Fri 7 Feb, 2020

The cruel Benefit Cap strikes at the heart of our needs-based social security system Alison Johnstone

Scottish Greens have today called for the UK Government to end a controversial cap on benefits, as figures showed over 3,364 Scots families are having their social security entitlements cut.

Regardless of the needs of individual families, the Benefit Cap places an overall ceiling on the amount a household can receive in support from the UK Government. UK-wide figures show that the average loss is £51 a week.

The cap is particularly likely to hit households with children, with 93% of cases involving children, and 72% being single-parent households.

Research from Citizens Advice Scotland has found that the cap is linked to families falling behind on rent, being referred to food banks and experiencing relationship problems.

The cap is designed to save money for government and encourage people to work, despite the fact that the majority of households impacted are not expected to seek work because of health reasons or the need to look after children. The House of Commons Department for Work and Pensions Select Committee has previously said it is not clear that the cap is saving money because the additional costs generated, such as the cost of families becoming homeless, are not taken into account.

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Greens social security spokesperson said:

“I am shocked that the UK Government thinks it is acceptable to make over 3,000 families, some of Scotland’s poorest, even worse off.

"The cruel Benefit Cap strikes at the heart of our needs-based social security system. Instead of providing households with what they require to provide for their needs, this cruel policy is cutting over £50 a week from the budgets of some of our poorest households, almost all of them with children. This will clearly undermine what the Scottish Government, local government and the charities are doing to reduce Child Poverty, and this is unacceptable.

"We know that children growing up in poverty are at higher risk of health problems both as children and as adults, so this also has a potentially very damaging long-term impact.

"The Benefit Cap must be brought to an end urgently.”

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