Khan calls for urgent lifting of benefit cap

The Mayor of London has called on the government to urgently lift the benefit cap after new research revealed that tens of thousands of low-income Londoners are being excluded from coronavirus support measures.

Policy in Practice research indicates that those subject to the benefit cap are not receiving hundreds of pounds of government support each month – mostly increases in benefits that are supposed to help them pay their rent.

The government places a limit on how much people can receive from the welfare system and the research found that the number of London households at this limit doubled to 44,300 in April after ministers said it was increasing benefits. It’s predicted that this could rise to 63,700 by next year as more people are forced to make a claim.

The research found that: 44,300 households in London are having their benefits capped – double the number before April, with a 105 per cent rise in outer London and 80 per cent rise in inner London; 22,300 households have seen no increase in support since March, as they were already at the benefit cap, and are now missing out an average of £320 per month in support. For private renters with children this is £532 per month; 22,000 further households are now at the cap and are missing an average of £185 per month in support; and the number of households at the cap could rise to 63,700 by 2021 as the number of households who need benefits increases.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “It’s appalling that tens of thousands of Londoners are be excluded from vital financial support during these challenging times because the government has not lifted the cap on benefits. They claim to be standing by those who rely on these benefits, but by failing to raise the benefit cap they are actually preventing thousands of low-income families from accessing this crucial support. This will leave families unable to pay their rent and other essential bills, and ultimately at risk of homelessness. That’s why it’s so important that the government urgently lifts the cap on benefits so that low-income households can get the support they need.”

Deven Ghelani, director and founder, Policy in Practice, said "The benefit cap no longer meets its original purpose of encouraging people into work. With people out of work due to coronavirus and trapped by high housing costs it makes sense to suspend it at least for the duration of this crisis."