THE number of households hit by Westminster’s lower benefit cap have risen by 900 per cent in Ayrshire, figures show.

East and North Ayrshire are the areas worst hit by the change, which came into effect in November and limits the support a household can collect to £384.62 or £257.69 per week, depending on circumstances.

Last October just 17 households in these areas had their payments capped, but the number had risen to 173 by May.

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In East Dunbartonshire an 800 per cent increase has been recorded, with a 700 per cent boost in Renfrewshire.

The figures come from the Scottish Greens, who found a 400 per cent increase across the country had affected 11,200 children.

Their families are thought to have lost £2000-£3000 on average.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “Work is the best way to raise living standards, and many parents with young children are employed.

“As our latest figures show, 34,000 households previously capped have moved into work, 970 in Scotland. The benefit cap restores balance, making the system fairer to the taxpayer, and provides a financial incentive to move into work for those who can.

“Lone parents can still receive benefits up to the equivalent salary of £25,000. Discretionary housing payments are available to people who need extra help and in addition, Scotland also has significant welfare powers.”

However, Greens Social Security spokesperson Alison Johnstone said: “Seven years into the Tories’ cruel agenda of cuts, we now see the terrible impact on children in our communities. By reducing the social security support available, while ignoring rising housing costs, the UK Government has pushed an additional 11,200 children into potential poverty and homelessness.

“Our analysis shows that to mitigate this unfair UK policy, the Scottish Government could take the same approach as it rightly did with the hated bedroom tax, and use its powers over discretionary housing payments to end the misery caused by the benefit cap. This would cost in the region of two million pounds a year but it would make a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable families across Scotland.”