The Benefit Cap

The Benefit Cap is an upper limit on the amount of benefit a household can receive. It applies if you or your partner, if you have one, is of working age.

Applying the Benefit Cap 

For the Benefit Cap to apply, someone in the household must be in receipt of Housing Benefit.

A household means you, your partner (if you have one) and any children you are responsible for and who live with you.

Benefit Cap limits

The Benefit Cap limits are:

  • £384.62 a week if your household is made up of a couple (with or without children) or you are a lone parent and you have children living with you, that you are responsible for
  • £257.69 a week if you are a single person and have no children living with you

How Benefit Cap is calculated

Some of the benefits that are received by you, your partner (if you have one) and any children who live with you and you are responsible for, are added together to determine if you are above the limit.

It does not include individuals who may live in your household, who you are not responsible for.

Benefits which count towards Benefit Cap

The following benefits all count towards your household income:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (except where the support component has been awarded)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance
  • Widowed Mother's Allowance
  • Widow's Pension
  • Widow's Pension (age-related)

Households not affected by Benefit Cap

The Benefit Cap does not apply to households living in Supported Exempt Accommodation.

It does not apply if you or your partner qualify for Working Tax Credit or if you, your partner or any children you are responsible for and who live with you are in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Employment and Support Allowance (where the Support Component has been awarded)
  • Guardian's Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefit
  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (Guaranteed Income Payments)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • War Pensions (this includes the War Widow’s/Widower’s pension and War Disablement Pension)

One off payments such as Budgeting and Crisis loans, Bereavement payments, Cold Weather and Winter Fuel payments are excluded from the calculation.

This list is not exhaustive.

How Benefit Cap is administered

For those affected by the Benefit Cap, it is administered through a reduction in Housing Benefit.  If your household is, or becomes affected by the Benefit Cap, you will receive a Housing Benefit award notification from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, advising that your Housing Benefit amount will reduce due to the Benefit Cap.  

This letter will also detail the benefits and itemised amounts used to calculate the Benefit Cap.

When Universal Credit is introduced, the Benefit Cap might apply to your combined income from Universal Credit along with other benefits such as Child Benefit.

Help available for affected households

Finding work could mean that the Benefit Cap would not apply to you because qualifying for Working Tax Credit will mean that you are not affected by these new rules.

You can get help finding work by contacting your nearest Jobs & Benefits office / Social Security Office / Job Centre where an adviser will support you.

An additional Supplementary Payment, available until 31 March 2020 to cover any loss of housing benefit, may be available for households with children identified as being affected by the Benefit Cap. This does not affect your tax credits entitlement and you won't have to pay any tax on it.

If you are affected by the Benefit Cap, you do not need to apply for a Supplementary Payment. The Department for Communities will identify who is eligible and the payments will cover any loss of Housing Benefit.

The Supplementary Payments are made every four weeks in arrears and are paid to the person who receives the Housing Benefit - this could be the claimant, their landlord or a letting agent acting on the landlord’s behalf.

Any landlords or letting agents must be on the Landlord Register to receive a Supplementary Payment where applicable. If they are not, the payments are made to the benefit claimant.

Households affected by the Benefit Cap may also be entitled to a Supplementary Payment, provided they have been in receipt of one of the benefits included in the Benefit Cap calculation.

Anyone affected by the Benefit Cap who is not eligible for a Supplementary Payment, may be eligible to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to make up for a reduction in their Housing Benefit.

More information

More information on finding work/claiming Working Tax Credit can be found at:

More information on Housing Benefit and claiming Discretionary Housing Payment can be found at:

More information on Benefit Cap can be found at:

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