Tens of thousands of British children may be pushed into poverty by the UK government’s bid to lower the household benefit cap, a leaked memo to ministers shows.
Ministers claim that changes to the cap included in the upcoming employment and welfare benefits bill will bring fairness for the taxpayer while still offering support for those most in need, the UK-based daily Guardian reported Friday. However, according to the newspaper, an internal government estimate shows if parents are not able to find extra work, the policy will place 40,000 additional kids on or below the official poverty line, .
The civil service memo, which was marked “sensitive” and forwarded to the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith two weeks after the recent general election, predicts that “around 40,000 more ... children might in the absence of any behavior change, find themselves in poverty as a result of reducing the cap to £23,000.”
“If these families respond to the cap by making behavior change, for example moving into work, they are likely to see themselves and their children move out of relative poverty,” the memo further states as cited in the report.
According to the report, the leak was revealed as housing associations forecast that under the lower cap level they would have to cope with a major rise in overdue rent payments, evictions and homelessness, and will no longer be able to provide homes to the unemployed or low-income families.
The latest official statistics indicate that 59,000 households were hit by the £26,000 cap in the 22 months since its April 2013 introduction. This is while a Work and Pensions study from December 2014 found that 11 percent of households just below the cap level moved into work. The figure climbed slightly to 15.7 percent for households who were capped, the report added.