Dealing with the benefit cap

The benefit cap is a limit on the amount most working age people can get from benefits.

Around 120,000 households were affected by the benefit cap in November 2021.

This has risen from around 79,000 households just before the start of the pandemic.

More than 4 out of 5 affected households are families with children.

You could be affected by the benefit cap if you:

  • are working age

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

  • would have a total income from benefits which would be more than the cap

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

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

How much is the benefit cap?

The cap is different depending on if you live in or outside London.

Living in a London borough

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

MonthlyWeekly
Families with children£1,917£442
Couples without children£1,917£442
Single people£1,284£296

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

Living outside London

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

MonthlyWeekly
Families with children£1,667£385
Couples without children£1,667£385
Single people£1,284£296

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

How does the benefit cap work?

The DWP cuts your universal credit so that your overall benefit entitlement is within 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 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 will not apply.

You earn more than £658 a month

The cap does not apply if you earn at least £658.67 a month while on universal credit.

Your earnings can be from an employer or through self employment.

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

The benefit cap might not start for 9 months

If you stop work, or your monthly earnings fall below £658, your benefit might not be cut straight away. The DWP call this a 'grace period'.

For a grace period on universal credit, your monthly earnings must have been at least these amounts over the last year:  

  • £658.67 since 1 April 2022

  • £617.76 before 1 April 2022

Combined earnings count if you claim as a couple.

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

After 9 months your benefit will usually go down unless you're exempt from the benefit 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 25-59 and don't 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

  • universal credit - 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 - and your partner if you live with them - have reached pension age. 

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

Apply for discretionary housing payments

You can apply for discretionary housing payments (DHPs) if you get the universal credit housing element or housing benefit.

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

Contact your council's discretionary housing payments team

What is your location?

Find emergency grants or money help

Find emergency grants, loans and money help if you need help quickly for urgent 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

  • your home is unaffordable because of the benefit cap

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 has been wrongly applied in your case.

You can also write to your MP to complain about the benefit cap if you think it is unfair, or is causing you or others problems.

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.


Last updated: 3 April 2022

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help