72 Hartlepool families were raking in more than £26,000 a year in benefits

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SCORES of households in Hartlepool have seen a cut in benefits that saw families bagging more than £26,000 a year from the taxpayer.

The cap has seen benefits cut for 72 town households where either couples and lone parents pocketing more than £26,000 or single people without children bagging £18,200.

The cuts were introduced in April last year and also saw 139 households in County Durham cut, while there were 71 in the Stockton area, which includes Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard.

The Government says the cap was introduced so households can no longer get more in benefits than the average family earns.

It limits welfare hand-outs to £500 a week for couples, with or without children, and lone parent households, and at £350 a week for households of a single adult with no children.

Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, said: “These figures show that the benefit cap is returning fairness to the system by ensuring that families on benefits can no longer get more money than the average family earns.

“It is not right that some families on benefits were receiving amounts of money that hardworking taxpayers could only dream of and our welfare reforms are working to fix the system.

“By exempting people who are receiving Working Tax Credit, the benefit cap is increasing incentives to move into work and we already know that around 19,000 claimants potentially affected by the benefit cap have found jobs.”