Benefit Cap Frequently Asked Questions
- See if you, your partner or a dependent child might be entitled to one of the benefits that excludes you from the Cap – see list above.
- If a dependent child has an illness or disability, find out about Disability Living Allowance.
- If you or your partner have an illness or disability, find out if you could qualify for Personal Independence Payment.
- If you or your partner have ever had an accident at work, ask about Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
- If you or your partner are currently on Employment and Support Allowance in the work-related activity group, it might be worth speaking to an adviser to see if you/they should be in the support group instead?
- If you are getting Universal Credit, and either you or your partner have been assessed as having a “limited capacity for work”, it might be worth speaking to an adviser to see if you/they should be assessed as having a “limited capacity for work-related activity”?
- If you or your partner are spending 35 hours or more caring for someone (this could be someone who does not live in your household) check if you could be entitled to Carer’s Allowance. If they already get the middle or high rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment you may qualify for Carer’s Allowance. Or if they do not get a disability benefit, they could seek advice on whether they might be eligible. Before you make a claim for Carer's Allowance, you should get advice on whether your claim could affect the disabled person’s benefits.
- If you are entitled to Child Benefit for a child of whom you are not the parent or adoptive parent, and the child’s parents or adoptive parents have died or their whereabouts is not known you may be entitled to Guardian’s Allowance.
- Contact your local council and ask about extra financial help to help you pay your rent: a ‘Discretionary Housing Payment’. Local councils have a limited amount of money available to make these payments, so you need to explain your circumstances fully and probably provide a financial statement, to show why you are struggling to afford your rent. Discretionary Housing Payments are usually only paid for 3 or 6 months initially, but you can apply again at the end of the award.
- Consider your budget and what you spend your money on – you can use the budgeting tool on the Money Advice Service website to help you.
- Consider starting work or, if you or your partner are already in paid work, increasing your hours.
- If you are getting Universal Credit, then the Benefit Cap will not apply in each month in which you have earned income of £542.88 or more. If you have a partner your combined wages count.
- If you live in an area which does not yet have the ‘Full’ Digital Universal Credit Service, or if you live in an area which has the ‘Full’ Digital Universal Credit Service but you have 3 children or more, you may be able to claim Working Tax Credit; if you make a claim – even a nil entitlement excludes you from the Benefit Cap. If you are not working enough hours to claim, try to increase your hours to be entitled to Working Tax Credit.You will be entitled to Working Tax Credit if:
- You are a single parent and work 16 or more hours a week.
- You are a disabled worker and work 16 or more hours a week.
- You are in a couple, with children, and either:
- work 24 or more hours a week (you can add your hours together as long as one is working at least 16 hours), or
- one of you is working 16 hours a week and the other is incapacitated, a carer, in hospital, or in prison.
- You are 60 or over and working 16 hours or more a week.
- You are 25 or over and work 30 hours or more a week.
- If you get Employment and Support Allowance (and you are not in the Support Group) you could consider doing some work whilst remaining entitled to ESA. The ‘permitted work’ rules allow ESA claimants to work less than 16 hours per week and earn up to £125.50 per week. Earnings from permitted work do not reduce your entitlement to ESA. So, whilst you would not be exempt from the Benefit Cap by working for less than 16 hours per week, you would have the extra income from your earnings. Please note that if you start doing permitted work you should let the ESA department know straight away. Also, when your capability for work is next reviewed under the Work Capability Assessment, the fact that you have been working and how you have coped with working will be taken into account.
- If you have a non-dependant living with you such as a grown-up son or daughter, are they paying you enough towards their keep? They should at least pay you the amount of any non-dependant deduction being taken from your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and Council Tax Support, and more towards food and other bills.
- Consider taking in a lodger. If you wish to do this you must request permission before any one moves in; and ask us for advice as there are a number of factors you need to consider. And go to the section on ‘Bedroom Tax’ where we have some more information about taking in a lodger.
No, they are regarded as a separate ‘household’ for benefit purposes. The only benefits added together are those of the claimant and their partner and those paid for any children/young people they get Child Benefit for.
No, there is a special ‘grace period’ of nine months without being affected by the Cap, for people who claim benefits in the week immediately after losing their job. This gives you nine months to find another job before your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced.
If you are entitled to Housing Benefit, the rule is that you (or your partner) must have worked at least 16 hours a week in at least 50 out of the 52 weeks before claiming benefits.
If you are entitled to Universal Credit, you or your partner (or if you are both working – between the two of you) must have earned at least a certain amount in each of the 12 months before losing that job. The amount is £430 net or more in any monthly assessment periods which started before 1st April 2017, £520 net or more in any monthly assessment periods which started on or after 1st April 2017 or £542.88 or more in any monthly assessment periods which started on or after 1st April 2018.
Although this may be tempting it could have knock-on effects on other benefits, now and in the future. You could lose ‘passported’ benefits such as free prescriptions, free school meals, cold weather payments and access to budgeting loans, you could miss out on credited National Insurance contributions which may mean a reduced state pension, you could lose the right to be regarded as incapacitated or lose extra money given to you because you are regarded as disabled – all sorts of things – instead try one of the options given in the frequently asked question above.
© 2017 Housing Systems Ltd