Benefits cap hits Wakefield's single parents the hardest

Almost four in every five households hit by the benefit cap in Wakefield are single-parent families, new figures reveal.
Almost four in every five households hit by the benefit cap in Wakefield are single-parent families, new figures reveal.

Almost four in every five households hit by the benefit cap in Wakefield are single-parent families, new figures reveal.

The Conservative Party says the flagship welfare reform is designed to ensure that work pays, but charities argue the “cruel and ineffectual” policy pushes vulnerable families into poverty.

The latest Department for Work and Pensions figures show 333 Wakefield households had their benefits capped during August.

Of these, 255 (77 per cent) were single-parent households. Single-parent charity Gingerbread says it is “deeply concerned” by the impact the policy is having on such families, with parents of young children often struggling to move into work.

The benefit cap limits the total amount of income a household can receive from certain benefits, and is implemented by reducing either their housing benefit or Universal Credit payments.

Currently, the cap kicks in at £20,000 per year for families outside of London Child tax credits and child benefit both count towards the income threshold.

David Samson, welfare benefits specialist at charity Turn2us, said: “The benefits cap is a fundamentally flawed policy which breaks the link between need and entitlement.

"It works by taking away money that the welfare system has calculated a family needs. As a consequence, it is pushing many into poverty.”

The figures also reveal the number of children in each of the households that had their housing benefit reduced, including couples with children.

In Wakefield, three-child families were most affected, accounting for 43 per cent.

Minister for Employment Mims Davies said: “The benefit cap was introduced so it always pays to be in work. It is fair to the taxpayer while ensuring a large safety net for the most vulnerable.”