£500 a week benefit cap rolls out across Britain

15 July 2013

A benefit cap limiting couples and single parents to £500 a week and single people to £350 has started to be implemented across England, Scotland and Wales.

As part of the government's shake-up of the welfare system, Jobseeker's Allowance, Child, Housing and Incapacity Benefit will all be included in the cap and all benefits will now be paid out once a month as a ‘universal credit'.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has argued the changes are needed to prevent benefit claimants receiving income greater than those in work, to help them get used to managing their monthly on a monthly basis, and to encourage them to look for work.

Duncan Smith said: "The benefit cap returns fairness to the benefits systems. It ensures the taxpayer can have trust in the welfare system and it stops sky-high claims that make it impossible for people to move into work.

"The limit of £500 a week ensures no-one claims more in benefits than the average household and there is a clear reason for people to get a job – as those eligible for Working Tax Credit are exempt."

However, the cap has been heavily criticised for failing to recognise the barriers to finding work and differences in the cost of housing throughout Britain.

The government hopes the limit will save £300 million from the current £95 billion benefit bill over the next two years.

The cap was implemented in four London boroughs – Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Croydon – in April.

Commenting on its experience of the new system to date, a spokesperson for Haringey Council told the BBC it believes the changes are not sustainable and may result in it having to relocate some families outside of London.

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