Reducing the Impact of Welfare Reforms

Newcastle City Council outlined today the action it is taking to help some of the most vulnerable people deal with the effects of welfare reform.

It comes after a report was published showing that the reduction in working age benefits in Newcastle is set to cost the city’s economy an estimated £136m from 2010 to 2022.

The figure is set out in a report to be considered by the city’s Cabinet on Monday, October 16.

The report shows how the roll out Universal Credit, the benefit cap, bedroom tax and other welfare reforms are hurting families and individuals in Newcastle.

In order to mitigate the worst effects, the council set up Active Inclusion Newcastle – a partnership with the voluntary and community sector in which all work together to share resources and expertise.

While the benefit income lost has not been replaced in all cases with work, the worst effects of austerity has been avoided. The report states:

  • 4,164 cases of potential homelessness have been prevented – a 10% increase on 2015-16
  • No bed and breakfast accommodation has been used since 2006
  • 8,792 people have joined credit unions with access low cost loans – a 75% increase since 2011
  • 989 residents have been supported into employment – up 51% on 2015-16
  • 18,323 residents were helped to gain £30.16m – 11 per cent more on 2015-16
  • 4,782 people were given debt advice – up 12% on 2015-16
  • 56 evictions – a 72% reduction from 2007-08 but 14% increase on 2015-16

Deputy Leader of the City Council, Cllr Joyce McCarty said: “We know from our own analysis that people on welfare are really struggling with the changes to welfare.

“As a council we have pledged to try and protect the most vulnerable. While I will not pretend that people are not hurting – they are – we are doing everything that we can with our partners to help reduce that suffering by giving them the help and advice that they need.

“Our Active Inclusion Newcastle programme has been recognised by Government which is why we were chosen as one of three Homelessness Prevention Trailblazers nationally.”

The worst effects of welfare reforms can lead to: increases in rent arrears, homelessness, destitution, care and support needs, mental health issues, domestic violence, social exclusion and breakdown in communities.