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The Benefit Cap and Housing Benefit - which benefits are included?

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 certain benefits you can get if you're of working age.

The Benefit Cap only affects people getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. This page is about people getting Housing Benefit.

The cap will apply to your household income from most benefits, including Child Tax Credit. However, there are some which the cap won't apply to. If you're getting Housing Benefit, read this page to find out which benefits are included in the cap, and which ones aren't.

What's meant by your household?

Your household includes you, your partner and any children you are responsible for and who live with you.

Your benefit income is taken into account before any deductions, for example, for recovery of overpayments. The income of any non-dependants living with you, such as adult children, won't count.

Benefits which are included in the cap

The cap will apply to your combined income from:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance - except where it's paid with the support component
  • Housing Benefit - although there are some exceptions
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Guardian's Allowance
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance
  • Widowed Mother's Allowance
  • Widow's Pension.

Which benefits aren't included in the cap?

The following benefits aren't included when working out whether your total benefit income is more than the cap:

  • Rate rebate
  • Pension Credit
  • State Retirement Pension
  • Carer's Allowance - or you have an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance or Carer's Credit
  • Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans
  • Winter fuel and cold weather payments
  • a short term advance from the SSA to help you out over a crisis until your first benefit payment
  • non-cash benefits, for example, free school meals
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay or Adoption Pay
  • supplementary payments made by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Some benefits are not included in either of the above lists because they exempt you from the Benefit Cap altogether.

If you're getting Housing Benefit in supported accommodation

If you're in a certain type of supported accommodation, your Housing Benefit won't be included when working out your total benefit income.

Which type of accommodation does this apply to?

This applies if you're living in one of the following types of accommodation - known as exempt supported accommodation:

  • a resettlement place
  • accommodation where you're provided with care, support or supervision. The accommodation must be provided by a council, housing association or voluntary organisation.

Examples of exempt supported accommodation include:

  • a women's aid refuge for women suffering from domestic violence
  • sheltered housing
  • a homeless hostel
  • a supported living complex for people with mental or learning disabilities, or who suffer from substance abuse.
  • adapted housing for disabled people.

How will you know if you're affected?

If your household is affected by the Benefit Cap, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive will write to you to tell you that your Housing Benefit will go down. The letter will tell you how they calculated how much your Housing Benefit should reduce. If you do not agree, you can ask for them to review their calculation. Affected households will have the Benefit Cap applied within three months from 31 May 2016.

What help can you get?

If you are getting one of the benefits included in the cap on the date the Benefit Cap is introduced, you may be entitled to a supplementary payment for up to four years to make up for any financial loss.

If the Benefit Cap doesn't apply to you on 31 May 2106, but your circumstances later change so that it does apply to you, you may be entitled to a supplementary payment provided you have been getting one of the benefits included in the Benefit Cap since 31 May 2016.

If you are not eligible for a supplementary payment, you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment.

For further help contact your local Citizens Advice office.

Next steps

Other useful information

  • You can find more information about the Benefit Cap on the nidirect website at
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