Anti-poverty campaigners are today calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to end the ‘unjust’ benefit cap – as new figures show that the numbers affected could rocket next year.
The benefit cap was introduced by the UK Government in 2013. It blocks households from getting all the help they are entitled to from the social security system, and it doesn’t rise with inflation.
New figures show that households outside London are now losing out on a massive £1,800 a year – compared to what they would have got if the cap had risen with prices.
And when the Chancellor fulfils a pledge to increase benefits in line with inflation in April next year, that will massively increase the number of households who will have their benefits capped – from around 120,000 to around 150,000.
Today (Thu 23) the Poverty Alliance has written to the Chancellor, calling on him to scrap the cap, or at least raise it in line with living costs.
Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “The benefit cap is completely unjust and should have no place in a compassionate society. It cuts the lifeline that people need and are entitled to.
“The present crisis is simply the latest episode of an ongoing injustice, where people’s incomes have fallen and the social security net that we all rely on has been deliberately cut, with the benefit cap being just one example.
“The very least the Chancellor can do is to make sure that the cap is raised in line with the real cost of living. Better still, he should find the courage and compassion to scrap the cap altogether.”
The Poverty Alliance co-ordinates a ‘Scrap the Cap’ campaign, supported by over 100 organisations across the UK including the Church of Scotland, Save the Children UK, the Child Poverty Action Group, One Parent Families Scotland, and the Trussell Trust.
In 2013, UK Government polling found that the benefit cap was supported by 73% of people. But now a survey carried out by Survation for the Poverty Alliance in March found that – excluding don’t-knows – 57% of people now think the UK Government should remove the cap.
A survey of households affected by the benefit cap found families who have been evicted from homes, fallen into problem debt, or kept children from school because they cannot afford the associated costs.
Nearly two-thirds of households said that in a normal month they do not have enough money to cover basic household expenses like food, rent, electricity and gas. Many also said that the cap has led to increased mental and physical health problems, as well as households being forced into using food banks, and into borrowing money from friends and family and payday lenders.
You can read the full letter to the Chancellor here: BC Uprating – Letter to Chancellor