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The Benefit Cap and Housing Benefit

This advice applies to Northern Ireland
If you want to speak to someone about changes to benefits, you can phone the independent welfare changes helpline for free on 0808 802 0020 or contact your local Citizens Advice.

The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of benefit you can get if you're of working age. Some people are exempt from the Benefit Cap.

The Benefit Cap will only affect you if you're getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

Read this page to find out more about how you might be affected by the Benefit Cap if you're getting Housing Benefit.

What is the Benefit Cap?

The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits you can get if you're of working age.

It doesn't apply to people who have reached the age where you can get Pension Credit - although it may apply if you're in mixed-age couple.

If the cap applies to you, this means that if your income from certain benefits is more than the cap, your Housing Benefit will be cut. The amount of money you get above the cap limit will be taken off your Housing Benefit.

No deductions will be made to your other benefits because of the cap, unless you're getting Universal Credit. This means that if you don’t receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, your benefits can’t be capped.

More about the Benefit Cap and mixed-age couples

How much is the cap?

From 7 November 2016, the cap is:

  • £384.62 a week if you're a couple - with or without dependent children
  • £384.62 a week if you're a lone parent with dependent children
  • £257.69 a week if you're a single person without children.

If you don’t receive enough Housing Benefit, the cap won’t be applied in full.

However, some people could lose all their Housing Benefit, except for a nominal amount of 50p which will continue to be paid.

Example

A couple receive benefit income of £400 a week, of which £75 is Housing Benefit.

The benefit cap for a couple is £384.62.

They receive £15.38 more in benefits than the cap. This is deducted from their Housing Benefit.

The amount of Housing Benefit they get is cut to £59.62.

Example

A couple receive benefit income of £600 a week, of which £50 is Housing Benefit.

The benefit cap for a couple is £384.62.

They receive £215.38 more in benefits than the cap. If this were deducted from their Housing Benefit, they would get no Housing Benefit. But as they must be left with at least 50p Housing Benefit a week, only £49.50 is deducted.

Is anyone exempt from the cap?

Some people are exempt from the Benefit Cap.

This means your benefit won't be capped, even if your benefit income is above the limit of the cap.

You might be exempt from the cap if:

  • you or your partner work enough hours to qualify for Working Tax Credit, even if you don't get it
  • you've reached the age for getting Pension Credit - although you may not be exempt if you're in a mixed-age couple
  • you, your partner or any children who are living with you and who you're responsible for get certain benefits for sickness, disability or caring
  • you or your partner get a War Pension

If you or your partner have been in work for at least 50 weeks out of the 52 weeks before your last day of work you might be exempt from the cap - but only for 39 weeks from your last day of work.

Check if you're exempt from the Benefit Cap

Which benefits are included in the cap?

The cap will apply to your household income from most benefits, including Child Tax Credit. However, there are some benefits which the cap won't apply to.

More about which benefits the cap applies to

Next steps

Other useful information

  • You can find more information about the Benefit Cap on the nidirect website at www.nidirect.gov.uk
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