A cap on the total amount of benefits that individuals can receive has begun to be rolled out across England, Scotland and Wales today (July 15th).
Single individuals, aged between 16 and 64, will now no longer receive any more than £350 a week in benefits, while couples and lone parents will be capped at £500 a week. Popular benefits, such as child benefit, housing benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance will be part of the amounts capped for households. However, those receiving Disability Living Allowance, industrial injuries benefit or a widower's pension, will not be affected under the changes.
The cap, which is yet to be law in Northern Ireland, has already been rolled out in the four London boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey since April. In an aim to reflect the average working income, these changes to the benefits system are the biggest seen since the 1940s.
The legislation has been led by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who wants to clamp down on households avoiding employment and relying on benefits. Mr Duncan Smith said: "The benefit cap returns fairness to the benefits systems. It ensures the taxpayer can have trust in the welfare system and it stops sky-high claims that make it impossible for people to move into work."
However, critics against the scheme have suggested that this cap will not address wider issues such as differences in living costs across the UK, rising housing costs and the difficulty of finding employment. The National Housing Federation has already argued that while benefits need to be focused on, it will be those living in London and the south-east of England, where living costs are much higher, that will be hit the hardest.
The benefits cap will be fully implemented by September 30th.
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