Benefit cap and recent welfare changes

Household benefit cap

The Government has put a limit on the total amount of benefit that working age people can receive which means that households claiming out of work benefits will no longer receive more in benefits than the average wage paid to those who are working. A cap is placed on the total credits and benefits received from HM Revenue and Customs, Department for Work and Pensions and the Local Authority.

The cap will be applied through deductions from Housing Benefit payments.

How much is the benefit cap?

The actual amount of the cap is as follows:

  • a maximum of £257.69 a week if you're a single person and you have no children living with you
  • a maximum of £384.62 a week if you're either a couple, with or without dependant children OR a lone parent with dependant children

Are there any exceptions to the benefit cap?

The cap will not apply if you or a member of your household qualify for Working Tax Credit or get any of the following benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • Employment and Support Allowance, if paid with the support component
  • War Widow's or War Widower's Pension
  • Carers Allowance
  • Guardians Allowance

Benefit changes 2016/17

The following is a brief outline of changes to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction for the period April 2016 to April 2017.

Backdating (Housing Benefit)


From 01 April 2016, the period from when a written request is received for backdated Housing Benefit has been changed as follows:

Backdating period
Age Housing Benefit pre 01.04.16 Housing Benefit post 01.04.16 Council Tax Reduction pre 01.04.16  Council Tax Reduction post 01.04.16
 Working age  6 months  1 month  6 months  6 months
 Pension age  3 months   3 months  3 months  3 months

Self-Employment, Minimum Income Floor (Council Tax Reduction)

From 01 April 2016, all claimants of working age who are over 25 and who have been self-employed for over 12 months have their self-employment earnings calculated based on their actual earnings or the National Minimum Wage x 35 Hours whichever is the greater.

Abolition of the Family Premium (Housing Benefit)

From 01 May 2016, the family premium has been abolished for new Housing Benefit claims as follows:

Family premium
Age Housing Benefit pre 01.05.16 Housing Benefit post 01.05.16 Council Tax Reduction pre 01.05.16 Council Tax Reduction post 01.05.16
 Working Age  £17.45 £0.00 £17.45 £17.45
 Pension Age  £17.45 £0.00 £17.45 £17.45

Temporary absence (Housing Benefit)

From 28 July 2016, the allowable period for temporary absence outside of Great Britain has been reduced from 13 weeks to 4 weeks, subject to the following provisions:

  • intention to return home
  • that the main dwelling has not been and will not be sub-let
  • that the period of absence is unlikely to extend beyond the limits

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