Fall in benefits capped households
The number of households subjected to the Government's benefits cap has dropped by more than 1,000 to fewer than 23,100, according to new statistics.
The cap, which limits total household income from benefits to £500 a week for couples or single parents and £350 for single people without children, has been imposed on 58,700 households in England, Scotland and Wales since its introduction in 2013.
But 35,600 (61%) of these were no longer subject to the cap by February this year, often because they had found work or reduced welfare claims.
The newly-elected Conservative Government aims to reduce the cap from the current £26,000 a year to £23,000 - or £442 a week.
The latest figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions showed the cap was being applied to 23,093 households in February 2015, down from 24,252 in November last year. Most (19,093) were losing £100 a week or less, but 42 households had benefits cut by £400 a week or more - the equivalent of £20,800 or more a year.
Since 2013, 14,421 households have had the cap removed because they started work, 3,968 because they stopped claiming housing benefit, 4,000 because they reduced their housing benefit bill, 4,411 because their benefit income came under the cap level and 509 because their household structure changed.
The vast majority (55,277) of households capped since 2013 have included children and more than half (32,675) are single-parent families. The sanction has been applied to 18,241 households with five or more children, 15,336 with four, 12,732 with three, 6,520 with two and 2,450 with one.
More than half of the households affected since the cap's introduction (31,683) have lost £50 or less a week, but in 120 cases families saw welfare claims cut by more than £400 a week. Over 2,500 households lost benefits worth £200 a week or more.
Almost half of those affected (45%) are in London, and the boroughs with most capped households since 2013 have been Brent (2,252), Enfield (2,191) and Ealing (1,700). Birmingham was the city outside the capital with most households subject to the cap (1,644), while the areas with fewest were Craven in North Yorkshire, West Somerset and the Shetland Islands, with five each.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "As well as restoring fairness to the system, and saving the taxpayer money, these figures show the benefit cap provides a clear incentive to people to get into work.
"By putting an end to runaway benefit claims, and introducing a system which guarantees you will always be better-off in work, thousands of people who have been affected by the cap are gaining the financial security and esteem that comes with a job and a pay packet."