440,000 families suffer multiple benefit cuts

440,000 families are being affected by multiple benefit cuts being introduced by the coalition government, according to an analysis conducted by the New Policy Institute. For each of the families concerned this will mean a total income cut of £16.90 a week.

The analysis looks at the combined effect of four major changes to social security benefits from April 2013. Three of these involve cuts in absolute terms – the 'bedroom tax' affecting housing benefit claimants in social housing deemed to have spare bedrooms; the replacement of council tax benefit by localised council tax support schemes; and the overall annual benefit cap on households. The fourth change – the below-inflation uprating of out-of-work benefits and some elements of tax credits – involves benefit cuts in real terms.

Key points

  • 2.6 million families (8 per cent of the UK total) are affected by at least one of the absolute cuts examined. Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of these families have also seen a fall in real terms in other benefits.
  • The largest group is the 2 million families who have seen their council tax benefit cut only.
  • Of the 660,000 families hit by the bedroom tax, most (440,000) have also had their council tax benefit cut as well.
  • Those affected by both the bedroom tax and the change to council tax benefit now have on average £16.90 less in income a week. This is 20 per cent higher than the individual bedroom tax cut and five times higher than the individual council tax benefit cut.

The authors comment that, in failing to consider the overlap between the benefit cuts, the coalition has 'seriously underestimated' the impact that its reforms are having on individual households.

Source: Hannah Aldridge and Adam Tinson, How Many Families Are Affected by More Than One Benefit Cut This April?, New Policy Institute
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