The Benefit Cap and Housing Benefit - what you can do if you’re affected by it
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. If the cap affects you, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced.
If your benefit is reduced because of the Benefit Cap, your options are limited, but there may be things you can do about it. Read this page to find out what to do about the Benefit Cap if you're getting Housing Benefit.
Options for avoiding the Benefit Cap
There may be things you can do to avoid the Benefit Cap, or to deal with it if you’re affected. For example:
You may need to consider one of the following options:
- can you or your partner get work, or increase your hours of work, so that you can claim Working Tax Credit? The cap doesn't apply to you if you work enough hours to claim Working Tax Credit, even if you don't actually get it because your income is too high
- can anyone in your household get one of the benefits that mean that the cap won't apply to you, or that some of your benefits won't be counted?
- can you move to cheaper accommodation or negotiate a rent reduction with your landlord?
- consider whether your circumstances are likely to change shortly. For example, do you have a child who will soon be treated as financially independent of you? When this happens, your benefits may go down, which may bring you under the limit of the cap or mean that you are less affected by the cap. On the other hand if, for example, you're expecting a baby, your benefits may go up. This could push you over the limit of the cap.
- More about how many hours you need to work to qualify for Working Tax Credit
- More about which benefits exempt you from the Benefit Cap
What can you do if you are affected by the cap?
These are some options you may want to consider if your Housing Benefit is capped and you can't avoid it:
- apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment from your local authority. If you can get one, this may help in the short term to pay your rent, or pay for a deposit or removal expenses to help you move to cheaper accommodation
- if you have a disabled child who does not qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or a child or children whose health or development is likely to be damaged because of the reduction in your benefit, contact your local authority Children's Services Department. They may be able to help with a cash payment or other assistance
- find out if your family or friends can help make up the reduction in your benefit - these payments won't affect your benefits
- apply to your local authority for homelessness assistance. This means asking the council to rehouse you or otherwise help you to find somewhere to live. You would need to show that you are homeless under housing law even while you are still living in your home. The law says that you are homeless if it is no longer reasonable for you to continue living in your home. In this case, you could argue that it is not reasonable for you to continue living in your home because you can't afford to pay for it. For example, this could apply to you if your Housing Benefit has been reduced so much that you will have to deprive yourself of basic essentials, such as food and clothing, in order to pay your rent
- you might be able to get help from a charity - use the Turn2us grant search tool to see what you can apply for