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The Benefit Cap - what support is available?

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.

From 31 May 2016 there is a limit on the total amount of benefit you can get if you're working age. This is called the Benefit Cap. From 7 November 2016 there is a reduction in the Benefit Cap.

If the cap affects you, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will go down. The Northern Ireland Executive is making financial support available to households with children who are affected.

What support is available?

If the Benefit Cap applies to you when it is introduced on 31 May 2016, you may be eligible for a Welfare Supplementary Payment until March 2020.

You won't need to apply to receive a Welfare Supplementary Payment. The Department for Communities will identify if you are eligible and will make payments to cover any loss of Housing Benefit.

How are the payments made?

Welfare Supplementary Payments (WSPs) are made every four weeks in arrears.

If your Housing Benefit is normally paid directly to your landlord, the WSP is paid to them. If your Housing Benefit is normally paid to you, you get the WSP.

Your landlord or the letting agent has to be on the Landlord Register to get the WSP. Otherwise it goes to the person claiming Housing Benefit.

You can contact the WSP team on 0300 123 3382.

If your circumstances change

If the Benefit Cap didn't apply to you on 31 May 2016, but your circumstances have changed so that it does apply to you now, you may be eligible for a WSP as long as you have been receiving one of the benefits included in the Benefit Cap calculation since 31 May 2016.

If you are already getting a WSP and your circumstances change so that the amount that is being deducted from your Housing Benefit decreases, your WSP will decrease.

If you are getting a WSP and your circumstances change so that the amount that is being deducted from your Housing Benefit increases, your WSP won't increase. The maximum amount of your WSP is set by what you were first entitled to, except where the Benefit Cap itself is lowered. If your Housing Benefit is reduced but your WSP isn't increased, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment .

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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