Press Release: DWP Response to Work & Pensions Inquiry into the Benefit Cap

Anti-poverty charity, Z2K today slammed DWP’s response to the Work & Pensions Select Committee as “complacent” and “harmful”.  The charity, which has helped hundreds of families affected by the cap since its introduction in 2013, was amongst those organisations giving evidence to the committee as part of its inquiry last autumn into the impact of the lower cap. 

Press Release, 15 May 2019

Anti-poverty charity, Z2K today slammed DWP’s response to the Work & Pensions Select Committee as “complacent” and “harmful”.  The charity, which has helped hundreds of families affected by the cap since its introduction in 2013, was amongst those organisations giving evidence to the committee as part of its inquiry last autumn into the impact of the lower cap.

After hearing all the evidence from Z2K and others, including families themselves, the select committee recommended that all Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants who are disabled or seriously unwell, and lone parents with young children on Income Support should be made exempt from the cap.

In its report, the committee also highlighted concerns that some of those who are capped while in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) are being left with absolutely no money to buy food or heat their homes in winter because their landlord is taking all their money straight from DWP.

Responding to DWP’s report, Z2K Chief Executive, Raji Hunjan said:

“Yet again, DWP has shown it simply doesn’t care about the real impact one of its policies is having on sick and disabled people, and lone parents with very young children.  This response completely fails to address the point that these claimants are not actually required to be actively seeking work.  It just parrots the same tired old rhetoric about the benefits of work, which simply isn’t relevant for those claimants who can’t work and are not expected to.”

“Worse still, DWP has also rejected concerns that the cap is leaving some people with absolutely no money to live on.  Z2K has seen claimants in exactly this position, who are totally dependent on food-banks or charity grants.   We had hoped the new Secretary of State would look afresh at these specific points, if not the principle of the cap itself, and so we are shocked she sees no problem in such a harmful practice being rolled-out to even more people as they migrate over to UC.”

“With this complacent response and the Supreme Court’s judgement that the cap is lawful, those affected by the cap have had a double knock-back today.  But Z2K will keep campaigning to expose the yawning gulf between the Government’s rhetoric about what the cap is supposed to be doing and the reality of the lone parents, disabled people and homeless families it actually targets.  In the meantime, we want to thank the committee for challenging DWP over this dreadful policy.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The Government’s response to the select committee’s report can be found at:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmworpen/2209/220902.htm

  1. The committee’s original report can be found at:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmworpen/1477/report-files/147702.htm

  1. Z2K’s evidence to the committee can be found at:

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/work-and-pensions-committee/benefit-cap/written/90224.html

  1. Z2K also gave evidence to the committee at its sitting in October 2018:

https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/3f202168-0017-4c26-83d8-1e830d4ec6da?in=09:27:39

  1. An example of how the cap can leave Universal Credit claimants with no money at all is at:

https://www.z2k.org/latest/housing-costs-under-universal-credit-inadequate-mismanaged-and-harmful/

To discuss anything mentioned in this press release, please contact our Director of Policy

marcfrancis@z2k.org