Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), the social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has voiced its concern that today’s roll-out of the household benefit cap could force vulnerable families into poverty.
Today (15 April), the household benefit cap will be introduced in four London Boroughs: Croydon, Enfield, Haringey and Enfield. Under the changes, benefits for couples or lone parent households will be capped at £500 per week and benefits for single person households will be capped at £350 per week.
CSAN has consistently opposed the introduction of the household benefit cap in its current form. Expressing concerns about the disproportionate impact on larger families and those living in London, CSAN has previously called for Child Benefit to be excluded and for regional variation in the cap, claiming that this would have afforded protection to some of the hardest hit families.
The introduction of the household benefit cap in four areas today accompanies other substantial changes to the welfare system including the abolition of Council Tax Benefit, the localisation of the social fund, the introduction of under-occupation penalties as well as the below-inflation cap on benefit up-rating. CSAN has voiced its fears that the combined effect of these reforms will be to push more families below the poverty line.
“As the roll-out of the cap begins, Catholic charities are preparing for increased demand on their services” said CSAN’s Public Policy Officer, Liam Allmark “This cap has been set at an arbitrary level and does not take into account the actual costs required to meet peoples’ basic needs. We have real concerns that families may be left struggling to pay for basic essentials such as food, rent and heating and may even be at risk of losing their homes as a result of this change.”
“The household benefit cap will have a disproportionate impact on larger households and families living in London. Our member charities are already seeing the impact of rising levels of child poverty and we fear that the introduction of this cap alongside other changes, could force more vulnerable families into poverty.”