The surplus children's tax

When the benefit cap was first introduced it was justified by saying people on benefit shouldn’t receive more than people on a typical income.

Leaving aside a logic, that has more holes in it than a fisherman’s vest, outside of London and areas with high private rent levels the main victims of this measure have been families with large numbers of children.

The original £26,000 cap mainly affected families with five or more children, a relatively small proportion of local families.

The DWP’s own figures show that just under 300 families have been affected locally since the cap was introduced in July 2013, with about 100 affected at any one point.

Of these around 200 have five or more children the remainder having 3 or 4.

This is a significant issue for the families concerned, many of whom face significant shortfalls in their housing benefit of up to £150 a week. However, the numbers are not huge and Discretionary Housing Payments have been able to mitigate some of the worst affects.

However, the decision in the budget to reduce the cap to £20,000 p.a. outside of London will bring far more families within its scope. In north Staffordshire, where rent levels are relatively low, this means that unemployed families with three or more children will now be affected as well as some with two children.

Unless adults in such families can find some work they will lose money from their Housing benefit thus increasing the risk of arrears and homelessness.

Ultimately it will be the children who are the cause of this sanction who will suffer just as much as their parents with their education disrupted, if they have to move, less money for food and fuel let alone treats.

This makes it an unjustifiably harsh measure that will damage their life chances and risks embedding them further into poverty.

This entry was posted on October 12, 2015

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