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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Plan readied for Barrow benefits shake-up

AN action plan has been devised to ensure tenants know how benefit reforms will affect them.

From April 2013, a host of changes are set to be made to the welfare benefits system by the government.

As part of the plans, housing benefits will be scrapped and will be included in a new universal credit scheme.

Barrow Borough Council has prepared a welfare reform action plan to ensure social housing tenants and the council is ready for the changes.

The plan is set to be presented to the council’s housing management forum on Thursday and Jane Coles, business support manager, said in a report for the forum that the overhaul presents a challenge to the council.

She said: “In considering the council’s approach it is important to balance the responsibilities of the council as a landlord and the wellbeing of our tenants.

“While we do not have access to comprehensive income records of all our tenants we do know that by far the largest percentage of tenants receive housing benefit.

“Any changes to the benefit system of the magnitude being progresses poses a risk to the housing service’s income and the ability to provide service levels agreed with tenants.”

The council will no longer be paid housing benefits directly and instead will have to liaise with tenants to ensure that payment plans for the new amounts are set up.

The plan aims to raise awareness of the changes and will offer financial guidance to help people pay.

Tenants whose house is under-occupied, for example a three-person family living in a four-bedroom house, will see their benefits reduced and the council has adapted a ‘best use of stock’ policy which will aim to limit the amount of people who are transferred to properties which are too big for them. This could also see some families being asked if they would like to move through a mutual exchange programme.

Ms Coles said more communication was needed to ensure that people are aware of the changes.

She said: “From informal discussion with tenants and their representatives at various meetings over the past few months, it would appear that while there is some knowledge of the changes it would be appropriate for the housing service to ensure it complements any information produced by the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure tenants are aware of the implications from a tenants’ perspective.”

The meeting takes place at Barrow Town Hall on Thursday at 2pm.

Have your say

While i understand it is not the best idea in the world to have a single person living in a 4 bedroom house, how inhumane it is to shove a person out of a house they may have lived in for many years to save a couple of quid in housing benefit. To give an example my sons 1 bed flat (council) as it is part furnished is £88 per week and a 3 bed unfurnished house (council) is about £80! I predict it will result in a lot of people getting evicted as they will not be able to meet the shortfall in rent. If they have children the council are obliged to house them...what a mess. David Cameron hang your rich well housed head in shame.

Posted by janet bury on 12 June 2012 at 00:07

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