Tougher new benefit cap '˜to hit 830 local children'

A new harsher benefit cap is expected to remove hundreds of pounds of support every month from the homes of 830 Wigan borough children when it comes into force on Monday, figures from The Children's Society show.

Nationally, the Government’s plan to cap support for out-of-work households at £23,000 a year in London and £20,000 in the rest of the country will, in total, take up to £17m per month from 88,000 of the UK’s poorest households.

It means the measure, which was approved by Parliament in March under ex-Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity plan, is likely to hit almost three times more children than adults.

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The Children’s Society estimates that in Wigan borough, 300 households with 830 children will be negatively affected. It came in the same week as Shelter estimated that dozens of Wigan children could wake up homeless on Christmas Day because of budget squeezes.

The new cap replaces the existing £26,000 national one.

Because a big part of families’ benefits go on housing costs there are fears the new cap could lead to more being made homeless and forced to move away from their children’s friends and schools. Even if they can stay in their homes, the society says they will be forced to reduce household budgets in ways that adversely affect children.

The average loss across affected families will be £60 per week or £260 a month.

Describing the move as a “blunt instrument” used to tackle a complex problem, the society’s north area director Rob Jackson, said: “We fully support efforts to make work pay, but it is not right to achieve this by putting more children on the breadline. Even at this late stage we would urge ministers to exclude children’s benefits from the cap so that children and their already struggling families do not suffer even more hardship.”