MP calls for benefit cap to be scrapped as numbers hit almost double

Gavin Newlands has said he will be urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to get rid of the policy.

MP calls for benefit cap to be scrapped as numbers hit almost double Pixabay
Benefits: MP calls for cap to be scrapped.

A Renfrewshire MP has called for the benefit cap to be scrapped after it emerged the number of families hit by it has almost doubled during the coronavirus crisis.

Gavin Newlands has said he will be urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to get rid of the policy – introduced in 2013 – which limits the amount of cash working-age claimants can receive.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions – which were analysed by the Reach Data Unit – recently revealed 156 households in Renfrewshire had been affected by the cap in August last year which represents a jump of 88 per cent compared to the 83 impacted in February 2020 prior to the pandemic.

The benefit cap is £20,000 a year or £13,400 for single adults with no children and can be applied through housing benefit or Universal Credit (UC).

Newlands, who represents Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said many have been left with no choice but to sign on due to the devastating impact the outbreak has had on jobs and the economy.

And the SNP politician said it was time the UK Government did away with it.

“The pandemic has been an extremely difficult time for us all, with many in Scotland having, through no fault of their own, to claim benefits in order to survive day-to-day,” said Mr Newlands.

“The fact 88% families have been impacted by the benefit cap at this time is outrageous, with indisputable damage being caused to many.

“I and my SNP colleagues will continue to call on the chancellor and the work and pensions secretary to scrap this cruel policy as a matter of urgency.”

Affected households on UC in Renfrewshire had their benefits capped by an average of £44.47 per week while for those on housing benefit it was £36.10, according to the August data.

Of those families impacted, 116 were single-parent households and a further 32 were couples with children.

There were at least 499 children in families hit by the cap in August, although the real number is likely to be higher as exact figures for larger families are not available.

The DWP said some of the young people counted in its figures may not be dependent children or be covered by benefit payments.