This page gives you information on
- What the benefit cap is
- Households not affected by the cap
- Benefits included in the cap
- Benefits not included in the cap
- Further advice and support
What is the benefit cap?
In July 2013, the Government introduced a “cap” (maximum limit) to the total amount of benefit working age people can receive if they are not working.
The actual amount of benefit paid, including HB, is limited to
- Couple with children - £500 per week
- Couple without children - £500 per week
- Lone parent (and the children you have responsibility for live with you) - £500 per week
- Single person - £350 per week
HB will be reduced so that you do not get more than the cap figures that applies to your circumstances. This means that there will be a shortfall in your rent which you will have to make up from your other money.
Households not affected by the cap
A household means an individual, their partner (if they have one) and any children they are responsible for and who live with them. If your household is in one of the following groups, the cap will not affect you.
- Households are entitled to working tax credit (WTC) (a claim must have been made) even if their earnings mean they have nil entitlement.
Households who are in receipt of
- The support component of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Industrial injuries benefits (and the equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payment)
- War widow/widowers pension
The cap will end if someone in the household
- Starts work and becomes entitled to WTC. If someone makes a claim for WTC and they have nil entitlement because of their earnings, the cap wills till end as long as a claim for WTC has been made
- Becomes entitled to one of the exempt benefits listed below.
Benefits included in the cap
The following benefits are included in the calculation for benefit cap
- Bereavement allowance
- Carers allowance
- Child benefit
- Child tax credit
- ESA (C)
- ESA (IR) (unless the support component has been awarded)
- Guardian’s allowance
- Housing benefit
- Income support
- Jobseekers allowance
- Maternity allowance
- Severe disablement allowance
- Widows pension, widowed mothers allowance and widowed parents allowance
The calculation is based on the full award before any deductions are made.
Benefits not included in the cap
The following are not included in the calculation for benefit cap
- Bereavement payment
- Council tax support
- Discretionary housing payment
- Any one off payment such as budgeting loans, cold weather payments, LWP payments, funeral payments, Sure Start maternity grants
- Pension credit
- Residency order payments
- Statutory adoption pay paid by employers
- Statutory maternity pay paid by employers
- Statutory shared parental pay paid by employers
- Winter fuel payment
Any benefits or other income not included in the above lists will not be taken into account when calculating the cap.
People who were employed for 52 weeks or more before they claimed benefit
People who have been working for at least 52 weeks before they make a claim for benefit will be exempt from the cap for a “grace period” of up to 39 weeks. This grace period will apply only apply if the claimant, their partner or their ex-partner was employed or self-employed for 50 out of the 52 weeks immediately before their last day at work and during that time, was not entitled to income support, jobseekers allowance or employment and support allowance for any more than a total of two weeks.
People who live in supported exempt accommodation
Supported exempt accommodation (SEA) is accommodation that is provided by either the council, a housing association (registered social landlord), registered charity or voluntary organisation, which provides care, support and supervision. This includes supported housing such as hostels, refuges, sheltered housing, supported living complexes and adapted housing for disabled people.
If your household lives in SEA, you will be exempt from the benefit cap.
What can you do to stop the cap affecting you?
- The best way to make sure the cap doesn’t affect you is to either find work or increase your hours so that you qualify for WTC.
- If you rent from a private landlord, you may be able to negotiate your rent to a more affordable amount.
- You could consider moving to cheaper accommodation.
Any appeal in respect of an award of housing benefit (HB) where the cap has been applied will be treated in the same way as any other appeal against the award of HB. However, Regulations do not allow you to appeal solely against the application of the cap.
If you think the cap shouldn’t affect you, or you have a question about the benefits that have been taken into account when deciding what cap applies to you, you should ring the Benefit Cap Helpline.
The Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.
- Telephone 0845 605 7064
- Textphone 0845 608 8551
If you think that the amount of any of the benefits or allowances (except HB) included in the benefit cap calculation is wrong, you should contact the office that pays you that benefit.
Further advice and support
- For help with moving into work, please see moving from benefits to work
- For help with managing your money, use the online budget planner at: Money Advice Service
- If you are a Birmingham City Council tenant, you can obtain more in depth help and advice from our dedicated Rent Service pages.
- If you are not a Birmingham City Council tenant, you should contact your landlord or agent directly.
- If you are a private tenant and you need advice about your tenancy please visit Tenant Advice
- Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a fund which allows the Council to give financial assistance to tenants already receiving Housing Benefit (but not exceeding your weekly eligible rent). For more information, please see at Discretionary Housing Payments
- Birmingham City Council operates the Local Welfare Provision (LWP), a discretionary fund to help vulnerable people in times of crisis. For further information and details of how to apply for help please visit Birmingham Local Welfare Provision.