Benefit Cap

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 18th March 2019.

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Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

What assessment she has made of the financial effect of the benefit cap on claimants who are not required to undertake a work search.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

An evaluation of the cap, covering these groups, is expected to be published in spring 2019. Some claimants might not be required to look for work, but they are expected to undertake activities designed to help them prepare for and move closer to the labour market. Those needing additional help adjusting to the cap can apply for discretionary housing payments.

Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

But this is really missing the point. As the Work and Pensions Committee report made absolutely clear, the benefit cap should not apply to people who are not required to undertake a work search. Why are constituents such as mine having to find £50 out of their child benefit and child tax credits when they are in homeless accommodation and have no say over where they are accommodated and how much rent they are paying, or when they are exempted from a work search, including, in one case, when a mother had been fleeing domestic violence.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

There are automatic exemptions for claimants on DLA, PIP, carer’s allowance, guardian’s allowance, working tax credits working when over 16 hours a week, universal credit when earning over £542, ESA support or the UC higher rate. Where they are not covered by that, discretionary housing payments can be used, and in that case they certainly should have been looked at favourably.

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Privileges

On 29 January, the Minister told me in a written answer that the Department does not know how many resettled refugee families may be subject to the benefit cap. Can he give me an assurance on the Floor of the House that the Government will start to look at that data and guarantee that no such family will be left unable to access the financial support they need?

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I thank the hon. Lady. I have met a number of stakeholders to discuss this issue and wider issues connected to refugees. It is an area of priority for the Department, and I would be happy to meet her to discuss this further.