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Summary

This briefing summarises a report produced jointly by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CiH) and the London Borough of Haringey on the impacts of the benefits cap. The report’s publication on 23 October was the cause of some considerable controversy. The benefit cap limits the total amount of welfare benefits any working age household with children can receive at £500 per week, and for childless single households to £350 per week. In August 2013, when the research was carried out, there were 747 capped households in Haringey. The report concludes that measures to help claimants adjust to the cap were introduced effectively in Haringey. Although there is some evidence that the cap has intensified the job search activity of some households, it is concluded that cap is unlikely to meet the objectives of getting more people into work and of reducing the benefits bill. Reduced amounts of benefits payments have to be balanced against the strain on other resources that have accompanied the cap’s introduction. Most disturbing of all are reports that the private rented sector has begun restricting lettings to benefits claimants in response to welfare reforms. This briefing will be of most interest to councillors and members in all types of authority with an interest in social services, welfare, housing, finance, and poverty reduction.

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