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Cutting benefits down to £20k: Many households may be plunged into poverty after new government cuts

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SLASHING BENEFITS: Former chancellor George Osborne's Budget announced that a cut in the benefits cap would be part of the £12 billion in welfare cuts for the country

SLASHING BENEFITS: Former chancellor George Osborne's Budget announced that a cut in the benefits cap would be part of the £12 billion in welfare cuts for the country

A cut in the benefits cap - a limit on the income working age households can receive in certain benefits - has now come into force.

The benefit cap was originally introduced by the coalition government as a device to supposedly ‘restore fairness’ to the benefit system by limiting total household benefit income to no more than the average working family income of £26,000 a year. 

Now, the cap has been reduced from £26,000 a year to £20,000 a year in the UK - except in Greater London where the limit is £23,000 a year due to higher living costs in general.

In July last year, former chancellor George Osborne's Budget announced that this would be part of the £12 billion in welfare cuts for the country.

The move was criticised by campaigners, unions and one former minister.

Social media was divided, with some people in favour of the cap.

However, many were in outrage. Helen ‏@helen_a15  on Twitter said: “Lots of people rejoicing about the #benefitscap - clearly never needed government help or lived in poverty. Shocking how many buy the lies.”

Parveen Agnihotri ‏@Parveen_Comms  said: “The new #benefitscap only penalises the poorest & most vulnerable. In the end it won't save money but cost society more. Well done Tories.”

The GMB union described the lower cap as ‘a monstrous new assault on 40,000 single mothers, which risks shattering the life chances of children up and down our country’.

The benefits cap - which, in total, is now set to affect an estimated 88,000 households primarily with high rents or large families - was described by the Department for Work and Pensions as ‘a clear incentive to move into a job’.

Ministers say the level of the cap is fair because it is close to the average salary after tax.

The current Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green, said it was wrong that some claimants could receive more in benefits than the average wage.

He said the government was making it ‘as easy as possible’ for claimants to get work, by offering free childcare offers and structuring benefits to encourage people in to employment.

The cap relates to a string of benefits for those aged 16 to 64 including child tax credit, housing benefit, jobseeker's allowance and income support, but excludes some others such as disability living allowance.

Under the new cap, those living in the UK outside of Greater London will receive a maximum of:

£384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) for a couple

£384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) for single people whose children live with them

£257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) for single people who do not have children or whose children do not live with them

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Sugar tax, disability cuts and academies top the Chancellor’s budget

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EDUCATION: Mr Osborne confirmed plans that all schools in England will be made into academies by 2022

EDUCATION: Mr Osborne confirmed plans that all schools in England will be made into academies by 2022

Budget 2016 Announced

The highly anticipated budget for 2016 was announced this week with shake ups to all sectors receiving both praise and criticism from the nation’s residents.

Amongst the most controversial announcements is the £1.3bn a year disability cuts.

The government confirmed that up to 640,000 existing claimants are likely to be effected, cutting the spending on aids and appliances.

Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, slammed the decision which The Institute for Fiscal Studies says could lose an average claimant £3,500 a year.

“The announcement made by the chancellor is a reverse of the whole trend of the past three decades, to go back to saying disabled people can't lead independent lives, can't get the support they need.”

He added: “Any of us could become disabled at any time. We're just a car accident away from a major disability. We should think about that.”

However, despite calls to reverse the decision from members of their own party, the Conservative government have reinforced their commitment to such plans.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor George Osborne also announced a new sugar tax which will see a levy on soft drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml and an even higher rate for those with more than 8g per 100ml.

The funding will be used to double the primary PE and sport premium (the additional money schools have to spend on PE and sports) to £320 million a year.

BUDGET TIME: Chancellor George Osborne speaks in parliament about his latest budget plans

BUDGET TIME: Chancellor George Osborne speaks in parliament about his latest budget plans

Another contentious announcement surrounded the Chancellor’s decision to make all schools into academies by 2022 despite opposition from teachers.

In a recent YouGov poll of 8,259 teachers and professors, nearly half - 48 per cent - thought academies made the standards worse, whilst just 17 per cent said they had a positive influence.

Mr Osborne, however, disagrees with the majority it seems.

He said: “It is simply unacceptable that Britain continues to sit too low down the global league tables for education. So I’m going to get on with finishing the job we started five years ago, to drive up standards and set schools free from the shackles of local bureaucracy.”

10 key points from the 2016 budget

  1. A surplus by 2019-20
  2. Double the dedicated funding for sport in primary schools, paid for by a levy on soft drinks
  3. A longer school day for 25% of secondary schools
  4. Every school will be an academy by 2022
  5. The Personal Allowance will increase to £11,500, and the higher rate threshold will rise to £45,000 in April 2017
  6. Lifetime ISA: a new £4,000 ISA that you can use to save for retirement or to buy your first home
  7. HS3 between Leeds and Manchester
  8. £80 million to give ‘Crossrail 2’ the go-ahead
  9. £100 million to help people move on from emergency hostels and refuges
  10. New tax allowances for money earned from the sharing economy

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