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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Housing benefit and the benefit cap

In 2016 the government set a maximum amount it would pay in benefits to any household. This policy is called the "benefit cap". It means that you may not get all the benefits you are entitled to. 

The benefit cap does not apply to everyone. 

Does the benefit cap apply to everyone on Universal Credit?

The benefit cap might not apply to you if you get Universal Credit and

  • you get the limited capability for work and work related activity component
  • you get the carer's component
  • you, or you and your partner combined, earn at least £617 a month after tax.

The benefit cap may not apply immediately when you claim Universal Credit. There is a 9 month grace period, during which you can get all the benefits you are entitled to.  This 9-month grace period applies if

  • you started claiming Universal Credit because you lost your job or your earnings reduced
  • you’re now earning less than £617 a month
  • your earnings were at or above the earnings threshold each month for 12 months before you applied for UC.

The earnings threshold is £604 from 12 April 2020 until 11 April 2021. It is £617 from 12 April 2021. 

Does the benefit cap apply to everyone on other benefits?

The benefit cap may not apply to you if

  • you are of pension credit age
  • you get working tax credits
  • you get certain sickness or disability benefits
  • you get a war pension or armed forces compensation payment
  • you or your partner lost your job, but worked for at least 50 of the 52 weeks up to the date you lost your job. If this applies to you, you will be protected from the benefit cap for 39 weeks. 

How much is the benefit cap?

The benefit cap is currently

  • £384.62 per week for couples
  • £384.62 per households with children
  • £257.69 per week for single adults

You cannot receive more than this from benefits. If you are entitled to more money, the extra will be deducted from

  • your Housing Benefit, or
  • your Universal Credit.

Extra help if you're affected by the benefits cap

Some people get extra help if they are affected by the benefits cap. This help is called a welfare supplementary payment. You will only get this help if

  • you have been claiming benefits since May 2016 and
  • there is a child or children in your home.

Your supplementary payment may not cover the full amount deducted from your benefits. 

More help if you get housing benefit

You can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if your housing benefit was cut by the benefit cap.

Apply to the Housing Executive. Our advisers can help you with the application. 

People who get universal credit can only apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if they rent privately.