Council Prepares To Help Heywood Folk With Welfare Reforms

January 25, 2013

With big changes to benefits on the way that could affect one in six people in the UK, Rochdale Council are preparing to help Heywood residents get to grips with new Welfare Reforms that come in on April 1.

Thousands of people in the borough are likely to be affected by changes to the system which will see differences in how benefits are claimed, what they are called and who’s eligible.

Heywood councillor and council leader Colin Lambert said the priority is to protect the most vulnerable residents:

“We have a duty to make these changes as the law requires us to, but we are doing everything possible to minimise the adverse impact by helping the people affected and preparing them. We want to do as much as we can to ensure people understand the changes and how they effect them. We are also working hard to ensure residents have access to support and the right advice when they need it.”

The Welfare Reform Act sets out the Government’s plans for major changes to many current benefits including Housing Benefit.

The main elements of the act are:

  • The introduction of Universal Credit to provide a single streamlined benefit that will ensure work always pays.
  • A stronger approach to reducing fraud and error with tougher penalties for the most serious offences.
  • A new claimant commitment showing clearly what is expected of claimants while giving protection to those with the greatest needs.
  • Reforms to Disability Living Allowance, through the introduction of the Personal Independence Payment to meet the needs of disabled people today.
  • A new approach to Housing Benefit by capping the total amount of benefit that can be claimed.
  • Driving out abuse of the Social Fund system by giving greater power to local authorities.
  • Reforming Employment and Support Allowance to make the benefit fairer and to ensure that help goes to those with the greatest need.
  • Changes to support a new system of child support which puts the interest of the child first.
  • Localisation of Council Tax.

Universal Credit will go live nationally in October 2013 for new claimants.  The remainder of current claims will be moved to Universal Credit from 2014, with the process being complete by 2017.

“Over the coming weeks and months we will be communicating with residents to help them understand the changes before they are affected and we will work with other local agencies to minimise hardship.”

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