BENEFITS received by 39 families in North Shropshire were capped last year – despite the Government telling them they were not expected to be looking for work.

Charity Child Poverty Action Group said the figures demonstrate flaws in the Government's approach to capping benefits, which is designed to encourage more people into work.

It limits the Universal Credit of households who earn less than £658 a month, but claimants can escape the cap if they can earn more.

The charity's chief executive Alison Garnham said the Universal Credit cap should be completely removed.

She said: "Our data demonstrates the fallacy that the benefit cap is a work incentive.

“How can it be when so many households caught by it are unable to take a job because of young children?

“It doesn’t incentivise work, it leaves children hungry.

"The Government’s position on the cap is incoherent. It must be removed before it harms more young lives."

Figures provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show there were 85 families having their benefits capped in the North Shropshire constituency as of last August.


Of these, 39 of them were not expected to be in work by the DWP, either because of health problems or having caring duties – often for very young children.

Another 16 families were already in work, but didn't earn enough to reach the threshold for the cap to be lifted.

In North Shropshire the benefit cap cuts the Universal Credit of affected families by an average of £194 a month.

The 85 families affected had 320 children, and included 68 single-parent families.

The figures were provided to the Child Poverty Action Group through Freedom of Information requests, which found more than one in three families across England, Scotland and Wales in receipt of Universal Credit are having their benefits capped while not being expected to work – 37,970 in total.

A spokesperson for the DWP said there were now 200,000 fewer children in absolute poverty after housing costs compared to 2019-2020, and that many of the most vulnerable were exempt from the benefit cap.

They added: “From next month the annual benefit cap for a single parent will be more than £25,000 in London and £22,000 elsewhere in Great Britain.

“It balances fairness for taxpayers with providing a vital safety net and is designed to provide a strong work incentive, by ensuring that work pays.

“Many of the most vulnerable claimants – including those who are in receipt of Universal Credit because of a disability or health condition that prevents them from working – are exempt from the cap.”