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Benefits and housing

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Benefits explained

The benefits system is complex and your entitlement can be affected by a number of different factors. Our partners at the Money Advice Service have produced guidance to help you check that you are in receipt of the right benefits for your circumstances.

Benefit cap

If you’re aged 16 to 64, there may be a limit on the total amount of benefit your household can get. This is called a benefit cap.

If your income goes above this amount, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced until your income falls below the limit.

Changes to the Benefit cap

In November 2016, the Government announced changes to the amount of Housing Benefit you can claim. The maximum limit, or cap, is currently £500 per week (£26,000 per year) for couples and lone parents and £350 per week (£18,000 per year) for single adults. This cap will become £384.62 per week (£20,000 per year) for couples and lone parents and £257.69 (£13,400 per year) for single adults.

The benefit cap may not apply to you if you are getting Working Tax Credit or some disability benefits. For a full list of exemptions please click here. If you’re not getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit you won’t be affected by the benefit cap. 

You can use the Government's benefit cap calculator to work out if your benefit will be capped.

Under occupation

If you have a spare bedroom and you’re renting a council or housing association property, then your Housing Benefit may be reduced. This is often referred to as the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

You’ll be affected by the penalty if:

  • you’re aged between 16 and minimum State Pension Credit age
  • you rent your property from a local authority, housing association or registered social landlord
  • you get Housing Benefit (or the housing element of Universal Credit)
  • you’re classed as having a spare bedroom.

The following rules are used when working out whether you have a spare room:

  • You are allowed one bedroom for each person over 16 or couple in a household.
  • Two children under 16 of the same gender are expected to share.
  • Two children under 10 are expected to share even if they are not the same sex.

You can use the Citizen's Advice bedroom calculator to find out how many bedrooms you are entitled to.