The benefit cap

If you’re aged 16 to 64, there may be a limit on the total amount of benefit your household can get. This is called a benefit cap. If your income is above this limit, your Housing Benefit might be reduced. This page tells you about the benefit cap, including the reduction to the cap from November 7 2016.

How does the benefit cap work?

If you’re getting certain benefits, there may 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 will be exempt from the benefit cap if you are 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.

If you live in Northern Ireland

The benefit cap was introduced in Northern Ireland on 31 May 2016.

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

How much is the benefit cap from 7 November 2016?

The benefit cap limit reduced on November 7 2016. There are different limits, depending on whether you live in London or elsewhere. You may now be affected if you get more than the following amounts in benefit:

Maximum benefit amount Who does this affect?
£442 a week in London;£385 a week outside London
  • If your household is made up of a couple (with or without children), or
  • If you are a lone parent (and you have children living with you who you are responsible for when working out your Housing Benefit)
£296.35 a week in London; £257.69 a week outside London If you are a single person and either:
  • You have no children, or
  • You don’t have children living with you who you are responsible for when working out your Housing Benefit

Check if you live in London on the London Councils website

Maximum weekly benefit amounts before November 7 2016

The tables below show the benefit cap limits before November 7 2016. You may still be getting this amount as the new limits are being phased in gradually. Everyone who is subject to the benefit cap should be getting the new amount by January 2017.

Maximum benefit amount Who does this affect?
£500 a week
  • If your household is made up of a couple (with or without children), or
  • If you are a lone parent (and you have children living with you who you are responsible for when working out your Housing Benefit)
£350 a week If you are a single person and either:
  • You have no children, or
  • You don’t have children living with you who you are responsible for when working out your Housing Benefit

Which benefits will exempt you from the cap

You won’t be affected by the benefit cap if you or anyone in your household qualifies for any of these benefits:

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
  • Employment and Support Allowance if you get the support component
  • War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension

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

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

What to do if you’re affected by the benefit cap

Watch our video - Worried about paying your rent?

Read a transcript of this video

Contact your landlord

If you’re worried about finding the money to pay your rent, the first thing you should do is to talk to your landlord to 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).

Find out more about talking to your landlord on the Shelter website.

Apply to your local authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment

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

Draw up a budget

If you don’t already have a household budget (a list of all your income and outgoings) then now’s the time to draw one up.

And if you do have a budget, you will need to see whether you can still make ends meet after your Housing Benefit is reduced.

Look at ways to cut costs

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

More about finding a job on the GOV.UK website.

Get more information

Find out more about the benefit cap on the GOV.UK websiteopens in new window.

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