Benefit Cap – Shoddiest of inept journalism from The Guardian

Today Dawn Foster in the Guardian takes false information from a local newspaper that in turn comes from obvious false information from a local council and reports it as fact concerning the overall benefit cap.


It is the all too familiar story of lazy, lazy journalism and of journalists who can’t even be bothered to check obvious mistakes told to them by local councils.

The Guardian piece says:


Dawn Foster sources her piece from the Grimsby Telegraph so let’s look at what the Grimsby Telegraph said:


The Grimsby Telegraph piece DOES say 42 families …. YET …

The council in Grimsby (North East Lincolnshire) then says 45 households are affected in the area.  However and prior to the £500 per calendar month and £115.38 per week cut the official DWP figures for North East Lincolnshire state there are 62 families hit by the old benefit cap level!

Below is the table from the DWP official figures for August 2016 and BEFORE the £115.38 cut in the overall benefit cap level that began in NE Lincs on 12 December



As you can see NE Lincs had a total number of capped families of 62 of which 42 had up to £50 per week cut and which now becomes a housing benefit cut of  up to£115.38 per week more.  I say up to because once the cut leaves just 50p a week in housing benefit the cut stops there – unless you are on Universal Credit and the cut continues fully and takes every penny of housing payment and then more from the other social security that went into Universal Credit. (see below for update and clarification)

Can anyone please tell me how the 62 existing families who already faced a cut to their housing benefit BEFORE this further cut of £115.38 per week can suddenly reduce in number by 32% to just 42 families affected and NO NEW families are affected by the £115.38 pw or £500 pcm cut are affected?!

It is abundantly clear this article in the Grimsby Telegraph by Michelle Hurst is the shoddiest of shoddy journalism and is patently false.

Perhaps the fact the Grimsby Telegraph reports that the previous cap was £23,000 per year and not £26,000 may give you a clue as the journalistic credibility of Michelle Hurst reader?

Yet when such lazy journalism is then picked up and reported as fact by the Guardian then it is Dawn Foster who deserves the most rebuke as a national newspaper with its much larger circulation and especially online presence (and who proclaims “Facts are sacred” on its masthead!) allows the post-truth society to become reality with such shoddy journalism.

It was apparently Marl Twain who first said “‘A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes” which this thoroughly shoddy journalism epitomises

Dawn Foster deserves far more rebuke than the truly incompetent person from North East Lincolnshire council who clearly does not know his or her arse from his or her elbow with the 45 families in total affected estimate.

Dawn Foster and the Guardian need to retract this article and apologise for misleading its readers through this shoddy journalism and regardless of it being recycled shoddy journalism.

Perhaps the Guardian could ask itself why local councils are deliberately seeking to understate the benefit cap numbers?

Regrettably local councils deliberately and knowingly understating the true figure or in other words knowingly lying to the media over benefit cap affected numbers is a trend that my home city of Liverpool started by claiming it will be 840 families. Surprise, surprise this was also printed in the Guardian Housing Network here back in October 2016 despite Liverpool City Council informing the DWP all party committee on the benefit cap that the number will be 1950 in Liverpool as Hansard records here.

Facts are sacred anyone?

Finally, we will not find out the precise figures until the middle of May 2017 for North East Lincolnshire as that is when the DWP will release the figures – the February 2017 release for benefit capped families will only cover those affected at the second week in November 2016 and the benefit cap in NE Lincs did not start until Monday 12 December 2016.

That start date is of itself significant as the new reduced benefit cap £20k per annum level is being rolled out from 7 November 2016 to 23 January 2017 with the councils with the lowest expected numbers affected being rolled out first … with 294 local council areas being subjected to the new cut BEFORE it applied to North East Lincolnshire.

In other words the DWP expects only 61 councils across the near 400 councils in England Scotland & Wales to be worse affected than North East Lincolnshire … who the Guardian have reported will see a 32% reduction in the numbers affected by the benefit cap there!!!



What the pre-existing 62 cases being capped means is not just that the 42 who had a less than £50 pw cut will now all have no more than 50p per week BUT ALSO the 20 families who before the £115.38 pw reduction had over £50 pw cut will also go down to no more than 50p per week in their maximum HB.

In short at least all 62 pre-existing capped cases

Then of course there will be many new previously not capped households who will also get just £0.50p pw in HB due to the (up to) £115.38 per week cut in the overall benefit cap levels


The usual naysayers, pedants … and those who utter the tritest of defences of the lazy journalism on Dawn Foster on social media and those presumably willing to say anything to keep good relations with the Guardian even after they report a tissue of lies and/or use the “well Dawn Foster has written good articles in the past” as if any of those excuses are acceptable and especially when the pedantry involves saying that I said the number is unknown when I said the ACTUAL number must be unknown and twisting my words in an attempt to practice their sycophancy to the Guardian and Dawn Foster …..

…here is the DWP estimate it gave to NE Lincolnshire council … you know the ones who now say it will be 45 in total


So can anyone tell me how NE Lincs can believe that the benefit cap affected families will total just 45 AFTER the £500 per calendar month reduction when even the DWP say it will be between 400 and 599 or more than TEN TIMES that number?

Then how can the lazy Grimsby Telegraph journalist possible believe it and how can Dawn Foster possible believe it … which is what she clearly does else she has just incredibly lazily and sloppily created a story without checking any of the facts of the case?

Yes reader the attempted cover up and defence of the Guardian is becoming just as interesting as the woeful fabrication it published …

7 thoughts on “Benefit Cap – Shoddiest of inept journalism from The Guardian

  1. It has become evident why IDS wanted all the accrued benefits to be paid as one award – all the better to nab it back to pay the landlords what they want and to hell with the consequences should a family have to make a choice between eating and heating or homelessness.

    1. Which is in reality my point. Oh it’s the Guardian or oh it’s Dawn Foster therefore it’s ok is what vast majority assume. And before we know it the lies are believed and pervasive…

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