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Scrap the benefit cap, UK Government told by campaigners

This news post is over 1 year old

The Poverty Alliance has said policy, introduced in 2013, is keeping thousands in poverty.

Campaigners in Scotland have urged the UK Government to lift its cap on benefits payments, with warnings that keeping it in place will continue to lock families into poverty. 

The Poverty Alliance has said the policy has the link between need and entitlement which is a founding principle of social security in Britain, calling for it to end. 

The cap, which was introduced by the UK Government in 2013, places a limit on the total amount of social security support a family can receive, regardless of what their need is assessed to be.

It was first introduced by the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, who stated: “The cap is about those who we believe should be able to go to work but are not doing so.”

Concerns have consistently been raised about the policy, which affects around 200,000 people across the UK. 

Research by the Child Poverty Action Group found that scrapping the cap, as well as the two-child limit on universal credit, could pull nearly 300,000 children out of poverty. 

Poverty Alliance, Scotland’s anti-poverty network, has now made fresh calls for the cap to go. 

Writing for the Herald, Poverty Alliance campaigns officer, Suzi Murning, said the benefit cap has locked thousands of families across the UK into poverty and hardship despite claims to the contrary by Tory ministers. 

She said: “The reality, however, is that the majority of people affected by the cap are not required to look for work due to ill-health or childcare responsibilities. 

”Subjecting these families and individuals to the benefit cap knowingly and purposefully locks them into poverty when they cannot access employment to boost their income. 

“It is morally outrageous that the people on the lowest incomes in our society are being trapped into hardship and suffering based on such flawed and unjust logic.”

A 2020 study by the London School of Economics concluded that the benefit cap could have the unintended consequence of pushing out-of-work people even further away from the labour market, due in part to the impact the policy has on mental health.

A survey conducted by the Poverty Alliance supported this claim, where almost all respondents reported that the cap had led to a negative impact on their mental health.

One respondent said: “The worry of struggling to pay bills and survive is incredibly detrimental to my health, and only worsens my condition, which in turn is taking longer for me to attempt to get back into a working life.”

Ms Murning said: “It’s clear that benefit cap has failed on its own terms but, more importantly, it represents a colossal moral failure that has no place in a just society. 

"The way the cap is designed means that some of the groups in our society already most at risk of being pulled into poverty – such as lone parents with young children (most of whom are women), larger families (who are disproportionately from black and minority ethnic backgrounds) and people who are not fit to work – are the most likely to have their support capped.

“For the people across the country who are affected, the benefit cap has meant poorer mental health, an inability to afford essentials like food and heating, reliance on foodbanks, and problem debt. For some, it has even led to homelessness.

“Scrapping the cap would be a significant step towards a more just society, where no one is forced into hardship. Let's give families what they need. Let's scrap the cap.”

The UK Government was approached for comment.



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over 1 year ago

Scrapping the cap will help not just myself but others who are struggling I have 5 children am a single mum and struggling some days I go with out food so my kids can eat I also can't keep on top of bills am struggling so are others Lift the cap help single mums