The ideological point of the benefits cap

Iain Duncan Smith - the government's Work and Pensions Secretary

By Linda Anderson

New government figures underline that the benefits cap is all about ideology.

The figures show that 33,000 households were affected by the bedroom tax. Undoubtedly hard news for those people affected – and many of those bearing the brunt will be children. More than half of the total number of households affected so far are single parent ones. Single parent households are, in the vast majority, headed by women. So this is a policy hitting women – part of an assault on the post-war welfare state that is sledge-hammering away at the social and economic status of women – and children in the poorest households.

However, 33,000 is a small number overall. And the significance is further underlined by the breakdown of the figures.

Nearly 9 in 10 households had a benefit cut of £150 or less. Rounding up to 90 per cent, that gives less than £4,455,000 cut. However, the real sum would be less than this as it was 89 per cent who had a cut of £150 or less. There appear no figures as yet as to the spread of the cut – how many had a cut of £20 or £30 compared to how many a cut of £150, for instance.

A further 675 had a cut of £250 or more. That makes around £168,750. A final group of 147 households had a cut of £350 or more, amounting to £51,450, if one calculates on the basis of £350.

In total that makes £4.6 million. A puny sum compared to government total spending. But a policy with a sharp ideological purpose, driving forward the bogey of benefit scroungers and fostering suspicion in the welfare state.