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The Benefit Cap

There’s a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can receive. This is called the Benefit Cap.

We're offering advice and support for people affected by the Benefit Cap. You can discuss your options and we can help you take steps to deal with the reduction in your benefit if it is capped.

To make an appointment to discuss your circumstances and the options available to you, contact the Welfare Reform Team on 020 8724 2115 and at welfarereform@lbbd.gov.uk

The level of the Benefit Cap is currently:

  • £500 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)
  • £500 a week for single parents whose children live with them
  • £350 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them

This may mean the amount you get for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will go down to make sure that the total amount you get isn’t more than the cap level.

London reduced levels

  • £442.31 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)
  • £442.31 a week for single parents whose children live with them
  • £296.35 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them

Lower limits will apply outside London. If you're affected by the reduction in the Benefit Cap your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be reduced.

Where there is an existing cap then the potential cap will be the extra amount on top of the cap already in place.

For example, where the gross income is £550.00 a week, the existing cap level is £500.00 so the existing cap amount is £50.00.

The new Benefit Cap level to be applied is £384.62; gross income is still £550, the new cap amount is £165.38, but is already capped by £50 so the amount of potential cap is £115.38. You can use the Benefit Cap calculator to work out your possible cap.

Existing national cap couple householdNational cap couple household when changes applied
Gross income£550 (weekly)Gross income£550 (weekly)
Existing cap level£500New cap level£384.62
Existing cap amount£50New cap amount£165.38
Existing cap amount£50
Potential cap amount£115.38

Benefit Cap calculator

You’re not affected by the Benefit Cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of these benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Carer’s Allowance or carer’s element within Universal Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • 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.
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • War Pensions
  • War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension

You're also exempt from the Benefit Cap if you would be entitled to one of the above benefits, but can’t get it because you're living in a care home or you're a hospital in-patient.

You might still be affected by the cap if you have any grown-up children or non-dependants who live with you and they qualify for one of the benefits above. This is because they won’t normally count as part of your household.

If you’re seeing a Jobcentre Plus adviser, Work Programme or Work Choice provider, they’ll continue to help you look for work and get skills you may need for a job.

The best way of avoiding the Benefit Cap is to get into work, or increase your hours of work, so that you qualify for Working Tax Credit.

CircumstanceNumber of hours of work needed to qualify for Working Tax Credit
Aged 25 to 59At least 30 hours
Aged 60 or overAt least 16 hours
Disabled    At least 16 hours
Single with 1 or more childrenAt least 16 hours
Couple with 1 or more childrenUsually, at least 24 hours between you (with 1 of you working at least 16 hours)

You must be 16 or over to qualify for Working Tax Credit, or 25 or over if you don’t have children or you don’t have a disability. You may also need to consider one of these options:

  • apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment
  • check if you are entitled to any of the benefits which exempt you from the Benefit Cap
  • make up the shortfall in your rent using other income or savings, or reducing your expenditure
  • moving into cheaper accommodation or negotiating a rent reduction with your landlord
  • if you or your partner get work (employed or self-employed), or increase your hours of work so that you qualify for Working Tax Credit, even if your entitlement to Working Tax Credit is nil, you will be exempt from the Benefit Cap

You should also consider whether your circumstances are likely to change shortly. For example, if your child will soon be treated as a non-dependant your benefits may go down, which may bring you under the Benefit Cap limit. Also, if you’re expecting a baby your benefits may go up, which could push you over the Benefit Cap limit.

If you became unemployed recently the Benefit Cap won’t be applied for the first 39 weeks if you were in paid employment or self-employment (this doesn’t have to be full-time) for 50 of the 52 weeks immediately before your last day of work.

The Benefit Cap won't be applied if during that time you were not entitled to Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, for 1 day or more in 3 or more different weeks.

We’ve set up a Welfare Reform Team to support and advise households who are currently capped. The Team helps capped families get into work, find more secure and affordable housing and access any other benefits they may be entitled to.

They can also refer you for advice on personal budgeting support, including:

  • putting together a monthly budget
  • advice on maximising your income
  • getting a bank account with a direct debit facility
  • other helpful features for budgeting

If you have concerns or questions about the Benefit Cap, contact the Welfare Reform Team on 020 8724 2115 or email them at welfarereform@lbbd.gov.uk