What is the Benefit Cap?
The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of benefit working age people can receive being introduced by the government. This is so that no family out of work will receive more in welfare benefits than the average take home pay of a family in work. The Benefit Cap was rolled out in Brighton & Hove from August 2013.
From November 2016, the government reduced the cap to £385 a week for couples or single parents with children, and £258 a week for single people. This figure will include how much you are given to help pay towards your rent. There are around 600 households in Brighton & Hove who will see a reduction in their Housing Benefit because of this.
Will this affect me?
You can use the Benefit Cap calculator on the gov.uk website to check whether the cap will apply to you. You can also ring the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) directly on 0845 6057064 (text phone 0845 6088551).
The DWP instruct the council to reduce your housing benefit if you receive more than the cap limits. We have to apply this reduction from the Monday following the date we are notified by the DWP and will write to you as soon as we hear from them to tell you about the change in your benefit.
The DWP work out who will be affected by adding together your income from the following benefits:
- Bereavement Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (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 Mothers Allowance
- Widow’s Pension
- Widow’s Pension Age Related
If, after adding these benefits together your income is over the benefit cap, the council will let you know about any reduction to your housing benefit. We have to apply this reduction from the Monday following the date we are notified by the DWP and will write to you as soon as we hear from them to tell you about the change in your benefit.
How will this affect me?
How it affects you will depend upon whether the amount of income you have over the cap is higher or lower than the amount of housing benefit you get. The basic position is that any benefit income over the cap is deducted in total from your housing benefit entitlement.
1) If your amount of benefit over the cap is less than the amount of housing benefit you get, it will be deducted from your housing benefit so that you will receive less housing benefit.
For example: Your family receives a total of £500 a week in benefits, of which £150 is housing benefit. Your cap is £385, so you are £115 over which will be deducted from your housing benefit. You will receive only £35 housing benefit as part of your overall income of £385.
2) If your amount of benefit over the cap is more than the amount of housing benefit you get, your housing benefit will be reduced to a set nominal sum of 50p a week.
For example: Your family receives a total of £650 a week in benefits, of which £200 is housing benefit. Your cap is £385, so you are £265 over which should be deducted from your housing benefit. But, as you only get £200 housing benefit, your housing benefit would be reduced by £199.50 to the nominal amount of 50p.
Will I be exempt?
You will not be affected by the cap if you, your partner or a dependent child who is living with you:
1) Work and receive Working Tax Credit
2) receive any of the following benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Attendance Allowance (AA)
- Industrial Injuries Benefits (IIB)
- ESA, if paid with the support component
- Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Payments (AFCS)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
- War Pensions Scheme Payments (WPS) (including War Widow’s/Widower’s pension and War Disablement Pension)
- Carer's Allowance (including the equivalent in Universal Credit) from 7 November 2016
- Guardian's Allowance from 7 November 2016
If you are unsure whether you are getting any of these benefits you can contact the DWP on 0845 6057064 (text phone 0845 6088551).
3) have been in employment for 52 weeks or more when claims out of work benefits. This exemption will last for up to 39 weeks.
What can I do?
If you are worried about the benefit cap and how it affects you and would like advice, please contact the Benefit Cap Support team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01273 291954.You can also book an appointment to see one of our visiting officers on that same number
If you rent from a private landlord and if you are worried that you might lose your home, contact the Housing Options team.
If you need to speak to someone about managing your money or helping you with your debts, visit our budgeting advice web page for more information or ring the Money Advice and Casework Service on 01273 664040 for an appointment to see an advisor. Or check out the useful budget planner on the government’s money advice service website.
You can check on the gov.uk website if you are entitled to any other benefits.
You can apply for discretionary payments to help pay your rent or Council Tax.