Lords' amended welfare cap

January 26, 2012, 5:11 PM GMT+0

74% Brits support benefit cap; 60% oppose amendment; 32% don’t want Lords to block legislation

The majority of the British public have expressed support for the Government’s new proposal to limit the amount of benefits a household can claim to £26,000 per year, our poll has shown, while another large percentage opposes the new amendment made by the House of Lords to add an exception to the cap for families currently supporting children.

Our poll shows that many Britons are concerned about the House of Lords' proposed exception to child benefits, which will mean that, in some cases, claimant families with children will be entitled to welfare that could exceed the average income of working families.

Almost 1 in 3 Brits feel that the House of Lords shouldn’t be able to block legislation passed by the House of Commons.

  • 74% support the government’s new household benefits policy, while 16% oppose it
  • Three in five (60%) disagree with the recent amendment to the housing benefits limit that would exclude child support benefits from the cap, while 28% agree with it
  • 49% feel that the House of Lords should have the power to block legislation passed by the House of Commons for up to a year (as it currently does), but 32% believe that it should not have that right
  • Bearing in mind the House of Lords is made up of a mixture of elected and non-elected party appointees, bishops, and independent peers, 39% of people believe the House of Lords should change to being entirely publicly elected, while 32% feel it only needs to be partially elected
  • Only one in ten (10%) feels that the House of Lords should be entirely appointed rather than elected

Men and women differ slightly on their opinions on the House of Lords; while Labour supporters are most in favour of the House's power to block legislation, and Conservative supporters the least so.

  • 57% of men feel that the House of Lords should be able to block legislation, compared to only 42% of women
  • 58% of Labour supporters feel that the House should be allowed to block legislation (26% say it should not), followed by 52% of Liberal Democrats (36%), and 49% of Conservatives who support the power to block, compared to 39% who feel that the Lords should not have blocking power

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has stated that excluding child benefits in the manner proposed by the Lords would make the idea of a cap 'pointless', as in some cases it would raise the amount families could receive to an average of about £50,000 a year, completely negating the £26,000 average limit. He said he wanted to be 'fair' to taxpayers on low wages, whose taxes are effectively funding houses for benefit-claimant families to live in, in areas that the working families themselves could not afford.

Enver Solomon, Policy Director at The Children’s Society, is happy with the decision by the House of Lords, however, stating that 'if the intention of the benefit cap is to promote fairness, it is totally unfair that a small family with a household income of £80,000 a year receive [the currently-universal child benefit], yet a large family with a benefit income of £26,000 would be excluded'.

See the survey details and full results here