Wednesday 26 August 2020 / 10:34 AM Work and Pensions

Labour calls on Government to scrap benefit cap to avoid evictions crisis after latest extension

Labour has urged the Government to use the brief extension of the evictions ban to scrap the benefit cap, which is pushing thousands of families into rent arrears and debt.

 

Shadow Minister for Employment Seema Malhotra has written to the Government calling for urgent clarification on the number of households caught by the benefit cap who are at risk of eviction once the latest one-month extension to the ban comes to an end.

While the brief reprieve will be a last-minute relief to many families, Labour is warning it is only postponing the inevitable without scrapping the benefit cap.

There has been a shocking 93 per cent rise in households hit by the benefit cap from February to May this year. More households are now caught by the cap than ever before, losing £248 a month on average. The overwhelming majority of these households are home to children, with two thirds of being single parent households.

As well as calling for urgent clarification on the number of households hit by the benefit cap who are at risk of eviction, Malhotra’s letter demands Ministers set out their plans to address the issue and scrap the benefit cap.

 

Seema Malhotra MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Employment, said:

“Labour has repeatedly called on the Government to scrap the benefit cap and extend the ban on evictions to avoid a wave of homelessness. This policy pushes families and children into poverty.

“With the extension of the ban on evictions the Government must scrap the benefit cap to prevent further rent arrears and evictions at a time when families need support the most.”

 

Full text of letter

Re: Increased risk of evictions for families subject to the Benefit Cap 

I am writing to you to express my concern about the impact the benefit cap is having on rent arrears and the likely increased risk of eviction for families subject to the cap.

While the Government’s U-turn to extend the ban on evictions by a month is welcome, the evictions crisis is only being postponed. Rent arrears will grow further unless the extension is used effectively to scrap the benefit cap. The Work and Pensions Committee last year cautioned that many affected by the cap faced an “intolerable” financial position, with households falling into rent arrears and consequently losing their homes. Evidence submitted to the Committee from Plymouth Community Homes found that 55% of tenants affected by the cap fell into rent arrears.

Earlier in August, official figures showed that there had been an astonishing 93% rise in households hit by the benefit cap from February to May this year. More households are now caught by the cap than ever before.  The overwhelming majority of households that have lost an average of £248 a month through the cap are those with children. Households with children form 86% of those currently capped, two thirds of them being single parent households.

The benefit cap has prevented a large number of families from benefiting from the restoration of the Local Housing Allowance to the 30th percentile and the temporary uplift of Universal Credit.

I would be grateful if you could provide me with details regarding your Department’s assessment of the number of households caught by the benefit cap that have fallen into rent arrears and who are at risk of eviction, as well as what steps you are taking to address this issue.

Labour has repeatedly called on the Government to scrap the benefit cap and extend the ban on evictions to avoid a wave of homelessness. This is a policy that is pushing families and children into poverty. With the extension of the ban on evictions, I hope you will use this time to reconsider your policy and scrap the benefit cap to prevent further rent arrears and evictions at a time when families need support the most.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Seema Malhotra MP