Up to 27,000 households in Newcastle will be worse off as a result of Government proposals to reform the welfare system.
And up to £83m will be removed from the local economy as a result of reductions and changes to benefits, according to a report to the City Council’s cabinet this Wednesday.
Earlier this year the Chancellor announced £10bn would be saved from public expenditure – on top of £18 billion already announced for 2014/15. The changes to the welfare system are the biggest for 60 years.
The council, which has to save £90m itself over the next three years, has outlined a series of measures to try and reduce the impact on families.
This will involve coordinating work with all partners to maximise resources, providing face to face advice for people most at risk and giving out useful and reliable information to the public.
The four areas of welfare that the council will assist with are:
Deputy leader of Newcastle City Council, Coun Joyce McCarty, said: “Thousands of families, who are already in real hardship, will be further hurt by these welfare reforms.
“We have a duty to help those in need, but our ability to support them will be compounded by the fact that as a local authority we have to save £90m over the next three years.
“We are proud of our track record of helping people, and we will continue to do so with a range of measures including helping them to maximise their benefit entitlement while reducing their expenditure, helping them train and find jobs, and helping them to stay in their own homes, and where that is not possible, helping them to move into the private rented sector.
“We will continue to lobby hard and urge Government to protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.”
The council will help people get the benefits that they are entitled to through our welfare rights service. In 2011/12 the council and its partners helped 10,858 people secure an extra £19m in benefits through free independent advice. Over 40 per cent of people who have sickness and disability benefits withdrawn are successful on appeal.
Up to 7,000 tenants could lost around £14 per week due to the bedroom tax and many others will be affected by the introduction of Universal Credit and the removal of direct payments. Many will face the risk of losing their home due to cuts in housing benefit so the council and Your Homes Newcastle will try to support them to prevent this. Changes in Government subsidies for housing costs will create the need to develop different housing for example shared housing.
With YHN we are helping people to stay in their homes by visiting 7,000 tenants at risk to advise them in how to maximise their income, reduce their expenditure, help them find employment and assist them to move into private rented accommodation when they can’t afford to stay in their own home.
Many will experience a significant drop in their income for example losing Incapacity Benefit and council tax benefit. The city council and Newcastle Futures continue will continue to help people into work.
Our financial inclusion partnership will help people access bank accounts, affordable credit, housing advice, employment and training while help reduce poverty by tackling fuel poverty and illegal money lending.
By improving access to the internet from ultrafast broadband and wi-fi the council will widen residents’ chances of accessing work and training by getting online.
Notes to editors:
To access the Welfare Reform report:
Page last updated: 22 October, 2012