Today in 24 areas across the UK the cuts to the overall benefit cap begins. In these 24 areas (see table below) 16,741 families will be capped whereas yesterday there were just 1,741 families who were benefit-capped … 12.6 families capped today for every 1 family affected yesterday!
In these 16,741 newly capped families there will be on average 3.34 children making 55,858 children, all at acute risk of eviction and homelessness and, in short, being punished for the sins of their parent(s).
To give that some context, that is 1,862 classrooms full of children at 30 per classroom, who when their parents are evicted will probably have to move school as their new temporary ‘home’ will be wherever their local council can find an unsuitable bed and breakfast type homeless provision for them.
Did you think the benefit cap was just a way of punishing scroungers that poverty porn such Benefit Street and the rest bombards our screens with? Or that there are jobs aplenty and sufficient child care provision available as the Tory government keep telling us? Oh dear see below for more detail information of why this is a fallacy worthy of Hans Christian Andersen!
Here is the table – and remember the figures are just this weeks figures for just 24 council areas out of 400 or so councils!
Table 1 – 12 December 2016 Benefit Cap Child Abuse figures
To explain the many figures in the table I will use the first council area in alphabetical order which is Barnsley:
Reading the table from left to right sees Barnsley:
- Will have 653 families benefit-capped
- 285 will be in social housing
- 368 will be in the private rented sector
- 44% will be in social housing
- 56% will be in private rented housing
- 34 families were yesterday hit by the benefit cap
- The 653 families benefit capped from today is a 19.21 fold increase
- The newly capped families contain 2,181 children at acute homeless risk
- Those 2,181 children equates to 73 classrooms full of children
The same you can read into the other 23 councils in the table – and again remember these are just 24 out of 400 or so council areas so just 6% of all UK councils give or take.
The always contentious numbers…
I have been researching the benefit cap for many years specifically and as one part of in-depth research into Housing Benefit data and how the numerous changes to it that we wrongly call ‘welfare reforms.’
The benefit cap along with bedroom tax; LHA cap; LHA from 50% percentile down to 30th percentile; the increase in SAR age; the SAR to apply to social housing; the LHA maxima cap and so on – are not welfare reforms they are cuts in entitlement to Housing Benefit, nothing more nothing less!
My background research has shown that I am always far more accurate than the DWP on predicting numbers and impacts. For example, I predicted the SAR would apply to social housing and was told I was wrong yet it is now policy. I forecast the pre-1996 bedroom tax issue would see 40,000+ tenants wrongly have the bedroom tax HB cut imposed when the DWP said it would be 4,000. It was over 40,000 and surprise, surprise the DWP has still not published the final correct figures that was ten times MORE than the DWP and IDs Nd Lord Freud all stated it would be!
Numbers will always be speculative given there are so many variables yet my figures such as 653 in Barnsley will be far more accurate than the DWP projection and my figures for existing tenants I states are cautious ones too.
By contrast at a national level we have seen the DWP predict up to 177,000 households affected in Feb 2016 estimate, then 120,000 in May 2016 estimate and then 88,000 in September 2016 – unfortunately all too typical of the pissing in the wind estimates the DWP always gives for any Housing Benefit estimate. Note well the 177,000 and 88,000 DWP were both based on the exact same November 2015 HB data yet give one figure which is 100% higher than the other!
My total projected figure – the 653 for Barnsley etc – will come as a shock to the local council there as they will have been told by DWP that the figure is much lower. Yet that is based on what up-to-date knowledge the DWP holds on every social and privately rented household – data they simply do not have. The DWP also has a protocol in place to allow it to share this data with every local council BUT ONLY for social rented households and not for private rented households. As such every local council will have no idea of the numbers affected in the PRS in their areas!
So, in Barnsley, and everywhere else, councils will be wondering why they have been hit with a huge upsurge in homeless enquiries from private tenants who have received s21 eviction notices as private landlords seek to evict them. In a few weeks a further upsurge in homeless presentations will occur from social housing tenants, who have suddenly seen their HB cut by a national average of £76 per week or £3,950 per year from today with the reduced overall benefit cap.
The proverbial will hit the fan and will translate into a huge surge in homeless presentations and eviction cases and largely because more than 6 in every 7 households that are benefit-capped are not in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance or dole and thus able to work immediately; rather they will have an incapacity and be in receipt of ESA and thus unable to work at least immediately; or will be single parents with preschool age children and require child care provision to be able to take up work … should that employment exist.
This means that a further 300,000 to 400,000 new child care places have to magic up out of the ether to facilitate single parents being able to work (as well as work being available) then we can see this isn’t going to happen.
So the 64% of current capped households who are single parents with preschool age children that we must I think correctly assume will be replicated in newly capped households, will have to suffer the £76 per week HB cut until they ‘find’ employment and thus will be heading for homelessness very quickly and at huge cost to every local authority.
You see why the government saying we will double free child care places is a fatuous nonsense now reader? You see why the government line of essentially get off your lazy arse and get a job won’t work as those on ESA are families who are expected to be ready for employment within two years AND if they get (the non-existent) support into such employment … should such employment exist of course!
