DWP sets date for national benefit cap roll-out

The national roll-out of the benefit cap will begin on 15th July, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced today.

Ministers have opted for a phased roll-out of the controversial policy, with benefit cap pilots to start in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey from April 15, three months before its introduction in all other local authority areas across England, Scotland and Wales. It will be completely implemented by September this year.

The DWP says the gradual approach will ensure that the policy is implemented "safely and responsibly" and that claimants are "protected" through the process.

Jobcentre Plus has been working with people who could be affected by the cap since last April, offering them support to get into work. Households with someone who is entitled to Working Tax Credits will not be affected by the cap – a move which the DWP says is a "clear incentive to choose work over benefits".

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) said: "We’ve given people plenty of notice about the benefit cap coming in, and Jobcentre Plus have been working tirelessly to get people the help they need.

"I’ve seen first hand that the benefit cap is having a positive impact and is incentivising people to return to work."

Jobcentre Plus is working with Local Authorities to ensure that households are able to access a wide range of support. This includes: help to move closer to, or into, the labour market, money and budgetary advice, housing options advice, support to negotiate rent reductions with private landlords and access to child care provision.

Meanwhile, DWP ministers claimed today that around 7,000 people, who would have been affected by the cap, have now moved into work and a further 22,000 have "accepted employment support" to move into jobs.

The government's own impact assessment suggests that 67,000 households will be affected by the benefit cap in 2013/14.

Of those affected, 54% will be in Greater London boroughs, 8% in Scotland and Wales, and 38% spread across the other English regions.

Broadly, the cap will affect large families with several children who are potentially in receipt of higher than average amounts of Child Tax Credit and are more likely to live in larger homes meaning more housing benefit.

It is estimated that 27% of households affected will have five or more children. 69% will have three or more children.

However, smaller households may still be affected if they live in high rent areas and are therefore receiving larger amounts in Housing Benefit.