August 3, 2017

Government figures out today show a huge jump in the number of households hit by the benefit cap since it was lowered in November 2016, with many areas of the country seeing more than a threefold rise. 
The number of households capped nationally rose by 240% (from 20,096 to 68,079).

•    Manchester saw a 310% increase in capped households (at 932, up from 227)
•    Birmingham saw a 380% rise (at 3079, up from 638);
•    Leeds saw a 340% increase (at 1,114 up from 255)
•    Bradford saw a 430% increase (at 873 up from 166)
•    Nottingham saw a 390% increase (at 610 up from 125);
•    Cardiff saw a 290% increase (at 729, up from 187)
•    Bristol saw a 310% increase (at 636 up from 155);
•    Glasgow saw a 470% increase (668 up from 118)
•    Liverpool saw a 560% increase (at 604 up from 91).

Some places which had small numbers of households capped until the cap was lowered have also seen dramatic increases.

•    Cornwall has seen the number of capped households rise by 460% (at 389 up from 69);
•    Oxford a 360% increase (at 222 up from 48);
•    Norwich a 210% rise (at 138 up from 45)
•    Chichester has seen the biggest percentage increase of 1400% (at 90 up from just 6).

London has seen a 95% increase in capped households (now at 15,700). 
A table showing increases in capped households in each area from November  2016 to May 2017 is attached to this email .  A DWP  table showing the number of households affected by region and by local authority is here  (See Tables, Table 3). 

The impact of the cap has spread far beyond London: before the cap was lowered, the capital accounted for 40% of capped households but now accounts for 23% (15,700 overall, 9,310 of which were brought within scope in November). 
The figures show the large majority of families (70%) affected are lone parents with very young children, whom the DWP does not require to work.  Seventy eight per cent of single parents affected have at least one child under five, including 35% with a child under 2.   Only 17% of capped households claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (ie are in a position where they are required to seek work).  (1)

Smaller families are also being dragged into the cap: three-child families are now most likely to be affected (41% of those capped), compared to five -or-more-child families at November.

Half of capped households lose up to £50 per week and the number of families capped by £50 to £100 went up from 25% (5,100) at August 2016 to 33% (22,000) at May 2017.

Commenting, Imran Hussain, Director of Policy, Rights & Advocacy said:

“The benefit cap is a cruel policy that’s been mis-sold to the public.  Ministers say the benefit cap is about getting the unemployed into work, but their own figures show only 17 per cent of households hit by it are in that position. The vast majority of households made poorer by the benefit cap are led by adults whom the rest of the benefits system accepts cannot work because they are lone parents, often with very young children, or cannot work due to illness or disability. 

“The cap may be impoverishing more and more young families, and putting parents who the DWP knows can’t work through untold stress, but it isn’t helping people into work. We already know the impact on work incentives of the cap is relatively small. The government’s own evaluation showed about 16 per cent of people moved into work shortly after being capped and that 11 per cent of people would have moved into work anyway. Today’s figures underline this by showing that as children get older, fewer parents are capped, suggesting that parents are already highly motivated to work, but often it’s just not feasible with pre-school kids

“This is a huge increase in the number of families sucked into the scope of the cap.  Families affected have their incomes cut dramatically yet most can’t just take a job to escape the cap.   Nor, in most cases, can they just up sticks to cheaper accommodation because more often than not there isn’t any.  And there is only so much families can cut back.  In a recent case relating to lone parents with under two year olds the High Court ruled that the cap is unlawful and causes “…real misery …to no good purpose” (2).  The same case can be made for lone parents with older children.  The time for discontinuing the policy has now come.”
Notes to Editors.

1.The cap was lowered to £20,000 outside London and £23,000 in London

2. The judgment in DA & Others v SSWP CO/379/2017 was given on 22 June 2017.

3 See also ‘Eight things you should know about the benefit cap’