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Benefit cap 'returning fairness'

Nearly 33,000 households who were claiming more than £26,000 in benefits have had their payments capped, the Government has announced.

The controversial policy limits total household income from a range of benefits to £ 500 a week for couples and lone parents and £ 350 a week for single adults and is a key plank of government welfare reforms.

Around half of all homes affected since its introduction in April were in London and of the top 20 local authorities with the highest number of households affected only two - Birmingham and Manchester - were outside the English capital.

According to newly released figures, dating back to November, 59% of households hit by the cap had between one and four children while 39% had five or more and 59% were lone parents.

Around three quarters were capped by £100 or less but a lmost 150 households lost at least £350 a week, the records show.

The annual cap was set at the level of the average salary of £26,000 but some Conservative MPs have previously made representations to Chancellor George Osborne calling for it to be lowered further to £20,000.

Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said: "These figures show that the benefit cap is returning fairness to the system by ensuring that families on benefits can no longer get more money than the average family earns.

"It is not right that some families on benefits were receiving amounts of money that hardworking taxpayers could only dream of and our welfare reforms are working to fix the system.

"By exempting people who are receiving Working Tax Credit, the benefit cap is increasing incentives to move into work and we already know that around 19,000 claimants potentially affected by the benefit cap have found jobs."

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