Benefits Cap – large areas off-limits to poorer families

Large parts of the country are about to become off-limits for tens of thousands of poorer families because of the planned cut in the annual benefit cap, David Cameron is warned today by housing experts.

The Government is pressing ahead with moves to reduce the limit households can receive benefits from £26,000 to £23,000  in England, Wales and Scotland as a priority after the Tory election victory. The move is expected to quadruple the number of families who lose benefit because of the cap.

Money ImageMinisters say the policy, described yesterday as a “matter of fairness” by Chancellor George Osborne and the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, encourages the jobless to look for work.

However, the Chartered Institute of Housing said larger families would be priced out of their current homes because they would not be left with enough money to cover their rent, and claimed the policy would increase homelessness and poverty. The institutes calculated that couples with three children would be left with £110 a week after their living costs are excluded, which is well below the average rent for a three-bedroom housing association property in the South, the Midlands and many areas in the North. The problem is expected to be just as acute in high-rent areas of Scotland and Wales.

Some groups point to evidence that the benefits squeeze since 2010 has forced families on benefits out of expensive parts of central London, but that it disputed by the Department of Work and Pensions, which says very few of the people affected have moved – and when they have it has only been for a short distance.

A DWP spokesman said: “This type of scaremongering happened when the cap was first introduced – when in fact over 22,000 people who had their benefits capped moved into work, reduced their Housing Benefit claim or no longer are claiming Housing Benefit at all. As well as restoring fairness to the system, the benefit cap provides a clear incentive for people to get into work.”

But Gavin Smart, the institute’s deputy chief executive, said: “People affected by the current cap already face significant barriers to finding work, including a lack of job-seeking skills and affordable childcare. Our UK Housing Review briefing shows lowering the cap would make huge swathes of the country unaffordable for larger families on benefits.”

George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith have insisted they will push ahead with plans to slash another £12bn a year from the benefits bill.

“It would be nice if  the Government and the DWP could leave “FAIRNESS” out of their reasons for attacking  disabled people, the elderly and vulnerable – it’s a rubbish excuse and shows how stupid they are”

Men more likely to Care for Elderly Relatives

More men than women in the “sandwich generation” provide day-to-day help for ageing parents, while supporting their own children, a study indicates.

Nearly three quarters of fathers said that they helped to “maintain the wellbeing”  of a parent or a parent-in-law compared with two thirds of mothers, according to Mintel, the market research company. Men were also more likely to support parents financially.

Overall, nearly four in ten did shopping for their parents, the most popular task, and the same proportion took parents for medical appointments. Nearly a third went with them on holiday.

A Care logoJack Duckett, a consumer lifestyle analyst at Mintel, said that today’s parents were increasingly under pressure to care for and support not only their own offspring but also ageing parents while holding down a job.

“As the sandwich generation grows, providing additional support to those caring for both children and parents, as well as providing them with opportunities to take time out for themselves, will be essential,” Mr Duckett said.

There is huge value to be found in helping these multi-generational family structures enjoy time together, as it allows them not only to build strong emotional bonds, but also to share important life skills.”

One major benefit to arise from the time pressures put on sandwich generation adults is the number of hours children get to spend with their grandparents.

Three quarters of parents in this category say their children spend some free time with their grandparents and that they try to find activities all three generations can do and enjoy together.

Emily Holzhausen, director of policy at the charity Carers UK, said that men were also active full-time carers of parents and elderly relatives.

“Caring is something that affects us all at some point in our lives, whether we find ourselves providing support to someone we love or need some help ourselves. Although people often think of caring as a women’s issue, four in ten carers are men,” she said.

“Carers UK’s research shows that caring can have a big impact on carers’ lives even when it is not around-the-clock. It can be a struggle for many carers trying to juggle care for an older parent alongside work or other family responsibilities like childcare, while still finding time to look after their own health and wellbeing.”

Bennet. R 2015 THE TIMES 25th March 2015 P. 9

“Many carers ruin their own mental and/or physical health looking after a loved one – Because they don’t want to lose them and they couldn’t ‘hack’ seeing them in a bad way, stuck in a nursing home.”