Organisations join forces to ask “Are you ready” for Welfare Reform
Thousands of Coventry residents are being urged to keep their eye on the ball when it comes to government benefit changes, amid fears that thousands of families across the city could sink into debt.
This warning, which is being given following the introduction of various benefit changes, comes from the city’s support organisations which have joined together to provide advice to Coventry residents.
On Friday, July 12 Coventry Partnership, which includes Whitefriars Housing, Coventry City Council, Coventry CAB, Coventry Law Centre, Midland Heart and Job Centre Plus, launched a new free advice booklet and DVD at a city centre event.
Jugglers in Broadgate entertained the children while hundreds of adults picked up information, and chatted to advice staff from the partners, to find out what they should do to protect themselves from financial hardship as their benefits change.
Simon Brooke, head of income management at Whitefriars Housing, said: “This is a really worrying time for many people. Family incomes may be significantly reduced. Levels of household debt are also likely to rise and the risk is that people may resort to pay day loan companies or other unsuitable money lenders.
“The most important thing is that people do not stick their head in the sand and ignore what is going on, but seek advice from any of the partners to put them in the best position for the future.”
Cllr Damian Gannon, Cabinet Member at the Council for Strategic Finance and Resources added: “It’s really important that support for vulnerable people is co-ordinated. We want people to be prepared and that’s why partner organisations in the city are campaigning to ensure that people affected by the reforms are aware of where they can get advice from.
“We’re one of just 20 per cent of Councils that has protected people from cuts in Council Tax and it is a big priority for us to support as many people as possible. We are continually monitoring the impact that reforms are making so that we can work with people to manage the negative effects of benefits and tax credits changes.”
The booklet highlights seven actions that can be taken to get ready:
- Get a benefits check
- Look at monthly budgeting
- Take advantage of help to get into employment
- Make sure you have a bank account
- Pay of any arrears (especially rent and other priority debts)
- Set up direct debits
- Get online
- More than 3,000 residents in Coventry have been affected by the under-occupation charges (the bedroom tax), that was introduced in April 2013.
- Changes to disability benefits, that are being introduced this month (July), will affect a further 3,000 residents.
- It is estimated that the introduction of Universal Credit, which is being introduced in the UK from October, will affect around 60,000 Coventry residents.
If anyone would like to receive a free advice welfare reform booklet or DVD, go to any of the offices of the members of Coventry Partnership - Whitefriars Housing, Coventry City Council, Coventry CAB, Coventry Law Centre, Midland Heart or Job Centre Plus.