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.

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 nidrect website

How much is the benefit cap?

You may be affected if you get more than the following amounts in benefit:

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

From November 7 2016, the benefit cap will be reduced to a maximum of £23,000 a year if you live in London and £20,000 if you live elsewhere in the UK.

Maximum weekly benefit amounts from November 7 2016

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

Which benefits are exempt from the benefit 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
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • 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 if you get the support component
  • War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension

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
  • Carer’s Allowance*
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if you get the Work Related Activity Group component)
  • Guardian’s Allowance*
  • 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

*Carer’s Allowance and Guardian’s Allowance will no longer be included in the benefit cap from 7 November 2016.

Which benefits aren’t included in the cap?

  • bereavement payment (the new bereavement support payment will also be disregarded)
  • budgeting loans
  • cold weather payments
  • council tax reduction
  • Discretionary Assistance Fund payments (Wales)
  • discretionary housing payments
  • free school meals
  • funeral payments
  • 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

Take action

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 website.