Lord Freud says billing the £26,000 a year ceiling on benefits as an austerity measure was a ‘sham’ – and claims George Osborne’s chief of staff told him: “We’ve never had such a popular policy”
A Tory bigwig claims that they imposed the cruel benefit caps to win votes, and not to save any money.
The £26,000-a-year limit was introduced by then-Chancellor George Osborne in 2013 supposedly to help pay debt from the 2008 financial crash.
Two years later the cap was lowered to £20,000 outside London and £23,000 in the capital, meaning 190,000 people across the UK lost out on benefits.
Savings were barely £190million – just over 0.1% of the £177billion welfare bill. Now, Lord Freud, ex-Welfare Reform minister, says that labelling the cap an “austerity” measure was a scam.
He claims Mr Osborne’s chief of staff Rupert Harrison told him: “I know it doesn’t make much in the way of savings but when we tested the policy it polled off the charts. We’ve never had such a popular policy.”
Lord Freud told peers Chancellor Rishi Sunak should use the £25billion he has spare to scrap the cap. He said: “I urge him to use a small proportion of that to alleviate the real hardship suffered by our very poorest citizens.”
Ministers won’t say when the cap will be reviewed.
Sally Worrall, a 31-year-old divorced mother from Havant (Hants), and her children Chester (10 years old), Rory (8 years old), and twins Jenson (5 and Molly (5 years) are the ones who are suffering.
Sally stated: “The cap has been heartbreaking for me and my children. I couldn’t find £750 a month rent so went into arrears. It was feed the kids or pay the rent. The only Government support I got was to show me the way to food banks.”
Sally, an ex Tesco worker, is looking for a part-time position but cannot afford childcare.
Victoria Benson of single-parent family charity Gingerbread said: “The benefit cap is a draconian policy which unfairly affects single parents.
“The Government must end it or more vulnerable families will be plunged into devastating poverty.”
Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “While Conservative MPs pocket millions in second jobs, the Government is taking money out of the poorest households, presiding over a cost-of-living crisis.”
Mr Harrison, ex-Treasury aide did not comment. According to the DWP: “The cap balances fairness for taxpayers with providing a vital safety net.”