Government delays roll out of benefits cap

The household benefits cap will be trialled in four London boroughs before being rolled out nationally over the summer.

The Department for Work and Pensions announced yesterday that the cap will apply in just four London council areas from April, rather than applying to all households across the country immediately as expected.

The cap will apply in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey initially and is expected to be fully in place by the summer.

A DWP spokesperson said: ‘Our welfare reforms are delivering big change – so it’s only right that we implement them in a controlled way.’

The move to phase in the cap, rather than launch it nationally immediately, was welcomed by the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Gavin Smart, director of policy and practice at the CIH, said: ‘[the] decision to move to a phased introduction of the benefits cap is a welcome development.

‘CIH has been concerned that the original timetable for implementing the full package of welfare reforms was very tight, which did not allow for proper testing and adjusting of systems and approaches.

‘We are pleased that the DWP has responded to our concerns – this should allow more time for effective testing and learning, increasing the chances of a successful national roll-out.’

Mr Smart warned however that the DWP’s decision creates uncertainty for social landlords and tenants, who expected the cap to apply from April. He called on the DWP to quickly determine roll out dates for other areas.

The benefits cap restricts total household benefits to £26,000 a year.