Contact a Family have advised the following for anyone who has a disabled child or is a carer for an older adult. We think this advice should also apply to anyone who might qualify for PIP and who hasn’t yet claimed.
Over the next ten days the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will write to all those families who are going to be affected by changes to the household benefit cap in November. These letters will be sent out between 19 and 29 September.
The good news is you are exempt from the benefit cap if you have a dependent child who is on either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
If you have a disabled child but haven’t claimed DLA/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.
If you are disabled and think you may qualify even for the lowest rates of PIP please apply now.
What is the household benefit cap?
The household benefit cap limits the total amount of benefits that an out of work family can receive. At the moment the cap is £500 a week for lone parents and couples.
However, from 7 Nov 2016 the government intends to lower this figure to £442 in London and to £384.62 elsewhere for couples and single parents with children living with them. For single people without children the cap will limit overall weekly payments to £296.35 in London and £256.69 outside Greater London.
An extra 88,000 households are expected to be affected by this lower cap. 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 from the household benefit cap?
All families with a dependent child on DLA or PIP are exempt from the cap. It doesn’t matter what rate of DLA or PIP your child gets – even if they only get the lowest rate you will still be exempt from the cap.
Am I still protected from the cap if my son or daughter stops being treated as a dependent child?
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 dependent. This means that their parent may then lose their exemption from the benefit cap.
However, the government has said in the autumn it will change the benefit cap rules so that you are also exempt if you are entitled to Carer’s Allowance or get a carer element in your Universal Credit. These changes to the rules for carers will help some parents who care for a disabled young person to remain exempt from the cap despite their child no longer being a dependent. These changes for carers have already been introduced in Northern Ireland.
Benefits included in the cap
The cap applies to the total amount people in your household (you, your partner and any children living with you) get from the following benefits:
- Bereavement Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance(this won’t be affected by the benefit cap from autumn 2016)
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance(unless you get the ‘support’ component)
- Guardian’s Allowance(this won’t be affected by the benefit cap from autumn 2016)
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance(or Widowed Mother’s Allowance or Widows Pension if you started getting it before 9 April 2001)
- Universal Credit(unless you’ve had a work capability assessment and aren’t fit for work)
Payments towards carer’s costs in Universal Credit won’t be affected by the benefit cap from autumn 2016.
Benefits that aren’t included
You’re not affected by the cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:
- Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Employment and Support Allowance(if you get the support component)
- Industrial Injuries Benefits(and equivalent payments as part of a War Disablement Pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Universal Creditpayment for ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’
- War pensions
- War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension
If you have adult children or non-dependants living with you and they qualify for any of these benefits, you may be affected by the cap. This is because they’re not usually included in your household.