Is the cap on welfare - well, fair?

(81 Posts)
Notsoyummymummy1 Mon 15-Jul-13 20:28:41

A £500 a week cap on the total number of benefits that households can received (not including disability benefits) is being rolled out today across the UK. The cap applies to parents and single parents whereas single childless people get just £350 a week. So basically you're better off living separately from your partner rather than living together! It's supposed to be motivating people to get back to work but it still doesn't deal with the problem of the lack of jobs, the cost of childcare and the fact that £500 goes a lot further in some places than others. It just seems to imply that most people are on benefits as a lifestyle choice when it's not the case - people are usually on benefits as a last resort and lots of families are going to seriously struggle now.

timidviper Tue 16-Jul-13 00:36:42

I am really conflicted about this.

I don't want to punish those on benefits but think that no-one should be better off on benefits than working, no-one should be able to use benefits to live in an area that working people cannot afford and no-one should be funded by benefits to have more children than a working family can afford but I'm not sure it has been well thought through and am concerned that it will cause chaos

TheSecondComing Tue 16-Jul-13 00:41:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

caroldecker Tue 16-Jul-13 00:44:21

People who disagree with this policy, what would you do instead to enorage people to work?
BTW money saving is not the aim, it is the principle that not working is less lucrative than working.

RonaldMcDonald Tue 16-Jul-13 00:46:24

If you and your family live in a rented house, in the S or S E, and you become too ill to work there is now a real chance that you will also have to move house

The same will happen if you lose your job, partner etc.

We keep forgetting that these benefits are things that we ourselves might one day need

Yes, it's fair. As working parents, we've had to move to different parts of the country, away from family and friends, twice in our children's school years for work reasons. If we hadn't moved, we wouldn't have been able to afford to live where we did. Why should it be different for benefit claimants?

TheSecondComing Tue 16-Jul-13 00:47:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TabithaStephens Tue 16-Jul-13 01:06:54

Regardless of whether there is jobs for everyone, £500 a week is enough for any family to live on.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 16-Jul-13 07:38:34

"So basically you're better off living separately from your partner rather than living together! "

That's not true. The income may be better but the separate couple would be financing two homes, two utility bills, two sets of council tax etc.

The changes are overdue and the cap doesn't apply to those on Working Tax Credits or disability payments.

Pantone363 Tue 16-Jul-13 07:57:18

There are some aspects I don't understand. A working family earning £26000 a year would also be claiming benefits, CB, CTC wouldn't they? So their income wouldn't be £26000.

I don't think that non working families have ever been better off than working families. And where are all these jobs going to come from? The cap does nothing to deal with the scourge of high rents, zero hours contracts or child care.

It's a very good sound bite though.

ihearsounds Tue 16-Jul-13 08:04:53

I am torn.
I do feel for families on benefits. Well, the true claimants. It's the actual people I know on benefits who I don't feel sorry for, because i know that they are career claimants. They have never worked since leaving school and now range from 30's to 60's.

I don't think that you should get more for not working than working. Not fair really. Why is it the law for benefits says you need a minimum of XX to live on, but working well tough really.

But maybe I am jealous. Who knows. We have less than 26k a year combined, but living in London we still manage to survive. So I also think that the London argument is flawed.

BelleDameSansMerci Tue 16-Jul-13 08:15:26

I'm not torn at all. It's wrong. It's penalising huge numbers of people for little gain.

Everything edam said up-thread basically.

And, fwiw, it doesn't impact me at all. I am daily astonished at the lack of compassion currently being peddled as political/economic necessity and the people buying into it.

Luckily, despite the fact that I am on benefits, this doesn't apply to me. We get below the new cap anyway and manage, but then it's just me, DP and DS and I am generally very frugal - people with larger families would definitely struggle with just £500.

It's a stupid, divisive policy. But what else can you expect from our current government?

ParsingFancy Tue 16-Jul-13 08:55:52

Meanwhile, house prices, which are a huge part of the problem, are going up again.

Why? Because Osborne has decided to underwrite them out of taxes with Help To Buy.

<headdesk>

ParsingFancy Tue 16-Jul-13 09:01:32

Cogito, it's not true that the cap doesn't apply to people receiving disability payments.

ESA (formerly Incapacity Benefit), for people who cannot work due to illness and disability, is included in the cap.

People receiving Disability Living Allowance for personal care or mobility are exempt, but the majority of people on ESA don't get this. Further, the number getting DLA it is about to be cut - probably by at least 20%.

DontmindifIdo Tue 16-Jul-13 09:16:21

cogito - I was going to raise that, just because two people living apart would have more income coming in, most of their costs would be doubled so it wouldn't be cheaper.

The 'London is expensive' has several flaws, including that we are in the group of many who've moved out to afford the space we want for our family and commute in. There was little complaint over the last 20 years when vast numbers of middle class people found themselves priced out of London so moved and commuted, it's hard to expect those people to feel that poorer people have to be helped to do what they couldn't, stay in London in communities they know when they have DCs and need space.

