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Benefit payments cap to be implemented from today in London

The much talked about benefit cap has been rolled out in some London boroughs and by the end of September it will be implemented in the whole country. From today, Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey residents will be allowed to receive only an overhall benefit payment of maximum £500 a week for couples or single parents, and of £350 for single people: the new total includes housing benefit payments as well as any money received through jobseeker's allowance, income support, child and council tax benefit. People in receipt of disability benefits will not be affected by the cap.

Anyone who in the past has opted for expensive private rented accommodations, assuming that housing benefit payments would always cover most of the cost, will now have to face a difficult situation: either somehow come up with the money or find a cheaper solution. The problem is that in big cities such as London, the shortage of social housing, the unbelievably expensive rent rates of most homes and apartments and the lack of private rented accommodations both affordable and decent, finding a 'normal' house at a 'normal' price is almost an impossible task.

Most people on unemployment benefits or on a low income that are currently paying high rents will have no choice but to move elsewhere: a displacement that will have disastrous consequences on a social and human level. Don't forget that a similar strategy is currently being applied to social housing, therefore the fear that this will end up in the establishment of an extremely ghettoised society is becoming more and more real.

Employment minister Mark Hoban has declared on the matter: "People want to see a benefits system that's fair, affordable and gets people into work. And we are seeing that. If they want to escape the benefits cap, the best way to do it is to move into work. This is about fairness. There are people in this country making difficult choices about where they live and who don't claim housing benefits."

But is this how things really are? Is the current system really providing jobs paid well enough to afford a place in their proximities?

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