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Welfare reforms "could cost region £380m a year", report claims
THE Government’s welfare reforms could cost the region £380m a year, researchers claim.
A study by Durham, Teesside and Northumbria universities found that the introduction of the benefit cap and changes to disabled people’s benefits, council tax benefit and housing benefit would have a profound impact on the North-East.
According to the report commissioned by the Association of North East Councils (Anec), social housing tenants - especially those with disabilities - and social housing estates would be hardest hit.
The report concluded that the impact of under-occupancy and the structure of the housing stock in the North-East, which offers a limited number of smaller properties for under-occupying households to move into, left residents vulnerable to a range of pressures.
The study, which was compiled with help from the region’s Citizens Advice service, raised concerns that support networks would be broken down and the sustainability of communities would be undermined.
Councillor Paul Watson, chairman of Anec, said: “The implications for our economy and on the lives of people and communities right across the North East (from the welfare reforms) are significant.
“They are a key priority for Anec and this independent body of work will help us both monitor the impacts of the Government’s reforms as they are introduced and inform how we can best help and guide residents who will inevitably look to their local council for support.”
Phillip Edwards, strategy and implementation director at the Institute for Local Governance at Durham University, said: “This report provides evidence of the substantial and immediate effect of welfare reform in the North-East.
“It is, however, a dynamic and changing environment and we must maintain our knowledge base to keep track of these substantial changes.”
The report is aimed at national and local policy makers and community organisations.
Anec said its findings were supported by recent national research by Sheffield Hallam University which found the financial loss to the North-East was £940m when changes to tax credits and child benefit were included.
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