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”

Benefit hoax – DWP told woman was dead!

A woman was left penniless after a hoax caller told the Department for Work and Pensions she was dead.

Jobless Janet Millward’s £240-a-fortnight housing benefit and disability living allowance were stopped.

The tax office also wrote to her family offering tips on how to settle her estate.

Janet, 50, of Wythenshawe, Manchester, said: “Why didn’t they check? Someone can just ring up and say I’ve died and that is enough.”

She said: “They know everything about me. Why didn’t they pick up the phone? It just beggars belief.

“They just pressed a button and that was that. It effected everything.

“Why was a death certificate not asked for? When my brother died last year we had to provide a death certificate for everything.

“I want to know why such questions were not asked. It is unbelievable. Somebody, claiming to be my son, can just ring up and say I have died, and that is enough.”

Janet relies on the £240 benefits she receives once a fortnight to survive.

“I was extremely distressed. All my money was stopped.

“I was getting letters addressed to the representatives of Miss Janet Millward. But I was not dead.”

It took two weeks to correct the error and Janet, from Wythenshawe, Manchester, contacted her Labour MP Mike Kane, who took up her case.

He has since received a letter from the DWP apologising for the mistake.

The letter said: “Unfortunately, due to human error, a date of death was incorrectly input to Miss Millward’s records.”

HM Customs and Revenue also wrote to Janet, saying: “Our records did show you as deceased and thus the system generated a letter to your address.

“I can confirm that I have now updated your record to show you are not deceased and can only apologise again for any distress this may have caused you.”

Department of Work and Pensions“Good job she was still here to let them know!”