Capping of benefits

Summary

In April 2013, the government introduced a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can receive. This is called the benefit cap. This means that in general, households, in which at least one person is in receipt of a working age benefit, no longer receive more in welfare payments than the average weekly wage for working households.

Lower benefit cap levels came into effect from 7 November 2016. Different capping levels are now applied for those people who live inside Greater London and those persons who live outside Greater London. These replaced the single cap level that existed previously.

At the time of writing (May 2017), for persons who live outside of Greater London, the benefit cap levels are:

  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) for couples, whose children live with them, or do not live with them
  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) for a single person with children who live with that person
  • £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) for a single person who does not have children, or who has children but who not live with that person.

The new benefit cap levels were applied to all households that were already capped on 7 November and rolled-out to newly affected households from 7 November 2016 to 20 January 2017. The lower cap levels have increased the number of households in scope for the benefit cap. This has resulted in a sharp rise in the number households with capped benefits over the last quarter.

For most capped households the benefit cap is administered through Housing Benefit (HB), with a household’s HB entitlement being reduced so that the total amount of benefit received is no longer higher than the cap level. 

Key findings for households with benefits capped in Great Britain

Households may flow on and off the benefit cap on more than one occasion as circumstances change. The following bullet points refer to figures for Great Britain as a whole for February 2017.

  • 66,135 households had their Housing Benefit capped at February 2017. This is an increase of 46,000 households on the previous quarter (November 2016).
  • 134,000 households have had their benefits capped between 15 April 2013, when the benefit cap was introduced, and February 2017
  • 68,000 households are no longer capped at February 2017
  • 51.0% of capped households were capped by £50 or more a week.
  • 83.0% (55,000) of capped households included between 1 and 4 children and 10% (6,800) had 5 or more children. 93.0% (61,800) of capped households therefore included children.
  • 72.0% (48,000) of capped households constituted a single parent with child dependents.
  • 79.0% (38,000) of single-parent capped households have at least one child aged under 5 years, including 15.0% (7,200) with a child aged under 1 year at February 2017.

Lancashire-14 households with capped benefits

As at February 2017, 1,124 households in the Lancashire-14 area, and 726 households in the Lancashire-12 area had their benefits capped.

Blackpool (250) had the highest number of households with capped benefits in the Lancashire-14 area in February 2017, followed by Blackburn with Darwen (148), Preston (133), Lancaster (85), Hyndburn (82) and Burnley (79 households).

In contrast, Fylde (26) and Ribble Valley (9) had the lowest number of households with capped benefits in the Lancashre-14 area.

Table 1: Households with capped benefits, quarterly data (points in time) - February 2016 to February 2017

Area

Households with capped benefits – February 2016

Households with capped benefits – May 2016

Households with capped benefits – August 2016

Households with capped benefits - November 2016

Households with capped benefits – February 2017

Burnley

 18

 20

 18

 20

 79

Chorley

 8

 8

 7

 12

 52

Fylde

 ..

  .. 

 ..

 ..

 26

Hyndburn

 20

 24

 22

 15

 82

Lancaster

 16

 15

 19

 13

 85

Pendle

 15

 10

 13

 12

 57

Preston

 28

 31

 39

 31

 133

Ribble Valley

 ..

  .. 

 ..

 ..

 9

Rossendale

 7

 6

 6

 7

 43

South Ribble

 8

 12

 9

 10

 45

West Lancashire

 12

 14

 17

 16

 45

Wyre

 18

 17

 15

 10

 70

Lancashire-12 

150

157

165

146

 726

Blackburn with Darwen

 48

 50

 48

 47

 148

Blackpool

 66

 61

 57

 63

 250

Lancashire-14 

264

268

270

256

 1,124

North West 

1,437

1,456

1,439

1,323

 5,883

Great Britain

20,189

20,124

20,041

20,096

 66,135

Note: [1] '..' Numbers have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data and therefore individual cells may not sum to totals.

Source: Department for Work and Pensions, benefit cap statistics

Quarterly change in the number of households with capped benefits

Over the last quarter, the number of households with capped benefits increased sharply in Great Britain, rising by 46,039 (229.1%), more than tripling to 66,135 households in February 2017. This is owing to the implementation of the lower benefit cap levels from 7 November 2016.

In the Lancashire-14 area, the number of households with capped benefits more than quadrupled over the previous quarter, rising by 868 households (339.1%) to 1,124 households.

In the Lancashire-12 area, the number of capped households increased almost five-fold, rising by 580 households (397.3%) over the quarter to 726 households.

Within the Lancashire-14 area, Blackpool (187), Preston (102), Blackburn with Darwen (101), Lancaster (72) and Hyndburn (67) saw the largest quarterly increases in the number of households with capped benefits.

West Lancashire (29 households, 181.3%) recorded the smallest numeric and percentage increases over the quarter in the Lancashire-14 area.

Further analysis

Households with capped benefits, February 2017 (PDF 1,076 KB) 

Page updated May 2017