Overall Benefit Cap reduction hits poorest in north London

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cap rents not benefits

Responses by Camden and Islington councils to Freedom of information requests show that the reduced Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) is hammering the poorest sections of the working class. The measure, which limits the total benefits a family living in London can receive to £23,000 per annum, hits 885 families in the two borough, with over 2,500 children. Housing benefit is cut when a family’s benefits exceed this level to keep within the limit. For a single childless person living in London, the benefit cap is £15,410 per annum.

The figures show that in Islington, 309 single people without children living in private rented accommodation will receive an average deduction of £35.34 per week, an annual deduction of £1,837.68. This is because the Local Housing Allowance for a single bedroom self-contained flat is £260 per week, or £13,520 per annum, allowing a single person to retain only £1,890 each year from their Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance. Their only option is to move out of Islington – social cleansing of those out of work.

In Camden, a single parent with two children in private rented accommodation will lose on average £54.79 a week, over £2,800 a year. Families will find it impossible to pay the extortionate rents that private landlords demand in London. Thousands of people will rack up rent arrears, face court action and then eviction. It is important to note that under current legislation, councils have a statutory obligation to re-house homeless families with children. This means that councils will face enormous bills for temporary or emergency accommodation – or they will attempt to cleanse such families out of London, as depicted by the character of Katy in the film I, Daniel Blake and as many Labour councils are already doing.

Some of the most brutal cuts to benefits affect people living in social housing. Because Islington and Camden contain some of the most expensive property in London, social tenants experience higher than average social rents. A single parent living in Islington with two children in social accommodation will lose an average of £78.56 a week, a loss of £4,085.12 a year. A couple living in the same circumstances will lose almost £12,000 a year – an average weekly benefit deduction of £229.12. Life will be impossible.

The North London branch of the Revolutionary Communist Group is out on the streets every weekend raising awareness about the reduced Overall Benefit Cap and building resistance with the families who want to fight back against this savage attack.    

Billy Rapley

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 255 February/March 2017