All about the benefit cap
How does the benefit cap work?
There is a maximum amount of benefits that working age people who are not employed for 16 hours or more a week can receive. This is called a benefit cap.
Note: The benefit cap doesn’t apply to all families – it will depend on your circumstances.
If the benefit cap applies to you, the maximum amount that you can receive in benefits is dependent on your location:
• For single parent families in a Greater London borough: £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year).
• For single parent families outside London: £384.62 a week (£20,000 a year)
The benefit cap is applied through housing benefit, or universal credit if you live in a universal credit area.
If you’re receiving over £442.31 a week in London, or £384.62 a week elsewhere, your housing benefit or universal credit will be reduced until your total benefits come down to the cap that applies in your area.
If you’re not receiving enough housing benefit to reduce the overall benefit total to £442.30 a week in London, or £384.62 a week elsewhere, your housing benefit will be reduced to a minimum payment of 50 pence a week. No other benefits will be reduced.
The rules are different if you are claiming universal credit. If you receive universal credit and the benefit cap applies to you then your universal credit will be reduced until you reach the level of the benefit cap.
If you are claiming universal credit, or if you are already affected by the Cap, please call our helpline on 0808 802 0925 for specific advice – calls are free from both landline and mobile.
Which benefits are included in the cap?
If you’re affected by the cap
How will I know if I’m affected?
Your local council should let you know if the benefit cap affects you. You should receive a letter telling you when the benefit cap will apply to you.
You can also use our online benefit cap checker (above) if you think you may be affected. There is also an online benefit cap calculator provided by the government.
The government has a helpline for anyone who has concerns about the benefit cap. The Benefit Cap Helpline is available on 0345 605 7064 and is open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. For Welsh speakers the number is 0345 605 7066.
If you are claiming universal credit the benefit cap helpline is 0345 600 072. For Welsh speakers it is 0345 600 3018. You can also contact DWP through the journal in your universal credit online account.
What can I do if I’m affected?
If you, or any of your children has a health condition or disability and aren’t receiving disability living allowance, check whether you’re entitled to it. If you or your child were receiving disability living allowance or the personal independence payment the benefit cap won’t apply to you. Call our helpline 0808 802 0925 for more advice.
If you get housing benefit and work 16 hours a week or more, the benefit cap wouldn’t apply to you. If you work fewer than 16 hours a week are you able to increase your hours to 16 or more? If you are on universal credit and earn less than £520 per month, are you able to increase your hours so that you earn £520 a month or more?
If you’re in private rented housing, would it be possible to find cheaper accommodation? Could you negotiate your level of rent with the landlord?
If you’re in council housing or with a housing association, speak to your housing provider to see if they can offer you help, such as rehousing, or help with your finances.
Apply to your local council for a discretionary housing payment. This is a payment to make up the shortfall in your rent if you are receiving housing benefit or universal credit. The council will decide if you are eligible – they don’t have make a payment, and if they do it’s likely to be for a limited time.
Call our helpline for more advice if you’re affected by the benefit cap or you think it could apply to you.
Other useful organisations
Shelter for housing advice, including housing benefit, bedroom tax, benefit cap, homelessness and housing transfer advice.
Disability Rights UK if you have a disability, including benefits and benefit cap advice
Carers UK for carers, including claiming carer’s allowance and other benefits
Citizens Advice for benefits and housing advice
Gingerbread single parent helpline
Please call our helpline for advice if you are already affected by the cap. Calls are free.Call the helpline