The benefit cap

The benefit cap puts a limit on the total amount of benefits you can receive.

What is the benefit cap?

The benefit cap sets a limit on the amount of welfare payments a claimant can receive. This means that the total amount of benefits that can be received by any individual or family will be limited to a maximum amount:

The benefit cap from 7 November 2016 will be:

  • £384.62 per week for couples and single parent households, and
  • £257.69 per week for single adults.

These caps are applied monthly.

Benefits included in the cap

Most benefits are included in the benefit cap:

  • housing benefit
  • income support
  • jobseeker's allowance
  • employment and support allowance
  • child benefit and child tax credits
  • carer's allowance
  • bereavement allowance
  • universal credit (unless you're unfit for work)
  • maternity benefits and widow's benefits paid by the DWP.

Benefits not included in the cap

The following benefits are not included in calculating your income:

Exemptions to the benefit cap

You won't be subject to the benefit cap if you're eligible for:

  • working tax credit

Or if your household receives:

  • the in-work exemption if you have a universal credit account
  • the support component of employment and support allowance
  • attendance allowance
  • disability living allowance (or personal independence payments from June 2013)
  • industrial injuries benefit, war disablement pension, or money from the armed forces compensation scheme
  • war widower's or widow's pension.

If you are not receiving disability living allowance, attendance allowance or war disablement pension because you're in hospital or a care home then the exemption will still apply.

You will also be exempt if:

  • you have reached the age to be eligible for state pension
  • do not get either housing benefit or universal credit
  • you have been made redundant after working 50 of the last 52 weeks (you will be exempt for 39 weeks).

If you've received a letter from the DWP warning you that your benefits may be reduced, or you're worried that you'll be affected by the cap, talk to an adviser in your area.

The important points

  • The benefit cap is the limit on the amount of welfare payments a claimant can receive.
  • The cap is applied monthly once you start to receive universal credit.
  • You won't be affected by the benefit cap if you are eligible for working tax credit.
  • If you’re claiming benefits for the first time after having worked for the past year, the benefit cap won't affect you for 39 weeks from the day you first became unemployed.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

Was this page helpful?