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Councillor

1 in 6 Lambeth residents to be affected by the Government’s benefit cuts

benefit cuts posterIn April 2013 the government is making a series of cuts to benefits that will affect 1 in 6 Lambeth residents.

  • Council Tax Benefit is being scrapped – the change will mean reductions in financial support for 20,758 Lambeth households
  • Disability Living Allowance is being abolished – 9,000 people in Lambeth will be affected
  • Housing Benefit criteria is being changed in relation to the number of occupied bedrooms in a property – 4000 households in Lambeth will be affected
  • A new Cap on Housing Benefit is being introduced later in the year – 667 households in Lambeth will be affected (mostly families) with an average shortfall of £94 per week.

London boroughs like Lambeth are being hit hard by the government benefit cuts:

  • London has the highest percentage (25.5%) of households receiving Housing Benefit of any region in the country
  • Lambeth has 2nd highest number of Housing Benefit claimants in London and the 4th highest number of council tax benefit claimants
  • Lambeth has the highest number of Job Seekers in London.

Many people do not even know they will be affected, which is why Lambeth Council and Lambeth Labour are doing their best to make sure people are aware and can be ready. We are launching a quarterly benefits magazine to help people know what they are entitled to. There is a hotline on 020 7926 4200 and more at www.lambeth.gov.uk/benefitchanges.

Like most local councils, Lambeth have done the best we can with what is a bad Conservative and Lib Dem policy, that aims to hit the poorest hardest. We have frozen Council Tax for two more years, so as not to add to the scale of the problem. However we are required to introduce a Local Council Tax Support (CTS) scheme by the 1st April this year, with less money. Lambeth loses £2.4m per year in funding, a real funding reduction of 16%.

But we have consulted residents and listened. Of the 36,000 CTS claimants, we have agreed a scheme that exempts the disabled, carers, war widows or widowers and families affected by the overall benefits cap. This package of protecting the most vulnerable costs approximately £760,000 per year.

Having recommended protection of these vulnerable groups, possibly the highest level of protection in any London Borough, the proposed CTS scheme proposes passing the equivalent of a 19% cut in Council Tax Benefit to the remaining working age claimants.

The 1 in 6 Lambeth residents who are affected by this and other cuts to benefits should put the blame were it lies – they are Coalition Government welfare policy cuts. Lib Peck, Leader of the Council, said, “The scale of the government’s benefit cuts is huge, affecting up to 1 in 6 of our residents. It’s clear that thousands of residents, many of whom are in work, will see their weekly incomes cut in two months time. Cuts to benefits will force hundreds of families to move away from areas where they have support networks and children in school.”

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