Benefit cap

From November 2016 the Government reduced the benefit cap, cutting the total amount of benefits you may be eligible to receive.

Since April 2013, there has been a limit on the total amount that people of working age can receive in benefits. These limits were set at the same level as the national average earnings for people in work. These were:

  • £500 per week for single parents, whose children live with them
  • £500 per week for couples, with or without children
  • £350 per week for single people without children, or whose children don't live with them

The government has announced changes to these limits. From autumn 2016 the benefit cap will be set at:

  • £384.62 a week if you are a couple or have children
  • £257.69 a week if you are a single person

You are not affected by the cap if you or your partner work, and either of the following apply:

  • you or your partner are eligible for Working Tax Credit
  • you or your partner get Universal Credit, and your household income is more than £430 a month after tax and National Insurance

The cap applies to the total amount that people in your household can get from the following benefits:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance (this won’t be affected by the benefit cap from autumn 2016)
  • Child Benefit Child Tax Credit Employment and Support Allowance (unless you get the ‘support’ component)
  • Guardian’s Allowance (this won’t be affected by the benefit cap from autumn 2016)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance (or Widowed Mother’s Allowance or Widows Pension if you started getting it before 9 April 2001)
  • Universal Credit (unless you’ve had a work capability assessment and aren’t fit for work)

You’re not affected by the benefit cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:

  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if you get the support component)
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a War Disablement Pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Universal Credit payment for ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’
  • War pensions
  • War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension

But you might still be affected if you have any grown-up children or non-dependants living with you who qualify for one of these benefits. This is because they won’t normally count as part of your household.

If you receive more than the benefit cap, then it is your housing benefit or Universal Credit that will be reduced to bring your total payments down to the new limit. If this happens, you will have to use money from your other benefits to pay your rent.

For more information about the benefit cap changes please visit www.gov.uk/benefit-cap or see our benefit cap frequently asked questions

Find out more ...

The Money Advice Service has a clear and simple guide to the benefit cap 

The government's benefit cap calculator can help you find out how this will affect you

The GOV.UK benefit cap website contains more information

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