Benefits cap begins today
New Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) restrictions have started to take effect today. Under the new benefits cap, couples and single parents will receive no more than £500 a week and single adults without dependents will be limited to £350 a week.
This will include carer, housing, maternity and bereavement allowances as well as child benefit, but does not encompass disability, war widow/widowers’ and industrial injuries benefits.
The reasoning behind this reform was the result of an investigation by the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, which concluded that the current benefits system discourages people from seeking out work.
The new scheme is set to affect over 60,000 households by a reduction in benefits of between £93 – £100 a week. Duncan Smith said: “The benefits cap returns fairness to the benefits system.”
He went on: “It ensures the taxpayer can have trust in the welfare system and it stops sky-high claims that make it impossible for people to move into work. The limit of £500 a week ensures no-one claims more in benefits than the average household and there is a clear reason for people to get a job – as those eligible for Working Tax Credit are exempt.”
However, critics say that these cuts will affect people living in parts of the country differently. Ruth Davison of the National Housing Federation said: “In many parts of the country, families won’t be able to pay high private rents because of the cap.” She further added: “There will be more demand than ever for affordable housing, particularly in Greater London where nearly half (49%) of the people affected by the benefit cap live.”
The DWP hopes to make savings of £110 million a year from this venture which has met with much public approval. However, Mr Duncan Smith has recently been criticised by the UK government statistics watchdog for misusing figures to promote the advantages of the cap.
He defended his use of statistics today, stating: “Already we’ve seen 8,000 people who would have been affected by the cap move into jobs. This clearly demonstrates that the cap is having the desired impact.”