With effect from April 2013, there will be a 'cap' (a maximum limit) on the total amount of benefit that people can get.
The Government have first applied this to Local Authorities in the London area and it will then be rolled out to all other Local Authorities during the summer. Birmingham will commence work on claims that are affected from July 2013 onwards.
The Government expects all Authorities to be applying the benefit cap by the end of September 2013.
The actual amount of the cap will be limited to:
A maximum of £500 a week:
- If your household is made up of 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 and you have no children, or
- The children you have responsibility for don’t live with you.
What affect will this have?
Housing Benefit may go down to make sure that the total amount of your benefit is not more than the cap level. You may have to use money from your other benefits to pay towards the rent for your home if your circumstances do not change before the cap is introduced.
If you find yourself in serious financial difficulties as a result of this cap you may be able to apply for help with a Discretionary Housing Payment.
How is it calculated?
All of your benefits will be counted when working out how much you get each week. An online calculator is available to help you work out if your Housing Benefit will be reduced by the cap on the Government's web site.
Households that aren't affected by the cap
The cap won’t apply to you if you or your partner qualify for Working Tax Credit or you, your partner and any children you are responsible for have been awarded any of the following benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Benefits
- Personal Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance, if paid with the support component
- War Widow’s or War Widower's Pension
How can I find out more about this?
The Department for Work and Pensions will be writing to all households that may be affected by these changes. For households that receive a letter they have provided a helpline for more information about how this may affect you. The helpline staff will provide general information about the changes and the support you can get but they will not have access to all of your benefit information.
The helpline number is 0845 605 7064 or text phone 0845 608 8551 for people with hearing or speech impairments. The helpline is open from 8am to 6pm.
What can I do to stop the benefit cap applying to me?
Finding work could mean that the cap wouldn't apply to you. Qualifying for Working Tax Credit will mean that you are not affected by these new rules.
A job can also give you the chance to learn new skills, meet new people and boost your confidence. If you’ve been out of work for a while, the thought of getting a job may make you nervous, but there is help and support available for you. By calling the helpline, you may be able to arrange to get this support more quickly.
Where can I find more information?
Lots of information you might need is available from the Government's web site where you can get help looking for work, and information on how to update your skills, write a CV, apply for jobs and prepare for an interview.
You can find out more about Working Tax Credit including how many hours you need to work to qualify for Working Tax Credit.