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Church agency warns of benefit cap threat to vulnerable families

By on Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith

As the Government begins to roll out the household benefit cap across Britain, Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), the social action agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has warned that the changes risk leaving “vulnerable families unable to meet the very basic costs of living and increase child poverty”.

The household benefit cap has already been implemented in the London boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey but on Monday the Department of Work and Pensions, led by minister Iain Duncan-Smith, began the first phase of its nationwide roll out.

Under the changes, benefits for couples or lone parent households will be capped at £500 per week and benefits for single person households will be capped at £350 per week.

CSAN’s chief executive, Helen O’Brien said: “As the first phase in the roll out of the household benefit cap begins, Catholic charities are bracing themselves for rising demand for their services.

“The household benefit cap has been set at an arbitrary level taking no account of family size or geographical variations in living costs. We are extremely concerned about the disproportionate impact the cap is likely to have on larger households and those living in London. We fear that the cap may leave vulnerable families unable to meet the very basic costs of living and increase child poverty.

“Already Catholic charities are reporting more families struggling to pay their rent, foregoing meals and essential utilities. Many dioceses and Catholic charities are expanding foodbank and nightstop services and are proactively exploring ways they can reach out to those affected.”

CSAN has consistently voiced its concerns about the introduction of the household benefit cap in its current form. CSAN previously called for child benefit to be excluded from the plans and for regional variations in the cap.

  • $27740841

    The new benefit cap is £500 per week for a couple or for a single parent household. That’s £2,000 per month, or £24,000 per year, tax free.
    For a couple or single parent to take home a net annual income of £24,000, they would have to earn over £30,000 before tax. Is CSAN suggesting that households on this income are “vulnerable”?

  • Barbara Harrison

    i could do with having £350 a week as i only get £101 and have to pay rent of £35 per week water rates £10 a week then there is other bills to pay

  • Darren

    In fact, working families are more vulnerable, since they are more or less at the whim of the employer and could lose their job / salary at any moment. Whereas benefits payments continue to come in in perpetuity.

  • anon

    People who have no choice but to stay in their homes now deemed too large for their needs (“under-occupancy”) and having to find additional money to pay for the loss of housing benefit, will be in hidden poverty this winter ( food or heating? ). Joining a long waiting list for single room accommodation is a worse option. The government’s policy is disproportionately affecting people with disabilities, and those living in areas of high unemployment, across the UK.

  • JonathanBurdon

    I think many ‘Catholic’ charities can only very loosely describe themselves as such nowadays. They’ve been taken over by whining lefties.

  • Shebah

    OH dear, I support a family who will lose £60 per week. Dad is poorly and not fit to work at the moment but would love to, They have 5 children and one one on the way – so what do you suggest they do? Instead of this stupid cap we should invest more in helping people into work, and improve terms and conditions so people are not at the whim of the employer.