More than 50 Ipswich families with five children have benefits cut after welfare reforms
- Credit: PA
Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that out of the 82 households affected by the benefits cap in total in Ipswich, 52 had five children or more.
Of the 82 in total, 33 have had at least £200 wiped off their monthly out-of-work payments, while seven have been hit by cuts ranging from £400 to £600. These figures were not broken down by how many children were living in the property.
David Ellesmere, leader of the Labour-run Ipswich Borough Council, warned children in these homes could be “sucked into a downward spiral of poverty”.
But Ipswich’s Conservative MP Ben Gummer defended the government’s decision to introduce the reforms in April 2013, saying it was “unfair” that people in work pay taxes to fund higher incomes for people on benefits.
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.
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The current £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.
In the Budget last month, Chancellor George Osborne announced the benefits cap will be reduced to £20,000 outside London from April next year.
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Mr Ellesmere said: “In London, the main reason people get hit by the benefits cap is because of sky high rents, but in Ipswich it seems to be families with a larger than average number of children.
“The Conservatives were very clear in the General Election that they were going to reduce the benefits cap even further.
“They need to be equally clear on how the children in these families are not going to be sucked into a downward spiral of poverty which could lead to a much higher bill for taxpayers when society has to pick up the pieces years down the road.”
The figures also showed that 41 households (50%) affected by the reforms in Ipswich are single parents looking after at least one child.
Mr Gummer said: “The benefit cap was introduced for one simple reason: it was unfair that people in work should be paying taxes that funded an income higher than their own for people on benefits.
“I spoke to many people in Ipswich who were deeply frustrated that they were paying tax on their income, National Insurance contributions and VAT on what they buy only to fund a higher standard of living for people who did not have to make the hard financial decisions that come with looking after a family.”
Mr Gummer said 40% fewer households are now subject to the benefits cap as they are now in work.
He added: “Our economy is growing at the fastest rate in the developed world and more people than ever before have a job. We are seeing this in Ipswich. There are over 500 fewer people on Jobseekers’ Allowance in our town than there were at this time last year. Youth unemployment is also the lowest it has ever been.
“The policies the government have put in place means no-one has to face a life on benefits.”