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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Benefit cap

From April 2013 a limit will be put on the amount of benefit that people aged 16 to 64 can get. This is called a benefit cap. The benefit cap means that people should not get more in benefit payments than the average wage paid to people in work.

Benefit cap - what it is

The benefit cap will apply to people aged 16 to 64, also known as 'working age'.

The cap means that households where no one is in work should not get more in benefits than the average wage paid to people in work. This is after tax and National Insurance has been taken off.

A household means you, your partner if you have one and any children you are responsible for and who live with you.

Benefit cap calculator

Use the benefit cap calculator to find out if the benefit cap will apply to you. The calculator only takes a few minutes to complete.

To answer the questions you'll need information about the amount of weekly award for each benefit or allowance you or someone in your household gets.

What's included in the benefit cap

When added together the benefit cap will limit the total income you can get from the following benefits:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (except where it is paid with the support component)
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance
  • Widowed Mothers Allowance
  • Widows Pension
  • Widows Pension Age-Related

How much is the benefit cap

The actual amount of the cap won't be set until later this year, but is currently expected to be set as follows.

A maximum of £350 a week if you're a single person and either:

  • you have no children
  • the children you have responsibility for don’t live with you

A maximum of £500 a week if you're either:

  • a couple, with or without dependant children
  • a lone parent with dependant children

The cap will not apply if you qualify for Working Tax Credit or get any of the following benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment (from April 2013)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • Employment and Support Allowance, if paid with the support component
  • War Widow's or War Widower's Pension

The cap will be applied through deductions from Housing Benefit payments.

Why is the benefit cap being introduced?

The benefit cap will make sure that households getting benefits will not normally get more in benefit than the average working household receives in pay.

The benefit cap will encourage people to look for work and help to promote fairness between those in work and those getting benefits.

If you're currently getting benefits affected by the benefit cap

If you're already getting benefits and could be affected by the benefit cap you’ll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They will help you understand what the cap might mean for you. DWP will help you to get information about the changes and to think about what you can do now to get ready.

From April 2013, your Housing Benefit may go down to make sure that the total amount of your benefit is not more than the cap level. If this happens you may have to use money from your other benefits to pay towards the rent for your home.

If you're getting benefits and seeing a Jobcentre Plus adviser, a Work Programme provider or a Work Choice provider, they will continue to help you. They will help you to look for work and to get the skills you may need to find a job. If you're not currently in contact with one of these, you'll be offered an appointment to discuss the help and support that might be available. If you find work the cap may not apply to you.

Further information

You can get help looking for work, updating a CV, improving your skills, applying for jobs and preparing for an interview.

You can find out more about Working Tax Credit including how many hours you need to work to qualify.

Additional links

Benefits advice online

Get benefits advice by using this online tool to answer questions about your situation

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