Dealing with the benefit cap
The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that many working age people can claim. It can make it difficult for you to pay rent or meet other living costs.
Who is affected by the benefit cap
The benefit cap applies if you:
are working age
don't qualify for an exemption
have a total income from benefits which would be above the cap
You're exempt if you - and your partner if you live with them - are pension age.
If one of you is pension age and the other is working age you will only be exempt if you get housing benefit.
Most people affected by the benefit cap are families with children. Some single people and couples without children are also affected, usually in areas with high private rents.
Benefit cap amounts
The cap cuts your universal credit or housing benefit until your overall benefit entitlement is within the cap.
The cap is set at different levels depending on if you live in a London borough or not.
If you're affected by the cap, the maximum amount of benefit you can get is:
|Monthly amount||Weekly amount|
|Families with children and couples - in London||£1916.67||£442.31|
|Families with children and couples - outside London||£1666.67||£384.62|
|Single people - in London||£1284.17||£296.35|
|Single people - outside London||£1116.67||£257.69|
When the benefit cap won't apply
The benefit cap won't apply in the following situations.
You earn more than £617 a month
The cap won't apply if you get universal credit and earn at least £617.76 a month.
Your earnings can be from an employer or through self employment.
If you claim as a couple, it's your combined earnings that count.
You're in a grace period
If you stop work or your monthly earnings fall below £617.76, you may qualify for a 9 month 'grace period' before your universal credit is reduced
Your monthly earnings must have been at least the following over the last year:
£617.76 since 1 April 2021
£604.59 before 1 April 2021
Combined earnings count if you claim as a couple.
You qualify for working tax credit
The cap won't 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 may still be entitled to working tax credit if you can't work your normal hours at the moment due to coronavirus. But you must tell HMRC if you're laid off or made redundant.
From 25 November 2021 this temporary rule will change and you must inform HMRC if you are not working your qualifying hours for working tax credit. It's likely that your tax credits award will end and that you'll have to claim universal credit if you can't meet the conditions for working tax credit.
You claim certain disability or carer benefits
The cap won't apply if you, your partner or any children who live with you get any of the following benefits:
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
Help if you can't pay the rent
You can apply for a discretionary housing payment (DHP) if you get the universal credit housing element or housing benefit.
This is an extra payment from your council that could help if you're struggling to pay rent because of the benefit cap.
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
Still need advice?
For advice on rent arrears, eviction or homelessness:
For benefits advice if you're a single parent:
Last updated: 4 October 2021