Benefit Cap

Changes to the Benefit Cap and how it could affect you

What is the benefit cap?

How is it changing?

Will it affect me?

Which benefits count towards the Benefit Cap?

Which benefits do not count towards the Benefit Cap?

Are there any Exemptions?

How will the cap be applied?

What are my options if I am affected by the cap?

Where can I get advice?

Other support available

 

What is the Benefit Cap?

 
The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits you can get if you are of working age. The Benefit Cap will only affect you if you're getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. If the cap affects you, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced. The benefit cap will make sure that households in receipt of benefits will not normally receive more in benefit than the average working household receives in pay, after deductions for tax and national insurance.
 

How is it changing?

The amount of benefit you receive could be reduced. If your benefits have already been capped they could be reduced further. The table shows the level of the cap before November 2016, and the reduced level after November 2016. The amount of benefit you receive is based on your individual circumstances, so is the amount you could lose under the reduced cap.  You may not receive or lose as much as the amounts shown in the table:
 
Your situationLevel of cap before November 2016Level of cap after November 2016Possible reduction up to
A couple, with or without children £500 per week £384.62 per week-£115.38 per week
Single person with children that live with you£500 per week£384.62 per week-£115.38 per week
Single person without children or with children that don’t live with you £350 per week £257.69 per week-£92.31 per week

 

Example 1:
An unemployed couple with two children living in a housing association property with rent of £150 per week. Their full weekly benefit income would currently be Jobseeker’s Allowance £114.85, child tax credit £117.18, child benefit £34.40 and housing benefit £150 – a total of £416.43. When the cap changes their housing benefit will be reduced by £31.82 per week to bring it down to the level of the cap which is £384.62.
 
Example 2:
A non-working couple with four children would expect to receive £400.51 in Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit during 2016/17. As this is over the new cap figure of £384.62 their available housing benefit will therefore be nothing, however a 50 pence award will be given in Hertfordshire once the new limits are introduced in order to keep the claim open in case of any change in circumstance and to prevent making a new claim.
 

Will it affect me? 

If you’re affected you will have received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The Council’s Housing Benefit Service will also write to you. If you receive any letters about your benefits it is important that you read them carefully. For households that have already had their benefit capped, the new reduced cap will take effect this autumn and their benefit will automatically reduce. New claimants will be affected shortly after.
 
If you receive Universal Credit you could also be affected by the cap. Any amount in excess of the cap is deducted from Universal Credit after offsetting any child-care costs on a monthly basis.
 
The Government provides an online benefit calculator which will tell you whether you will be affected by the cap, you can find it here.

 

Which benefits count towards the Benefit Cap?

The following benefits are included when working out your total amount of benefits:
Bereavement Allowance 
Child Benefit 
Child Tax Credit 
Employment and Support Allowance (except where it includes the support component) 
Housing Benefit (but not if you live in certain types of supported accommodation) 
Incapacity Benefit 
Income Support 
Jobseeker's Allowance 
Maternity Allowance 
Severe Disablement Allowance 
Widowed Parent's/ Mother's Allowance 
Universal Credit (except if payment is made for limited capability for work and work-related activity)
 

Which benefits do not count towards the Benefit Cap?

The following benefits are not included when working out your total amount of benefits:
 
Bereavement payment
Council Tax Support
Discretionary Housing Payments
Housing payments for those in ‘specified accommodation’ 
Social fund or local welfare assistance payments – all one off payments
Budgeting advances
Cold weather payments
Short term advances of benefit
Funeral payments
Sure Start maternity grants
Pension Credit
Payments from social services such as fostering or adoption allowances, special
Guardianship and residence order allowances
State Pension
Statutory Maternity/Paternity/Adoption/Shared Parental Pay
Statutory Sick Pay
 

Are there any exemptions?

This means your benefit won't be capped, even if your benefit income is above the limit of the cap.
 
You might be exempt from the cap if:
you qualify for Working Tax Credit e.g. by working 16 hours or more per week if you have one or more children.
you are in receipt of universal credit and have a net monthly wage of at least £430 per month (couple's earnings can be added together).
you have reached the age for receiving Pension Credit - although you may not be exempt if you're in a mixed-age couple
you, your partner or children get certain benefits for sickness or disability (PIP, DLA, Attendance Allowance, ESA support component, Universal Credit if payment is made for limited capability for work and work-related activity)
you or your partner had been in employment for at least 50 weeks out of the 52 weeks before your last day of work
you or your partner get War Widows or Widower's Pension
you receive paid Carers Allowance ( Including underlying entitlement) or Guardians Allowance (from Nov 2016)
you receive Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or Armed Forces Independent Payment.
 
If the new amount of Benefit Cap applies to you the total amount of your household benefits cannot be more than the new amount of benefit cap and your Housing Benefit may go down. This may mean you have to use money from your income or other benefits to pay towards the rent of your home.
 

What are my options if I am affected by the cap?

Try to find a job or increase your hours of work enough to qualify for Working Tax Credits (if you get Housing Benefit) or if you are on Universal Credit you need to earn £430 per month. Your work coach at the Jobcentre will be able to tell you about the help they can provide.
Investigating whether you, your partner or your child are entitled to a benefit which exempts you from the cap. 
Making up the shortfall in Housing Benefit using other income or savings.
Reducing expenditure on non-essentials.
Look at housing options e.g. negotiating a lower rent or moving to cheaper accommodation or to a cheaper area.
 

Where can I get advice?

If you are a Housing Association tenant please contact your landlord for advice and support with regards to paying your rent.
 
 
OrganisationHow to get in touch
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

Go to the DWP Benefit Cap webpage

0345 605 7064

Or talk to your Work Coach at the Job Centre

Broxbourne Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB)

Go to Broxbourne's CAB website and click on ‘contact us’

Broxbourne Council’s Housing Benefit Service01992 785503
Broxbourne Council’s Financial Inclusion Officerlaura.french@broxbourne.gov.uk
Money Advice Service (MAS)Go to the MAS website
Shelter
Go to Shelter's website for advice on housing, benefits and debt
 
0808 800 4444

 

Other support available

 
Broxbourne Foodbank
The Broxbourne Food Bank combats poverty by providing emergency food for those in crisis. 
Email infobroxbourne.foodbank@gmail.com or telephone 07943 986261
Furniture Re-use Scheme
Providing low-cost quality furniture
Hertsavers Credit Union

An ethical alternative to big banks and is owned and controlled by its members and provides easy-to-access loans at fair rates of interest.

To find out more telephone 01707 269239, email info@hertsavers.co.uk or visit the Hertsavers Credit Union website

Hertfordshire Welfare Assistance Scheme (HWAS)

Provides help and advice to people in crisis and facing exceptional and unexpected pressures.

Apply online at the HWAS website or by phone 0300 123 4044

Chexs Family Support Service
Support,  advice and guidance for parents and family/adult learning courses. Go to the Chexs website for further information.
 
Childhood Support Services Hertfordshire
Information for parents about free early education and childcare for two, three and four year olds. Go to the Childhood Support Services website for further information.
 
HAFLS Hertfordshire adult & learning service
HAFLS offer courses for individuals aged 19+ living in Hertfordshire. This would include those affected by the cap. Go to the HAFLS website for further information.