What is the benefit cap?

The benefit cap sets a limit on the total amount in benefits that most working-age people can claim.

How much is the cap?

The benefit cap was reduced from 7 November 2016.

The total amount a couple or a single parent can receive in benefits is:

  • £442.31 a week or £1916.67 in London
  • £384.62 a week or £1666.67 outside London

The total amount a single person can receive in benefits is:

  • £296.35 a week or £1284.17 per month in London
  • £257.69 a week or £1116.67 per month outside London

Before 7th November 2016, the total amount you could claim in benefits was:

  • £500 per week for single parents and couples 
  • £350 per week for single people

How the benefit cap is applied

Your housing benefit or universal credit is reduced so that you don't get more than the benefit cap limit. 

The cap applies to the benefits you get as a household. It includes benefits received by you, your partner and dependent children who live with you.

The benefit cap is worked out weekly if you get housing benefit and monthly if you claim universal credit.

If you were already claiming, your housing benefit or universal credit will be recalculated shortly after 7 November 2016 when the new benefit cap comes into effect.

Are you affected by the benefit cap?

The cap doesn't apply to you if you are of pension age or you receive war widows' or war widowers' pension.

If you have been employed continuously for 12 months and you lose your job through no fault of your own, the benefit cap won't apply to you for the first 39 weeks of your claim.

You won't be affected by the cap if you claim universal credit, and you or your partner is working, and your monthly joint take home pay is £430. 

Families who receive working tax credits or who work enough hours to claim working tax credits are exempt. Use the Gov.uk tax credit calculator to find out if you're eligible.

You are also exempt if you or your family receive:

  • disability living allowance or the personal independence payment
  • attendance allowance
  • support component of employment and support allowance
  • industrial injuries benefits

From 7 November 2016, you are exempt from the benefit cap if you or your family receive:

  • carer's allowance 
  • carer’s element of universal credit 
  • guardian's allowance

Find out more from Gov.uk about benefits you may be eligible for.

Benefits included in the cap

These benefits count towards the benefit cap:

  • housing benefit (unless you live in supported housing)
  • income support
  • jobseeker's allowance
  • employment and support allowance (unless you are in the support group)
  • incapacity benefit
  • child benefit and child tax credits
  • maternity benefits and widows benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions
  • severe disablement allowance
  • universal credit

These benefits counted towards the benefit cap until 7 November 2016:

  • carer's allowance
  • guardian's allowance  

Benefits not included in the cap

These benefits and payments don't count towards the cap:

Housing benefit for supported accommodation also doesn't count. This usually includes domestic violence refuges and accommodation where tenants also get care or support

Find out more from Gov.uk about council tax and benefits.

Action to take if you are affected

The benefit cap calculation is done automatically. 

If you are unable to cover your housing costs in the short term, ask your local council about a discretionary housing payment.

Find out about action you can take to reduce your costs.

Contact your council's housing options or homelessness service for help and advice if you are threatened with homelessness.

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice services in your area.


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