Benefit cap to hit Londoners hardest?

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benefit cap london

benefit cap londonUnder difficult economic strains during this double-dip recession, many families rely on state benefits in order to make ends meet.

However, the Labour Mayor of Lewisham in London has criticised the reduced benefit cap that comes into force next year for potentially putting more UK families close to the poverty line.

Speaking to politics.co.uk, mayor Sir Steve Bullock said that increasing numbers of families are having to move into bed and breakfast accommodation on taxpayer's money, because of benefit cap changes.

What changes are being made?

Ahead of the benefit cap being introduced from April 2013, it is extremely important that you have a good idea of what your family's altered income will be after the changes, and make saving plans accordingly.

There is plenty of advice available around what the benefit changes will mean to you and how you can make the necessary savings - you may even find that you are entitled to more assistance than you previously thought.

According to Sir Steve, 825 households in Lewisham will be badly affected by changes to the cap, which will be set at £26,000 from April 2013.

It will mean that 200 families will face a £150 drop in their income and may have to move out of their homes.

Sir Steve said: "That's potentially 200 families who will be turning up at Lewisham council's housing office, saying we can't afford to pay the rent where we are at the moment. To have a welfare system which discourages people working is something none of us want to see.

"On the other hand, what we don't want to do is to push families into poverty. And that's the balance we're trying to get. The anxiety is that at least in London that balance hasn't been struck."

Cap doesn't reflect living costs

Due to the high property prices, London-based families are facing the greatest drop in income because of the planned benefit cap, but it is nonetheless a worrying indication of the kind of financial difficulties faced by many families throughout the whole of the UK.

However, some MPs have said that the benefit cap will encourage parents to find work if they do not already, and that in the long run the welfare changes are much 'fairer'.

But Bullock believes it will simply make it tougher for parents in families on benefits to find employment: "If you push people out of London then they're not going to be able to afford the travel costs to come in and do the essential jobs we need doing in the cities."

Overall, there has been an increase of more than 40% in the amount of users of bed and breakfast accommodation, with more than 100 families forced into these premises in the Westminster council area alone.

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