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Benefits cap now in place, IDS says

The Government's controversial benefits cap is now fully in place across the country, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has announced.

The cap - which limits benefits to £500 a week for couples and lone parents and £350 a week for single adults - is a key plank of Mr Duncan Smith's welfare reforms.

It is expected to affect about 40,000 households.

The announcement that it has now be rolled out nationwide comes as Conservative activists prepare to gather in Manchester for the party's annual conference next week.

Ministers argue that it restores fairness to the benefits system, ensuring that households where no-one is working cannot claim more than the average family earns.

But critics say that it penalises out-of-work families in areas with high housing charges, forcing them to move out to cheaper areas.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "Benefits should be a safety net - but not something that gives claimants an income out of reach of many hard-working families.

"We have now successfully delivered a cap on benefits so that out-of-work households know they can no longer claim more than the average family earns and we have returned fairness to the benefits system."

The cap covers the main out-of-work benefits - Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, and Employment and Support Allowance - and other benefits such as Housing Benefit, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit and Carer's Allowance.

It was initially piloted in four London boroughs last April and then rolled out across the rest of the country from July.

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