Are you of working age and currently in receipt of housing benefit? If so, you may be affected by the benefit cap.
What is the benefit cap?
The government is introducing a further cap to limit the amount of money a working age household can receive in benefits. The reduction was introduced on 7 November 2016 and the cap limits the amount of money these households can receive to:
• £442 per week for couples and lone parents
• £296 per week for single adults.
If you receive more benefits than the cap allows, your housing benefit will be reduced so that you do not receive more than the cap allows.
Which benefits are included in the 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 and guardian’s allowance
- child tax credit
- employment and support allowance except where it is paid with the support component
- housing benefit
- incapacity benefit
- income support
- jobseeker’s allowance
- maternity allowance
- severe disablement allowance
- widowed parent’s allowance / mother’s allowance / widow’s pension.
If the amount you receive after these benefits have been added up is more than the cap allows, then your housing benefit will be reduced.
Which households will be exempt from the cap?
The cap only affects working age households. Working age claimants are normally aged over 18 and under the qualifying age for State Pension Credit. If you are entitled to the following benefits you will also be exempt from the cap:
- working tax credit
- disability living allowance
- personal independence payment
- attendance allowance
- support component of ESA
- industrial injuries benefits
- war widows and war widowers pension.
How do I find out if I am affected?
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Westminster City Council have both written to people who may be affected by the cap.
If you are affected by the benefit cap, your housing benefit will be reduced. You will need to use money from your other benefits or income to pay rent. If you don’t continue to pay your rent in full, you could lose your home.
What should I do if I am affected?
If you think that you will have difficulty in paying your rent on time, contact us straight away so we can help. We also offer support and advice on employment, training and more.
What can I do to avoid the benefit cap?
The best course of action to avoid the benefit cap is to find employment. If you are in work but not eligible for working tax credits, ask your employer for additional hours.
How else can I increase my household income?
If members of your family are also out of work, we can make an appointment for them to see a specialist benefit adviser. We can also arrange for you to see someone who will help with interview techniques, preparing CV's, access to jobs and job specific training. Contact the income team at your local housing office for an appointment.
How do I manage a reduction in benefits?
Working out a household budget will help you to work out where your money is going and how best to manage finances, the money advice service's online budget planner can help you to do this.