The benefit cap is a limit on the total amount of benefits that working-age claimants can receive. The cap was first introduced in 2013 followed by a new, lower cap level which took effect in November 2016.
If you are subject to the Benefit Cap, the Council will offer assistance through an award of Discretionary Housing Payment. Please check our web page for further information on Discretionary Housing Payments. The Advice Shop can provide support and advice to anyone affected by the benefit cap. If you would like an advisor to contact you to talk about the benefit cap contact us or fill in the online referral form in the related pages section.
Under the cap, benefit amounts are now restricted to :
- £423.46 per week for couples or claimants with children
- £283.71 per week for single adults with no children
The cap applies to the combined income from:
- Out-of-work benefits (Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, and Employment and Support Allowance, except where the Support Component is in payment);
- Housing Benefit (HB);
- Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit;
- Universal Credit; and
- Other benefits such as Maternity Allowance and some bereavement benefits
Certain groups of people will be exempt from the benefit cap. The main reasons that make people exempt are;
- Someone in the household is receiving Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance
- The claimant or their partner is receiving Carers Allowance, Guardians Allowance or Universal Credit with a carers element
- Someone in the household is entitled to the Support Group element of Employment Support Allowance
How the benefit cap affects Housing Benefit
Where the combined income is more than the cap, Housing Benefit entitlement is reduced by the amount of excess income. As a result some people could lose all their Housing Benefit, except for a nominal amount of 50p which will continue to be paid should the amount of excess income exceed the amount of Housing Benefit awarded. No deductions are made to other benefits because of the cap.
Eventually, the cap will affect entitlement to Universal Credit. This means that even if you are not currently affected by the cap because you don't get Housing Benefit, the cap could affect you if you start receiving Universal Credit.
Help available if you are affected by the benefit cap
If you have received a letter warning that your benefits may be reduced, or you are worried that you could be affected by the cap, you should seek advice to enable you to:
- maximise your income and check to find out if you are entitled to any exemption benefits
- address any debts and come up with a plan to manage these
- draw up a budget, reduce spending and make sure you can continue to afford your rent and other outgoings
- make up any shortfall between Housing Benefit and rent by using other income;
- look at your housing options and consider moving somewhere cheaper;
- find a job.
If you are affected by the Benefit Cap and would like to speak to an advisor about what this means for you, please call the Advice Shop on 01506 283000 and select option 4 or by filling in the online form