Benefit caps hit Wigan families

Wigan families have been hit by benefit caps
Wigan families have been hit by benefit caps

Benefit caps hit hundreds of families in Wigan over the last six years, figures show.

Charities warned the caps have added to the misery of families teetering on the poverty line, with nearly all of those affected having children.

Department for Work and Pensions figures show that 518 families had their housing benefits capped in Wigan between the introduction of the limits in April 2013 and February this year.

Single parents accounted for the majority of the capped claimants, 54 per cent of cases.

Greg Beales, the campaign director for housing charity Shelter, said that benefit capping was pushing people towards homelessness, with single-parent families disproportionately affected.

He added: “When your benefits can’t cover both rent and food you end up having to choose between the two.

“Lone parent families tell us how they can’t afford to feed themselves and their children, let alone cover childcare and think about returning to work. The system is entirely self-defeating.”

Scrapping the cap, raising housing benefit rates and fixing structural issues that “push so many perilously close to the trauma of homelessness” would overhaul the system into one fit for purpose, he argued.

Couples with children are limited to an annual income from all benefits of £20,000 a year, £385 each week. The cap is higher in London, at £23,000.

Single adults and lone parents whose children do not live with them have lower limits. Some people are exempt from the cap, such as those receiving tax credits or claiming carer’s or guardian’s allowances.

Over the six-year period, 22 households in Wigan were docked more than £100 a week.

In February, when the most recent data was available, 128 families still had their benefits capped in Wigan.

When the cap was lowered to its present level in November 2016, there were 48.