Ipswich: Nearly 50 families on benefits see payments slashed following controversial government welfare reforms

Some 47 families in Ipswich suffered a benefits cut in the first four months after the £500-a-week limit came into force on July 15 last year, new government research has found. Some 47 families in Ipswich suffered a benefits cut in the first four months after the £500-a-week limit came into force on July 15 last year, new government research has found.

Friday, January 10, 2014
2:57 PM

Nearly 50 families claiming benefits in Ipswich saw their payments slashed following the government’s controversial welfare reforms, new figures have revealed.

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The revelation provoked a war of words between the town’s Labour council leader David Ellesmere and Conservative MP Ben Gummer as the coalition’s flagship scheme came under fresh scrutiny.

The reforms introduced a ceiling for the first time on the amount families can claim in welfare, such as jobseekers’ allowance, housing benefit and child benefit.

The new £26,000 limit, equivalent to a pre-tax salary of £35,000 a year, is designed to ensure households are always better off in work than on welfare.

Some 47 families in the town suffered a benefits cut in the first four months after the £500-a-week limit came into force on July 15 last year, the new government research found.

It was the highest amount in Suffolk.

Mr Ellesmere slammed the shake-up, saying vulnerable people have been hit “when they are already down” and arguing the government should instead shift its focus on to reducing housing costs and increasing the minimum wage.

But Ipswich MP Ben Gummer hit back at those allegations. He labelled Labour the “welfare party” and insisted the figures proved the coalition was on course to deliver its promise of making people better off through work than on benefits.

“My Labour opponents have voted against every single welfare reform,” Mr Gummer said.

“They are the welfare party and seem to think it is reasonable for people to receive more in benefits than they would in work.

“I disagree with that and these figures – which are relatively low because the cost of housing is not what it is in London – show that we are achieving precisely what he (Mr Ellesmere) asked us to do even though he said everything we were going to do would not work.”

He added: “We have always maintained that it is wrong that people get more money from benefits than the average weekly wage for working households.

“The evidence received so far show that the benefit reforms are a considerable stimulus to get people back in to work while unemployment is below what it was before the general election in Ipswich and youth employment is lower than what it was before the crisis when we were a richer country.

“But there is still much more to do to reform our welfare system and under another term of a conservative government we will ensure this will happen.”

Mr Ellesmere said: “Although unemployment is down, many new jobs are part time and low paid. Combine that with the failure of the David Cameron to tackle housing costs and that means the government is now spending more money on benefits for people in work than for those who are unemployed.

“Everyone wants to get the benefits bill down but the government should be putting more effort into doing this by getting people jobs, increasing the minimum wage and reducing housing costs rather than their default option of hitting vulnerable people when they are already down.”

In Suffolk, some 156 families saw their household benefit payments decrease as a direct result of the new welfare cap, the Department for Work and Pensions statistics, released yesterday, also revealed.

32 comments

  • Gobby; adj "loudmouthed and offensive" how apt. Mr Bateman's comments seem very reasonable to me. The figures are enlightening, and show the policy for what it is - Austerity as an excuse for Nasty. Presumably, a similar amount of housing benefit would be paid even if the families on minimum wagezero hour contracts, so the workershirker argument is just spiteful rhetoric.

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    David Jones

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

  • Whenever I hear a Labour councillor spout their meaningless rhetoric, it reminds me of the day Daniel Hanann shot down Gordon Brown in a G20 Meeting. Labour have the ability to say one thing in chamber, and another to its electorate. I think people need to wake up and realise there is a massive debt! these cuts aimed at the freeloaders are absolutely the right thing to do. Mr Ellesmere is another product of a failed government; He merely wants to buy the unemployedbenefits brigade which is in essence unethical politics, in fact almost bordering bribery, therefore corrupt. Heavy handed tactics may upset the majority but radical change is needed. Our local council has wasted millions of "our" money, there is not sufficient consultation on such spends too. The recent huge outlays have done nothing more than create ill feeling and controversy. With the first council houses going to immigrants, the traffic light and bus station redevelopments; to add insult to injury, the brains behind the aforementioned is an ipswich resident! but he is also somebody who doesn't drive! Get some credibility for heaven sake. I look forwards to the next election locally. I sincerely hope others take the time to come out and vote for some sort of change.

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    Rory Breaker

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • As usual comments along party lines. I always thought benefits were for food and a roof not for takeaway meals, latest mobile phones, fags booze, tattoos, I heard a scrounger the other day moaning about immigrants. That's rich they come here to work not like him sitting on his backside all day.

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    m01

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • Im self employed and last year i managed to earn £18,500 gross. My wife managed £3,000 gross part time. We are a family of 5 and both in work, but we still earn less than a family of freeloaders who know how to milk the system. (CH4's Benefit Street comes to mind.) Is this really fair? Its about time a lot of these work shy, layabouts were sweeping the streets for their money, make them earn their sky tv, ipads and massive plasma televisions. As for government, i will only vote for UKIP.

