Changes to the Benefit Cap and how it could affect you
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.
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 situation||Level of cap before November 2016||Level of cap after November 2016||Possible 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|
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
• 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.
If you are a Housing Association tenant please contact your landlord for advice and support with regards to paying your rent.
|Organisation||How 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
|Citizens Advice Broxbourne|
Go to the CAB website and click on ‘contact us’
|Broxbourne Council’s Housing Benefit Service||01992 785503|
|Broxbourne Council’s Financial Inclusion Officeremail@example.com|
|Money Advice Service (MAS)||Go to the MAS website|
0808 800 4444
The Broxbourne Food Bank combats poverty by providing emergency food for those in crisis.
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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|
|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.