£270m benefits bill revealed

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Campaigners want more people back in work
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More than £270m was spent on supporting Fylde coast residents on Disability Living Allowance, JobSeekers Allowance and Income Support in just one year.

And the figures for Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde today led to calls for more to be done to get people into work and to ensure claimants were legitimate.

Fylde coast council tax campaigner Derek Bunting said: “The worry with benefits is the fiddling. You only have to open the paper and there are dozens of people being caught out claiming without being entitled to.

“And those are the ones who have been caught – it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Some £92m was handed out in benefits in Blackpool South from April 2010 to the same month this year while the figure for Blackpool North and Cleveleys was not too far behind at £83m.

Fylde dished out £51m while Wyre and Preston North’s figure was £51m.

The figures include benefits for disability living allowance, incapacity benefit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, carer’s allowance, bereavement benefit, and employment and support allowance.

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In Blackpool South, £28.4m was spent on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) this year with £19.3m on Income Support and £8.8m doled out for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA).

And in Blackpool North and Cleveleys, the DLA bill came to £26.9m while £14.9m was spent on Income Support and £7.6m on JSA.

The figures were released after a question over benefit expenditure was asked of the Secretary of State in Parliament.

The figures for 2009 to 2010 were £105m for Blackpool South, £76m for Blackpool North and Fleetwood, £59m for Fylde and £48m for Lancaster and Wyre.

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Benefits are there to help those in need but a rise in the total bill in many areas means taxpayers’ wallets are really feeling the strain at the moment.

“Much more needs to be done to get those who can work back into employment while tackling those who try to rip off the system. Taxpayers are feeling the pinch at the moment, it’s not fair to expect them to subsidise those who are refusing to look for a job when they are capable of doing so.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said he hoped people were getting the right support they were entitled to.

He said: “It’s always hard to compare numbers of benefit recipients.

“For things like carer’s allowance, I wish more people who were eligible were in receipt of it – take-up has never been high enough locally.

“For other out-of-work benefits, of course I want to see more people in a good job. Crucially, I want to see people getting out what they are entitled to. We should all believe in fairness, and we should all seek to ensure that those in real need get support, and those who want to get back to work are helped. ”

Employment minister Chris Grayling added: “These figures show how important the government reforms are through initiatives like our new work programme, the benefit cap and Universal Credit. We are building a system that is much more fit for purpose.”