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    Stevie

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • oh no is this the same labour council people are praising that has let the knocking of two houses into one go from £6000 to now we are told will be much greater than £15000 this house is owned by the council so if any rent is paid it will be very low and as they have 12 children benefits will be high how many hard workers taxes will go to pay for this ,the whole benefits system what capping lower

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    pandy

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • About time something was done with these sponging families, I am a single mum with 4 sons who works and i don't even get 20,000 a year for us 5. Some families have never worked in their lives about time they capped their money,why should they get 500 a week for just sitting on their backsides watching Jeremy kyle which is where most of them seem to appear on . Same with DLA fake people get it for depression I have bi-polar AND DEPRESSION. I am not entitled to claim it, although I struggle to get through day by day. The Whole benefit system is a joke.

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    maria

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • Well this news should cheer up all those hard working families on £35K or less who work for their money. As to Mr Bateman's comment, does he really expect us to believe that a working familiy who earned £35k pa (the equivalent of the benefit cap before tax) would have to pay the majority of their wages to a landlord? You being reading "Mr Ipswich's" column far too often, it addles the brain you know!

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    Gobby

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • sorry should have been wants not whats

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    pandy

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • How do we know how many of the 47 families affected are not working? They could be on low-income and the vast majority of the social security payments going straight to the landlord. If the cost of housing is stripped away, the amount of disposable income is presumably subsistence, but I'd like to see the actual figures.

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    David Jones

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • An interesting debate. Supply and demand, in essence. Does the housing benefit bill increase as the property market is driven even higher by speculative investment (eg WALL OF MONEY from overseas, perhaps) : http:www.theguardian.comuk-news2014jan12right-to-buy-housing-scandal

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    David Jones

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Now who would have guessed that Mr Bateman is a freelance social worker 'specilising in Welfare Rights'?? I hear the sound of a very blunt axe being ground.

    Report this comment

    Gobby

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

  • "under another term of a conservative government we will ensure that this will happen" !, now young gummer, you really are living in a delusional world of your own !, you seriously think the British people are going to let you shameless lot anywhere near government again, then you need help !!

    Report this comment

    freedomf

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • Let's get this into perspective. The households affected are a tiny, weeny minority and not at all representative of benefit claimants. There are some 5,500 long term jobless households in Ipswich (remember all those factories that closed in the 80s and the lack of replacement jobs?), so the ones receiving these large sums of money amount to 0.8% of the long term workless households and just 0.09% of all households in Ipswich. We don't know the total amount saved from capping, but national figures show that in places like Ipswich it's about £50 a week per affected household. So a total saving of probably about £120,000 a year. Less than a pound a year per head of the population in Ipswich. Even if you reduced the cap to say £200 a week, it would not even begin to make even a scratch in the deficit and let's remember that it was the failure of the free market financial system which created the mess the economy is in. Not 47 families being helped to pay excessively high rents. Finally, don't lose sight of the fact that any of us can find our lives fall apart and we have to claim benefits and end up trapped on them. Also remember that a third of all benefits expenditure is returned to the public purse through taxes of one sort or another, that 65% of benefits expenditure is on pensioners (just 4% on the unemployed) and that the majority of benefits expenditure is spent in the local economy thus providing a boost to local shops and businesses. Sadly the debate about welfare has descended in one not based on evidence or facts but prejudice and stereotypes based on unusual examples. We risk turning into a very unpleasant and uncaring country.

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    Neil Bateman

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

  • Yes in principle people should always be better off working than not working, and stories such as the two council houses being knocked into one for a large family of Benefits claimants simply enforces this. However, if the Government were as willing to take tough action against their multi rich friends who avoid their tax payments or move their money to off shore tax havens. as well as multinational corporations who the Government let off paying their tax bills too, people may start believing Cameron's silly adage that "we are all in this together", as obviously this isn't true. If you are at the bottom, you suffer the cuts, if you are at the top you are relatively unaffected.

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    england1770

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • Ahh that old "vulnerable" chestnut. Vulnerability is not having a cut to your income that still gives you an income far above that of many working people. Vulnerable is what people who work hard, but for whatever reason find themselves temporarily out of work or short of money are when, as a result, they can't pay their mortgage or are long term sick. Nobody who is physically able to move and speak and walk to the corner shop should be claiming benefits long term, let alone at these kind of levels. It's high time we had a time limited system that means that people can no longer live the life of riley breeding feral children to perpetuate the problem. Some of these cuts are unfair - the 'bedroom tax' when people cannot find a smaller affordable home, others are not nearly tough enough.

