17:50 Friday 10 January 2014

Numbers hit by benefits cap is low, but welfare reforms still bite

Written byLAURA HAMMOND

FIGURES revealing the amount of people to have been affected by a Government cap in benefits have shown that relatively few people have been hit in this area.

Just under 60 households have been faced with a loss of benefits across East Staffordshire, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire since the cap was introduced last year.

East Staffordshire has seen the biggest impact, with 27 homes hit with reductions. South Derbyshire has 11 affected households, and North West Leicestershire has 18.

Dawn Green, chief executive of East Staffordshire Citizens Bureau (CAB) said the number was too small to tell if there had been a significant impact.

“I don’t think we would notice if there had been a significant increase in enquiries. We estimated how many households could face the cap, and we knew it was going to be minor.

“The bigger impacts we have seen are from the ‘bedroom tax’ and changes to council tax benefit. We’ve seen a steady increase in requests, as people have tried to manage,” she told the Mail.

The Coalition introduced the benefit cap last year, as a way to ensure that it was not possible for people on benefits to earn more than the average working family, Handouts to single people was to be capped at £350 a month, and couples, or those with children would receive no more than £500. It is not known whether those affected in this area are single or family households.

At the time, they wanted to make it clear that it paid to work.

As of November, which are the most recent figures available, 33,000 households had been affected by the cap.

Lord David Freud, minister for welfare reform, said: “These figures show that the benefit cap is returning fairness to the system by ensuring that families on benefits can no longer get more money than the average family earns.

“It is not right that some families on benefits were receiving amounts of money that hardworking taxpayers could only dream of and our welfare reforms are working to fix the system.”

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