There is a cap (a maximum limit) on the total amount of benefit that people can receive.
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) the cap is £500 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, the cap is £350 a week.
How is it calculated?
All of your benefits will be counted when working out how much you get each week.
Will I be exempt?
You will not be affected by the cap if you, your partner or a dependant child who is living with you receive any of the following benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- The support component of Employment and Support Allowance
- Attendance Allowance
- Industrial injuries benefit
- War widows or War Widowers' pension
If you are unsure whether you are getting any of these benefits you can contact the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP).
You will also be exempt if you work and receive Working Tax Credit or have been in work for 52 weeks or more when you claim your out of work benefits.
This exemption will last for up to 39 weeks only. After 39 weeks your benefit will be capped.
If the cap applies to you, you should have already received a letter from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) telling you this.
The DWP work out who will be affected by adding together your income from the following benefits
- Bereavement Allowance
- Carer's Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (except where it is paid with the support component)
- Guardian's Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Widowed Parent's Allowance
- Widowed Mothers Allowance
- Widow's Pension
- Widow's Pension Age Related
If, after adding these benefits together your income is over the benefit cap, then your Housing Benefit will be reduced to bring your total benefits income down to the level of the cap.
You can use the Benefit Cap Calculator on the Gov.uk website to check whether the cap will apply to you.
You can also check on the Gov.uk benefits pages to see if you are entitled to any other benefits.
You can apply for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to top up your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit. DHP is usually only paid for a short period to give you time to make alternative arrangements it should not be thought of as a long term solution.