Late last week the DWP published the number of households hit by the £500 per month cut to the overall benefit cap. Well they did and they didn’t, which I will come on to, but those they did publish reveal:
- a 9 fold increase in Daventry (pop. 78,000) which now has more capped households than Sunderland (pop. 280,000) had before the £500 per month cut
- a 7.4 fold increase in Babergh (pop. 87.000) which now has more capped households than Bournemouth (pop. 187,000) before the cut
- a 5.4 x increase in Oadby & Wigston (pop 54.000) which now has more benefit capped households than Oxford (pop. 160,000) did before the cut
- a 4.6 fold increase in East Dunbartonshire (pop 106,000) which now has 20% more benefit capped households than Wigan (pop.320,000) before the cut
- Forest Heath (pop 60,000) has a 7 fold increase and now has more affected than Sunderland (pop 280,000) had prior to the cut
None of the above new figures include households who are on Universal Credit and hit by the benefit cap either and those number will all add to these figures.
These areas are hardly ones that slip off the tongue yet they show that the benefit cap reduction of 23% and £500 per calendar month now hits everywhere across the UK.
The statistics released 2 February 2017 contain the data for just some of the council areas hit when the reduction began on Monday 7 November 2016 and if you blink you will miss the incredibly small print these release contains that I reproduce here in viewable size:
* Each Local Authority has a schedule to extract and return their data to DWP over a four week rolling period, which does not necessarily correspond to a calendar month. November 2016 data has typically been extracted between 17 October and 10 November 2016, depending on the Local Authority, and therefore only contains data up to that extraction date. This means that the statistics do not show the number of capped cases on a particular date but over a monthly cycle.
As the 23% cut did not start until 7 November 2016 this latest data only covers 4 days of this 24 day period and even then to a small number of councils with the lowest anticipated figures with only 1 of the 113 councils having more than 20 people affected before the cut and the vast majority just single figures.
So only a few of these 113 councils actual new position is recorded and only around 15 – 20 of them. The next scheduled benefit cap statistics are released in May 2017 which will still not include all of the larger areas capped such as Birmingham or Leeds and we will have to wait until August 2017 to find out the full details of the reduced overall benefit cap that began in November 2016.
This is a very Machiavellian process indeed as come mid Summer 2017 it will be 8 months after the 23% cut to the benefit cap came in and with Brexit, Trump and everything else the benefit cap affected will probably not reach the bottom of column 6 on page 27 of any national newspaper.
It is only in August 2017 that we can even attempt to extrapolate the benefit cap figures and compare with the homeless increase it will inevitably cause.
However even with this tiny partial release and to the areas least affected we still find that Hinckley & Bosworth (pop. 107,000) has seen a 6.8 fold increase from just 10 households to 68 and it now has more benefit capped households than the London Borough of Sutton (pop. 299,000) had before this cut.
As these figures only represent the areas with the lowest anticipated capped households and include many who before the reduction had no benefit capped households at all such as Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles, Craven, East Dorset, Maldon, Ribble Valley, South Lakeland and West Somerset .. they are not representative and we cannot extrapolate a national picture, though these lowest areas show a 5.7 fold increase on the numbers before the cut.
Note well that the city of Birmingham even the DWP expects will have at least double the number of families affected by the reduced benefit cap than in all of these first 113 councils for whom it began on 7 November.
So this is definitely a case of the Tory government seeking to bury and prolong the bad news of the devastation the policy will inevitably have.
I have include the first page graphic of the DWP release below which has in large type that 20,000 capped households and 64,000 no longer capped and how many have come off the cap and graphics to take the eye stating this sophistry and what the DWP wants you to believe. The quote I use above and call the small print is that contained in the box at the foot of the page below I have highlighted in yellow.
PS – If you look at Table 6 of these latest figures you will find that it still says 7% of benefit capped households are in receipt of Carers Allowance – which as from 7 November 2016 makes them exempt for it … Just in case you did not believe that these figures are about as useful as a chocolate teapot reader and a work of utter contrived fiction!