Benefit Cap – Problems Inherent in the System, part 2

Hello everyone, here the latest instalment of my views regarding Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship benefit changes. The Benefit Cap, as with all the new benefits recently rolled out, was started in April 2013 but only in a handful of Boroughs around London. From DWP Website:

“How much is the benefit cap?

The level of the cap is:
a). £500 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)

b). £500 a week for single parents whose children live with them

c). £350 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them”

Any new claimant would be put on the Capped Rate with others being “migrated” over as and when their number is churned out on the DWP Lottery Computer.

On a TV news programme last week, there was a lady who had been receiving £582 per week for her and 8, yes EIGHT, kids.

She is no longer with their father and she is unable to work. “Imagine the child care costs!” It was not discussed whether the father contributes to the children’s upbringing but this is a factor worth looking into.

She was recently migrated over onto the Benefit Cap. If we look at this one family in essence they receive £82 a week less than they did prior to the changeover.

If she wasn’t a single parent and the father of her children was in paid employment, working over 24hrs they would not be, as a family, subject to the benefit cap.

Is this a cunning ploy to encourage the together but apart families, who can get more money under the current system, to become a “legitimate” family? Maybe not, BUT if this is an unintended consequence then the winners will be the children and the taxpayers.

It may be that this family of 9 will be “signposted” (this week’s new buzzword) or told where the foodbank is, given the voucher and sent on their not so merry way.

Clothing can be bought from charity shops, there will no doubt be hand-me-downs and school uniform for the kids in Junior school is quite cheap in the supermarkets these days. There may also be access to what was the “Social Fund”. This is no longer a cash benefit claimed via the DWP, it’s a new benefit given out by local councils. They can give vouchers to purchase food, clothing and necessities in the home such as beds, cookers and bedding.

There are some people and families who will not be subject to the cap. Some of you may remember Heather Frost, the Mother of 12. She has never worked, had her first child aged just 14.

What do these two Mothers have in common and what makes them different?

Well they both have 8 or 9 kids living at home, they do not live with the father(s) of their children. One has to manage on £500 per week but the other one does not because she falls into the category whereby the Cap does not affect her level of benefits.

It is a legitimate reason, for the difference being that one of Ms Frost’s children has a disability. Simply purchasing the most basic equipment to help make the child’s quality of life and possible ways towards some independence is eye wateringly expensive!

For Those Not Affected by the Cap, I’ll quote the DWP Website again:

“You’re not affected by the benefit cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:

1) Disability Living Allowance
2) Personal Independence Payment
3) Attendance Allowance
4) Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
6) Employment and Support Allowance, if you get the support component
7) War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension
8) War pensions
9) Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
10) Armed Forces Independence Payment”

I would keep the cap but would reduce the amounts payable BUT I would not want kids to suffer though. So for children already living I would recommend that the families who would lose most (those with the largest numbers of children) be exempt, implementing the measure with respect to children born after a given date.

Those who have 3 children are likely receiving around £500 so there would be no changes needed. However should a family decide to have a 4th child then they would not receive any more money in benefits.

This is likely to discourage people from having extra-large families in the future, who could once have been “paid” for simply having babies. That “Career Path” would be closed to them!

It’s no fault of the children if their parents decide to have so many of them. I just worry that the kids living in a capped household may suffer and it may limit their life choices in the future.

The Government will not have considered the wider macro repercussions. The impact on the Social Services budget will be phenomenal as it is likely kids who are not in any danger of abuse by their parents could end up being taken into care, simply because they’re hungry.

We are supposedly living in in the 7th Largest Economy in the world yet some of our most vulnerable people are having to go to food-banks so they don’t starve. It is what you’d expect to hear about in a Dickensian novel not in 21st Century Britain.

So as with Universal Credit bomb and The Benefit Cap scud missile about to go boom, I fear the children will be the unintended casualties of this badly drafted piece of legislation!

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