How could the benefit cap affect you?

The government has put a limit on the total benefits that most people aged 16 to 64 can get, this is called the benefit cap and from April 2016 this amount reduced to £384 per week for families and £257 per week for single people.

Most people who are affected will see that they have a reduction in the amount of money they receive towards their rent. This means that they will need to find the extra money for their rent from their personal allowance.

Who is exempt?

Some people are exempt from the cap. This means that their benefit will not be affected, even is their benefit income is above the limit.

For example your benefit will not be capped if you or your partner qualifies or received any of the following benefits.

Disability Living Allowance

Attendance Allowance
Universal Credit if your income is more than £430 per week Personal Independence Payment
Working Tax Credit Carers Allowance
Employment Support Allowance (if you receive the support element) War Pension
Industrial Injuries Benefit Guardians Allowance
War Widow’s or War Widower’s pension Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
Armed Forces Independence Payment  

Other ways to avoid the benefit cap

There may be things you can do to avoid the benefit cap for example increase your hours of work so that you can claim 'Working Tax Credit'.  The cap does not apply if you work enough hours to get working tax credit even if you don’t actually get it because your income is too high.

  • Is anyone in your household is entitled to but not getting one of the benefits that means the cap won’t apply to you,  such as Personal Independence Payment. If so encourage them to make a claim
  • Consider moving to cheaper accommodation

The cap will not apply to you if you have worked for 50 out of the last 52 weeks. If you lose your job you will be exempt from the cap for 39 weeks.

I’m going to lose money, what can I do?

In the short term you can apply for a 'Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)'. DHP is a government scheme designed to help people cope with changes in the way their Housing Benefit is paid. It is a short-term solution to give you 'breathing space' and time to make any changes.

Appealing the decision

There is no formal process to appeal the benefit cap, however it is worth checking if you could be exempt.  Sometimes the DWP holds incorrect information on the level of your benefits and income, so if you think there decision is wrong it is worth contacting them.

Who to contact?

If you're currently receiving universal credit, log into your online account and write a message to you work coach in your journal.

Alternatively you can call 0345 600 0723 (England) or 0345 600 3018 (Wales) or 0345 600 0743 (Textphone). Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

For any other benefits, call 0345 605 7064 (England) or 0345 605 7066 (Wales) or 0345 608 8551 (Textphone). Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.