Livewire - November 7, 2012

Gwen King, chairman Queens Park Residents Association
Gwen King, chairman Queens Park Residents Association
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By Gwen King of Queens Park Residents Association

Welfare Benefit Reforms.

I expect you have read all about them by now.

These new reforms are going to hit the residents of Blackpool extremely hard bearing in mind the nature of the town.

We are always getting people into our office who have had their benefits stopped (sanctioned) because they were late to sign on, didn’t apply for enough jobs, didn’t fill in their job search book etc. etc.

Figures for the whole of the UK show during 2011, 508,000 claimants were sanctioned as compared with 2009 when 139,000 sanctions were imposed.

I think it fair to say this figure will rise during 2012/2013.

Another bone of contention is the Bedroom Tax where if you are under-occupying, you will lose approximately 14 per cent of housing benefit for one spare bedroom and if you have two or more spare bedrooms you will lose 25 per cent.

Then there is the issue of how the benefits will be paid to a claimant i.e. there will be just one paying called a Universal Credit which will lump together JSA ESA Income Support Housing Benefit, Child Benefit, Child Tax Credits and Carer’s Allowance. This one lump sum benefit will be paid to just ONE person in the household.

This is going to cause tremendous problems as at the moment, the child benefit element usually goes direct to the mother.

The biggest issue is that the Housing Benefit is going to be paid direct to the claimant even for council rent.

It is then up to them to pay the local authority.

I don’t need to tell you what problems this is going to cause and on top of it all – it will be paid in arrears.

The rent arrears are just going to sky-rocket.

Being a front-line organisation, we see life at the sharp end all day and everyday and these new Welfare Reforms are going to cause so many problems our work-load is going to quadruple along with many other organisations.

It’s all very well for the Government to say people must take more control of their lives and learn to budget, but that’s in an ideal world and we certainly don’t live in one of those.