Benefits cap hitting 5,000 deprived East End kids, warns Tower Hamlets council

PUBLISHED: 11:23 12 August 2013 | UPDATED: 14:47 12 August 2013

The new benefit cap being rolled out across the country is affecting 1,400 families in London’s deprived East End from today.

It is having its worst effect on 5,000 children from poor homes, Tower Hamlets council calculates.

The local authority is having to set aside funds to help those in greatest need, especially large families now finding themselves falling into a poverty trap.

“The Benefit Cap disproportionately impacts on women and children,” said Tower Hamlets cabinet member for housing Rabina Khan. “Almost 5,000 children are affected by the cap in Tower Hamlets alone—and nearly half of the households affected are single parents.”

The capping hits those on benefits living in private and social rented housing and limits total weekly allowances to £350 for single people without children and £500 for a couple or lone parent with children.

It is being calculated by adding together all the money households receive from the State which includes Housing Benefit, Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit, Job Seekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance.

The council has set aside an additional £2.2 million to support the most vulnerable families.

It has also sent out its housing team to visit those most affected and has held nine events giving 700 people advice on jobs, finance and housing.

Protesters launched a mass campaign across the East End last month over the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ with a series of public meetings.

They have been urging the council not to evict families who get into rent arrears because of benefit capping.

The “bedroom tax” and benefit cuts were already biting deep, with hundreds of families threatened with losing their homes, the Tower Hamlets Benefit Justice campaign claims.

Families on benefits who have spare rooms stand to lose part of their allowances with the new rules reducing housing benefit for bedrooms left unoccupied.

This will hit those on low income and especially the disabled who need extra bedrooms for carers or relatives looking after them, campaigners say. Costs of evictions would outweigh rent arrears, they point out, and result in any evicted families having to be rehoused by law.

The council has set up a Benefits advice line on 020-7364 5001.

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