All benefits need to be seen as reasonable by the people paying them. Most people are happy to pay for a safety net for those in need, but having benefits at a level that is massively above the average wage doesn't look like a safety net anymore, more an alternative lifestyle at someone else's expense. It doesn't matter that most people don't recieve anything like that much, it matters that some people do, that undermines public support for benefits altogether.

DontmindifIdo Tue 16-Jul-13 09:19:13

Galaxy - I think the thinking is that while it'll hurt in the short term, long term, people on lower incomes who need help from benefits won't have larger families, or at least will do on the understanding that once they hit the cap, benefits won't increase with extra children.

twofingerstoGideon Tue 16-Jul-13 09:52:16

I suppose I'm what you'd call 'working poor'. Cutting people's benefit* isn't going to make me, or others like me, any better off financially, is it? Iain Duncan-Smith's rhetoric about 'fairness' is pushing the notion that people in relatively low-paid work will somehow benefit from these measures. The government's real aim is to pit low paid workers against the unemployed. Well I for one am not falling for that bullshit.

*And how many people on benefits actually get anything like 50K?

I agree with NiceTabard and Edam.

It has often been true that you can be better off out of work than in it, depending on your circumstances. For example, as soon as you have any children then childcare costs are a factor. Even with tax credits and other help, many people find that the costs of childcare and transport to work equal or exceed their earnings.

And if by working you lose your entitlement to full housing benefit then you will certainly why you're bothering working 35h/w and seeing very little of your children for the same net income as if you weren't working at all.

Say two children, one of whom is at school. Use same childminder for both, 8-6 to allow for bus ride to and from work and a standard 8h working day. In termtime even modest childcare costs are likely to be £50 a day; in the holidays more like £70. You have to be earning a reasonable (not NMW) hourly rate before your net earnings for the day are more than £0.

twofingerstoGideon Tue 16-Jul-13 09:58:00

People who disagree with this policy, what would you do instead to enorage people to work?
Provide secure, long term jobs at a living wage.

twofingers do please elaborate. What jobs? State jobs? Private jobs? Financed how? Massive job shortage at the moment.

twofingerstoGideon Tue 16-Jul-13 10:15:41

I'm aware there's a massive job shortage. I was intending to point out the flaw in people talking about 'encouraging' claimants to work (eg caroldecker above).
If there aren't enough jobs, why are we punishing people who don't have one?

siezethenight Tue 16-Jul-13 10:30:30

caroldecker What to do instead of this?
You STOP cutting people's benefits off when they want to go back to college and/or on a re-training course. That is what currently happens - if you are on benefits and want to retrain you loose all your living benefits as in, income support, carers allowance and so forth - sure, you get your housing benefit still but you can't actually eat the letters they sent to say you are entitled to housing benefit. You can't pay your bills on child benefit.
There are swathes of people, single parents and unemployed alike who need to re-train, go back to college, if they ever stand a hope of being employable in any job that is going to pay enough to get them out of a benefit trap. You also fund at home study for the single parents with children who are little and not yet in full time school/.
Then you sit back and watch those that take this offer up and those that do not - then you have got your line of people who want to work and get on and those who want to live on benefits and do nothing - then you can go tackle the latter accordingly.
You do not punish everybody for the sins of a few imo - most single parents and unemployed WANT work, they want to help themselves.
This is a ridiculous idea - as there are no jobs out there really at the moment, then train people to be able to do jobs as and when the economy picks up again.

DialsMavis Tue 16-Jul-13 13:32:01

How would the whole "if you can't afford it, move out of London" thing work though? If DP and I lost our jobs tomorrow I don't think £500 pw would cover our rent and basic bills. Should we immediately up sticks and move straight out of London? Taking our DC out of school and moving them without having a chance to find other jobs here first? DP is only qualified to do his job and it is very London based. We would also break the terms of our tenancy agreement so lose a big chunk of our deposit. What if we would have found jobs a few weeks later? Surely better than being long term unemployed and living off benefits in another part of the country. It's really not that simple is it?

Sunrising33 Tue 16-Jul-13 13:32:50

I'm often amazed as to how Land Lords have got away without any comeback after all a vast amount of government money goes into private accomodation, and often ,very often well above market rates. This is largely what gives the crazy London benefit figures we hear about.

Annex the payment made to Land Lords and reduce it whilst giving people the amount they at least need to survive. No reduction in the allowances for the individual.

Build new Local Authority housing!. If we can consider spending Billions on a Rich Boys Train set (HS2) we can afford to provide for our people.

Perhaps if the house prices start coming down people might feel they can get out there, work hard and get some roots down. That's an incentive.

ihategeorgeosborne Tue 16-Jul-13 14:29:04

Oh well, everyone seems to rave on about house prices rising being a good thing. Every article I've read this week implies that we are in recovery as house prices are soaring. This is the result of high house prices. People can't afford to live. I don't see anything good about it myself, but I do seem to be in the minority confused

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