Benefit cap leaves 132 out of pocket

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THE majority of Wigan residents have been unaffected by the benefit cap, new figures have revealed.

The figures, released by the Department of Work and Pensions, show that in total 132 families in Wigan have been affected by the Tory policy to cap benefit payments at between £350 and £500 a week.

The figures show that since its introduction in April 2013 and August 2015, 88 households have lost up to £50 a week, 42 have lost between £50.01 and £100 and six between £100.01 and £150.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue said: “I support reducing overall welfare spending, which is why I supported the overall welfare cap of £120Bn.

“In Wigan, the impact is not as great for a number of reasons whereas in London the numbers affected are much higher.

“However, there is increasing evidence that the benefit cap is going to cost – not save - the public purse.

“The Government’s own assessment concedes that rent arrears, evictions and homelessness are going to increase as a result of the cap – forcing local authorities to pay to house families out of their own budgets.

“The Chancellor has acknowledged that by having to announce in parallel to this benefit cap reduction, an increase of £800m in discretionary housing funds.

“330,000 children from low income families will be made poorer. It is not acceptable to get the benefit bill down by sending more children into poverty and socially cleanse towns and cities, which splits up communities and damages local economies.

“However, I understand people’s concerns about the benefit bill, which must be tackled through reforms to the labour market and housing policy.

“Labour is undertaking a full review into Government social security policy, including the application and the principle of the benefits cap for individual households.

“This review will produce a progressive, Labour, alternative that will constrain overall spending on welfare bills, help people who can work back to work, increase wages and tackle high rents.”

The figures show that, in total, 66,907 households have been affected but nearly half of these are in London, where 30,047 have lost money.

In the North West, a total of 4,676 households’ benefits have been slashed.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “These figures show that the latest reduction in the benefit cap will not significantly reduce the amount of money government spends on welfare.

“Instead, more children will be pushed into poverty as the Government fails to tackle the real issues of high rents and insecure work.

“The biggest beneficiaries of the welfare system are the private landlords who are paid large sums in housing benefit while the Government presides over a housing crisis.

“The real way to reduce the benefits bill is to build affordable houses, create jobs and make sure work pays.”