Most claimants lose cash as “cruel” Tory benefit caps hit the poorest hardest

Poverty family

Single parents with very young children are affected the worst 

4th August 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

“Cruel” Tory benefit caps are to blame for a huge rise in families who have had their benefits slashed.

New figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show a 214% increase in the number of UK household hit by benefit cuts since the cap was introduced last year.

Benefit caps were introduced to limit the total amount a household can receive in state support. It was reduced in November 2016 to £23,000 per year in London (£15,410 for single people) and £20,000 per year (£13,400 for single people) in the rest of the UK.

Worryingly half of capped households have lost up to £50 per week and the number of families capped by £50 to £100 has increased from 25% (5,100) in August 2016 to 33% (22,000) in May 2017.

Child poverty campaigners have called for the cap to be halted.

Imran Hussain, director of Policy, Rights & Advocacy at the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) charity, said the policy is “cruel” and had been mis-sold to the public.

“Ministers say the benefit cap is about getting the unemployed into work, but their own figures show only 17% of households hit by it are in that position,” he said.

“The vast majority of households made poorer by the benefit cap are led by adults whom the rest of the benefits system accepts cannot work because they are lone parents, often with very young children, or cannot work due to illness or disability.

“The cap may be impoverishing more and more young families, and putting parents who the DWP knows can’t work through untold stress, but it isn’t helping people into work.

 “The time for discontinuing the policy has now come.”

It isn’t helping people into work - Imran Hussain

Figures show that 40% of capped households lived in London before the cap was introduced last year. This has now fallen to 23% of all capped households, meaning that more families from other towns and cities have been sucked into the cap.

The majority of those affected by the cap are lone parents with young children. Some 78% of single parents affected have at least one child under five, while 35% have a child under two and are not expected to look for work.

Single parents who are expected to look for work also face rising childcare costs and other barriers.

In June this year, the High Court ruled that the government’s benefits cap is unlawful because it discriminates against single parents with children under two years old. In his ruling, Mr Justice Collins said the cap causes “real misery to no good purpose”.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said that it will appeal the decision.

However as the case was brought via judicial review, it does not force the government to change the law.

As such even if the ruling is accepted the government would have to pass legislation through parliament which would take several months to come into force.