CAPPING Bromley people’s benefits could drive them into a life of crime as they struggle to survive and support their families, it has been claimed.

The borough has been selected to trial the coalition government’s reform to the benefit system where from April 1 households will see their benefits capped at £500 a week.

James Smith and Ben Martin fear what will happen once the cap comes in as they say it is hard enough for people to survive on the benefits they receive at the moment.

Mr Smith, of Widmore Road, Bromley, says he gets about £56 a week employment support allowance and has not had a job since he left The Priory School about three years ago.

“I think they have not done enough to help people.

“There are so many people stealing and they have to do it to survive.

“The government needs to seriously think about what they are doing because people cannot afford to exist.

“They were saying they were going to do a millionaire tax and if they did that there would be more money for everyone else.”

The 19-year-old wants to be a chef or in the army and would be in favour of national service if it was brought back in.

“I think they should bring back national service, for two years after school to make you a man."

His friend Ben Martin, 20, says it is very difficult for him and his girlfriend to bring up their baby on benefits: “By the time we do the shopping and pay for gas and electric there is no money for travel or anything.

“Your family do not give you money because they are in the same position and they are just trying to survive.”

Mr Martin, of Turpington Lane, Bromley Common, added: “People rob and get put in prison just to survive.”

He wants to work as a labourer but says he cannot afford to take the construction skills certification scheme course he needs to prove he is competent on a building site.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman says Bromley was chosen as a trial area because it represents a good cross section of the benefits claimed.

He added: “It cannot be fair that benefit claimants can receive higher incomes than families who are in work – in some cases more than double the average household income.

“The benefit cap sets a clear limit to what people can expect to get from the benefits system and will tackle the problem of welfare dependency."

The benefits cap explained

The borough has been selected to trial the coalition government’s reform to the benefit system from April 1 – along with Croydon, Enfield and Haringey.

From this date couples (with or without children living with them) will have their benefits capped at £500 a week.

Single parents whose children live with them will receive a maximum of £500 a week.

And single adults who do not have children, or whose children do not live with them, will get their benefits capped at £350.

Who will be affected by the benefits cap?

The cap applies to the total amount people in a household get from the following benefits: 

  1. Bereavement Allowance 
  2. Carer’s Allowance 
  3. Child Benefit 
  4. Child Tax Credit 
  5. Employment and Support Allowance (unless you get the support component)
  6. Guardian’s Allowance 
  7. Housing Benefit 
  8. Incapacity Benefit 
  9. Income Support 
  10. . Jobseeker’s Allowance
  11. . Maternity Allowance
  12. . Severe Disablement Allowance 
    13. Widowed Parent’s Allowance (or Widowed Mother’s Allowance or Widows Pension you started getting before 9 April 2001)

Who will not be affected by the cap?

The benefit cap will not affect people who qualify for working tax credit or who get the following benefits:

  1. Disability Living Allowance 
  2. Personal Independence Payment (from April 2013) 
  3. Attendance Allowance 
  4. Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme) 
  5. Employment and Support Allowance, if you get the support component 
  6. War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension

    What do you think of the benefits cap? Have your say below.