What is the benefit cap?
The UK government have placed a limit on the amount of benefit that most people aged 16-64 can receive. This is called the benefit cap.
What is the limit on benefits?
From November 1, 2016, the overall amount of benefit you can receive will be capped. The UK government will add up how much money you get from a range of benefits, including: housing benefit, jobseeker’s allowance, employment support allowance, child benefit, child tax credit and carer’s allowance.
If the total comes to more than the maximum allowed, your housing benefit payments will be reduced.
The maximum amount of benefit you will be able to receive from November 2016 is:
- £384.62 per week for single parents
- £384.62 per week for couples with or without children
- £257.69 per week for single people without children
This will not apply to you if:
- You get pension credit or working tax credit
- A member of your household is claiming disability living allowance, attendance allowance, industrial injuries benefits or the support element of employment support allowance
- You also won’t be affected if you or anyone in your home receives Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or Armed Forces Independence payments, Universal Credit payment for ‘limited capacity for work and work-related activity’
- War pensions (including War Widow’s or War Widower’s pensions) are also unaffected
Which benefits are affected?
The cap applies to the amount that the people in your household get from the following benefits:
- Bereavement Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance (unless you get the support component)
- Guardian’s Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance (or Widowed Mother’s Allowance or Widows Pension you started getting before April 9, 2001)
- Universal Credit (unless you’ve had a work capability assessment and aren’t fit for work)
Further exemptions from the Benefit Cap
Now that the new Benefit Cap is introduced, you will also be exempt from the Cap for a 9 month period if you had been in work for 50 of the previous 52 weeks and in the last full week of work you worked 16 hours or more. Being on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or getting statutory sick pay counts as being in work. This grace period is also allows you time to try and find a new job.
You will also be exempt if you are in receipt of Carers Allowance or Guardians Allowance.
It is therefore more important than ever to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits that you are entitled to.
How will the benefit cap affect me?
You can use the UK government’s benefit cap calculator here to find out how the benefit cap affects you.
I’ve had a letter about the Benefit Cap, help?
Should you get a letter from Dumfries and Galloway Council’s housing benefit office or from the Department for Work and Pensions regarding the Benefit Cap it is important that you:
- Provide them with the information that they are looking for. We can help you – call us on 0800 011 3447.
- Ask us for a benefit health check. Should you be entitled to Personal Independence Payments or the support component of Employment Support Allowance then this would mean that you would no longer be subject to the Benefit Cap. Steven Kennedy, our Welfare Benefits Advisor can even visit you at home – so make sure you’re getting all you’re entitled to by calling us on 0800 011 3447.