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Benefit cap

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Disability Rights UK Factsheet F8

Introduction

There is a cap on the total amount you can receive from the main out-of-work benefits and children’s benefits. Some benefits are not included in the cap calculation. In some circumstances, you are exempt from the cap. This factsheet explains the benefit cap as it applies if you are being paid housing benefit. If you are being paid universal credit, the rules are slightly different. For more information on this, see Factsheet F55 - universal credit.

How much is the cap?

The benefit cap is:

Within Greater London

  • £296.35 a week if you are a single person (with no children)
  • £442.31 a week in all other cases

Outside Greater London

  • £257.69 a week if you are a single person (with no children)
  • £384.62 a week in all other cases

Which benefits are capped?

You will have a cap on your combined income from the following benefits:

  • bereavement allowance
  • child benefit
  • child tax credit
  • employment and support allowance (ESA), unless the ‘support component’ has been awarded
  • housing benefit (unless you are in ‘specified’ accommodation – see below)
  • incapacity benefit
  • income support
  • jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
  • maternity allowance
  • severe disablement allowance
  • widowed mother's allowance
  • widowed parent’s allowance
  • widow’s pension

Benefits not included in the cap

The following benefits are not included in the cap:

  • bereavement payment
  • bereavement support payment
  • budgeting loans
  • carer’s allowance
  • cold weather payments
  • council tax reduction
  • Discretionary Assistance Fund payments (Wales)
  • discretionary housing payments
  • Discretionary Support Payments (Northern Ireland)
  • ESA, if you get the support component
  • free school meals
  • funeral payments
  • guardian’s allowance
  • local welfare assistance payments (England)
  • pension credit
  • Scottish Welfare Fund payments
  • state pension
  • statutory adoption pay
  • statutory maternity pay
  • statutory paternity pay
  • statutory shared parental pay
  • statutory sick pay
  • Sure Start maternity grants
  • working tax credit

Exemptions from the cap

You are exempt from the cap if you or anyone in your household (a partner or dependent child or qualifying young person) get any of the following:

  • Armed Forces Compensation scheme guaranteed income payment;
  • armed forces independence payment;
  • attendance allowance;
  • carer’s allowance;
  • disability living allowance;
  • guardian’s allowance;
  • housing benefit - if you are living in supported accommodation (referred to as ‘specified’ accommodation in current housing benefit legislation);
  • industrial injuries benefits;
  • personal independence payment;
  • war disablement pension; or
  • war widow's or widower’s pension

You are also exempt from the cap if you or your partner get:

  • the ESA support component; or
  • working tax credit (this will still apply if you work enough hours to qualify for working tax credit but are not paid it because your income is too high).

The cap will also not apply if you have reached pension credit qualifying age (this is being raised from 60 to 66 between April 2010 and October 2020), unless you or your partner are continuing to claim income support, income-related ESA or income-based JSA.

The ‘grace period’

There is a 'grace period' of 39 weeks, when you will not be capped, if you (or your partner) have been doing paid work for a period of 50 weeks out of the 52 weeks immediately before your last day of work. You must not have been entitled to ESA, JSA or income support during this time.

How is the cap is applied?

If your total income from the relevant benefits is greater than your cap, the local authority will reduce your housing benefit until this income equals the cap. You may not have the full cap applied if your housing benefit is too low.

Benefit cap calculator

There is an online benefit cap calculator at www.gov.uk/benefit-cap-calculator where you can test how the benefit cap might affect you.

Discretionary Housing Payments

You may be able to get discretionary housing payments (DHPs) if your housing benefit has been reduced because of the benefit cap.

Most local authorities have a form on which to request a DHP. If your authority does not, write a letter instead.

You do not have a right to a DHP. It is up to the local authority whether they give you any payment.

Where can I get more help or information?

This factsheet is a basic overview of the benefit cap. You can find out more detailed information in our Disability Rights Handbook. This and all our other publications are available from our shop at https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/shop. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK.

You can get help and information at your local advice centre, such as a Citizens Advice Bureau. You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org.

Martin Inch and Ian Greaves
9 June 2017

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