Hundreds hit by cap on benefits at £500 a week

Portsmouth MP flies out to storm-hit islands on first trip as development secretary

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SCORES of families from across the area have had their benefits cut as part of a government initiative.

In April, a cap was introduced on the total amount working-age households can get so that those on benefits do not get more in welfare payments than the average weekly wage.

The caps applies to all benefits combined and works out to be £500 a week for couples, £500 a week for single parents with children and £350 a week for single adults who don’t have children or children who don’t live with them.

Since it was launched, 133 households in Portsmouth and 149 in Southampton have been capped.

In Fareham, eight households were affected, and in Gosport, 32.

Elsewhere in the area, 26 households were capped in Chichester and 20 in East Hampshire.

Jobcentre Plus teams have been helping capped claimants get back into work, since giving notice of the intention to cap benefits 18 months ago.

Kim Goodall, a Jobcentre Plus operations manager covering Portsmouth, said: ‘We’ve been working hard to help people prepare for the benefit cap. The results have been amazing.

‘We’ve targeted help at getting people into work and supporting people who just didn’t see work as a way to get on in life. It’s great to see lives turned around.’

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘These figures highlight our commitment to support those who want to work hard and get on and to end benefit dependency.

‘We had to fix the broken welfare system. The benefit cap means claimants no longer receive more in benefits than hard-working households’ average earnings and ensures being in work pays – making the welfare system fair.’

Birmingham was the most affected city, with 723 households capped.