Huge rise in number of Falkirk families having their benefits capped since lockdown

The number of families in Falkirk who have seen their benefits capped has increased since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, new figures show.

With a record number of families affected across Great Britain, the Government is facing calls to abolish the cap from charities who say the policy is an "unjust punishment" on poorer households.

Department for Work and Pensions figures show that 140 families had their benefits capped in Falkirk during February.

This was significantly more than the number capped in the same period last year, when 59 had either their housing benefit or Universal Credit payment reduced.

Falkirk families have had benefits capped

In Falkirk, of the households to have benefits capped in February, the largest proportion – 82 families – had up to £100 taken off the weekly amount they receive, while around 20 had more than £200 removed.

And 97 of them (69%) had single parents.

According to Child Poverty Action Group, which wants the cap abolished, households impacted are losing out on an average £62 a week.

The charity said families were finding it hard to escape the cap due to a continued lack of jobs and unaffordable childcare.

Chief executive Alison Garnham said: "The benefit cap has always been an unjust punishment for families."

And she added: "Thousands more households who have lost jobs to Covid-19 are now subject to the cap even though in the pandemic it is much harder to find ways to replace their lost earnings and become exempt.

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"Especially in areas with high rents, capped families are losing large amounts of social security support and that is disastrous for the children concerned."

Meanwhile, homeless charity Shelter said a government failure to review the cap had plunged many families into poverty and put them at risk of homelessness.

Chief executive Polly Neate said: "The cap means people whose incomes have been decimated by the pandemic cannot access enough financial support to cover their basic costs, like rent or food for their family."

The DWP said a review of the benefit cap will be carried out at "the appropriate time".

A spokesperson said: "The benefit cap ensures fairness for hard-working taxpaying households and a strong work incentive, while also providing a much-needed safety net of support."

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