12 Sep 2011

New analysis, released today (12 September) by The Children’s Society, shows that the government’s proposed cap on benefits will cut support for more than 200,000 children, with them being around nine times more likely than adults to be affected.

The new cap, proposed as part of the government’s Welfare Reform Bill, will be debated in the House of Lords on Tuesday (13 September).

The Department of Work and Pensions’ proposed scheme aims to promote fairness and get adults back into work by limiting benefits for out-of-work households to £500 per week for couples and families with children.

But The Children’s Society shows that children will be by far the biggest “losers” if this plan becomes law – with three quarters of the total number of individuals affected being children.

It is urging the government to withdraw the cap, or urgently explore alternative options to reduce the impact on children, such as using average income (including in-work benefits) for working families with children to calculate the cap level for families with children.

The charity reveals that:

  • The cap will impact around 50,000 households, 95 per cent of which are estimated to have children. These families will lose an average of £93 a week – the equivalent to around double the average weekly family food bill.
  • Analysis of the Government’s Equality Impact Assessment[i] of the cap shows that these 50,000 households contain around 69,000 adults and 206,000 children – meaning that three quarters of those affected are children[ii].

The leading children’s charity also warns that the cap could make 82,000 children homeless[iii].  It could also push families into the most severe poverty.

The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive Bob Reitemeier said: 'We urge the government to urgently re-think this harmful cap. It will lead to thousands more children being pushed further into poverty, despite the government being legally bound to end child poverty by 2020.

 'This is simply unacceptable. It would be a giant step backwards that will harm society’s poorest children. We are deeply concerned about the potential impact of this unfair policy.'

The Children’s Society’s own research shows that children’s well-being falls as household income decreases[iv]. 

Half of those households affected are believed to have someone with a disability living there - despite the government promising that households in receipt of Disability Living Allowance will be exempt. 


For more information, please contact David Dinnage in The Children’s Society’s media team office on 020 7841 4422, 07775 600582 or david.dinnage@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796508

Notes to editors

  • The Children’s Society is a leading national charity, driven by the belief that every child deserves a good childhood. We provide vital help to the most vulnerable children, young people and families in our society through a range of services. Our services include helping young people to access legal services as well as supporting them through the legal process when no-one else will.


[i] DWP Household Benefit Cap Equality Impact Assessment - http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/eia-benefit-cap-wr2011.pdf  

206,000 children equates to around 1.57% of all children – or around one in every 64.  69,000 adults equates to around 0.18% of working age adults – or around one in every 556). As a result, children are around nine times more likely than adults to be affected.

There could be a rise of around 20,000 homelessness acceptances as a result of the cap, according to Department for Communities and Local Government modelling. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jul/02/full-text-letter-eric-pickles-welfare-reform Based on an equal distribution across the 50,000 families affected, this would mean around 27,600 adults and 82,400 children could be made homeless as a result of the cap.

The Children’s Society’s well-being research has shown that household income affects children’s subjective well-being. In our recent study of 4,000 children aged between 8 and 15, as household income fell, so did children’s subjective well-being. Children who lived in households where income had fallen over the past year (15%) were 1.5 times more likely to report low levels of well-being than children living in households where incomes had remained the same (10%).