Cap on benefits makes living in London impossible for unemployed families

It is almost impossible for families with two unemployed parents to live anywhere in London after last April’s cap on housing benefits.

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Rents in London are almost off-limits for unemployed parents, says report. Picture by Azouz

A report by the London’s Poverty Profile (LPP), which shows the cap on housing benefits for workless working-age families, gives unemployed households only £500 per week.

Nearly half of the families affected by the Government’s decision live in London, according to the report. This means the cap on the London Housing Allowance (LHA) makes it impossible for unemployed households to live in the capital.

House prices by borough - London Poverty Profile

House prices by borough – London Poverty Profile

Unemployed parent Jean*said: “When looking for a flat to rent here I was almost laughed out at by estate agents when I mentioned housing benefit.”

The report said: “Even though a family with two children could claim £290 before being affected by the LHA cap, their combined benefit income would exceed the overall benefit cap of £500 per week. As a result a workless couple with two children could only claim up to £239 in LHA.”

Local Housing Allowance rates calculate housing benefit for tenants renting from private landlords. LHA rates depend on the area you are making your claim in.

According to the Greater London Authority’s London Rents map, a one-bedroom flat in North-East London costs from £255 to £600 per week.

Ade Sofola from Save The Children said: “The London Poverty Profile map basically shows that an average unemployed couple with three or more children can’t live anywhere in London – they wouldn’t get the benefits.”

The LPP is an independent report by the New Policy Institute, which tracks sixty poverty indicators like unemployment, child poverty and benefits.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Stephen Knight said the reasons behind London’s parental unemployment go beyond housing.

“Many Londoners are migrants and as a result they may not have the support networks in place of family members who would otherwise be able to help. Childcare in London is very expensive and many jobs require long or unsociable hours.”

Unemployed parent Jean agrees: “More things need to be done. Childcare in London is excessively expensive [and] employers need to be sympathetic to the needs of working families.”

Jean*’s name has been changed to protect anonymity.

Picture by Azouz on Flickr

Graph courtesy of London Poverty Profile

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One response to “Cap on benefits makes living in London impossible for unemployed families

  1. Pingback: Not all unemployed parents are “scumbags” | Thrifty City·

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