224 Dungannon families claiming more than £26,000 in benefits

Benefits cap will not hit local households
Benefits cap will not hit local households

A total of 224 families in the Dungannon District are being paid more than £26,000 in benefits — the equivalent of a £34,000 gross salary for individuals who are paying tax, it has been revealed.

The figures, released last week at the Northern Ireland Assembly, show that the highest number of families claiming more than £26K live in West Belfast, where 850 people earn above that figure. There are 570 such families in North Belfast, 550 in Foyle, and 510 in West Tyrone.

The postal code area of BT71, which covers Dungannon, Coalisland and Moygashel had 150 households, the 12th highest postal code area in Northern Ireland, while BT70 had 74 such households.

Under the Welfare Reform Bill, the benefit cap of £26,000 will be extended to Northern Ireland.

However, the Stormont Executive is believed to have agreed that it will use its funds to top up the benefits of anyone who loses money as a result of the cap being introduced.

This means that is likely the 224 households exceeding that amount in the Dungannon District will escape any cuts, making Northern Ireland the only part of the UK without a benefit cap.

The Department of Social Development said that only a fraction of the 6,000 Northern Ireland households claiming in excesss of £26K will be capped.

“A large number of those households which exceed the cap threshold are likely to be claiming a benefit or tax credit which will exempt them from the benefit cap”, said a spokesperson.

“These exemptions include disability living allowance - adult/child, working tax credit, industrial injuries benefit, employment and support allowance – support component, war widow’s or war widower’s pension and attendance allowance.”