‘Unfair’: Charity calls for end of UK government benefit cap

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The limit is deeply unpopular, with reports suggesting that households have been left without enough money to eat or pay their bills.

Anti-poverty campaigners are calling on Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak to end the cap on benefits as new figures show the affected numbers could soar next year.

The benefit cap was introduced by the UK government in 2013, preventing households from getting all the help they are entitled to from the social security system and not increasing with inflation.

New figures show that households outside of London are now losing £1,800 a year, compared to what they would have gained if the cap had risen with prices.

And when the Chancellor makes good on his promise to increase benefits in line with inflation in April of next year, the number of households whose benefits will be capped will massively increase, from about 120,000 to about 150,000.

Poverty Alliance has now written to the Chancellor, asking him to remove the cap, or at least increase it in line with the cost of living.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “The benefit cap is completely unfair and should have no place in a compassionate society. It cuts off the livelihood that people need and to which they are entitled.

“The current crisis is simply the latest episode in an ongoing injustice, where people’s incomes have fallen and the social safety net we all depend on has been deliberately slashed, benefit limits being just one example.”

The Poverty Alliance is coordinating the Scrap the Cap campaign, with the support of over 100 organizations across the UK, including the Church of Scotland, Save the Children UK, Child Poverty Action Group, One Parent Families Scotland and the Trussell Trust.

In 2013, a UK government survey found that capping benefits was supported by 73 per cent of people. But now a survey by Survation for the Poverty Alliance in March found that, excluding those who don’t know, 57 per cent 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 their homes, taken on debt or prevented their children from going to school because they cannot afford the associated costs.

Almost two-thirds of households said that in a typical month they do not have enough money to cover basic household expenses such as food, rent, electricity and gas. Many also said the cap has led to an increase in mental and physical health problems, as well as households being forced to use food banks and borrow money from friends and family and payday lenders.

Mr Kelly added: “The least the chancellor can do is make sure the cap is raised in line with the actual cost of living. Better yet, he should find the courage and compassion to ditch the cap entirely.”

A government spokesman said: “The benefit cap, up to £24,000 salary equivalent, balances fairness for taxpayers with the provision of a vital safety net.

“We are keeping the cap under review and any revisions would align with the timing of benefit enhancement decisions, with the changes taking effect next April.

“We understand that people are struggling with rising prices, which is why we have acted to protect the 8 million most vulnerable families through at least £1,200 in direct payments this year. All households will receive the £400 energy payments, 80% will get a £150 council tax rebate and those with the lowest incomes will get £650 in cost of living payments; neither of these payments count toward the benefit limit.

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