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Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

Benefit Cap

Overview

From 15 July 2013, a 'cap' (a maximum limit) will be introduced on the total amount of benefit that working age people can receive if they are not working.

Birmingham will commence work on claims that are affected from August 2013 onwards.

The Government expects all Authorities to be applying the benefit cap by the end of September 2013.


The actual amount of benefit paid (including Housing Benefit) will be limited to:

A maximum of £500 a week:

• If you are a couple (with or without children), or

• If you are a lone parent (and the children you have responsibility for live with you).

A maximum of £350 a week if you are a single person.

The cap will apply to combined income from the main out of work benefits (Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance etc.) and Housing Benefit, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits.


Essential Information
  • Housing Benefit will be reduced so that you do not get more than the cap figure that applies to your circumstances. This will mean that there will be a shortfall in your rent. You will have to make this up from your other money.

    If you find yourself in difficulty as a result of the benefit cap please refer to the Help and Advice section below.

  •  The working age benefits that will be taken into account when calculating the benefit cap are:

    • Bereavement Allowance

    • Carers Allowance

    • Child Benefit

    • Child Tax Credit

    • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - contribution based and income related (except where the Support Component has been awarded)

    • Guardians Allowance

    • Housing Benefit

    • Incapacity Benefit

    • Income Support

    • Jobseekers Allowance (contribution based and income related)

    • Maternity Allowance

    • Severe Disablement Allowance

    • Widows pension, Widowed Mothers Allowance and Widowed Parents Allowance

    The amount used in the calculation will be the full award before any deductions are made.


  •  The following households will be exempt from the cap:

    Those entitled to Working Tax Credit ( a claim must be made)

    Those in receipt of :

    • Attendance Allowance

    • the support component of ESA

    • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

    • Personal Independence Payments (PIP)

    • Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)

    • War Widow's or Widower's Pension

    A household is defined for this purpose as an individual, their partner, and any children they are responsible for and who live with them.

    Claimants will cease to have their benefit capped where someone in the household:

    • Obtains work and becomes entitled to Working Tax Credit;

    • Becomes entitled to one of the benefits that exempt recipients from the benefit cap

    (If they work sufficient hours to qualify for Working Tax Credit, but their earnings are such that they have nil entitlement, they will still be exempt from the benefit cap).


  •  Benefits disregarded in the cap

    The benefits and payments that will be disregarded when calculating the benefit cap are:

    • Bereavement payment

    • Council Tax Support

    • Discretionary Housing Payments

    • All one off payments: Budgeting loans, Cold weather payments, Local Welfare Provision 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 Paternity Pay - Paid by employers

    • Statutory Sick Pay - Paid by employers

    • Winter Fuel Payment

    Any benefits or other income that are not included in the above lists will not be taken into account when calculating the level of the cap.


  • Housing Benefit paid to households in supported exempt accommodation* (S(E)A) is also to be disregarded from the benefit cap. In these cases the Department for Work and Pensions will calculate the overall benefits cap using nil Housing Benefit.


    *Supported Exempt Accommodation is provided by either the Council, a housing association, registered charity or voluntary organisation that provides you with care, support or supervision. This accommodation can include supported housing such as group homes, hostels, refuges, sheltered housing, supported living complexes and adapted housing for the disabled.



  •  Claimants who have been in employment for 52 weeks or more when they claim benefit will be exempt from the cap for a grace period of up to 39 weeks.

    A grace period will only apply if the claimant, partner or ex-partner has been engaged in paid employment or self employment for 50 out of 52 weeks immediately preceding their last day of work. During that time the claimant was not entitled to Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance, for any period in more than 2 weeks.


  •  Any appeal in respect of an award of Housing Benefit where the benefit cap has been applied will be treated in the same way as any other appeal against an award of Housing Benefit. However, regulations do not allow for an appeal based solely on the application of the benefit cap.

  • If you think the cap should not apply because you, your partner or any children you are responsible for receive one or more of the above benefits you can report this to the benefit cap helpline.

    If you have a question about the benefits that have been taken into account to decide the level of the cap that applies to you, you can phone the benefit cap helpline.

    The benefit cap helpline number is 0845 605 7064 or text phone 0845 608 8551 for people with hearing or speech impairments. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.

    If you think that the weekly amount of any of the benefits or allowances included in your benefit cap calculation (excluding Housing Benefit) is wrong you should phone the office that pays you the relevant benefit.


  • Finding work and qualifying for Working Tax Credit may be the best way to ensure the cap does not apply to you. You can find out about Working Tax Credit online at www.gov.uk/working-tax-credit

    The Department for Work and Pensions are offering employment support to all those affected by the benefit cap. Please refer to the Employment Support section below.

    Other ways of minimising the effects of the benefit cap may be to:

    • negotiate your rent to a more affordable amount, if you area tenant in the private rented sector; or
    • consider moving to cheaper accommodation

    If you are a Housing Association or Birmingham City Council tenant please refer to the Housing Advice section below.

    If you, your partner or a child you are responsible for becomes entitled to one of the exempted benefits listed you will not be subject to the cap.



  • For help in preparing and looking for work contact your local Department for Work and Pensions representative on 0121 480 8411who will arrange an appointment for you to see a personal advisor. This advisor can help you with looking for a job, writing a CV, preparing for an interview, improving confidence and motivation and setting up a Universal Jobmatch account.

    You can also find help online at www.gov.uk/moving-from-benefits-to-work/overview

  • For help with managing your money, use the online budget planner at:

    www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk


  • If you are a Birmingham City Council tenant, set up a Direct debit for your rent so you can the correct amount each week or month.

    You can obtain more in depth help and advice from our dedicated Rent Service pages.

    If you are a Birmingham City Council tenant you will receive a visit from a Housing Officer between September and December 2013, where you can discuss any additional advice needed. More information regarding all the changes can be found at Welfare Reform

    If you are not a Birmingham City Council tenant, you should contact your landlord or agent directly.

    Further details can be found on our dedicated page for Housing Associations

    If you are a private tenant and you need advice about your tenancy please visit Tenant Advice


    You can get general housing advice from our citywide network of Customer Service Centres and neighbourhood offices. To find your nearest office and how to book an appointment go online to www.birmingham.gov.uk/neighoffice
  • 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). DHP decisions are based on individual circumstances and are usually awarded for a short term period only. You will be expected to look for work or to find cheaper accommodation.

    To receive help from DHP funds you will need to complete an application form. An application form can be found at Discretionary Housing Payments alongside further information regarding the fund.

  • Birmingham City Council operates the Local Welfare Provision (LWP), a discretionary fund to help vulnerable people in times of crisis. These short term awards include grants/pre-paid store cards for emergency food and essential items. They are not loans and therefore no-one will be expected to repay any amount. LWP is not able to help cover housing costs.

    For further information and details of how to apply for help please visit Birmingham Local Welfare Provision.