What is the benefit cap?

The benefit cap limits the amount a working age person can get from welfare benefits.

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 cutting the total amount of benefits you can get.

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 if you or your partner:

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

Use the Gov.uk tax credits calculator to check if you're eligible

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. You must have been employed for 50 out of the last 52 weeks. Time working abroad or on zero-hours contracts counts for this.

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.

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

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

Go to Gov.uk to find out if you could be eligible for any of these 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 Turn2us benefit calculator

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

You can also ask an advice centre for help. 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.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local adviser


Last updated 07 Feb 2017 | © Shelter

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