Calculation of housing benefit and council tax support

Benefit cap and other changes

Changes to the benefit cap were introduced in autumn 2016.

Benefit cap - overall limits

There is a limit on the maximum amount that working age households can receive in benefits.  This is called the benefit cap.

Cap amounts

There are two cap amounts, one for people who live in London and those that live outside London.

The cap for London

  • £296.35 per week for single people without children
  • £442.31 per week for single parents
  • £442.31 per week for couples with or without children

The national cap outside London

  • £257.69 per week for single people without children
  • £384.62 per week for single parents
  • £384.62 per week for couples with or without children

Options for people affected by the benefit cap

If your housing benefit is reduced by a small amount per week you may be able to:

  • budget to find extra income to pay the shortfall
  • negotiate a rent reduction with your landlord  if you are a private tenant or move to cheaper accommodation

If the benefit cap reduces your housing benefit by a large amount per week you can consider the following options:

  • phone the Department for Work and pensions (DWP) benefits cap helpline, tel: 0845 605 7064
  • start work
    • single people need to work 16 hours per week or more, including lone parents. If you are already working, increase the number of hours worked. This will then mean you qualify for Working Tax Credit 
    • couples need to work 24 hours per week or more. The hours worked by you or your partner or both of you should total 24 hours per week or more. If you are already working, increase the number of hours worked. This will then mean you qualify for Working Tax Credit.   
    • Qualifying for Working Tax Credit under the above hours conditions, would exempt you from the benefit cap.
  • get advice and support to get into work from one of four work clubs
  • if you are a private tenant and your housing benefit has been reduced by the benefit cap you may need to look in different areas where the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates are lower. This will reduce your housing benefit and hence reduce the impact of the benefit cap. To check the LHA rates you can search LHA areas by postcode
  • you, your partner or your child, may be able to get a benefit that exempts you from the benefit cap like Employment and Support Allowance with the support component, Disability Living Allowance for children or a Personal Independence Payment. If you would like advice on these benefits please ring the Community Benefits Team on 020 8825 8555.
  • claim a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) for the shortfall for a short period - there are conditions that you will have to meet to get a DHP award 

Removal of the cap

If you dispute the total benefits that you receive that count towards the cap you must speak to the DWP on their helpline tel: 0845 605 7064.

Benefit changes 2017

More than two children

If you have more than two children and make a new claim for housing benefit you must provide a copy of your current Child Tax Credit notification unless you are in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Income support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance 
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit (the Guarantee part)

If you do not give us a copy of your current Child Tax Credit notification, we can only take into account two children when working out your housing benefit.

Disability and additional bedrooms

From 1 April 2017 the housing benefit regulations allow an additional bedroom when a disabled child or disabled non dependant adult requires a bedroom for non-resident overnight carer. And an additional bedroom for a couple who cannot share a room due to disability.

Childcare

If you have children aged 3-4 years old, you may be able to get 30 hours a week free childcare.

Changes to council tax support scheme

The rates used in the working aged scheme for 2019/20 have been increased.