MPs call for proof that benefit cap works

Wed, 29/01/2014 - 14:48 -- nick

The fallout from yesterday's report from the work and pensions committee of MPs continues.

Following yesterday's revelations that sanctions targets are in place and jobcentres are not providing the right services to the unemployed, The Guardian's Patrick Butler has more.

MPs have challenged Iain Duncan Smith to prove that his benefit cap works, following his claims that he 'believes' it pushes people into work despite having no evidence.

Even a year after making these statements, the committee still wants to see proof, writing that:

"There is insufficient information to establish the causal links between: the Benefit Cap; affected claimants engaging with employment support; and the likelihood of affected claimants entering work. We recommend that DWP conducts and publishes research into these causal links in 2014, in order to establish whether the Benefit Cap is achieving one of its key policy aims... the statistics do not establish the additional numbers entering work as a direct result of JCP [jobcentre] employment support"

In other words, the evidence that the cap actually helps people into work is still not there despite DWP having years to prepare and present it, suggesting that it doesn't exist.

The benefit cap is almost entirely an issue facing London and the south-east.

Housing costs are higher there because jobs are more plentiful, but this means more will natually get into work and the government cannot claim success for its policies if the number is higher than the national average.

The MPs made clear in the same report that jobcentres were woefully under-funded for the job they were being asked to do.

The latest government wheeze is to have many of the thousands who do not get employment through the Work Programme attending their local jobcentre all day every day.

At a time when there are fewer staff there to support jobseeking, and less funding is likely, the service provided to the unemployed is likely to get poorer.

The benefit cap has few proven effects, but increased poverty for those affected and a clearance of unemployed people from more expensive area are two of them.

Until Duncan Smith can prove the jobs link the policy will be seen as another of his failures.

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