Ahead of a statement today by Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the UK’s economic recovery, the Poverty Alliance have written to him calling for the statement to be used to end the benefit cap, as a first step toward a more just social security system and a more just economic recovery.
The letter says that “(b)y breaking the link between what families need and the level of support they receive, the cap locks families into poverty and drives rent arrears, food insecurity and debt“, and cautions the Chancellor that “an economic recovery that keeps families locked into poverty – and which further embeds inequalities, as the benefit cap does – will be no recovery at all.”
The cap, which has been in place since 2013, limits the total amount of support that any family can receive from the social security system. Since its introduction 310,000 families across the UK, including 13,000 in Scotland, have been affected. Lone parent families and larger families are particularly impacted by the cap. 70% of all families affected are lone parent families and – with the overwhelming majority of lone parents being women – the cap is inextricably linked to women’s poverty and, by extension, child poverty.
Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said:
“Covid-19 has underlined just how important our social security system is for people who are struggling to stay afloat. But it has also shown just how many gaps there are in our system of social protection. As we move out of this phase of the pandemic, there are changes that can be made in the short-term to ensure that the social security system supports everyone in need through the process of economic recovery.
The benefit cap, which limits the amount of benefits that any family receives regardless of need, is one area where changes could be made now. That’s why we are urging the Chancellor to commit today to scrapping the cap, and to take the first step toward re-designing our social security system so that it is just, compassionate, and supportive of an economic recovery for all.”
You can read the Poverty Alliance’s letter to the Chancellor here.