Rent & Money

Benefit cap

The Welfare Reform and Work Act (2016) has introduced some changes to the benefit cap (maximum amounts of benefits claimed in one year), since November 2016.

New benefit cap levels are:

  • £20,000 a year for couples with or without children and lone parents (previously £26,000)
  • £13,400 for single people without children (previously £18,000)

If your total amount of out of work benefits, plus child benefit and child tax credits comes to more than the maximum amount allowed, your Housing Benefit will be reduced.

In November 2016, the cap changed to £384 per week for families, couples and lone parents and £257 per week for single adults. Your local authority will apply the cap to new and existing claimants via a deduction from your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs entitlement.

Some people are exempt from the cap. It will not apply if:

  • You or your partner are eligible for Working Tax Credit
  • You receive Pension Credit
  • Any member of your household gets Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, the support component of Employment and Support Allowance, Industrial Injuries Benefits or a War Widows and War Widowers Pension
  • There are also additional exemptions for recipients of Guardian’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit Claimants who receive payments towards carer’s costs

What should I do if I am affected?

  • You will need to make arrangements to pay any shortfall in your rent
  • You can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from your local authority. It is intended as a short-term assistance and it is a discretionary payment, so the amount and period of the award can vary
  • Commence work or increase your hours of work so that you or your partner are eligible for Working Tax Credit

You can use this benefit cap calculator to work out if you will be affected.