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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Cumbria poverty investigation comes to Barrow

AN investigation into the impact of welfare cuts will take place in Barrow.

The Right Reverend James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, is leading the investigation which was requested by the Cumbria leaders board.

Evidence from charities, community organizations and individuals will be collected over the coming months.

Bishop James said: “This is a vitally important body of work and one which I’m sure will demonstrate directly the frontline impact of welfare reforms.

“It’s our Christian duty to ensure all in society are cared for and protected and that any reforms do not unfairly penalise people.

“I would urge anyone who has concerns to register those with the Commission through the proper channels. This will allow us to feed back to the relevant authorities all of our findings.”

As part of the Commission’s schedule four special hearings are to take place across Cumbria to enable people to give evidence.

Events will take place in Barrow on February 4, Shap on March 10, Carlisle March 18 and in Whitehaven on May 12.

The Commission will also look to collect a body of evidence including written reports and case studies from organisations as well as direct testimony; all offered with full anonymity for participants.

The Commission has three main objectives; to understand the impact of welfare reform in the county, to respond with ways to minimize the impact and to publish and promote their recommendations.

In particular the Commission will focus on changes to ‘in work’ benefits and the impact on families, changes to the way in which benefits are assessed, changes that impact on young people particularly around employment issues, changes relating to housing benefit, changes to support to individuals with disabilities and issues around rurality and digital and physical access to information and claims

The Commission will feed back findings and recommendations to the Third Sector Network and Cumbria Leaders Board.

Bishop James added: “We are asking charities, churches and community organisations to firstly provide any information or reports currently available on the impacts on their service users.

“Secondly we would like organisations to nominate and support clients to attend and give evidence to the Commission. And thirdly we want to interview representatives of organisations helping people.”

The Commission’s findings will be reported in June 2014.

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