Figures released today (7th February) by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that 53,000 households had their housing benefit capped at November 2018.
The figures are said to be having a ‘profound impact on people’s lives’, with 74% (39,000) of households being that of single-parent families, and 76% of those (29,000) having at least one child aged under five.
Further analysis from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) showed that families could be missing out on ‘vital’ funding designed to help soften the impact of the cap.
Councils in England were allocated almost £53m in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) from central government in 2017-18 to support people affected by the benefit cap.
Out of the allocated sum, only £37m was spent, with 242 out of 274 councils failing to spend all their allocation.
CIH CEO, Terrie Alafat CBE, said: “Today’s figures show that the lower benefit cap continues to have a profound effect on people’s lives – while our analysis shows that many could be missing out on vital funding which is supposed to help soften the impact.
“It is punishing tens of thousands of people who will find it most difficult to escape by finding work, like single parents with very young children and people who aren’t able to work.
“Seven out of 10 households who had their housing benefit capped are single-parent families, and three quarters of those have a child under five. Another 13% are receiving employment and support allowance, meaning they’re not currently fit for work.
She added that: “More than 40% of the households affected are losing more than £50 a week, which means that thousands of families are facing a daily struggle – some even going without food or heating so they can pay for their housing, or falling behind with their rent and being put at risk of homelessness.
“We believe the government must scrap the reduced cap or risk making things even worse.”