What you need to know
There is currently a limit on the amount of benefit a household can get. This is called the benefit cap and was introduced in April 2013. The benefit cap applies to households in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. Some people receiving universal credit will not be affected by these changes.
Which benefits are included in the cap?
- Bereavement allowance
- Child benefit
- Child tax credit
- Employment and support allowance (except where it is paid with the support component)
- Housing benefit
- Incapacity benefit
- Income support
- Jobseeker's allowance
- Maternity allowance
- Severe disablement allowance
- Widowed parent's allowance
- Widowed mother's allowance
- Widow's pension
- Universal credit*
From 7 November 2016 the Benefit Cap amount has reduced. This change is being introduced over several months. The DWP will write to you to let you know how this affects you and when. Our welfare reform team may contact you about these changes and offer you support, on how to best manage with less money.
How much is the new cap amount?
• £442.31 a week if you are a couple or have children and live in London
• £384.62 a week if you are a couple or have children and live outside London
• £296.35 a week if you are a single person and live in London
• £257.69 a week if you are a single person and live outside London
If your household receives more than the cap amount your housing benefit payments will reduce. If you receive universal credit your payments will be reduced.
Who is exempt from the benefit cap?
The benefit cap will not apply if you or your partner qualify for any of the following benefits:
- Working tax credit (you will need to work for at least 16 hours per week if you are a single parent, 24 hours per week between you are a couple with one of you working at least 16 hours per week or 30 hours if you are a single person)
- Attendance allowance
- Guardian’s Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Disability living allowance*
- Personal independence payment*
- The support component of main phase employment and support allowance
- Industrial injuries benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or the armed forces compensation scheme)
- War widow or war widower's pension
You will also be exempt from the benefit cap if you or your partner qualifies but does not receive the below benefits:
- Disability living allowance
- personal independence payment
- attendance allowance
- war pension
* Where these payments are made to a child or young person living with you, the benefit cap will also not apply.
In addition, there is a “grace period” of 39 weeks for people who are over the benefit cap but have been in work for the previous 12 months. The grace period means that if your circumstances change because your job has ended there is a 9 month breathing space before your benefits are reduced. The grace period will include any periods when you have been claiming statutory sick pay or statutory maternity/adoption pay.
For the above conditions, maternity, paternity or adoption leave or receipt of statutory sick pay count as being in work.
What options are available
- Find work to qualify for Working Tax Credit
- Make up any shortfall in your rent by budgeting: https://universal-benefit-calculator.co.uk/croydon-budget-self-service
- Find somewhere more affordable to live or negotiate a rent reduction with your landlord
- Apply for one of the benefits referred to above that will exempt you from the cap.
Other help available
If you cannot meet the shortfall in your rent now that you are affected by the benefit cap you may need to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to seek short term assistance with your housing costs until you are able to find a solution. This fund is discretionary and awards are only made in certain situations. Find out more here; https://www.croydon.gov.uk/advice/benefits/discretionary-support/discretionary-housing-payment
Apply for a DHP application form here – https://secure.croydon.gov.uk/eforms/ufsmain?formid=EXT_HO_DISCRETIONARY_HOUSING_PAYMENTS