Cap on benefits

If you receive benefits, there is a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged between 16 and 64 can get. This is called the benefit cap.

Benefit cap FAQs

If the total of your benefits comes to more than the maximum amount allowed, your housing benefit payments will be reduced.

The total amount of benefit that can be received by any individual or family is limited to a maximum amount of:

  • £384.62 per week if you're a single parent and your children live with you (£1,666.67 per month, or £20,000 per year)
  • £384.62 per week if you're in a couple (£1,666.67 per month, or £20,000 per year)
  • £257.69 per week if you're a single adult (£1,116.67 per month, or £13,400 per year)

You will probably be affected by the benefit cap if you are out of work and claiming benefits such as income support, jobseeker's allowance, or employment and support allowance. Housing benefit counts towards the maximum amount of benefit that can be paid.

The cap won't apply to you if you work enough hours to be eligible for working tax credit. A few other groups of people also won't be affected.

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:

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

The benefit cap only applies to people of working age, which means you won't be affected if either you or your partner are over the state pension credit age.

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

There will be a 39-week 'grace period' for anyone who has been in work continuously for 12 months and loses their job through no fault of their own. During that period, the cap won't apply.

You're not affected by the benefit cap if anyone in your household qualifies for working tax credit or gets any of the benefits listed as not included in the cap.

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

Paying your rent should always be your top priority. If your income is reduced because of the benefit cap and you don't have enough money to pay all your rent, you might fall into rent arrears and possibly face eviction.

It's important to work out how much money you'll have left to live on after you've paid your rent. You'll be expected to make up any shortfall in your housing benefit from your other income. Budgeting will become even more important if your benefits are reduced.

You might decide that it would be better for you to move to a cheaper or smaller home – have a look at our page on mutual exchanges for more information.

Got another question?

Use this form to ask us anything we haven't covered in these FAQs - we'll get back to you with an answer, and we'll add it to this list if we think other tenants will find it useful as well.

By submitting this form you are confirming that you have read and understood the following data protection statement: The information you provide will be held by Red Kite Community Housing in accordance with our data protection policy, privacy notices and retention schedules; the Data Protection Act 1998; and the General Data Protection Regulation 2018. It will be used solely for the purposes described on this form. The information you provide will not be passed on to any third parties without your permission and Red Kite Community Housing does not sell any data to third-party organisations.

How your housing benefit is affected if you are abroad for more than four weeks

If you are going abroad for more than four weeks, you may not be able to claim housing benefit.

If you are going away for more than four weeks, please make sure that you tell the council beforehand, so that you avoid claiming benefits you are not entitled to and committing benefit fraud.

There are certain circumstances where the four weeks can be extended, but this decision will be made on a case-by-case basis.

More information on how benefits are affected if you or someone you live with goes away temporarily can be found on the Citizens Advice website.

The important thing to do is to talk about your situation before you go away, so that you are clear on the impact it will have on your benefits.

You can tell the council about a four-week (or longer) absence from your home via their website. Please note that it is your responsibility to notify the council of any absence.

It is also your responsibility to pay your own rent, even if you have help from housing benefit to cover the cost. If your benefits stop when you travel abroad, your rent payments continue.

What about housing benefit for those over working age?

Pension credit will remain for those over the qualifying age. In the future, housing benefit is likely to be rolled into pension credit, although the exact details of how this will work have not been announced. Tenants over working age retain the right to choose to have their housing benefit paid direct to their landlord. The benefit cap will also not apply to those claiming pension credits.