- Statistic show extent to which handouts condemn families to life on benefits
- Iain Duncan Smith proposes £26,000 benefit cap
Scores of workless families with ten or more children are living on state benefits worth more than £60,000 a year.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that there are 190 families with at least ten under-18s where one or both of the parents gets an out-of-work benefit.
These families are eligible for £61,183 a year in state support – much more than they could hope to earn if they entered the job market.
A family in work would have to earn £93,000 to be left with this amount of money after tax.
The statistics illustrate the extent to which enormous handouts condemn such families to a life on benefits, because it would not be worth their while to take on work.
One minister has suggested that parents should think twice about having so many children if they cannot support them without the help of benefits.
Nearly 100,000 people on benefits have four or more children, with more than 900 claimants having at least eight.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wants to impose a benefits cap of £26,000 – the income of an average family – on workless families.
Sources say the cap is essential to stop workshy families using extra children as revenue-raisers, getting more child benefit and perhaps a larger house.
But the plan is hitting trouble in the House of Lords, with some Lib Dems arguing that the cap should be set higher.
The Tories are determined the original cap should go through to help bring the costs of the welfare state under control. A crucial vote will be held next week.
Last night Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘Labour left our welfare system in a sorry state, with too many people better off out of work and on benefits than if they entered the working world.
£95,000 – AND STILL THEY’RE NOT HAPPY
Pete and Sam Smith receive £95,000 a year in state benefits to look after their ten children aged one to 15. They live in a four-bedroom house rent-free and the council even pays for breakfast to be delivered.
The Smiths were evicted from their previous home in Bath, leaving it uninhabitable, according to their former landlord who claimed that mattresses and walls were stained with human and animal excrement.
But despite being given a new home by the council in Bristol, Mrs Smith, 36, complained: ‘It’s very cramped. We have four bedrooms with bunk beds for the kids and that’s it. We’ve been told we might not be given a new house for another nine months, which is ridiculous.’
She claimed they were so short of money that the children had only one Nintendo Wii games console between them.
She said in September 2010: ‘We do get breakfast delivered but sometimes we have to ring them to remind them and it’s not like proper hot food.
‘It’s usually beans, tinned tomatoes and cereal, which isn’t really enough for us all.’
The couple have not worked since Mr Smith, 40, resigned from the Army in 2001 to care for his wife, who has curvature of the spine. At that time they had three children. The family receive child benefits, disability living allowance, carer’s allowance, tax credits and income support totalling £44,954 a year. They also have a £950-a-week bed-and-breakfast deal where the council pays for breakfasts delivered to their home.
This comes to £49,400, making a grand total of £94,354 a year.
‘It’s not fair that benefit claimants can receive higher incomes than families who are in work, in some cases more than double the average household income. That’s why we’re introducing a cap on benefits – to restore fairness to our welfare system while ensuring that support goes to those who need it.’
Figures released following an FoI request show that there are 140 families with ten children in Britain receiving an out-of-work benefit. Another 30 have 11 children, and 20 families have 12, making a total of 190 with ten children or more.
These families get a range of benefits including jobseekers’ allowance, incapacity benefit, income support and employment and support allowance.
They are also entitled to other handouts, including housing benefit, child tax credits, child benefit and council tax benefit.
A workless family with ten children under the age of 18 could receive around £1,177 a week in benefits if they were claiming all these.
That works out at £61,183 a year, a total of more than £11million for all the families involved. Ministers believe the vast majority of the families will be claiming all the benefits to which they are entitled.
Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers feel that it is unfair that so many claimants are receiving so much more in benefits that many hard-working people.
‘This has to change and it’s right that the Government is taking action.’
It was reported last week that the Government is planning last-minute changes to the controversial cap on benefits for workless families in an attempt to quell a rebellion among Lib Dem peers.
The £26,000 figure is based on average income for all families, including those on benefits, which means it is lower than the income of a family in work. Some Lib Dems argue that the cap should be set higher, to the level of the average income of a family in work.
Just over a year ago, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt provoked a storm by saying it should not be the state’s responsibility to fund the ever-growing families of the workshy.
He said: ‘The number of children that you have is a choice and what we’re saying is that if people are living on benefits, then they make choices but they also have to have responsibility for those choices.
‘It’s not going to be the role of the state to finance those choices.
‘You can have children but if you are going to ask for support that is more than the average wage that people earn, then we’re saying no, the state shouldn’t support that.
‘That’s not fair on working people who have to pay the taxes to pay those benefits.’