Chancellor of the Exchequer
Tuesday 7th March
The Impact of the Benefit Cap
I am writing to raise my concerns over a lack of action to tackle child poverty.
According to research by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) there are 222 households in my constituency that have their benefits capped. Despite the governments claims that this cap is an incentive to get people back into work, 34% of households in my constituency subjected to the benefit cap have been told that they are not expected to seek employment, either due to their personal circumstances or because they need to provide childcare to their young children.
In Sheffield Hillsborough and Brightside those who have had their benefits capped are, on average, losing £257 a month. This cap is not an incentive for those who are unable to work. In fact, 18% of people who have their benefits capped are already in work, but don’t meet the earning threshold for the cap’s removal.
The CPAG Report highlighted stories from individuals who wanted to find work or increase their hours, but their employment options are restricted by school hours and childcare availability. Shockingly, some people in the report were even earning enough to have the cap removed, but due to the way their hours are calculated, remain inadmissible.
This is an ill thought, incoherent policy that needlessly punishes the vulnerable, parents, and the 820 children in my constituency living in households with their benefits capped. By continuing to persist with the fallacy that the cap will get more people in work, the government is subjecting children and families across Sheffield Hillsborough and Brightside to a lower standard of living and food insecurity for ideological purposes.
Since the caps introduction a decade ago, it has never risen. Shockingly, it was even cut in 2016, which placed even more households into poverty. I welcome the uprating of the benefit cap in line with inflation this year, but this still leaves households £225 a month worse off in real terms compared to 2016. Low-income families spend proportionally more of their income on food and energy, essentials that have seen staggeringly high inflation over the last year.
I urge you to do more to ensure that new parents, the vulnerable, and children are not left behind as the cost-of-living crisis continues.
Gill Furniss MP
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough