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Benefit Cap

Volume 573: debated on Monday 13 January 2014

4. What recent estimate he has made of potential savings to the public purse arising from implementation of the benefit cap. (901896)

Capping benefit at average earnings is forecast, by reducing the large benefit amounts previously paid to households, to save £85 million this year and around £140 million next year. What is more, some 19,000 potentially capped claimants have moved into work, where paying tax and national insurance contributions brings a further benefit to the Exchequer.

Residents in my North-West Leicestershire constituency are doubly astonished, first, that more than 30,000 households were claiming more than £26,000 in benefits prior to the introduction of the cap and, secondly, that the Labour party completely failed to support the introduction of a cap at all. Will my right hon. Friend assure us that this Government will persevere with its benefits cap policy and review the level at which the cap is set—currently at considerably more than the average post-tax income in my constituency?

My hon. Friend is not alone, when 73% of the public support the cap as it stands, as did nine out of 10 Londoners in a recent poll. It appears that the only people who do not support the cap are Labour Members. We will keep the policy under review, but the one thing we should celebrate is that we are reforming welfare to ensure that those who need the money get it, and those who do not get back to work.

When previous Governments changed benefits, they commissioned research to find out about the consequences. Given that we are talking about a benefit cut, is the Secretary of State in a position to tell us who is doing the research?

I am not sure from that whether the right hon. Gentleman supports the change or not. [Interruption.] He supports it—yet again a lone figure on his side, on which I congratulate him. We have carried out a whole load of revisions and changes, making sure that we watch implementation carefully. We carry out research constantly when it comes to the effects of all of our benefit changes. This one is an overall positive rather than a negative.