One cap fits all?

In amongst the pain inflicted by the cuts contained in the UK Government’s recent spending review, I was intrigued with all the talk about various ‘caps’.

For example, on housing benefits:

Housing benefit cap plan will backfire, ministers told (The Guardian)

David Cameron stands by ‘fair’ housing benefit cap (The Independent)

Housing benefit cap could force 1 million people to leave city homes  
(The Mirror)

On university tuition fees:

‘Coalition plot to blow up education’: Nick Clegg faces student leader’s anger at £9,000 cap on tuition fees (The Daily Mail)

£9k tuition fee cap leaves students horrified (Yahoo)

On Immigration:

May pledges lower immigration cap for 2011 (Financial Times) 

Concerns over UK immigration cap (UK Press Association)

It’s odd that raising (or doffing) ones hat (or cap) used to be a sign of respect. Even now on Twitter, the abbreviation HT (‘hat tip’) is used to acknowledge information provided by someone else.

On the other hand, leaving your hat on (whatever Tom Jones might urge), or even pulling it lower so people can’t see your eyes, is disrespectful.

Whether they are being raised (as in tuition fees, to allow universities to charge more) or being lowered (as with housing benefits and immigration figures) the effect is the same – it seems that caps can hurt.

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