By completely relaxing the benefit cap this week, the Scottish government has taken a very important step in its effort to reduce child poverty. Its clear statement that families should receive the support they need through the social security system rather than being penalized by arbitrary restrictions is commendable.
The Scottish Government, through local authorities, provides vital assistance for families missing due to caps. This will benefit more than 4,000 families with children. But will this mean that her 100,000 households elsewhere in the UK will continue to see critical support cut by the cap?
The benefit cap limits the amount of support many families earning less than £658 a month (equivalent to working 16 hours a week at the minimum wage) can receive through the social security scheme. Introduced in 2013, then Lowered In 2016, even though prices were rising.
Scotland has effectively removed the cap from Scottish families, but all the UK government has done is promised that inflation in April (10.1%) would eventually raise the cap. It means families get a little more support when gold goes up, but overall it’s not going to get any better as prices are also going up. Since 2016 it has been £23,000 a year in London and £20,000 outside the capital. Prices for 2023/24 will be approximately 35% higher compared to November 2016.
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Benefit caps primarily harm families with children, especially single-parent families, which make up 70% of all capped households. Many of these single parents are prevented from working because they are caring for young children. Many rent from private landlords, with most of their universal credit going directly to the landlord. Cheaper accommodation is often not available and families already live there. Jessica, a single mother of four, BENEFITS CHANGES AND LARGE FAMILIES Find out about her cap experience.
“I’m having a terrible time with finances. I live in a private rental, so my universal credit only covers my rent, and I spend 60 a week to live with four kids.” Only pounds left… I’m in debt now… I get a food bank bi-weekly so I can buy even basic food for all of us.
It is not right to ask a family of 5, 1 adult and 4 children, to live on £60 a week. Other parents say their homes are damp and they can’t afford to heat them, they have difficulty buying food and clothing, and they have increased mental illness. We know that social security support is already too low. Benefit caps further limit that support.
We all know that for parents who can work in restricted households, finding a safe job with suitable hours and affordable childcare for their children is a major challenge. need to address structural barriers to working rather than forcing families to live on very inadequate incomes.
In April, the benefit cap will be used for 10 years. Ten years of desperate struggle for parents, needless harm to families, restrictions on children’s childhoods. The Scottish government has done the right thing for children. The UK government must act now.
Secretary of State for Work Pensions Mel Stride has a duty to conduct regular reviews of the benefit cap, which in April will be still lower than when it was first set in 2013. For nearly a decade, it has caused tremendous hardship for families and children. A true review of the benefit cap could lead to one conclusion. that it should be abolished.
https://www.politics.co.uk/comment/2023/02/22/scotlands-approach-to-the-benefit-cap-leads-the-way-for-the-rest-of-the-uk/ Scotland’s approach to benefit caps leads the rest of the UK