Government’s “rotten Christmas present” for 900 Calderdale Children

The Government are giving a rotten Christmas present to almost 900 children in Calderdale and their families, Labour councillors Susan Press and Megan Swift have warned today.

Figures produced by Calderdale Council show that 882 children in Calderdale will be affected by the Benefits Cap. On average, the families affected by the cap will lose £55.59 a week – or almost £3,000 per year.  The highest loss is £149.09 a week.

Single parents make up three quarters of the families affected.  Almost two thirds of them are renting in the private sector where rents are often higher than properties rented from housing associations.

Some parts of Calderdale are hit far more than others.  33 of the families live in Ovenden, 37 in Park ward and 32 in Illingworth and Mixenden, compared to just 4 in Calder Ward (Hebden Bridge), 4 in Hipperholme and Lightcliffe and 4 in Northowram and Shelf.

Councillor Megan Swift commented:

“The Government has given over eight hundred children a rotten Christmas present this year.  These families, mostly single parents are going to struggle to make ends meet for no other reason than they have children and need a house large enough for them.

“These are not children living in mansions; over three hundred children in housing association homes are affected.  Rents in the private sector are becoming unaffordable.  These cuts in benefit will mean these children are subject to real poverty with long term consequences for their life chances.”

Councillor Susan Press added:

“We have been advertising the help that’s available through the discretionary hardship scheme and Calderdale Council will be contacting every affected family to see if there is anything we can do to help.  But, the money we receive to help where there is hardship will not cover the benefits these families have lost.  Between these 260 families they have lost over £750,000.  Labour Councillors are determined that we will leave no stone unturned to protect where we can these children as they and their parents have done nothing to deserve the hardship we know they are facing.

“These cuts affect mostly children – and they savagely target children in one parent families.  This Council will do all it can to help and everything it can to demonstrate to government how vicious these cuts are as children cannot escape the poverty trap these cuts condemn them to”.

The ‘Benefit Cap’ is a limit to the total amount of benefit you can receive including Job Seekers, ESA, Housing Benefits, Universal Credit and other benefits – unless you are exempt because you receive a qualifying disability, carers, guardians benefit or qualify for working tax credit..

From 7th November 2016 the Cap was significantly reduced – affecting far more people. For single people in Calderdale the cap is £257.69 a week, rising to £384.62 per week for a single parent or couple with children.

The cap is the same regardless of the number children you have, so, the more children you have the more likely you are to be affected by it.

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