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    Sentinel Red

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • @Neil Bateman: well said and some actual facts for people to consider rather than the vitriol bandied around by sections of the media and this Tory Govt. Personally I object to my taxes going towards subsidising the wage bills of Tesco, Sainsbury and similar, who pay employees below a living wage so that the welfare system has to pick up the difference. The Conservatives won't mind.... it keeps rents high and their private landlord mates rich.

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    skrich

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

  • Have you ever seen those documentaries about being on the dole, the participants stand there crying to camera stating they fear for their kids future. Yet there they are fag in mouth, with beer cans littering the garden. They can't love their kids, because they put vices first. Am I right?

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    Lee Davies

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • "equivalent to a pre-tax salary of £35,000 a year," I've never had a penny in benefits and never earnt more than £20,000 a year. Can someone please explain to me how this is fair?

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    RC

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • I have to agree with maria,stevie and lots of others i work as many hours as i possibly can my husband works full time and we dont earn anywhere near 26,000 we receive no benefits at all and also have to pay for child care which people on benefits dont that reduces our money even more.If they arent working by choice then they should be responsible and not keep having copious amounts of children i have to pay for my lifestyle and children why should i pay for them to keep having lore when i cant afford that choice.

    Report this comment

    cil15

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • Sorry he is "not" an ipswich resident!! should have added that!

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    Rory Breaker

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • I dream of £500 a week.

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    Lee Davies

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • Isn't he the council leader? welfare is NOT his remit... so why does he care? he seems relatively relaxed about improved communication and partnership working with SCC which is more significant. How about intervening about the Ipswich Fit for the 21st Century project? Improving congestion? Improving the towns prospects? Ensuring the revamped bus stations isn't a trip, slip or fall hazard? Getting the Highways Agency to fix poor drainage on many of the main roads (such as London Road)? As for £35k only a small percentage of business owners get that or over, our MP, and of course some families on benefits. No working class person earns anything near that.

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • I dream of £500 a week.

    Report this comment

    Lee Davies

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • The comments here show just how many Labour voting people in Ipswich DON'T KNOW that Ellesmere is the Labour candidate in next year's general election. Just goes to show just how little people know OR care about politics. Vive la revolution!

    Report this comment

    Mister Cynical

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • I work full time. I wish I could take home £26000 pa

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    Blackcat65

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • I agree with the last comment (Maria) it is hard to make ends meet, when you are working and have a family and not feeling well I hope these cuts in ipswich were made to the people who have never worked But I bet they are STILL better off ,than a lot of people who are working

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    Midi

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • Waspie's wife..Housing benefit was brought in in 82. Until then you rented what you could afford. For us it meant 4 out of 5 rooms on the top floor of an elderly ladies house. That was the norm for low paid married young couples in the early 70'., Then a terrace with no hot water, no bathroom, outside loo and just fireplaces. Not for us to choose a property above what we could afford and get it paid for. No our rent paid by us, a rent book.. Then we saw young single mums get a house and benefit. Landlords liked them because the social rent was guaranteed. Boyfriends could stay 3 nights a week and then go home to mum. Nice and cushty..now they knock council houses together to accommodate huge families, It's not hard to see what's gone wrong is it.

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    waspie

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

  • Mr Ellesmere there are job's out there , why do you think all these immigrants come here ,, Anyone who sign on the dole should only be allowed to turn down a job once , after that stop all benefit's ,,English people must be made to work .

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    MIGUEL100

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • I don't know what planet Mr Ellesmere is on, but I don't know many vulnerable people as he describes them on the equivalent of £35,000 per year. Try getting real and stop pushing the Milliband line Mr Ellesmere you know its not right to give people that sort of money, all you do is keep them there so taking away aspiration and also guarantee that they keep on voting for you. (sounds like cash for votes)

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    Gazzer 1999

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • People to remember that most of these large payments go to landlords who have consistently increased rents above inflation levels because the Tories abolished rent control and tenant security back in 1996. It is quite easy to find your benefit capped if you have four children (not a large family) and your landlord is charging a high rent. In order to deal with the problem, the answer is to control rents (like they do in most other countries and without problems), not try to deal with the symptom of the problem which is the benefits system. Gummer's comments are just juvenile.

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    Neil Bateman

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • I am very concerned that vulnerable people are losing out and put further at risk as is David Ellesmere, however, my husband and I both work fulltime, shifts and unsociable hours, sometimes with call outs in the middle of the night and we would be grateful if we received pre-tax salary in our house of £36,000. So sadly I agree with the welfare cap and more needs to be done to support these 47 families to come off benefits, I would like to know though how many of these families had anyone in work . If none then jobcentre staff aren't really doing very well at their jobs!, Wouldn't surprise me to see more reforms in that service!!

    Report this comment

    Footyfan

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • I predict this will be the most commented story for a long time. Its human natute give them too much and they want more give them less and they might do something about it. Well said RC, Gazzer & Gobby

    Report this comment

    Yarn

    Friday, January 10, 2014

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