will apply, if you (or your partner) were working for a year and your combined gross earnings for each month were £430.00 or more.

What do I need to do?

You do not need to do anything, as the cap is managed through reducing housing benefit payments.

If the total of your benefit increases above £257.69 / £385 per week, you'll get a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) warning you that you may have a reduction in your housing benefit payment. As a follow up to this, our Housing Solutions team should contact you to offer help and advice.

If your total benefit remains over £257.69 / £385 per week once housing benefit has been removed, the cap will not be applied to your other benefits. If you are to be affected by the cap, only your housing benefit will be reduced.

Where can I get help?

If you are worried about managing your finances, the important thing is to get in touch with someone and look at the options:

  • contact our Welfare Rights team
  • contact our Housing Solutions team
  • contact your landlord if you are concerned about your rent.
Contact us
Welfare Rights
03000 268 968
Our address is:
  • Revenues and Benefits
  • PO Box 254
  • Stanley
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH8 1GG

Housing Solutions
03000 268 000
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