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Dealing with the benefit cap

The benefit cap affected around 77,000 households in November 2023.

9 out of 10 affected households are families with children.

The benefit cap limits how much most working age people can get from benefits.

You could be affected if you:

  • are working age

  • would get more in benefits than the cap

  • have children or live in an area with high private rents

Find out which benefits are included in the cap on GOV.UK.

Housing benefit is not included if you live in a homeless hostel, refuge and most types of supported or temporary housing.

How much is the benefit cap?

The cap is different inside and outside London.

Table: Living in a London borough

This is the most you can get if you're affected by the cap and live in London.

The figures in this table are rounded to the nearest pound.

Families with children£2,110£487
Couples without children£2,110£487
Single people£1,414£326

Table: Living outside London

This is the most you can get if you're affected by the cap and live outside London.

The figures in this table are rounded to the nearest pound.

Families with children£1,835£423
Couples without children£1,835£423
Single people£1,229£284

How does the benefit cap work?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) cuts your universal credit (UC) so that your total benefits are not more than the cap.

If you get housing benefit, the council cuts this instead.

This makes it harder to pay your rent and meet your living costs.

What you can do about the benefit cap

You should:

  1. Check if the benefit cap applies in your situation

  2. Apply for discretionary housing payments if you cannot afford your rent

  3. Find emergency grants, loans or money help

  4. Ask for council help if you're facing homelessness

  5. Tell your MP about problems with the benefit cap

Check if the benefit cap applies

There are some situations where the cap does not apply.

You earn more than £793 a month

The cap does not apply if you:

  • get UC payments

  • earn at least £793.17 a month after tax and national insurance

Your earnings can be from an employer or self employment.

If you claim as a couple, it's your combined earnings that count.

You stop work or your earnings fall below £793

In this situation, the benefit cap might not start for 9 months.

The DWP call this a 'grace period'.

For UC, your monthly earnings in the last year must have been at least:  

  • £793.17 from 1 April 2024

  • £722.45 before 1 April 2024

Combined earnings count if you claim as a couple.

For a housing benefit grace period, you must have been in work for at least 1 year and not claimed income support, JSA or ESA during that time.

Your benefits go down after 9 months unless you're exempt from the cap for another reason.

You qualify for working tax credit

The cap does not apply if you qualify for working tax credit.

This usually means you must work at least:

  • 16 hours a week if you're a single parent or disabled person

  • 24 hours a week for a couple with children - 1 of you must work at least 16 hours

  • 30 hours a week if you're aged 25 to 59 and do not have dependent children

You claim certain disability or carer benefits

The cap does not apply if you, your partner or any children who live with you get any of the following benefits:

  • attendance allowance

  • disability living allowance (DLA)

  • personal independence payment (PIP)

  • carer's allowance or guardian's allowance

  • employment and support allowance (ESA) - support component

  • UC - carer element or limited capability for work-related activity element

Check you are getting everything that you should be.

Use the entitledto benefits calculator to see what you could get.

You've reached pension age

The benefit cap does not apply if you have reached pension age. 

If you live with a partner, both of you must be pension age.

If one of you is pension age and the other is working age, the benefit cap could apply if you get UC. 

Apply for discretionary housing payments

You can apply for discretionary housing payments (DHPs) from your council.

These extra payments could help if you're struggling with rent.

Contact your council's discretionary housing payments team

What is your location?

Easy read advice

Find easy read advice about discretionary housing payments (DHPs) on the Mencap website.

Find emergency grants or money help

Find emergency grants, loans and money help if you need help quickly for things like:

  • food and bills

  • moving home

  • beds or cookers

Ask for help if you're facing homelessness

You can ask the council for help if, for example:

  • you get a section 21 notice

  • your landlord threatens to evict you

  • you cannot afford to live in your home

Tell your MP

You can contact your MP if you think the DWP or council have made a mistake. For example, if the benefit cap should not apply to you.

You can also write to your MP to complain about the benefit cap if you think it is unfair.

Your MP is there to represent everyone who lives in their constituency - even if you did not vote for them.

Need more advice and support?

If you're a single parent

Check Gingerbread's online benefits advice

Find out about Gingerbread's free services for single parents - including online forums, local groups, helpline and webchat advice.

Struggling with money?

Find out where to get advice on:

Last updated: 31 March 2024

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