17:02 Wednesday 24 April 2013

Benefit changes hit home at £429 per person


Dawn Green Dawn Green

WELFARE reforms will hit the people of Burton and its surrounding areas at a rate equivalent to losing more than £400 per working age adult, a new study has shown.

Figures released by Sheffield Hallam University reveal that changes in council tax benefit, local housing allowance and tax credits, among other things, will leave a financial hole to the tune of £429 for each person aged between 16 and 64 by the next financial year.

South Derbyshire will be hit with a loss equal to £379 per working age adult as the changes begin to take effect, the study showed.

Austerity measures were introduced at the beginning of April in a bid to slash the mammoth welfare bill faced by the Government on an annual basis. It was hoped the changes would cut £19 billion a year off the budget – equivalent to £470 for every working age person in the UK.

Locally, Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s (CAB) are already beginning to see the impact of the changes, with more people coming through the door with problems.

Dawn Green, chief executive at East Staffordshire CAB, told The Mail: “We are just starting to see the impact in terms of welfare changes. We are seeing the impact of people having to pay 25 per cent more council tax, we have seen some impact from the bedroom tax and other things.

“I think as people start to get to the point where they realise they can’t maintain their priority bills in terms of making up shortfalls I think we will see more people coming through. We are going to see an increase in people who have the decision of whether to fuel their houses or buy food.”

Changes have hit housing, council tax, incapacity and child benefit, tax credits and disability living allowance. A one per cent cap has also been placed in the increase in benefits year by year. Rises have previously been in line with inflation.

The amounts stated might seem hefty, but both East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire fare well in comparison to many other parts of the UK.

Blackpool topped the table with an impact of more than £900 per person, and Birmingham suffers £607 per working age adult.

In Staffordshire, Cannock was estimated to be the district worst-hit by the changes with £489 per person, and in Derbyshire, Bolsover topped the table with £595 per person.

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