Benefit cap

What is the benefit cap?

In July 2013, the government introduced a limit to the total amount of benefits that couples, lone parents and single people receive, based on an average income of a working household.

This means that the maximum weekly benefit was capped at £350 for a childless single household, and £500 for a couple or a lone parent.

What has changed?

The Welfare Reform and Work Act (2016) introduces some changes to the benefit cap, even if your benefit is capped already. The benefit cap changes will start to be implemented from 7 November 2016.

They include changes to the benefit cap levels to £20,000 a year for couples with or without children and lone parents and £13,400 for single people without children who live outside of London. They also include additional exemptions for recipients of Guardian’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimants who receive payments towards carer’s costs.

From 7 November 2016, the cap will be reduced to

  • £385 per week for couples (with or without children) and lone parents
  • £285 per week for single adults

More information about the changes

How much could you lose?

Find out how the benefit cap will affect you personally by using the benefit cap calculator

Help from us

We have several options to help you with managing changes to your benefits -

  • Back into work - we can help you find employment and protect your current benefits
  • The Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) scheme provides financial support for those on a low income who may need further help with their housing costs.

    The council receives a limited amount of funding each year from the government towards the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme. DHPs are not part of the normal Housing Benefit scheme and because the money available is limited, the council will only grant help to people who have special circumstances which make it difficult for them to pay their rent. Visit the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) page for further information, and to apply.

Other help

You can also get help and advice from

  • Citizens Advice provide free and confidential advice and can be contacted on 0844 855 2122
  • If you need help managing your money please contact the council’s Money Advice Service as soon as you can. For free independent advice about how to make the best of your money, including budgeting, savings and dealing with debt contact us on 01604 838578 or email [email protected]
  • Shelter offers confidential advice on housing, benefits and debt. Call the Freephone Housing Advice Helpline on 0808 800 4444. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday to Sunday 8am to 5pm.

  • If you wish to discuss how the Jobcentre Plus service can help you find work, learn new skills, advise you with budgeting and with options for child care contact their helpline on 0345 605 7064.

  • If renting privately is or may no longer be an option, then you may want to consider social housing. Northampton Partnership Homes should be able to help with this.