Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, has highlighted new data – obtained by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) – which reveals that 700 children in her constituency live in households that are adversely affected by the Government’s benefit cap.
Debbie said: “This data, obtained via a freedom of information request by CPAG, reveals that 34% of people subject to the benefit cap, which the Government claims is a work incentive, are not expected to seek employment because their circumstances prevent them from working.
“Rather than being a work incentive, as the Government claims, their policy is pushing already vulnerable children deeper into poverty.”
The FOI data revealed that of the 111,000 capped households on universal credit nationally, 38,000 are exempt from job-search requirements because they are caring for children aged under three.
The benefit cap limits the benefit income of households who earn less than £658 a month. It pushes households into deep poverty by cutting their benefit income by, on average, £230 a month.
Across the country a total of 309,000 children are affected by the benefit cap.
In Ms Abrahams’ constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth, the data provided by CPAG found that:
- 191 households have their UC capped, of which 35% are not expected to work, equivalent to 67 households.
- 700 children live in households that are affected by the benefit cap.
- 72% of single parents on UC are capped, equivalent to 137 single-parent households.
- On average, Oldham East and Saddleworth residents are missing out on £184 per month from the benefit cap.
The MP added: “It is particularly difficult for single parents to earn enough to escape the cap as they need to reach the earnings threshold and cover childcare costs singlehandedly.
“Whilst 137 single-parent households are affected locally there are 86,000 households across the country, that’s 70%, affected by the cap are single-parent families, and 19,000 of them have a child aged under two.
“CPAG research says that removing the cap would put an additional £52 a week into the pockets of some of the poorest households across the country, a lifeline in the current cost of living crisis.
“Removing the cap would only cost £300 million, 0.1 per cent of total spending on social security.
“There is widespread consensus that the Government’s response to the cost of living crisis should prioritise the poorest. Any attempt to support those most in need will be undermined as long as the Tories’ benefit cap is in place.
“If ever more evidence were needed to illustrate how detached the Tories are from the realities of everyday life, here it is presented to us in the data obtained by CPAG.
“Behind these numbers are thousands upon thousands of families with young children who are really struggling to make ends meet, and all due to Tory ideology.”