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My Advice Gateway

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From April 2013, the Government introduced a cap on the total amount of benefit that people aged 16 to 64 can receive.

The benefit cap was introduced in stages across England, Scotland and Wales and means that working age people can't receive more than a set amount in benefits, even if their full entitlement would otherwise be higher.

It applies to all benefit claimants who are working-age and receiving Housing Benefit or the Universal Credit Housing Costs element, unless they:

  • Are working enough hours to qualify for Working Tax Credit, or
  • Are claiming Universal Credit and earn at least £430 per month, or
  • Have someone in their household who is receiving a disability benefit, or
  • Their partner is over Pension Credit age 

The cap is set at the average net earned income of working households. 

The current level of the cap can be found at this link.

If you’re affected, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will go down to make sure that the total amount of benefit you get isn’t more than the cap level.

Benefits affected by the cap

The cap applies to the total amount people in your household (you, your partner and any children living with you) get from the following benefits:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (unless you get the ‘support’ component)
  • 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 if you started getting it before 9 April 2001)
  • Universal Credit (unless you’ve had a work capability assessment and aren’t fit for work)

Benefits that aren’t included:

You’re not affected by the cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:

  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if you get the support component)
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a War Disablement Pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Universal Credit payments towards carer’s costs or for ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’
  • War pensions

If you've been working for at least a year and then lose your job through no fault of your own, your benefits won't be capped for the first nine months.

Full details of how the the Benefit Cap will work  can be found at the GOV.UK site.

Further information is available at the following links:

To calculate whether and by how much you will be affected go to our Benefits Calculator Section.