The benefit cap - What you need to know
The Benefit Cap – what you need to know
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.
For example, if you are a single person living outside London with no children your benefit cap will be £257.69 a week. If your current total eligible benefit came to £300 per week, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit would be reduced by £43.31 per week, to bring it in line with the new cap.
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.
What does this mean for Watford Community Housing residents?
From November 7 2016, the benefit cap will be reduced to a maximum of £20,000 for those outside London.
The maximum weekly benefit amounts are as follows:
Maximum benefit amount*
Who does this affect?
£385 per week
£257.69 per week
You are a single person and you:
*Please note that a different cap applies within Greater London.
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
- Carer's Allowance
- Guardian's Allowance
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 cap?
The following benefits are not included when working out whether your total benefit income is more than the cap:
- Bereavement payment (the new bereavement support payment will also be disregarded)
- Budgeting loans
- Cold weather payments
- Council tax reduction
- Discretionary housing payments (DHP)
- Free school meals
- Funeral payments
- Local welfare assistance payments (England)
- Pension credit
- State pension
- Statutory adoption pay
- Statutory maternity pay
- Statutory paternity pay
- Statutory shared parental pay
- Statutory sick pay
- Sure Start maternity grants
What should I do if I am affected by the benefit cap?
You can find a benefit calculator here:
Talk to us
If you’re worried about finding the money to pay your rent, the first thing you should do is to talk to our Income Team to explain your situation and talk about what your options are. Call 0800 2182247.
Apply to your local authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment
You may be able to apply to your council for 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 incomings and outgoings) then now’s the time to draw one up.
And if you do have a budget, you will need to make adjustments to be sure you can still make ends meet after your Housing Benefit is reduced.
If you need help with drawing up a budget you can contact our Tenancy Support Officers, who would be happy to help. Call 0800 2182247.
Look at ways to cut costs
You might also find it useful to visit some websites which give information on ways to save money on household bills.
Get help with your job search
You can find out more about finding a job on the GOV.UK website or contact your local Job Centre.