The Tories have been forced into a drastic retreat over their hated Universal Credit (UC) benefit.
MPs had been due to vote on moving a further three million benefit claimants onto UC. But work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has withdrawn the plan, and instead plans a pilot scheme involving 10,000 people.
It’s another humiliating climbdown for the government and the latest in a series of delays for Tory benefit reforms.
Claimants will be relieved at the retreat—but it’s not enough. Rudd still hopes to force millions of claimants onto UC once her pilot is complete.
There is growing anger at the impact of UC on claimants as more people are pushed into poverty, debt, homelessness and ill health.
The Tories fear a backlash within the party against the rollout of UC. Some Tories said Rudd retreated because she would have lost the vote had it gone ahead.
The government is desperate to avoid any more damaging Tory divisions as rows over Brexit rumble on. Campaigners should seize on their weakness to bury UC.
And despite the chaos, the Tories are determined to cut ordinary people’s lives to the bone.
Single mothers make up the majority of those affected by the benefits cap, according to the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) own data. Some 85 percent of the 134,000 households which have had their benefits capped are single mothers—114,000.
The figures represent a huge increase over the last 12 months. A year ago 50,000 single parents faced a cap. The benefits cap limits the amount a household can receive to £23,000 in London and £20,000 in the rest of the country.
Some 120,000 single claimant women had their benefits capped and the vast majority of these had at least one dependent child.
The cap was introduced by former Tory chancellor in 2013. At the time benefits were limited to £26,000 per household.
In November 2016 the cap was lowered to £23,000. This quadrupled the number of households forced onto it.
The Tories introduced it as a way of forcing people back to work, but research has shown that for every one child whose parent went back to work, another eight would be left worse off by the policy.
The Tories’ benefit policy is designed to cut costs, not to help ordinary people.