Benefit cap and social security system questioned – DWP urged to take ‘further action’

Benefits from the state can come from a multitude of schemes, from Universal Credit all the way to state pension payments. These types of payments are impacted by the benefit cap, which limits how much money a person can receive.


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The benefit cap is a limit on the total amount of benefit that a claimant can receive and it applies to most people aged between 16 and state pension age.

The amount a household gets from some benefits may go down to ensure that the claimants do not get more than the cap limit.

Currently, there are two sets of caps in place which are dependent on where the claimant lives.

People outside of Greater London will be limited to £384.62 per week if they’re in a couple or are a single parent.

This will lower to £257.69 per week for single adults.

Inside the capital, the most that can be received is £442.31 per week or £295.35 for single claimants.

The benefit cap has been called into question in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As the disease continued to wreak havoc on the economy, some wondered out loud if the cap was appropriate given how many people ended up relying on state benefits.

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This question has been raised again as Kevin Stewart, the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, wrote to Thérèse Coffey (and therefore, the wider DWP) calling for change.

In the letter, which was published today, Mr Stewart noted the following: “The benefits system is an essential lifeline for many people facing or experiencing homelessness throughout the UK.

“Housing elements of social security remain a crucial part of the support required by tenants facing financial difficulty or homelessness as a result of the pandemic and remain reserved to you.

“The changes you have made to local housing allowance (LHA) rates are welcome, but fall short of what is needed to provide comprehensive support to people living in rented accommodation.


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“In addition to our previous calls to lift the benefit cap; to scrap or relax the restrictions around the removal of the spare room subsidy; to provide more information to local authorities to help signpost available support to tenants; and to support quicker payments for discretionary housing payments, I urge you to consider further action to support people who rent their homes.

“This is an area where urgent intervention is required in light of emerging evidence of the inequity of support available between those who rent and those who hold a mortgage.”

The letter itself covered a wide range of topics but in summary, the Housing Minister called on the UK government to:

  • lift Local Housing Allowance rates further to make more homes affordable to renters
  • suspend the removal of the spare room subsidy
  • suspend the benefit cap
  • suspend the shared accommodation rate for under-35s
  • extend the backdating of benefits for those who might not have realised they were eligible and relax the criteria under which backdating is allowable

While the benefit cap itself has not faced any changes, the government has not held back with offering wide ranging support.

Billions has been spent on supporting people across the UK, whether they be employed, claiming benefits or completely out of work.

There are still signs that this kind of support will continue into the coming weeks as the state recently announced a £38million debt support package would be given to the Money and Pensions service and £63million will be given to local authorities to assist those struggling to afford food and other essentials.

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