Work and Pensions Committee also says the new lower cap is failing in its objective to encourage people into work.
The Government’s controversial cap on benefits is failing to encourage more people into work and forcing pregnant women to consider terminating their pregnancy, according to evidence published by the Work and Pensions Committee.
The cross-party group of MPs has published evidence received from charities, local authorities, and others, detailing how the lower cap is impacting on affected households.
The benefit cap limits the total amount of benefit and tax credit income that an out-of-work household can receive, subject to certain exemptions, and was reduced from £26,000 a year to £20,000 a year outside London and £23,000 within London.
This new, lower cap was rolled out nationally over a twelve week period starting on 7 November last year. Implementation was completed by mid-January.
Curtailed by Theresa May’s unexpected announcement of a general election in June, the full inquiry has now been suspended, with evidence submitted to the inquiry highlighting difficulties faced by families and individuals affected by the changes.
Preliminary indications suggest affected households are struggling to cope with the new cap, with charities reporting a significant rise in the number of people reaching out for advice and support.
The Government estimates that, in the absence of any ‘behavioural changes’ from claimants, 88,000 households will be affected by the new cap, compared with around 20,000 under the previous policy.
But the Committee says the lower cap is “not only deepening the impact on households but also spreading it more widely across the country”, adding that “the proportion of capped households who are outside London is set to increase from three-fifths to four-fifths”.