17,000 face benefits crunch
Reporter: Andrew Rudkin
Date online: 12 February 2013
COUNCILLOR Abdul Jabbar, Oldham’s cabinet finance chief, talks exclusively to Chronicle reporter ANDREW RUDKIN about how the welfare reforms from bedroom tax to benefit capping could hit thousands of working-age Oldhamers hard.
NEARLY 17,000 households across Oldham will be affected by plans to abolish full council tax benefit from April — leaving claimants to find a budget-crunching £250 a year in bands A and B.
Residents who receive 100 per cent discount will have to pay up to 25 per cent of the bill under the new Council Tax Support Scheme.
Around 28,000 local people currently receive council tax benefit. Nearly 11,000 are of pensionable age and are unaffected; but 16,814 households will be hit.
Councillor Jabbar today called the Government’s axing of council tax benefits and transferring the responsibility to councils “crazy”.
Each authority must develop a local scheme with 10 per cent less money — a £3million shortfall.
Councillor Jabbar said: “This is absolutely crazy. They have reduced the council tax benefit we used to get by £3 million and said go away and develop a scheme.
“If this was was the only thing we were ask to do, fine; we could probably find other sources to support it. But this year we are already saving £25 million. Next financial year it’s about £19 million and the year after that about £20 million.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say this presents a very difficult challenge. It is going to hurt people — there is do doubt about that.”
Four months ago, Councillor Jabbar said Oldhamers would lose £25 million a year in the reforms, but this has now risen to £28 million.
Councillor Jabbar said ministers had passed on the “dirty work” to local authorities: “All the changes will be administered by us and the letterhead informing them will be that of Oldham Council.
“The Government’s excuse is we have to balance the national deficit. Is hitting the poorest the way to do it?”
Where cuts will hit
Estimated yearly shortfalls on working age claimants in Oldham (pensioners not affected)
£464,000 — 124 households affected, all with children: The Government is introducing a limit on the total benefit most working-age can receive.
£1.7 million — 2,526 social tenants: your entitlement to housing benefit will be reduced if you rent from a housing association and have “spare” bedrooms.
£3 million — 16,814 households: Those who receive 100 per cent council tax benefit will have to pay more towards their council tax.
£11 million — 4,000: Replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Many might lose their entitlements.
£2.1 million — 1,665 people: The Government is hoping to move people from Incapacity Benefit to Jobseekers Allowance.
£130,000: The Social Fund is run by local authorities through jobcentres, on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions. It will have a reduced budget.
£4.6 million — 4,232 16-18 year olds: the Education Maintenance Allowance, used to support young people continuing education, was scrapped in 2011.
£2.58 million: A number of changes were introduced in 2011 amounting to this much being removed from the welfare budget.
£2.8 million — Currently paid for over 58,000 children: A three-year freeze on benefit paid has another year to run.
Have Your Say