Families hit by benefit reforms, Bradford Council report reveals (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Families hit by benefit reforms, Bradford Council report reveals
7:00am Thursday 13th March 2014 in News
Almost 300 families in the district have had their housing benefit cut by about £60 a week since sweeping changes were made to the welfare system, affecting more than 1,300 children.
In April of last year the Government introduced reforms to simplify benefits and encourage more people into work.
These included changes to housing benefit and the so-called bedroom tax, which lowers payments if people are deemed to have too many bedrooms.
In Bradford, 3,564 households were facing a reduction in payments because of the number of rooms they had, which has now dropped to 3,174.
The figures form part of a report by Janice Simpson, Bradford Council’s strategic director for adult and community services, due to be discussed on Tuesday when Bradford and Airedale Health & Wellbeing Board meets.
The benefit caps have led to 272 households having their housing benefit reduced by an average of £59.22, affecting 1,385 children.
Discretionary Housing Payments have helped vulnerable families and there has been a “significant increase in the number of awards being made.”
Mrs Simpson’s research aims to highlight the scale of the changes and help councillors consider their impact on health and wellbeing in Bradford and the effect on patients, GPs and health and social care services.
The report says there has been a hike in the number of people asking for help from the Advice Network Partnership and a significant rise in the number of people referred to foodbanks.
“Welfare reform in the UK is occurring at the same time as prolonged and deep economic recession, a period of high unemployment and changes within the health arena which makes attributing changes in health outcomes to single policy agenda very difficult,” the report said.
But it added there was good evidence that getting people into work had a positive impact on their health.
The Council is also concerned about “the disproportionate impact on people with low-level mental health issues” who it is believed will struggle to comply with stricter rules around claiming Job Seekers Allowance.
Mrs Simpson suggests helping this group more.
The Board, which is chaired by Bradford Council leader, David Green, meets at 10am in City Hall, Bradford, on Tuesday.
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