Scotland’s approach to the benefit cap leads the way for the rest of the UK

This week, by absolutely mitigating the profit cap, the Scottish authorities has taken a vastly vital step ahead in its efforts to cut back little one poverty. Its clear assertion that households ought to get the help they want by means of our social safety system, quite than be penalised by an arbitrary restrict, is laudable.

The Scottish authorities will present the very important help households are lacking due to the cap by means of native authorities. Greater than 4,000 households with children will profit from this. However the place does that depart the 100,000 households elsewhere within the UK who will proceed to see very important help minimize by the cap?

The profit cap limits the overall quantity of help many households who earn lower than £658 a month (equal to working 16 hours per week on the minimal wage) can obtain by means of the social safety system. It was launched in 2013, after which lowered in 2016, whilst costs have been rising.

Whereas Scotland has successfully eliminated the cap from Scottish households, all of the UK authorities has performed is decide to lastly growing the cap by inflation (at 10.1 per cent) in April. This implies households will get a bit extra help when advantages rise, however they’ll be no higher off general as a result of costs have risen too. That is the primary time the cap has been elevated in any respect – since 2016 it has been £23,000 a yr in London and £20,000 exterior the capital. Costs will likely be round 35 per cent larger in 2023/24 in comparison with November 2016.


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The profit cap principally harms households with youngsters, particularly single-parent households who characterize 70 per cent of all capped households. Many of those single mother and father are blocked from work as a result of they’re caring for younger youngsters. Many are renting from personal landlords, with the overwhelming majority of their common credit score going straight to the owner. Cheaper lodging is commonly merely not obtainable – households are already dwelling in it. Jessica, a single mum to 4 youngsters, spoke to researchers on the Profit Adjustments and Bigger Households research about her experiences of the cap:

‘I’m having an terrible time with the funds. I’m in personal rented so my common credit score solely covers my lease and leaves me with £60 per week to stay on with 4 youngsters… I’m getting in debt now… I get the meals financial institution each different week as a result of I can’t even afford fundamental meals for us all.’

Asking a household of 5, an grownup and 4 youngsters, to stay on £60 per week is just not proper. Different mother and father have spoken of damp properties they can not afford to warmth, of issue shopping for meals and clothes, and of accelerating psychological unwell well being. We all know that help within the social safety system is already too low. The profit cap restricts that help even additional.

For these mother and father in capped households who’re in a position to work, everyone knows there are large challenges to discovering a safe job with hours that match with parenting, in addition to reasonably priced childcare in your youngsters. The federal government ought to be addressing the structural boundaries to work quite than forcing households to stay on vastly inadequate incomes.

In April, the profit cap could have been with us for 10 years. Ten years of determined wrestle for folks, pointless hurt to households, restricted childhoods for youths. The Scottish authorities has performed the suitable factor for youngsters, now the UK authorities should act.

There’s a obligation on the secretary of state for work and pensions, Mel Stride, to conduct a periodic evaluate of the profit cap, which in April will likely be nonetheless be decrease than it was when it was first set in 2013. This coverage has been inflicting nice hardship to households and youngsters for practically a decade. A real evaluate of the profit cap may solely result in one conclusion: it should be scrapped.