There is now a limit to the total amount of benefit that some people can get.
This is called the Benefit Cap and applies to people of working age only.
Working age means from age 16 up to the minimum qualifying age for Pension Credit. If you are not sure if you have reached the minimum qualifying age for Pension Credit, you can use the DWP's State Pension calculator.
How much is the Benefit Cap?
The level of the cap is currently:
- £384.62 a week for couples and those with children.
- £257.69 a week for single adults.
What does it mean?
The benefits that you, your partner and any children you are responsible are added together. If the weekly total amount is more than the level of the Benefit Cap, your Housing Benefit will be reduced so that the total amount of benefit coming in isn't more than the level of the cap.
Any benefits being received by other adults living in the household (non-dependants) will not be counted.
You can find out which benefits are included for the Benefit Cap.
You can also use the Benefit Cap Calculator to find out if you will be affected and how much your benefits could go down by.
What about 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 previous 52 weeks. You must not have been entitled to Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseekers Allowance ot Income Support during this time.
Who won't be affected?
You will be exempt from the Benefit Cap if you, your partner or any children you are responsible for get any of the following benefits:
- Working Tax Credit
- Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a War Disablement Pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
- Employment and Support Allowance but only if you have been placed in the Support Group and you get the Support Component
- War Widow's or War Widower's Pension
- War Pensions
- Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or Armed Forces Independence Payment
Discretionary Housing Payments
If you are getting Housing Benefit and it is not enough to cover your rent payments, there will be a shortfall. If the reason for the shortfall is due to the household Benefit Cap and you are experiencing financial difficulties as a result, you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).
Because the scheme is discretionary, there is no legal right to an award and there is no guarantee that you will get a payment. Also, the amount of funding each council gets to spend on DHPs is limited and, unfortunately, there is not enough money to assist everyone who applies.