The Benefit Cap

CORONAVIRUS: Many people have been told to claim Universal Credit because their income has dropped due to the Coronavirus – but this may not be their only option or, if they are affected by the Benefit Cap their best option – especially if they are already getting Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit. See our Coronavirus pages for more information.

The Benefit Cap

The Benefit Cap limits the overall amount of welfare benefits a ‘working age’ household can receive. It applies to working age claimants – but some are excluded (see below).

You will only be affected by the Benefit Cap if you are not excluded and your total ‘welfare’ is above the cap limit – this usually only applies to families with 3 or more children and those with high rents (i.e. those who receive a high amount of welfare).

If you are affected by the Benefit Cap, then the amount you get from Universal Credit will go down to make sure you do not get more than the cap limit.

Who isn’t affected by the Benefit Cap?

The Benefit Cap does not apply to you (ie you are excluded) if:

  • In any Assessment Period you or your partner have earned income of £617 or more.

  • You, your partner, or a child or young person included in your claim gets Disability Living Allowance/Scottish Child Disability Payment, Personal Independence Payment, Armed Forces Independent Payment, Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance.

  • You or your partner have been found to have a Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activity (ie your award includes a LCWRA Element).
    See If you have a health condition that affects your ability to work for more information.

  • You or your partner get Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

  • You or your partner get a War Disablement Pension, Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payment, or a War Widows’/Widowers’ Pension.

  • You or your partner are getting (or have a recognised underlying entitlement to) Carer’s Allowance, or have a Carer Element included when your Universal Credit award is assessed.
    See If you are a carer for more information.

  • You or your partner get paid Guardian’s Allowance.

  • You (or you and your partner) have lost your job and you received earnings of at least £617 per month in each of the previous 12 months – you will be protected for a ‘grace period’ of 9 months.

How do you work out if the Cap applies?

If you are not getting one of the benefits / in one of the situations that would exclude you from the Benefit Cap, then the Benefit Cap might reduce your Universal Credit.

First the DWP will add together most of the benefits you are entitled to (including Child Benefit) and add them to the Universal Credit award to work out your monthly total welfare figure.

They will then compare this total to the Benefit Cap limit that applies to you:

SituationWeekly AmountMonthly Amount
Families with children and couples – in London£442.31£1916.67
Families with children and couples – outside London£384.62£1666.67
Single people – in London£296.35£1284.17
Single people – outside London£257.69£1116.67

If your total welfare is above this Cap limit in any Assessment Period, then your Universal Credit payment will be reduced for that Assessment Period.

If you are struggling to pay your rent because of the Cap, then you might be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment to help you.
See Discretionary Housing Payments for more information.

For the government’s Benefit Cap calculator go to this link:

Mahia and Para have 6 children aged 17, 14, 10, 6, and twins aged 5. They have had difficulty finding work, and their rent is £128.00 per week (which works out at £554.67 per month). They live outside Greater London.

They are entitled to:

Child Benefit = £394.98 per month
Universal Credit = £2532.48 per month

Their total “welfare” is £2927.46 per month.

As their total welfare income is £1260.79 over their Benefit Cap of £1666.67 per month, their Universal Credit will be reduced by £1347.46 to £1271.69

They will need to pay for their rent, food, bills etc. out of their reduced Universal Credit and their Child Benefit.

Shaun lives outside Greater London. He is a single parent with three children age 11, 9 and 7. He is looking for work. His rent is £110 a week for a three bedroom house:

Child Benefit = £212.98 per month
Universal Credit = £1558.17 per month

His total “welfare” is £1771.15 per month.

The Benefit Cap limit which applies to Shaun is £1666.67 per month.
His ‘excess’ income is £191.15 (£1771.15 minus £1666.67 = £104.48).

His Universal Credit will be reduced by £104.48 – his next payment will be £1,453.69.

NOTE: When the DWP add your benefits together they will not include: any Childcare Costs Element in your Universal Credit award, Council Tax Support, Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Bereavement Support Payment, Discretionary Housing Payments or Housing Benefit paid on ‘specified accommodation’ (ask your landlord or a Benefits Adviser if you’re not sure if this applies to you).


Frequently Asked Questions