Tens of Thousands on Benefits at Risk of Payment Cuts in April


Experts Warn of Payment Cuts Despite Inflation Increase

Tens of thousands of families receiving Universal Credit and other benefits are at risk of having their payments cut in April, according to experts. This comes despite the government's announcement that rates would be increased to keep up with inflation. The annual benefit uprating of 6.7% will affect around 5 million people, with some individuals projected to be £470 a year better off. However, key documents reveal that a key amount will not increase, leaving some families worse off.

Benefit Cap to Remain Unchanged, Leaving Families Worse Off

One of the main concerns is the benefit cap, which sets a limit on the total amount households can receive. While the cap was increased this year, it will remain unchanged in 2024. This means that about 80,000 households on Universal Credit will be worse off. Families with children and single parents are particularly affected, struggling to afford basic necessities like energy bills and food shopping.

Unfair Impact on the Poorest Families

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, criticized the benefit cap, stating that it pushes families into poverty. The losses for capped families average £53 a week, sometimes even more. Garnham stressed that the number of affected families will continue to grow as more people are newly capped when benefits are uprated next April. Families hit by the policy are some of the poorest in the country and will fall even further behind as prices continue to rise.

Understanding the Benefit Cap

The benefit cap sets a limit on the total amount of benefits households can receive. It includes Universal Credit, child benefit, housing benefit, and jobseeker's allowance, among others. If a household's income exceeds this limit, their housing benefit or Universal Credit may be reduced. The cap varies depending on location and household composition. Certain groups, such as those over state pension age or claiming working tax credit, are exempt from the benefit cap.

What to Do If You're Affected

If you are affected by the benefit cap, it is important to check if you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to. Some benefits, like Personal Independence Payment and attendance allowance, are not subject to the cap and can help boost your income. There are various benefits calculators available online to determine what benefits you may qualify for. Additionally, organizations like Turn2Us provide free tools to assess your eligibility for benefits and how much disposable income you will have after housing costs.

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