Benefit cap frequently asked questions

Waterloo have produced a list of frequently asked questions regarding the benefit cap - you can read these here or download them at the bottom of the page

What is the benefit cap?

The benefit cap was first introduced in April 2013.  It sets a limit on the total amount in benefits that most working age people can claim.  How much you get for certain benefits may go down to make sure the total you get isn’t more than the cap amount. 

Who is affected by the cap?

The cap affects most working age people.  You’re 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

What benefits are included in the cap?

The cap applies to the total amount people in your household (you, your partner and any children living with you) get from the following benefits:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (unless you get the ‘support’ component)
  • 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)

If the amount of benefit you currently receive is more than the cap then your Housing Benefit (or Universal Credit) will be reduced to ensure your household doesn’t get more than the benefit cap amount.  If this happens, you will have to pay any shortfall in your rent. 

What benefits are not included in the cap?

You’re not affected by the 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
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if you get the support component)
  • Guardian's Allowance
  • 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

How much is the cap?

Before Autumn 2016 the cap was:

  • £500 per week (£26,000 per year) if you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not
  • £500 per week (£26,000 per year) if you’re single and your children live with you
  • £350 per week (£18,200 per year) if you’re single and you don’t have children, or your children don’t live with you

Since Autumn 2016 the cap has been reduced and the amount you receive will depend on where you live in the UK. 

The cap has been lowered to £23,000 per year in London and £20,000 per year in the rest of Great Britain. 

The breakdown of the cap for those living outside of London is as below:


Per year

Per month

Per week

Couple (with or without children)


Lone parent (and the children they look after live with them)




Single claimant with:

  • no children
  • the children they look after don’t live with them





How will I know if I am going to be affected?

The DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) will write to you if you are going to be affected by the cap.

My Housing Benefit or housing element of Universal Credit will be capped and I can’t afford to pay my rent.  What can I do?

  • Speak to a member of our Rents Team.  It’s important you keep up with your rent payments otherwise you could risk losing your home.  We will be able to discuss your options and signpost you to organisations that can help.  You can contact us by ringing 0800 435 016 and selecting 'option 3'.  Alternatively you can email us on
  • It is important to check that you are claiming all of the benefits you are entitled to.  Find out more about the benefits you may be able to claim, or the benefits which exempt you from the benefit cap by visiting
  • You may be able to qualify for a Discretionary Housing Payment.  Local councils have a limited pot of money that they can allocate to people who have issues meeting their rent payments.   You will need to apply for this by contacting your local council.  It’s important to remember that these payments are normally only for a limited period.    Our Rents Team will be able to support you with your application for this.
  • Visit
  • Visit or Freephone on 0808 800 4444
  • Visit for free information about budgeting and saving money.

How can I find out more?

  • More information can be found on this website
  • If you already meet with your work coach at your local Jobcentre Plus, they will discuss the benefit cap and the support available during these interviews.  If you don’t have a work coach the DWP will contact you to offer you a voluntary interview.  
  • Find out more information and use an online calculator to see how your benefits may be affected by visiting
  • Call the Government’s helplines for general information about the changes and for further support on:
    Benefit Cap Helpline: Tel: 0345 605 7064;  Textphone: 0345 608 8551
    Universal Credit Service Centre Helpline Tel: 0345 6000 723;  Textphone: 0345 6000 743
PDF Waterloo Benefit Cap FAQ.pdf, 64 k Download

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