THE timing of the
introduction of the household benefit cap was "ironic", the Bishop
of Dudley, the Rt Revd David Walker, said this week, given that the
Old Testament reading at morning prayer was the assurance in
Ezekiel 18 that the sins of the father would not be visited on the
"My concern over the welfare
cap is that it is predominantly going to be children who are the
victims of it," he said on Tuesday. "It will hit a relatively small
number of larger families, often with the most complex needs. . .
Children do not choose how many brothers and sisters they have got.
. . We do not punish children for the misdeeds of their
The Government announced its
plan to cap total household benefits in 2010, with the objective of
restricting the total amount of money a non-working household can
receive to the average earned income of working households. The
policy came into force on Monday. It is expected to affect 40,000
households, mostly large families and those in high-rent areas.
Half are in Greater London. Affected households will lose an
average of £93 a week.
The policy has also proved
to be popular with the public. An Ipsos MORI poll of 2017 people,
conducted in June, found that 70 per cent supported the cap. By a
margin of 2.5 to 1, respondents said that the benefits system was
too generous, as opposed to not generous enough.
On Monday, the Work and
Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said: "Returning fairness to
the welfare state in this country is long overdue. . .The days of
blank-cheque benefits are over, and the benefit cap is a key part
Over the past year, Jobcentre Plus has contacted claimants
affected by the benefit cap to offer support. The Department for
Work and Pensions reported on Monday that more than 12,000 had
moved into work and 32,300 had accepted employment support by June.
The leader of Haringey Council, however, one of four areas where
the cap has been piloted, said that 740 families in the borough had
been severely financially disadvantaged, but only 34 family members
had found work.