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The Benefit Cap

what am I eligible for

The benefit cap is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits you can get and only applies to you if you are of working age. The benefit cap will only affect you if you are getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

The cap is a maximum income from benefits of:

  • £500 a week if you are a couple - with or without dependent children
  • £500 a week if you are a lone parent with dependent children
  • £350 a week if you are a single person without children

The cap will not be applied in full if you do not receive enough Housing Benefit. You could however, lose all of your Housing Benefit, except for a nominal amount of 50p which will continue to be paid.

Any childcare costs you get as part of Universal Credit will not be counted when your total benefit income is being worked out.

Who is exempt from the benefit cap?

You will be exempt if:

  • You work enough hours to qualify for Working Tax Credit, even though you may not receive any payment.
  • You get certain benefits for sickness or disability or a War Pension.
  • You or your partner has been in employment for at least 50 weeks out of the 52 weeks before your last day of work. You will get a grace period of exemption from the cap for up to 39 weeks from the day after your job ended.
  • You are above the qualifying age for Pension Credit or if you’re in a couple where one of you is over the qualifying age for Pension Credit and the other is not.

Things to remember about the benefit cap:

The cap will apply to your combined income from the following benefits:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Carer's 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

The following benefits are not included when working out your total benefit income for the purposes of the cap:

  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Pension Credit
  • State Retirement Pension
  • One-off payments made by your Local Authority to help you out in a crisis
  • Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments
  • A short-term advance from the DWP to help you out in a crisis
  • Non-cash benefits, for example, free school meals
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay or Adoption Pay

How to deal with the benefit cap:

If you think you will or have already been affected by the benefit cap you can contact us at THT Direct by calling 0808 802 1221 or at Online Advice to explore ways to lessen the impact of or avoid the cap.

For example you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment or for Homelessness Assistance to help you move to somewhere more affordable.

More information about the benefit cap:



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 7/9/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 7/9/2018

Content Author: G. Arrindell

Current Owner: G. Arrindell

More information:

paywalled resource: Advisernet - The Benefit Cap and Housing Benefit

paywalled resource: Advisernet - The Benefit Cap - What You Need To Know