What is the benefit cap?

From 7 November 2016, the benefit cap was reduced, cutting the total amount of benefits you can get.

How the benefit cap is calculated

The benefit cap limits the amount you can be paid if you claim certain benefits. It applies to people of working age. People of pension age are exempt. 

When all your benefits are calculated, your housing benefit or universal credit is reduced so your total benefits don't go above the benefit cap limit. 

The amount of the cap depends on where you live and your family situation.  

The benefit cap is worked out:

  • weekly if you get housing benefit
  • monthly if you get universal credit

Use the Gov.uk Benefit Cap calculator to see if you are affected.

The cap was reduced from 7 November 2016. 

Between November 2016 and January 2017, your housing benefit or universal credit will be checked and recalculated. Your council will write to let you know if you are affected.

Benefit cap outside London

These limits apply if you live outside a Greater London Borough.

Couple (with or without children) or a single parent:

  • £384.62 per week  

Single person without children or not living with your children:

  • £257.69 per week

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

Benefit cap in London 

These limits apply if you live in a Greater London Borough.

Couple (with or without children) or a single parent:

  • £442.31 per week  

Single person without children or not living with your children:

  • £296.35 per week

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

Benefit cap limits before 7 November 2016

The total amount you could claim in benefits was:

  • £500 per week for single parents and couples (with or without children)
  • £350 per week for single people

Exemptions if you are working

The benefit cap doesn't apply to families with dependant children who:

  • receive working tax credits
  • work enough hours to claim working tax credits

Use the Gov.uk tax credit calculator to find out if you're eligible.

If you claim universal credit, you won't be affected by the cap if you or your partner are in work and your joint take home pay is at least £430 per month.

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

Exemptions if you claim certain benefits

You are exempt from the benefit cap if you, your partner or children receive:

  • disability living allowance (DLA) or the personal independence payment (PIP)
  • attendance allowance (AA)
  • support component of employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • industrial injuries benefits
  • war widows' or war widowers' pension

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

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

To find out if you could be eligible for any of these benefits, see Gov.uk - benefits.

Benefits included in the cap

The benefit cap calculation includes these benefits:

  • 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 benefit 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

Help with claiming benefits

Check if you can apply for any benefits for you or a family member that would mean you would be exempt from the benefit cap.

Use the Turn to us benefit calculator

Use the Gov.uk tax credit calculator to find out if you're eligible for tax credits

You can also ask an an advice centre for help and advice. Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice services in your area.

Help if you can't pay the rent

Apply to your local council for a discretionary housing payment to help pay the rent.

Find out about ways to reduce your living costs.

If rent arrears mean you could be threatened with homelessness, contact housing options or the homelessness service at your local council for help and advice.

You can also ask an advice centre for help. Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice services in your area.

 

Last updated:

  • Print this page
  • Email this page