Benefit cap hits vulnerable children

Families in England with vulnerable children who face homelessness are being forced to move far away because the coalition government's benefits cap means they can no longer pay the rent, according to a report from the Action for Children charity.

For working-age households where no one is in work, benefits have since September 2013 been limited to a total of £500 a week (£350 a week in the case of single people).

Key points

  • The cap has led to cuts in housing benefit, causing families to lose their homes and move into temporary accommodation. Since the costs of temporary accommodation are included in the cap, families may be placed in hotels and B&Bs in other parts of the country if their council is unable to afford to house them locally.
  • The number of families in temporary accommodation outside their home area has doubled from 5,880 to 11,650 since 2010. The rules of the cap will only increase the numbers of children and families affected in this way, the report says.
  • Out of 212 local authorities approached for the report, only one in ten knew how many of their vulnerable young people – those on the 'children in need' register – are affected by the cap. Children on the register need extra help for issues such as being at risk of abuse or neglect, or being disabled. In addition, central government departments are failing to speak to each other about how best to identify and help the children concerned.

 

Action for Children’s interim chief executive, Jacob Tas, said: 'It's deeply concerning that vulnerable children could be lost in the upheaval caused by the cuts, and councils don't even know which of them are affected by the benefit cap and what effect it is having on them'.

Source: Rebecca Rennison, Children and the Benefit Cap, Action for Children
LinksReport | Action for Children press release

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Publication date: 
Feb 3 2014