MPs seek clarity over benefit cap exemptions for disabled
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government
MPs have sought clarity over whether households comprising parents and a disabled adult on disability benefits will be exempt from the £500-a-week benefit cap due in next year.
The Government is capping the total benefits households can receive from next April at around £26,000 a year to ensure work always pays. It has stressed there will be exemptions including those households in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
However, clarity was sought from Labour MPs yesterday following a close inspection of the regulations.
Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, said: “Close reading of the regulations indicates that a household comprising parents and a disabled adult dependant receiving DLA will not be exempt from the cap, despite the Minister’s promises that they would be. I am sure the Minister appreciates that this is causing great anxiety to those potentially affected. Will she undertake to fix this problem?"
The parliamentary under-secretary of state for work and pensions Esther McVey said: “Should there be another adult in the house, that is then a separate household, so both have to be assessed separately. However, I reiterate the fact that those who are exempt from the cap include those on working tax credit, all households with someone who is in receipt of a disability-related benefit, war widows and widowers, and those in receipt of war disablement pensions. A lot of people are therefore exempt.”
The issue was further pressed by Labour MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck. She said: “Ministers have repeatedly stressed that a household containing anyone in receipt of disability living allowance will not be affected by the benefit cap, but constituents of mine who have an adult disabled child are now being told they will be affected by the cap because the regulations appear to state that if a family has an adult severely disabled person living in the household, that person is not a member of the household. Please will the Minister clarify whether the benefit cap will apply to someone who is looking after a severely disabled adult child?”
Esther McVey replied: “I will reiterate what a household is: a household is a basic family unit, and for the purposes of paying out-of-work benefits that will be a single adult or a couple and children, so once another adult is in the house, that is a separate household.
“That has been the definition for a very long time. However, in the instances the hon. Lady mentions, discretionary payments are available and will come to fruition.
“There is no point in Opposition Members huffing and puffing. That is the situation, and an extra £30 million has been put in place for this.”
The Government has said the benefit cap will affect some 56,000 households next year with the average reduction around £93 a week per household. 50% of all those affected live in Greater London.