Cut off: the 68 Sunderland families hit by £26,000 benefits cap

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SIXTY-EIGHT benefit dependant Sunderland families who each rake in more than £26,000 a year from the state have had their cashflow cut off.

Those long-term claimants now face having to find work following the introduction of a new cap.

The welfare cap prevents workless families from claiming more than £26,000 a year in benefits – a level set because it is the average working family income.

The roll out of the scheme, designed to “fix the broken benefits system” was completed by the autumn and figures show 68 households across the city have now been capped. In total, across the North East, 695 households were capped.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions, which released the figures, was unable to say how many of the 68 Wearside households now have someone in a job.

Jobcentre Plus teams in Sunderland have been helping potentially capped claimants into work over the last 18 months. Jason Livingston, Jobcentre Plus district manager in the North East, said: “We’ve been working hard in the North East to help people prepare for the benefit cap. This started in April last year, and the results have been amazing.

“We’ve targeted help at getting people into work and supporting people who just didn’t see work as a way to get on in life. It’s great to see people’s lives turned around.”

Capping benefits has been a key part of the Coalition’s economic plan and welfare reforms to create opportunities for hard-working people and fix the broken system.

New statistics show the full impact of the benefit cap for the first time – following the successful national roll-out completed this autumn.

Across the UK, a total of 28,500 households were capped by October this year.

Support from staff at Jobcentre Plus has led to 35,800 claimants in Britain taking up offers of extra help to find employment, as those entitled to Working Tax Credit are exempt from the benefit cap.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “These figures highlight our commitment to support those who want to work hard and get on and to end benefit dependency.

“We had to fix the broken welfare system.

“The benefit cap means claimants no longer receive more in benefits than hard-working households’ average earnings and Universal Credit ensures being in work pays; making the welfare system fair for claimants and the taxpayer that funds it.”