The government's revised impact assessment of the household benefit cap was only published this morning. It was full of surprises, none pleasant.
The devil, as they say, is in the detail. Three lines which referred to homelessness outcomes, which DWP minister Iain Duncan Smith has been touring the news studios trying to deny, were soon excised.
The new impact report increased its estimates of the number of people affected from 50,000 to 67,000 (rising to 75,000 in 2014).
Children's Society policy advisor Sam Royston, who I had the pleasure of meeting at a consultation on child poverty at St George's Windsor last year, has supplied a brief analysis which is worth relaying - with additional thanks to Patrick Butler at the Guardian, who is doing a splendid job again with his life blog (http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/blog/2012/jan/23/welfare-reform-bill-ho... ).
The upshot of Royston's initial examination is that:
• The estimated number of children affected has also been revised upwards to 220,000. This means there is an average of around three children per household affected – showing this is not just affecting very large families.
• The estimated saving is £275 million. The impact assessment notes that the Government spent £192 billion on welfare payments in 2010, so this policy saves only 0.1 per cent of the welfare bill.
• Excluding child benefit would reduce the savings made by the benefit cap by £100 million – this would cost just 0.05 per cent of the overall welfare budget – but support thousands of families.