Residents braced for welfare storm

Blackpool resident George Scouler, who after losing his job last year is representative of the people hit hardest by the Government's benefit cuts.
Blackpool resident George Scouler, who after losing his job last year is representative of the people hit hardest by the Government's benefit cuts.
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Blackpool is bracing itself for a welfare storm according to community leaders after a report said the Government’s cuts will hit the town harder than any other in England.

The research by Sheffield Hallam University says the changes will take £19bn out of the UK economy and working-age residents in Blackpool will lose an average of £914 each through the cuts compared to areas in the South such as Cambridge which will lose £247.

Gwen King, chairman of the Queen’s Park Residents Association, agreed with the findings.

She said: ”We work at the front line and the cuts are going to hit people hard.

“We are getting people in struggling with the extra £21 a month on their council tax.

“When you are only getting £90 a week it is a big problem.

“Cuts will mean an increase in homelessness, begging in the streets and crime.”

George Scoular, 47, who lives at Queens Park lost his job in August after injuring his back but has worked in Blackpool for almost 30 years.

He said: “I think what they are doing is disgusting. I get £66 a week and am left with £20 after bills for food and now I have to pay council tax.

“I paid £10 towards my council tax this week – that is three meals for me.

“Its all very well saying people should get jobs but there are 2,000 people after every one. And it is not easy for someone like me compared to younger people.”

Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This research backs up what we have been saying for months.

“While the southern areas are barely touched by welfare reform, in Blackpool residents will be the worst affected.

“In Blackpool we are doing what we can to help our residents through these desperately difficult times.

“We’ve introduced a free breakfast scheme for primary school pupils and reduced council tax.”

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BLACKPOOL WORST HIT BY BENEFIT CUTS

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