Fears emerge that 40,000 more children could face poverty following further reductions of the benefit cap

2 June 2015

The Guardian has reported on leaked internal government advice which warns the Department for Work and Pensions that ‘around 40,000 more … children might in the absence of any behaviour change, find themselves in poverty as a result of reducing the cap to £23,000’.

This is in addition to the 50,000 children who are currently below the poverty line as a result of the current benefit cap of £26,000.

Despite these warnings, Labour have come out in favour of lowering the benefit cap, as announced by Harriet Harman in her response to last week’s Queen’s speech in which the cap was confirmed. Harman stated that the Labour party were ‘sympathetic’ to the government’s pledge to cut the annual income of families in receipt of benefits by £3,000. This is a move away from Labour’s position during the election.

She said that measures should be taken to prevent families from being threatened by poverty and homelessness, however with cuts to Discretionary Housing Payments, it remains to be seen whether this support is available to those who need it most.

The National Housing Federation have projected that a further 90,000 households in the private and social sectors will be affected by the benefit cap. This is on top of the 59,000 households already impacted.
The government has responded by stating that the benefit cap incentivises people to find work, citing it as an example of ‘social justice in action’.

It is feared by a number of charities and housing associations that the cap will be particularly disruptive for families in London. Mathew Reed from the Children’s Society commented to the Independent that: ‘We fully support efforts to make work pay. But it is not right to achieve this by putting more children on the breadline’.