NEW POLL: Majority support for scrapping benefit cap but only a quarter want cap on bankers’ bonuses to go

Published on: 
21 September 2022
  • new DWP figures: 110,000 families hit by benefit cap will get no extra help with costs
  • 'terrifying chasm' for capped families

Most people (52%) want the benefit cap scrapped compared to only just over a quarter (27%) who want the cap on bankers’ bonuses to go, new polling from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) shows.  Half (50%) of those who voted Conservative in 2019 want the benefit cap abolished, compared to only 34% who want it to stay

The findings come as DWP figures out today show 110,000 families are subject to the benefit cap and will gain nothing from the benefit increase in April – leaving them with a growing chasm between their income and soaring costs.

With inflation at record highs, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is warning that unless the cap is removed, the real-terms income cuts facing these families will be unmanageable. 

Today’s figures show the number of capped families grew from 103,000 in February to 110,000 in May.  Most capped families (52%) have a child aged under five and almost a quarter (23%) have a child under two.

The cap limits the amount of benefits that non-working or low-earning households can receive to £383 a week for households outside London, and £442 a week for those in London.  The cap has been  frozen since 2016.  Almost all (94 per cent) households affected by it are only capped because of the failure to uprate the cap with inflation.

Today’s DWP statistics show:

  • 28,000 London families are capped; 82,000 families outside London are capped
  • There are 330,000 children in these families
  • 69% of all capped households (87000) are single-parent families, 18% (23,000) are couple-parent families.
  • The estimated average monthly amount of Universal Credit lost due to the cap is £246 for households which contain children. But some lose out on far more – 26% of capped households with children lose out on over £325 a month. Six per cent lose out on £650 a month.

Most of these families are in deep poverty. Analysis published last week by CPAG reported that if the cap is not removed or uprated in April an average capped couple with 2 children will be £150 a week below the poverty line in 2023-2024.  It found that removing the benefit cap would increase the income of affected households by, on average, £65 more each week.

Commenting on today’s DWP statistics, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said:

The benefit cap is leaving the poorest families with less and less while bankers look to be in line for more and more.  Capped families face a terrifying chasm between their income and rising costs, forced to live with a permanently empty wallet.  With 330,000 children paying the price, it’s no surprise our polling shows the majority of people think the cap should be scrapped. If the new prime minister wants to show she backs struggling families, now is the time for her to abandon this inhumane policy for good.

Previous governments claimed that the cap was intended to incentivise employment or increased working hours, but initial evidence suggests that it has had a very small impact on employment.  This is unsurprising since many parents affected by the cap have very young children and most people subject to the cap have been assessed by the DWP as not required to look for work. For single parents it is especially difficult to reach the earnings threshold at which claimants are exempt from the cap, since they are sole breadwinners and often have to cover childcare costs with a single income.


Notes to Editors:

Survation conducted an online survey of 1189 people aged 18 and over in Great Britain between 16th-18th September 2022 on behalf of CPAG.

Today’s DWP figures are here:

CPAG’s Briefing on the benefit cap, published last week, is here

Universal credit claimants are exempt from the benefit cap if they earn at least the equivalent of working 16 hours at the minimum wage (currently £658 per month), if they or their partner are not expected to work or prepare for work by the DWP because of a disability or health condition or if they care for someone with a disability.


CPAG media contact: Jane Ahrends 07809 468870