88,000 households affected by lowering of benefit cap today
Monday 7th November 2016
On Monday 7 November 2016, the household benefit cap is being lowered from £500 per week to £442 in London and to £385 elsewhere. An extra 88,000 households are expected to be affected by this lowered cap.
The good news is that in addition to being exempt from the benefit cap if you have a dependent child who is on either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), you can also be exempt if you are entitled to Carer's Allowance (including those who qualify but are not paid Carer's Allowance due to receipt of another benefit) or get a carer element in your Universal Credit.
What is the household benefit cap?
The household benefit cap limits the total benefits a household can receive including Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. If your benefit income is above the cap then the excess amount is cut from your housing benefit, or from your Universal Credit if you get this instead. The cap is lower for single people without children.
Are families with disabled children exempt?
All families with a dependent child on DLA or PIP, at any rate, are exempt from the cap. There are also now exemptions if you are entitled to Carer's Allowance or get a carer element in your Universal Credit.
Am I still protected from the cap if my son or daughter stops
being treated as a dependent child?
You are only exempt if you have a 'dependent' child on DLA or PIP. If a disabled child aged 16 or above either leaves education, turns 20 or claims certain benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, they stop being treated as a dependant. This means that their parent may then lose their exemption from the benefit cap.
However, anyone who is getting, or has an underlying entitlement to, Carer's Allowance will also be exempt from the cap. You will also be exempt if you get a carer element in your Universal Credit.
This means that if you get either of these benefits payments, you will be exempt from the benefit cap even if your child is no longer treated as a dependent.
If I'm not exempt can I still get help?
Those who cannot afford the cuts can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). This is not a guaranteed payment and must be arranged by your local council. Please call our helpline for advice on DHPs.
If you've got a disabled child but haven't claimed DLA or PIP for them yet, think about doing so now. Getting an award of DLA or PIP at any rate will mean you don't have to worry about the benefit cap hitting your family.