Lower benefits cap branded 'monstrous' as it comes into force

Posted On: 
7th November 2016

A new lower cap on the amount working age households can receive in certain benefits has been branded a “monstrous assault” on single mothers.

An estimated 88,000 households will be subject to the cap from today
PA Images

The cap, which comes into force today, has been reduced from £26,000 per household a year to £20,000  – although the limit in London is £23,000.

It means 64,000 extra households will now see a cut to the payments they receive.

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But the GMB union argued nearly two thirds of those affected are single mothers and warned the cap would “shatter” the life chances of children.

National Secretary Rehana Azam said: "Just four months ago, Theresa May stood on the steps of Downing Street promising to fight injustice and to ensure every person regardless of their background would be given the chance to be all they want to be.

"Today she is unleashing a monstrous new assault on 40,000 single mothers, which risks shattering the life chances of children up and down our country.

"This has echoes of the staggering hypocrisy and chilling callousness that saw the victimisation of single mothers in the bad old days of the early 1990s."

The Department for Work and Pensions insists around 23,500 households who were previously subject to the cap have found work since 2013.

But the Institute for Fiscal Studies said “the majority of those affected will not respond" by moving house or moving into work.

The thinktank added that the £100m a year saved by the Treasury by the change was only a fraction of the total £12bn cuts due over the current parliament.

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith branded the lower cap “arbitrary” as he resigned from the Government in protest in March.

But new Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said: "By making sure that those people who are out of work are faced with the same choices as those who are in work, the benefit cap has been a real success.

"By lowering the cap today, we are ensuring the values of this government continue to chime with those of ordinary working people and delivering on our commitment to make sure work pays more than welfare."

Ministers argue the level of the cap is fair because it is close to the average salary after tax, while households where someone works more than 16 hours a week are exempt.