Iain Duncan Smith defends his welfare reforms

Benefit cap ‘forcing’ people back to work

Benefit cap ‘forcing’ people back to work

By Georgie Keate

The threat of government plans to cap benefits at £26,000 a year has pushed 1,700 people into work, figures show.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is releasing figures today that claim another 5,000 people are asking for support in finding work.

"Despite all the scaremongering, research now shows that of those housing benefit claimants affected by the cap, a third said they would now be looking for a job," work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith wrote in a letter to the Daily Mail.

Fifty six thousand houses will be affected by the government's plans to cap benefits, coming into force in eight months' time, which aim to prevent households receiving more than the average wage in benefits.

In his letter, Duncan Smith attacked Labour for their 'out-of-control' spending on welfare and their opposition to government policies like the reform of sickness benefit and work experience programmes for the young and unemployed.

"Our reforms are designed to create a welfare culture that incentivises work and limits those high benefit payments so that hard-working taxpayers can feel that the system is fair to them, while bringing to an end Labour’s damaging culture of dependency," he wrote.

Critics of the policy have argued affluent areas will be 'cleansed' of welfare claimants causing social segregation and destitution in larger households.

Of the 56,000 affected households, 29,000 have four or more children and more than 5,000 have six or more children. The figures also show that over 7,000 families in London receive over £34,000 a year in benefits.

The government has responded to concerns over the severity of the caps by offering some exemptions for those with illnesses and those who have been in work for a year or more.

Ministers will lay down the regulations to make the benefit cap law today.