Over a thousand Islington households will shortly have received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions advising them of a cap on benefits of £350 for single people with no children and £500 a week for lone parents and couples with or without children. Islington Council began planning for the changes early. At a meeting of Council on 26 June, a report presented the scale of the problem and the council's comprehensive and targeted response to help those families affected.
Islington Council is asking residents to check whether they are getting all the benefits they are entitled and is offering
- benefits checks
- landlord rent reduction negotiation
- housing relocations (within or beyond Islington)
- school transfer and health support
Cllr Richard Greening, executive member for finance and deputy leader of Islington Council said:
"Changes are coming that threaten over 1,000 households in Islington who will see the money they receive cut.
"Islington Council is on the side of residents so we are urging them not to ignore these letters but take action right now for the sake of themselves and their children.
"Whether it's a benefits check, housing advice or referral support, we've got advice on people's options.
"The single most important way residents can beat the cuts is to get back into work. So we have teamed up with local employers to make the most of opportunities."
Islington residents are expected to suffer more than most due to the high private sector rents charged in the borough and the relatively high proportion of lone parents living on benefits.
Those of working age on out-of-work-benefits such as income support, sickness benefits, carers allowance or jobseekers allowance will all be affected.
Those claiming pension credit are not affected.
Islington Council's warning follows extensive work with the Islington Debt Coalition and Islington CAB to improve the advice given to those with money troubles.
In May, Islington Council commissioned a report 'Experiences of Debt and Debt Advice Services in Islington' and in July a roadshow to tackle illegal Loan Sharks met hundreds of residents in town centres to warn about rising debt.
A Government helpline is available to call about the benefit cap. The number is 0845 6057064. Or find out more at: www.direct.gov.uk/benefitcap