Number of Chesterfield households hit by benefit cap almost doubles

The number of families hit by the benefit cap in Chesterfield surged during the coronavirus crisis, figures show.
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Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures show 139 households had their benefits capped in Chesterfield in May.

This was almost double the number capped in February, when there were 75 families who had either their housing benefit or universal credit payment reduced.

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The cap limits how much households can receive in total benefits, and currently kicks in at £20,000 per year for families in Chesterfield.

More than 100 Chesterfield households have been affected by the benefit capMore than 100 Chesterfield households have been affected by the benefit cap
More than 100 Chesterfield households have been affected by the benefit cap

The DWP said the rise was ‘driven by an unprecedented increase of 665 per cent in the number of newly universal credit-capped households, a reflection of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic’.

The Government has decided to increase the weekly universal credit payment by £20 a week between April 2020 and March 2021 due to the pandemic.

But Therese Coffey MP, the work and pensions secretary said last month there were no plans to make any changes to the benefit cap system.

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Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said: “These figures show thousands of people are turning to the benefits system to break their fall, only to discover that the benefit cap is cutting them off from vital support.

“If we are to avoid a wave of people from losing their homes through no fault of their own, it’s vital that the Government immediately suspends the benefit cap so that people have the means to stay afloat.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, added: “I don’t believe this Government wants to see families left hungry, hopeless and facing homelessness while this deadly virus continues, but this is what is happening.”

“We are in extraordinarily difficult times and this flaw in the welfare system has to be fixed before a flood of families find themselves destitute."

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A DWP spokesman said: “The benefit cap ensures fairness for hard-working taxpaying households and a strong work incentive whilst providing a much-needed safety net of support.

“We remain committed to helping the most vulnerable in society, which is why we currently spend more than £95 billion a year on the benefits system.”