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The benefit cap

What is the benefit cap?

If you’re over 16 and under State Pension age, there might be a limit on the total amount of benefit your household can get. This is called the benefit cap.

If your income is above this limit, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit might be reduced.

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How does the benefit cap work?

If you’re getting certain benefits, there might be a limit to how much income you can get.

If your income goes above this amount, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced until your income falls below the limit.

You’ll be exempt from the benefit cap if you’re getting Working Tax Credit or some disability benefits.

If you’re not getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you won’t be affected by the benefit cap.

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If you live in Northern Ireland

Find out more about the benefit cap in Northern Ireland on the nidirect website

How much is the benefit cap?

There are different limits, depending on whether you live in London or elsewhere.

Check if you live in London on the London Councils website

You might now be affected if you get more than the following amounts in benefit:
Maximum benefit amount
Who does this affect?

£1,916.67 a month (£442.31 a week) in London; £1,666.67 a month (£384.62 a week) outside London (rates are 2021/22)

  • If your household is made up of a couple (with or without children), or
  • If you’re a lone parent (and you have children living with you who you’re responsible for when working out your Housing Benefit)

£1,284.17 a month (£296.35 a week) in London; £1,116.67 a month (£257.69 a week) outside London (rates are 2021/22)

If you’re a single person and:

  •  you have no children, or
  • you don’t have children living with you who you’re responsible for when working out your Housing Benefit

Benefit cap exemptions

You won’t be affected by the benefit cap if you or your partner:

  •  are claiming Working Tax Credit, even if you have a nil award. Find out more on the GOV.UK website
  •  are over Pension Credit age. Check your State Pension age on the GOV.UK website
  •  get Universal Credit because of a disability or health condition that stops you from working. Or because you care for someone with a disability
  •  get Universal Credit and your household’s monthly income is more than £604 after tax and National Insurance contributions.

You won’t be affected by the benefit cap if you, your partner or any children under 18 who are living with you get any of these benefits:

  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • 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 or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • War pensions
  • War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension.

If you’re not claiming any of these benefits and think you might be entitled to, it might be worth making a claim.

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Which benefits are included in the benefit cap?

The following benefits are included when working out whether your total benefit income is more than the cap:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if you get the work-related activity group component)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance
  • Widowed Mother’s Allowance
  • Widow’s Pension.

Which benefits aren’t included in the benefit cap?

  • Bereavement payment (the new bereavement support payment will also be disregarded)
  • Budgeting loans
  • Cold weather payments
  • Council Tax reduction
  • Discretionary housing payments
  • Free school meals
  • Funeral payments
  • Pension credit
  • Local Welfare Assistance payments (England)
  • Scottish Welfare Fund payments
  • Discretionary Assistance Fund payments (Wales)
  • State Retirement Pension
  • Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay
  • Statutory Shared Parental Pay
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Sure Start maternity grants.
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What to do if you’re affected by the benefit cap?

Contact your landlord

If you’re worried about finding the money to pay your rent, you need to talk to your landlord. Explain your situation and talk about what your options are.

If you rent a social housing property, your council or housing association might be able to offer you a cheaper property (if any are available).

Apply to your local authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment

 

You might be able to apply to your council to help in the short-term with a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Find your local council in England and Wales on the GOV.UK website

Find your local council in Scotland on the MYGOV.SCOT website

Find your local council in Northern Ireland on the NIDIRECT.GOV.UK website

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Make a budget

If you don’t already have a household budget (a list of all your income and outgoings), now’s a good time to make one.

And if you have one, you’ll need to see whether you can still make ends meet after your Housing Benefit is reduced.

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Look at ways to cut costs

You might also find it useful to read some of our pages on saving money on household bills:

How to save money on household bills

Help with your Council Tax bill.

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Take on more work

You could also consider taking another job or working more hours in your current job.

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Find out more

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