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. 

Benefit cap if you get Universal Credit

The benefit cap might not affect 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.

You won't be affected by the benefit cap for the first 9 months of your Universal Credit claim if

  • you started claiming Universal Credit because you lost your job or your earnings reduced
  • you’re now earning less than £617 a month
  • you earned £617 or more each month in the 12 months before you applied for Universal Credit

Benefit cap if you get 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 benefit cap

Some people get extra help if they are affected by the benefit cap. This help is called a welfare supplementary payment. 

Changes to the law in 2022 mean that 

  • you should this extra payment if you have children in your home
  • your payment should cover the full amount of benefits you are losing because of the benefit cap and
  • your payments can start again if they had previously stopped but you are still affected by the benefit cap

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 and you aren't getting a supplementary payment to cover this loss.

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.