CIH issues homelessness warning amid new benefit cap statistics

Terrie Alafat

Terrie Alafat

The latest benefit cap statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show there is a need for the UK government to re-look at welfare policies, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has said.

New figures released yesterday show a five-fold increase in the number of households having their benefits capped since November 2016.

The figures reveal 3,705 households faced a cap on the level of benefits they received in May 2017 – up from 745.

Benefit caps were introduced to limit the total amount a household can receive in state support. It was reduced in November 2016 to £23,000 per year in London (£15,410 for single people) and £20,000 per year (£13,400 for single people) in the rest of the UK.

According to the figures, half of capped households have lost up to £50 per week and the number of families capped by £50 to £100 has increased from 25% (5,100) in August 2016 to 33% (22,000) in May 2017.

The majority of those affected by the cap are lone parents with young children. Some 78% of single parents affected have at least one child under five, while 35% have a child under two and are not expected to look for work.

CIH said that issues such as homelessness could be made “even worse” by welfare policies such as the benefit cap.

Chief executive, Terrie Alafat CBE, said: “Homelessness has been steadily rising in all its forms since 2010 and we fear that the benefit cap could make things even worse.

“These new figures show that almost half of the households affected are losing more than £50 a week, which is likely to make it tough for people to afford their bills, rent and potentially even basic necessities.

“Almost three-quarters are single parent families, many with very young children – these are people who may find it incredibly difficult to escape the cap by finding work, given the cost of childcare and lack of flexible employment options.

“We think the government should take a step back and review welfare policies such as the benefit cap to make sure they are not obstructing housing policies designed to make sure people can access a decent home at a price they can afford.”