Fears for single parent families under lower benefit cap

Posted 14 May 2015

Latest figures show that single parents make up 63 per cent of those affected by the benefit cap.

As today’s benefit cap statistics show that single parent families make up 63 per cent of the households hit [1], Gingerbread warns that proposals to lower the cap will only worsen the situation for thousands of families with young children.

32,675 single parent families have been ‘capped’ since the benefit cap was introduced in April 2013, most losing up to £50 or £100 a week [2]. 70 per cent of the single parent families affected have a child aged under five years old [3]. Government policy doesn’t require single parents with pre-school children to seek work, but under the benefit cap, even these single parents must find work or have their benefits slashed – often making their rent unaffordable.

Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “Single parents are bearing the brunt of the benefit cap and the situation for these families – who are already poor – is only going to get worse if the cap is lowered.

“The cap is billed as a measure to help more people into work, but it flies in the face of established government policy which allows single parents with young children to decide what’s best for their family: staying at home to care for young children, or going out to work. For single parents with very young children who do decide to look for work, the high cost of childcare, low pay and lack of flexible jobs often make it impossible.

“Single parents hit by the cap are finding themselves in desperate situations: facing debt, eviction, homelessness or having to move away from their local community, family and the schools their older children attend. If proposals to lower the benefit cap are rolled out, we will see more and more families with young children forced out of their homes and communities.”

ENDS

Notes to editors
[1] 63 per cent is the snapshot statistic for February 2015. DWP (2015) Benefit cap: number of households capped to February 2015.
[2] Since April 2013 single parent families make up 56 per cent of the households hit by the benefit cap. DWP (2015) Benefit cap: number of households capped to February 2015.
[3] 70% of single parent households which were capped in April 2013-March 2014 had a child under five (DWP response to FoI, March 2015).

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