This week the Committee will take evidence from Family Support Housing, and Child Maintenance Minister Justin Tomlinson on the impact of the benefit cap.
Professor Alston’s initial conclusions and recommendations have been widely reported, and echoed many of the concerns informing the Committee’s current inquiries into Universal Credit, Benefit Sanctions, Welfare Safety Net and the Benefit Cap.
In serial recent reports the Committee has said the Government must assess the impact of and effect of the major welfare reforms of this decade, and has called for policies like benefit sanctions to be reformed or even suspended entirely for certain groups, pending the Department securing proof that it is achieving its aims. For example, the Committee’s recent report on benefit sanctions concluded that claimants who are the sole carer for a young child should never have more than 20% of their core benefit cut.
Professor Alston called on Government to:
"initiate an expert assessment of the cumulative impact of tax and spending decisions since 2010 and prioritise the reversal of particularly regressive measures, including the benefit freeze, the two-child limit, and the benefit cap"…."as of August this year, two-thirds of Universal Credit recipients who had their benefits capped were single parents."
The Committee will question the Minister on what the fundamental objectives of the policy are, and what evidence there is that these are being achieved. The Committee has heard concerns and evidence that the “side effects” of the policy are potentially seriously undermining its twin aims of moving people into employment, and saving the public purse money by, for example, driving people to look for cheaper housing. As in its other inquiries, the Committee is seeking assurances from Government that any potential harms associated with the policy are offset by proven benefits, and by safeguards for those most at risk.
Wednesday 21 November, Portcullis House, Wilson Room
- Justin Tomlinson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance
- Pete Searle, DWP Policy Director, Working Age Benefits