Homelessness, Housing, Lone Parents, The Benefit System, Welfare to Work

Welfare reform and the affect in Norwich

Welfare reform and the affect in Norwich

Dozens of charities and organisations came together for a seminar in Norwich City Council over the weekend to discuss the potential impact of the Welfare Reform Bill.

Top on the agenda was the fear that thousands of people in Norwich would end up worse off because of proposed changes to housing benefit, disability allowances, council tax benefit and child maintenance. In particular, there was alarm that under proposals of bringing all benefits together under the Universal Credit, benefits would be capped and housing benefit cut for people who had “spare” rooms.

Labour Peer Baroness Hollis recognised that they now needed to go on the offensive. Baronness Hollis recognised that the principles of the Universal Credit was good but the problem was that it was part of a turf war between the Department forWork and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government. The impact would be severest on the poorest people in the community.

Shelter also had serious misgivings;

Lesley Burdett, Shelter’s service manager in Norwich, said: “These welfare reforms are a big concern for Shelter. We see it is undermining housing need for lots of individuals, particularly in Norwich.

Particular concerns included plans to cut housing benefit to people in social housing who live in homes which are “too big” for them.

An estimated 2,820 council tenants in Norwich could be affected by these proposals. Tenants with one spare room who decide not to move are set to lose up to 15 per cent of their housing benefit and those with two or more could lose 25per cent from April 2013.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, was one of 18 Church of England Bishops who signed an open letter calling for the government to think again over the shake-up, which includes a planned £500-a-week benefits cap for families.

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