Ten thousand 'locked in the benefits trap'

TEN THOUSAND people will be locked in a benefits trap for up to a decade under laws designed to streamline Britain's social security system and target state help on the neediest, according to research by welfare campaigners.

Their income was meant to be protected by 'transitional arrangements' when income support replaced supplementary benefit in the massive shake-up of the welfare system resulting from the 1988 Social Security Act.

New criteria for calculating the level of income support would have left 1.4 million people worse off than they were under the old system, so 'transitional additions' were introduced to ensure that cash values did not fall.

The idea was that the transitional addition would be eroded as the income support element rose each year to reach the former supplementary benefit level. However, 10,000 people are still waiting for an annual cost-of-living increase in their benefit payments to be restored, and some will not receive an inflation rise until 1997, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has established.

The organisation took legal advice on the highly complex battery of regulations that stemmed from the 1988 Act, in the belief that what it saw as a glaring anomaly might have been unlawful. CPAG officers had hoped that they might have been able to bring a test case through the European Court of Justice. They have now learned that there are no grounds for such a challenge.

Vicki Chapman, the CPAG's legal officer, said: 'The lack of a legal remedy means that many people are finding it really hard to live on their benefits. After the 1988 Act was passed, the fine detail of the transitional arrangements was left to subsequent regulation, and I do not think that MPs fully understood the implications of what was being proposed, in the case of those whose income support worked out lower than the supplementary benefit they had previously received.

'It seemed that their position would be protected and it was in cash terms, but not in real terms.'

Government ministers accepted there were losers as well as gainers from the 1988 changes, but justified them by insisting it was necessary to give more to those most in need.

Campaigners countered that there were losers in all categories of claimants.

With the toughest public spending round for years expected in the autumn, they are pessimistic about the chances of any improvements in the financial circumstances of those who lost out.

'We believe that many of the 10,000 people affected by this particular trap are elderly or disabled,' Ms Chapman said.

'This is because they are claimants whose previous supplementary benefit included elements to cover special dietary needs, or something relating to the individual's physical condition.

'There doesn't seem to be any way in which they can be helped under the present system.'

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week