Did you know that of currently capped households there are more families on ESA (what was formerly called Incapacity Benefit) and thus have an incapacity than there are in receipt of dole (JSA) and thus able to take up employment immediately? Yet that is what the DWP’s own official figures show.
Table 2 – DWP official and latest figures of capped households
As you can see just 2.730 of currently benefit-capped families are on the dole (Jobseekers Allowance) and just 13.63% of the overall total are, in theory, ready and able to take up work.
You may also note that the total UK figure is 20,041 households across the UK when today alone 16,724 families will be benefit-capped and an increase of 14,983 benefit-capped families in just 24 local councils and just 6% of the UK areas!
If you think that is bad wait until late January when all of the UK will have had the swingeing benefit cap imposed (and these ‘later areas are the ones with the highest numbers too) and you will find at least 400,000 children are at acute and often unavoidable risk of homelessness directly created by the swingeing cuts to the Benefit Cap.
The current child homelessness is 120,000 which is outrageous enough – Yet the really big issue is not the number of children at acute risk of homelessness and paying for the ‘sins’ of their parents, that is just the existing tenants.
The really significant issue which runs in parallel to existing tenants is the prospective tenants – the percentage of families of the 385,000 new social tenancies created each year who will be refused social housing (yes that is SOCIAL housing) as their parents application for it will be refused due directly to the benefit caps 23% cuts in HB meaning no social landlord can take the financial risk of accommodating them!
I outlined this systemic homelessness impact of the benefit cap here and cautiously suggested that 150,000 benefit families of this yearly 385,000 new social tenancies that would ordinarily have been allocated social housing will now NOT get those social housing properties and have to go straight to their local councils homeless department.
Of course many many more will be refused privately rented accommodation for the same benefit cap lack of affordability reason too.
150,000 prospective households containing over 500,000 children will thus NOT be allocated a social housing property and go straight onto the homeless figures!
Now how many classrooms full of children will that impact upon?! Oh shit you say reader (and quite rightly!) the reduced overall benefit cap policy is THE largest ever amount of the smelliest faeces hitting a fan the size of the telescope at Jodrell Bank!
Some further comments.
- Look down column 8 in Table 1, the column headed “Increase N-Fold” which shows the increase in numbers in each local authority. The fact it will slightly more than triple in Redbridge (3.56) and Waltham Forest (3.26) yet will increase by almost 25 times in Sefton in the North West and by almost 20 times in Sunderland and Stockton in the North East is, regrettably, mirrored in the other 340 English LA areas.
- When I have said London boroughs are already at a tipping point with the cap at £26k per year this is borne out in their relatively low increases in numbers of families affected.
- Also note well the widely different social housing to privately rented housing percentages that ranges from just 19% of all affected being in social housing in Southend yet sees 55% of all affected being in social housing in Basildon.
- Both Southend and Basildon are in Essex yet we see a huge difference within the same region and the same county council area. This is also typical and reflects the percentage and proportions of SRS:PRS housing benefit recipients in those areas, which as in all regions varies dramatically.
- Finally, those who to date only perceived the benefit cap as either a high rent area issue or high rent in the PRS issue, or both of these, will see that this is no longer the case if it ever was.
- Wirral at 1162 and Sunderland at 949 will have more families benefit capped than the 3 London Boroughs with who the reduced cap begins today. Sunderland with a population of 178,000 will have more benefit capped households than Waltham Forest which has a population of 259,000 is just one example of how the benefit cap is a de facto national policy impacting nationally … in the children of paying for the ‘sins’ of their parents way!!!
The Benefit Cap and its horrendous impacts has snuck in under the radar in the mainstream media and within housing and within the lobby groups for homelessness and single parents and children’s lobbies and with scant if any challenge or opposition or outrage from any quarter.
I have been ‘banging-on’ about the benefit cap ever since it was first mooted back in 2010 some 6 years ago. Four years ago I was presenting at housing sector seminars over the impacts and predicted the cap level would be lowered yet called dystopian for saying the inevitable facts above. Around 18 months ago when the swingeing reduction was first ‘officially’ mooted I ramped up my posts on what the impact would be – and again called dystopian and/or a scaremonger.
In all that time nobody of any influence took any notice and no ‘influential’ lobby or group has even saw the massive systemic impact the Benefit Cap will have on the prospective social tenant which in short means NO DSS signs may just as well be put in every social landlords office windows.
The directly created Benefit Cap impact on homelessness and on education for children has never seen the light of day in any media to date; yet I have no doubt that in a few years time there will be discourse with full academic rigour which states the Benefit Cap policy was and is child abuse.
It is not just abusive to make children pay for the ‘sins’ of their parent(s), it is de facto CHILD ABUSE and to over half a million children each and every year it is on a criminal scale.
If you are a tenant affected, an activist or campaigner who would like to support those affected in your area, in fact anyone affected by or concerned with the Benefit Cap can contact me in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org.