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:
- Bereavement Support Payment
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (unless you get the support component)
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Universal Credit (unless you've had a work capability assessment and aren't fit for work)
- Widowed Parent's Allowance (or Widowed Mother's Allowance or Widow's Pension if you started getting it before 9th April 2001)
You're not affected by the cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:
- Compensation if you were injured or got an illness while serving in the armed forces
- Armed forces pensions
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (if you get the support component)
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (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(er) Pension
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.
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.