Benefit cap - A tale of two moralities


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Perched in the press gallery high above the Lords for the debate about the benefit cap I was struck by the fact that this was a battle between two competing moral visions.

The minister, Lord Freud, argued for a cap not to save money but to turn around lives because it was not moral, he argued, to consign children to a life in which work was not the norm - or to give more in benefits to families than the average family could earn in work.

His opponents, led by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, argued that it was immoral to punish families simply because they had more children. Losing a job was bad enough but then losing your home was unacceptable.

The effect of the bishops amendment would be - the government claims - to drive the cap up to the equivalent of earning £47,000 for large families with several children.

Their opponents point to the fact that, on their own figures, many of those affected by the cap are not able to work straight away even though the disabled are excluded.

The government's impact assessment chart shows that only 39% of households affected are on JSA - jobseekers allowance - whereas 22% are on ESA - employment and support allowance (or what used to be called incapacity benefit or "the sick") - and 38% are on income support suggesting they are, for example, caring for children and not expected to be in work by the system.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    What astonishes me is the level of hatred towards people on benefits ( who are hardly living the life of luxury) and the sheer lack of anger towards Mp's who despite earning in excess of 60 thousand a year also claim for second homes and expenses and yet we throw more hatred towards "scroungers" than we do anything else!

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    The benefit cap is wrong because the whole point of the welfare state is to protect the poor and the unemployed, the sick and the disabled, not to slip through the door some right wing flag waving policies from people who never believed in the welfare state in the first place

    If we don't care about the poor then we shouldn't be surprised if one day no one care about us

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    There's a chart on this HYS(closed) that gives an example of a family with 3 children living in London.
    The figure for housing benefit is £340 per week, £17680 per year. guess its an ordinary property.The rent alone without housing benefit would need to work about 48hours at £7.08 an hour. Likely still need very high housing benefit.when working.

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    I know it was an enormous generalisation, however my point stands.
    If somebody can not find work in an affluent area why should they stay there. Why should we be subsidising people's housing to the tune of £100,000 a year.
    If this is all about people being trapped, because they can't earn enough to live somewhere surely you would chose to move. I can't live in an expensive area, so I don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    It baffles me that some consider the cap too low - what about a family where two parents work on minimum wage, 40 hours a week (c.23k gross)?! That should be the real benefit cap - £18k.


Comments 5 of 387



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