Benefit cap hits Wigan families hard

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Thousands of families affected by the benefit cap changes have been left with just 50p a week for their rent.

More than 67,600 households have been capped so far, according to figures provided by the 370 councils that responded to BBC Panorama’s survey.

And Wigan is one of the local authorities with the highest number of people affected.

Of those, 11 per cent or 7,585 families have had their housing benefit cut to 50p a week.

The Child Poverty Action Group said that the £20,000 cap - £23,000 in London - on the total amount of benefits claimed by a household in a year was “completely arbitrary” and targeted many people who were not in a position to work.

But ministers insist that it leaves claimants on a similar income to many working people and gives them an additional incentive to find a job.

Of the 370 councils which responded to Panorama’s survey, the highest numbers of households affected by the benefit cap were in Birmingham (2,968), Brent (1,239), Ealing (1,056) , Enfield (1,027), Hackney (1,014) and Leeds (993).

Areas with the highest numbers of claimants whose housing benefit payments have been reduced to 50p a week were Birmingham (578), Leeds (223), Manchester (179), Sandwell (169) and Sheffield (151).

The highest proportions of capped households who ended up with 50p a week to pay for their accommodation were in North Hertfordshire (30%), Bolton (29%), Sandwell (27%), Blackburn, Ashfield and Wigan (all 26%).

There were sharp variations across the country in the proportions of capped households.