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Benefit Cap

The Benefit Cap is a limit to the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can get.

1. What is the Benefit Cap?

The Benefit Cap is a limit to the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive, even if their full entitlement would otherwise be higher.

Applies to: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Administered by: Local Authorities for Housing Benefit claimants, Department of Work and Pensions for Universal Credit claimants.

2. Am I affected by the Benefit Cap?

You can use our Benefits Calculator to check whether you are affected or will be affected by the Benefit Cap. (We tell you if you are affected by the cap on the 'Results page' of the Calculator, in the Notes section for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit).

The Benefit Cap will not affect you if your total benefit entitlement is less than the Benefit Cap amount

The Benefit Cap usually applies to you if you or your partner is of working age and you receive:

The Benefit Cap does not apply to you if you are exempt from the Benefit Cap (see below) or you are in a grace period

Am I exempt from the Benefit Cap?

You are exempt from the Benefit Cap if:

How much do I need to work to be exempt from the Benefit Cap?

Universal Credit

If you are claiming Universal Credit and you are earning at least the amount you would get for 16 hours per week at National Living Wage, you are exempt from the Benefit Cap.

You are exempt if you are earning at least £658 per month. 

Housing Benefit

If you are claiming Housing Benefit and you are getting Working Tax Credit, you are exempt from the benefit cap.

You are also exempt if you have an open claim for Working Tax Credit and meet the qualification requirements, but are not receiving payment because your income is too high.

Am I in a grace period?

If you are claiming Universal Credit, the Benefit Cap will not be applied for a nine month grace period if:

  • You (or your partner) earned at least £658 per month for each of the previous 12 months.

If you are claiming Housing Benefit, the Benefit Cap will not be applied for a 39 week grace period if:

  • You (or your partner) were working for at least 50 out of the previous 52 weeks, and
  • Whilst you (or your partner) were working, you were not entitled to Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Updated: April 2022

 

3. How much is the Benefit Cap?

The current cap is:

  • £442.31 per week (£1,916.67 per month or £23,000 per year) for couples and lone parents in Greater London

  • £384.62 per week (£ 1,666,67 per month or £20,000 per year) for couples and lone parents outside Greater London

  • £296.35 per week (£1,284.17 per month or £15,410 per year) for single adults in Greater London

  • £257.69 per week (£1,116.67 per month or £13,400 per year) for single adults outside Greater London.

Which benefits are included in the Benefit Cap?

To work out if you are within the Benefit Cap, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) adds together the amount you have been awarded of the following benefits:

Any benefits not listed above are not included in the cap.

How is the Benefit Cap applied?

If your total entitlement of the benefits included in the cap is more than the Benefit Cap amount, and the Benefit Cap applies to you, your benefits will be reduced to bring you within the cap amount. 

If you are claiming Housing Benefit, the amount of Housing Benefit that you receive each week will be reduced to the cap amount.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, the amount of Universal Credit that you receive each month will be reduced to the cap amount (except for the Childcare Costs element). If you are entitled to the Childcare Costs element of Universal Credit, this amount is protected and will not be reduced even if this means you receive more than the Benefit Cap amount.
 

Reviewed: April 2021

 

4. What are my options if I am affected by the Benefit Cap?

Once you know if you are going to be affected by the Benefit Cap, and by how much, you then need to find out your options.

Check your entitlement

Use our Benefits Calculator to check you are receiving the right amount of means-tested benefits.

Check whether you are eligible for benefits that are not included in the cap. You may be eligible for benefits like:

This is not a complete list.  You may want to check our Your Situation page for other benefits that you may be entitled to.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you may be eligible for a top-up called Supplementary Payment. You can read more about the conditions for receiving this top-up on our Supplementary Payment page.

