From the TUC

The Benefit Cap hurts children most

07 Oct 2013, by in Society & Welfare

On Thursday, the government published the latest statistics for the benefit cap. Three quarters of the people hit by the cap are children and most of the families affected are losing more than £50 a week.

The cap was introduced in four London boroughs in April and then between July and the end of September it was extended to the rest of the country. The latest figures are for August, so they don’t yet cover the whole of Britain, but the numbers are increasing rapidly. There were 7,843 capped families in August about twenty per cent of the 40,000 families the government expects to be affected.

The Benefit Cap is a targeted cut: targeted in children and families in poverty. More than 98% of the families hit by the cap are families with children. Although the DWP does not give figures for the number of individuals affected, we can calculate from the figures they do give that 10,835 adults are affected and at least 30,593 children. Three quarters of the individuals hit by the cap are children.

And most will be children living in poverty:

  • 4,710 (60%) of the families that are losing out are lone parent families;
  • 6,989 (89%) are families with three or more children (39 per cent are families with five or more children).

We know from the government’s Households Below Average Income statistics that lone parent families and large families are disproportionately likely to be poor:

Benefit cap 1And we know that these families will suffer severe hardship: 53% of the families affected are losing more than £50 a week; 22% (1,770 families) are losing more than £100 a week.

For families in poverty, these are enormous sums. Parents who cannot get jobs will have to move to areas where rents are lower to get below the benefit cap. This will usually mean moving to areas where it is harder to get a job – producing the opposite result from the one the government says it wants. And, as I’ve noted before, it will mean changing schools in the middle of the academic year, hurting children’s exam results and making it harder for them to make and keep friends.

What have these children done to deserve this? Most already have the odds stacked against them, the government is determined to make things worse.



5 Responses to The Benefit Cap hurts children most

  1. Laura Dewar
    Oct 7th 2013, 3:31 pm

    Have you done a further breakdown of the ages of the children impacted? It is my understanding that many of the single parent households have younger children (under 5) so the option to work and escape cap is harder.

  2. Richard Exell

    Oct 7th 2013, 3:39 pm

    Hi Laura,

    Unfortunately, the only breakdowns in the figures released last week are by bands of amount of benefit lost, number of children in famkily, and household type. There aren’t any breakdowns that would allow me to look at, for instance, younger children in different family types.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if single parent households with younger children have been hard hit and one of the worrying points about the Cap is that when it forces lone parents to move away they are going to be particularly affected by the loss of networks of family and friends who might otherwise help with childcare – thus making it even harder for them to get paid jobs.


  3. jed goodright
    Oct 9th 2013, 11:54 am

    … but it’s all okay because neither the unions nor the labour party care enough to do or say anything about it …. keep up with the research lads!!! arbeit macht frei

  4. Housing Benefit and the Living Standards Crisis | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC
    Oct 31st 2013, 5:03 pm

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