There's a limit on the total amount of benefit that working age people can get. This is called 'the benefit cap'.
Residents affected by the benefit cap will have their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit reduced so that their weekly income is no higher than these cap levels.
The level of the cap is:
- £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
From November 2016, the benefit cap will be reduced to:
- £384.62 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)
- £384.62 a week for single parents whose children live with them
- £257.69 a week for single adults who don't have children, or whose children don't live with them
If your Housing Benefit is already capped the increased cap will apply from 7 November 2016
If this is the first time your Housing Benefit is capped the cap will apply from 28 November 2016
Benefits included in the cap
The benefits included when seeing if your benefit income exceeds the benefit cap are:
- Housing Benefit
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Employment and Support Allowance (except when in the support group)
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Widowed Parent's Allowance and Bereavement Allowance
- Widowed Mother's Allowance
- Widow's Pension, including the age related component
Carer's Allowance and Guardian's Allowance are currently included in the benefit cap but regulations will be brought out later this year to exempt recipients of these benefits from the cap from 7 November 2016 when the cap amount is reduced.
Council Tax Support, the replacement for Council Tax Benefit, is not included in the cap. One-off payments like the social fund are also not included.
If you think the cap should not apply because you, your partner or any children you are responsible for when working out your housing benefit, receive one or more of the above benefits you can report this to the benefit cap helpline. The helpline number is 0345 605 7064 or textphone 0345 608 8551 for people with hearing or speech impairments. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.
Stopping the benefit cap applying to you
Finding work could mean that the benefit cap won’t apply to you if you are able to get Working Tax Credit. You can find out more about Working Tax Credit on the Gov.uk website, including how many hours you need to work to get it.
For help in preparing and looking for work contact the helpline number on 0345 605 7064 to make an appointment to see a work coach.
You can also find help online on the Gov.uk website