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Benefit cap inquiry deadline next week

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inquiry, effect of the benefit cap, homelessness, ill-health, deadline 7 April 2017Does the cap address high underlying rates of housing benefit and child maintenance in a fair way?

The deadline for the UK Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into the benefit cap and how it affects British households is approaching rapidly: 7 April 2017.

Please take part, and stand by our sisters.

The benefit cap – which limits the income households receive in certain benefits – was reduced from £26,000 a year to £20,000 a year outside London and £23,000 within London in November 2016.

The government estimates that, in the absence of any ‘behavioural changes’ from claimants, 88,000 households are affected by the new cap, compared with around 20,000 under the previous policy.

Around a third of the affected households are expected to be in London or the South East, although the cap affects households throughout Great Britain.

The Committee invites written submissions addressing the following points:

The cap is intended to incentivise behavioural change amongst claimants and secure savings for the Exchequer. To what extent is it achieving that?

To what extent has claimant behaviour responded to the cap, through moving into work, moving house etc? What effect does the lower cap have on incentives, what are the barriers to behavioural change and how can they be overcome?

Does the cap address high underlying rates of housing benefit and child maintenance in a fair way?

What are the consequential costs of the cap for other public spending, such as that by local authorities?

What are the consequences for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) and what impact does use of DHPs have on behavioural change?

And: are there unintended consequences (either positive or negative) of the cap?

To submit your views go to the Benefit Cap Inquiry page.

The benefit cap will be making mostly single mothers but also couples with families, get into serious debt and face or suffer homelessness as they cannot afford their rent and other basics for living.

This cap is forcing families into absolute poverty, homelessness and hunger.

The GMB union said Theresa May is  ‘unleashing a monstrous new assault on 40,000 single mothers, which risks shattering the life chances of children up and down our country’.

And the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), said: “We are seriously concerned that this could have a severe impact on these families, make housing in large sections of the country unaffordable, and risk worsening what is already a growing homelessness problem.”

Then there is the issue of moving young mothers away from the places they grew up in, and, in settling them in to them unknown cities, opening them up to such appalling risk it is hardly bearable to think about: open to preying ill-wishers, emotional dependence on or susceptibility to unstable characters, total emotional and financial poverty in the absence of support or company from friends, relatives and siblings, and physical and mental ill health.

The chair of the Committee, Frank Field MP, said: “Quite often when the government reduces a benefit, the justification given is that it will incentivise work, and obviously encouraging and supporting the strivers is a laudable goal. People can escape the benefit cap if they move into work.

“The government needs to be challenged to put much more resources in helping families whose benefits are going to be in cut in this way to know that there is an exit and one which they might be able to grasp soon.”

And Karen Buck, MP, a member of the Committee, said: “The government’s argument for the Benefit Cap is that it will incentivise work.

“Set against this is the fact that many of those affected have been found to be incapable of work.

Nor, Buck continued, does the cap reflect the reality of housing, even of homeless households.

“The Committee will want to look at the actual impact the cap is having, who is affected and how it interacts with other factors, from health to housing.”

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