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Report by Chartered Institute of Housing claims benefit cap fails to help people in Haringey
Only ten per cent of people affected by the benefits cap in Haringey have been able to find jobs, according to a new report.
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) published findings on the impact of the Government’s cap on welfare this morning.
The policy, which limits total weekly benefits to £500 for households with children and £350 to those without, was introduced to the borough in April.
According to the CIH, the cap is struggling to meet the Government’s aims of saving taxpayers money and encouraging more people to find work.
The institute studied the effects of the policy in the London borough of Haringey, which was one of four pilot areas for the cap, as part of its research.
The report said just ten per cent of 747 households affected were known to have found jobs and nearly 50 per cent received extra funds from Haringey Borough Council to make up for money lost.
Although the policy was shaving £60,000 a week from the council’s benefits bill this accounted for only one per cent of the authority’s total weekly benefit expenditure.
So far the borough has spent £55,000 a week on short-term discretionary grants to help claimants affected by the cap meet rent shortfalls.
Thousands more has been spent on providing extra welfare and employment advice to family affected by the cap.
The CIH's research showed that the amount lost by the 747 households subject to the cap ranged from 15p to £374.50 per week.
About 2,300 children were affected by the policy, with larger families losing the most, and 51 per cent of households losing between £50 and £199 each week.
Only 74 households are known to have moved into work while 11 increased their hours sufficiently to avoid the cap.
The report said there was evidence that the cap was changing attitudes to employment, but for many claimants there were significant barriers to finding work.
These include a lack of job-seeking skills and affordable childcare.
Nearly half of capped households claimed Discretionary Housing Payments from the council to help them pay their rent.
This, according to the CIH, "both shunts costs between national and local government budgets and masks the true impact of the cap until those discretionary payments run out".
Grainia Long, the chief executive of the CIH, said the benefits cap is failing to achieve its aims.
She said: “The Government said the benefit cap would save money and encourage people into work, but this report shows it is far from achieving both of those aims in one of the worst affected areas.
"Ultimately, the Government must do more to tackle the UK’s housing crisis.
“The reason that the housing benefit bill is so high and that so many people are affected by the benefit cap is that we are simply not building enough homes to accommodate our growing population."
Claire Kober, the leader of Haringey Council, said more needs to be done to support people getting back into work.
She said: "This research shows that the benefit cap has failed in its main objectives.
“Only a few households have been able to get back into work and while the government may be making some savings, the real costs are just being passed to local councils already under enormous financial pressure.
"People still need a lot of support to get training or back into work, and spiralling housing costs mean there is a long way to go before anyone could claim the benefit cap is working."
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "This research relies on early and limited data from a single council and completely ignores the fact Jobcentre Plus has helped 16,500 claimants nationally into work who were potentially affected by the benefit cap.
"We do not recognise this report as providing a sound or reliable picture of the reform.
"The benefit cap is helping to return common sense to the welfare system by placing a fair limit of £500 a week on the amount a household on benefits can receive."
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