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New Welfare Reform Taskforce Launched

Published Monday, 15 October 2012

Photo shows - Martin Fitches, Job Centre Plus, Sonia Kotecha, Citizens Advice Bureau and Cllr Andrew Stafford, Enfield Council.

Benefit Reform Group

Enfield Council is launching a taskforce to help families affected by the forthcoming Government changes to the Welfare Benefit system.

From April 2013 the Government is changing the benefit system and more than 2,000 households in Enfield are expected to be affected, with over 6,000 local children at potential risk of homelessness because of reductions in the amount of Housing Benefit their families are expected to receive.

To support Enfield residents affected by the Government's benefit changes, Enfield Council's Welfare Reform Taskforce and its partners in Job Centre Plus and the Citizens Advice Bureau will work together to minimise the impact of the Welfare Benefit Reforms. It will also help all those affected to find work, support to move to more affordable accommodation, and avoid financial crisis and homelessness.

The main change to the benefits system will be a cap on the level of benefit that working age people can receive.  Due to the changes many families will see a reduction in their Housing Benefit, which will mean they will have to make up the difference to pay their rent from other income sources or find cheaper housing elsewhere.

Over 700 families in Enfield are expected to lose more than £100 a week in Housing Benefit in April, with 500 of them renting from a private landlord.

Cllr Andrew Stafford, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources said “The Government is making the greatest changes to welfare benefits in some sixty years. These changes will have far reaching impacts for families, vulnerable people and the services which support them, and affect many benefit claimants here Enfield and elsewhere in London.

"The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have written to everyone who will be affected by the benefit cap change, so it is important that those in receipt of benefits check to see if they have received a letter. If you have you must act now to ensure you safeguard your home and finances.”

Enfield’s Welfare Reform Taskforce will help claimants in private rented properties that will have to find over £100 a week to pay their rent and explore their options to help survive the cap:

- Find employment (and qualify for Working Tax Credit);

- Renegotiate their rent, or move to a cheaper property;

- Find the money themselves through other means to pay essential bills such as their rent.

Cllr Stafford continued “We are working with our partners in Job Centre Plus and the Citizens Advice Bureau to actively target those tenants losing more than £100 a week in the private rented sector. With one to one family sessions on employment opportunities and money advice available we want to help people before they get into financial difficulties such as losing their home, or getting in debt.

“I would advise everyone that their priority is to pay their rent. However, there is no need to contact the Council at this time.

"You need to look out for any letters from the DWP and Enfield Council because if you are affected you will be contacted.

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