Lancashire families ‘have benefit cut to 50p a week’

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More than 7,500 families have had their housing benefit cut to just 50p a week as a result of the Government’s benefits cap, according to new figures.

Official figures obtained by BBC1’s Panorama show that at least 67,600 households have lost benefits in England, Scotland and Wales following the introduction of the cap in November 2016. Of those, 11% - or 7,585 families - saw their housing benefit cut to 50p a week.

The highest proportions of capped households who ended up with 50p a week to pay for their accommodation included Blackburn and Wigan, with 26 per cent affected.

Of the 370 councils which responded to Panorama’s survey, the highest numbers of households affected by the benefit cap were in Birmingham (2,968), Brent (1,239), Ealing (1,056) , Enfield (1,027), Hackney (1,014) and Leeds (993).

Areas with the highest numbers of claimants whose housing benefit payments have been reduced to 50p a week were Birmingham (578), Leeds (223), Manchester (179), Sandwell (169) and Sheffield (151).

The Child Poverty Action Group said that the £20,000 cap - £23,000 in London - on the total amount of benefits claimed by a household in a year was “completely arbitrary” and targeted many people who were not in a position to work.

But ministers insist that it leaves claimants on a similar income to many working people and gives them an additional incentive to find a job.

Welfare delivery minister Caroline Nokes told the programme: “You have to remember that a household that has only 50p of housing benefit actually is receiving in the region of £20,000 a year outside London, in total benefits. That’s about the same as an ordinary family. Four in ten families would be earning that sort of money.”

:: Panorama’s The Benefit Cap - Is It Working? can be seen on BBC1 at 9pm on April 5.