Become exempt

The Benefit Cap doesn’t apply to you if:

  • You and your partner earn enough or work enough hours to qualify for Working Tax Credit and you claim Housing Benefit

  • You and your partner earn at least the equivalent of working 16 hours per week at National Living Wage

  • You or your partner receives a disability benefit

  • You or your partner qualifies for a carer benefit

  • You or your partner claims Guardian’s Allowance

  • You or your partner is over Pension Credit age and you get housing benefit

  • You are in a grace period.

You may want to increase your work hours so that you are exempt from the cap.  If you are eligible for a disability benefit that you are not claiming, you may want to claim it to become exempt from the cap.

You can read more about the exemptions and the grace period in the Benefit Cap – Will I be affected by the Benefit Cap? section. 

Address your rent shortfall

If you are struggling to pay your rent because the cap reduces your Housing Benefit or the Housing element of your Universal Credit, you can apply to your local council for Discretionary Housing Payment.  

Your council may also run a Local Welfare Assistance scheme to help people in emergencies.

You may also want to consider moving to cheaper accommodation, in a cheaper area or ask your landlord to agree a rent reduction. 

Get Advice

If you’re not sure whether you can afford to make ends meet and you need advice about what to do next, you can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a benefits or debt advisor near you.

Updated: April 2021

5. What Government help is available?

Government help

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provides help with moving from benefits to work.

Your Jobcentre Plus advisor can tell you about different schemes like the Work Programme, Work Clubs and Work Trials to help you apply for jobs and get work experience.  

You can find out more about schemes for moving from benefits to work on the "Help with moving from benefits to work" page of the Gov.UK website

If you have a disability or mental health problem which makes it difficult for you to attend interviews or keep a job, you may qualify for assistance from the Access to Work programme.  The Access to Work scheme can provide support at work and may also pay for changes or equipment in the workplace.  You can find out more about it on the "Access to Work" page of the Gov.UK website.

There are different schemes for helping with childcare which you can read about on our Help with Childcare Costs page.

Other help

Make sure you have read the section in this guide What are my options if I am affected by the Benefit Cap?

If you are worried that you will be evicted because the Benefit Cap means you cannot afford your rent, you can ask your local council for help. Most councils run a Housing Support Service, sometimes called “Floating Support”.  They can provide a support worker to help you take steps to avoid eviction.

You can always use our Find an Adviser tool to search for an advisor near you, for help sorting out your benefits or taking other steps to increase your income.

Updated January 2022

6. How do I challenge a Benefit Cap decision?

There are different rules depending on whether you are being capped on Housing Benefit or on Universal Credit.

Housing Benefit

If you are receiving Housing Benefit, you can appeal against a decision to apply the Benefit Cap or against how much you should be capped by.

You will need to contact your local authority to request an appeal form. 

It is important to explain, with reference to the benefit rules, why you do not think that the Benefit Cap should apply or why you think that you are being capped by the wrong amount. You can get advice on how to do this. 

The court cannot decide that the Benefit Cap shouldn't be applied just because it is causing you hardship. 

Universal Credit

If you are receiving Universal Credit, you don't have any right to appeal to an independent tribunal about a decision to apply the Benefit Cap or about how much should be deducted under the Benefit Cap.

You can request a revision of the decision to apply the cap or of how much you are capped by. To do this, leave a note on your journal clearly stating that this is a request for a revision, and explaining in detail why you think the decision to apply the cap or the amount of the cap is wrong. You need to explain this in relation to the benefit rules. You can get advice on how to do this. 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) cannot decide that the Benefit Cap shouldn't be applied just because it is causing you hardship.

If, after the review, the DWP continues to apply the cap, you may be able to get them to change the decision by making a complaint. It is often helpful to contact your MP about complaints like this. 

Examples

Request for revision: You have applied the Benefit Cap to my payment. I should be exempt from the Benefit Cap because I receive Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Request for revision: You have applied a Benefit Cap of £200 to my payment. This is not the correct amount. My total entitlement to benefits included within the Benefit Cap is £1,766 per month. This is made up of £1,566 Universal Credit and £200 Child Benefit. You should only have deducted £100 for the Benefit Cap.