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Enfield benefit task force praised

Published Monday, 28 July 2014

Enfield Council is one of five local authorities that have come in for praise from the national Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) this week.

The Council’s good practice in handling the benefit cap now appears on the national CAB website in a showcasing section called ‘Making welfare work locally’ as part of the CAB best practice sharing project.
The government’s benefit cap was introduced in Enfield in April last year, six months ahead of the rest of the country, as it was one of four boroughs to pilot the welfare changes.

Officers from housing, childcare, benefits and care, worked alongside Job Centre Plus staff and local CABs to advise up to 1,700 families affected by the cap. This included two thirds with two to three children in single parent families.

More than two thirds were in private rented accommodation. Twenty-seven percent of all households lost over £100 a week.

Significant focused support helped some these families and by May 2014, 560 households had found work and another 142 had moved to more affordable accommodation of their choice.

In a letter to the Council,CAB Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, writes, “Following a request on our website, we received 36 nominations for work being done by local authorities and housing associations to help their residents in response to housing benefit changes.

“Today we have showcased the best examples of this, and clear themes have emerged.

“These include the importance of working together, both with other local organisations and with residents; using data effectively to understand need, assess impact and inform service delivery; helping residents to build resilience; and ensuring that information about the changes and about available support is communicated to the right people at the right time.”

Enfield Council will now be receiving a CAB ‘good practice’ logo to use on stationery and public information.
The CAB visited Enfield and was particularly impressed by the work to provide comprehensive, individual support to households affected by the benefit cap, which helped half of those hardest hit to find work.

Enfield Council’s Chief Executive, Rob Leak, said, “We knew that we could not do this alone and harnessed the skills of a dedicated professional council team to work with our partners at Job Centre Plus and CAB. They continue to work together and to support people who need it in Enfield.”

Cllr Andrew Stafford, Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources, added, “We cannot overestimate the importance of our task force and the work they have done. Securing work and decent housing for people is a top priority for this Council. I am delighted that the way we dealt with the benefit cap has been recognised by the CAB and congratulate our staff and partners.”

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