Sheffield advice boss concerned by capping of benefits

Many families in Sheffield living in private rented accommodation who have had their benefits capped are struggling to pay their rent, a leading Citizens’ Advice official has claimed.

Frances Potter, operations manager for Sheffield Citizens Advice, said the latest figures from Sheffield Council suggest 155 households in the city have been subject to Government benefit caps, which were introduced in April 2013.

She said about half of these households are based in private rented accommodation – where people are more at risk of being thrown out of their homes should they fall into rental arrears.

She said Citizens Advice and the council work together to contact people facing such situations – but they can be difficult to reach in time.

She said: “Some have been locked out before that comes to fruition.

“Time is of the essence with these cases.”

Council figures show a total of 837 children live in the 155 households that have been affected by the cap.

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefits a household can receive to £500 a week for couples and lone parent households, and £350 a week for households of a single adult with no children.

The Government believes the cap is encouraging more people back into work.

However, Ms Potter said many of those affected cannot easily find employment, due to their individual circumstances.

She said others may be at risk at being affected by the regulations should they lose their jobs.

She said: “You have lots of people on zero hours contracts or on insecure part-time contracts.

“These are situations which could be problematic in future.”