Most frequent questions and answers
The benefit cap is a limit on the total amount of benefit you can get. It applies to most people aged 16 or over who have not reached State Pension age.
The amount your household gets from some housing benefit or universal credit might be reduced to make sure you do not get more than the ‘cap limit’.
When you are working you need to be working enough hours or earning enough from work in order to not be benefit capped.
On Legacy benefits (link this to page about universal credit) you will need to be working enough hours to be entitled to working tax credit – even if your income is too high for you to receive money from working tax credit.
On Universal credit you or your partner need to be earning at least the equivalent of the national living wage times 16 hours per week. An example of this is a 26 year old needs to earn at least £569 per month. ((8.21 x 16) x 52)/12 = £569.
The benefit cap includes:
- Bereavement Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance (or Widowed Mother’s Allowance or Widow’s Pension if you started getting it before 9 April 2001)
- Universal Credit.
The maximum benefits you can receive is known as the ‘cap limit’. If all of your benefits added together add to more than the ‘cap limit’ you will be benefit capped.
The benefit cap outside Greater London is:
- £384.62 per week/£1666.68 per month (£20,000 a year) if you’re in a couple
- £384.62 per week/£1666.68 per month (£20,000 a year) if you’re a single parent and your children live with you
- £257.69 per week/£1116.65 per month (£13,400 a year) if you’re a single adult
The benefit cap inside Greater London is:
- £442.31 per week/£1916.67 per month (£23,000 a year) if you’re in a couple
- £442.31 per week/£1916.67 per month (£23,000 a year) if you’re a single parent and your children live with you
- £296.35 per week/£1284.18 per month (£15,410 a year) if you’re a single adult
When you are unable to work because of having health conditions or caring for others with health conditions you may be entitled to get certain benefits which would mean that you would not be benefit capped.
You’re not affected by the cap if you or your partner:
- Get Universal Credit because of a disability or health condition that stops you from working (this is called ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’)
- Get Universal Credit because you care for someone with a disability
- Get Universal Credit and you and your partner earn more than £569 a month combined, after tax and National Insurance contributions
You’re also not affected by the cap if you, your partner or any children under 18 living with you gets:
- 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)
- War pensions
- War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension
You should not be affected by the cap if you’re over state pension age. However, if you’re part of a couple and one of you is under State Pension age, the cap may apply.
How do I remove the benefit cap/exempt myself from the benefit cap:
There are 3 ways to remove or become exempt from the benefit cap
- Start working or increase your hours at your current work place.
- Move to more affordable/less expensive accommodation
- Claim an exempt benefit
There is something called the ‘grace period’. The grace period is when you have worked for 50 of the last 52 weeks immediately before your last job ended; and during that time have not been entitled to Income Support; Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, your Housing Benefit may not be affected for up to 39 weeks.
In other situations it sometimes just takes the DWP to action the benefit cap and it may start or be applied to your next benefit payment or one in the future.