More support for city's most 'vulnerable'
BENEFIT claimants in Stoke-on-Trent who are set to be hit with one of the biggest reductions in council tax support anywhere in the country will be among those to benefit from 'special support', the Government has announced.
Ministers have outlined plans to make special arrangements for 'vulnerable' benefit claimants who are at risk of being plunged into financial crisis by national welfare reforms – but there will be no extra money.
About 20,000 households in Stoke-on-Trent which currently pay no council tax will have to pay 30 per cent of the tax bill from April, while cuts to housing benefit will effectively tax spare bedrooms.
The new Universal Credit will see several benefits combined into a single monthly payment, which will be handed directly to claimants instead of automatically covering bills like rent.
Critics say vulnerable tenants will be unable to adapt to the sudden need to manage their own budgets at the same time as their handouts are slashed.
Welfare reform minister Lord Freud said yesterday the Government will launch a system of bespoke support for people who are struggling to budget.
It will be provided in a partnership between Job Centres, councils and other public services.
He said: "Universal Credit will prepare people for the world of work, by getting them to access the benefit online and budget their money.
"We're working with local authorities to determine who will need this extra help – be it money advice, face to face support or help to get online – and how to deliver it."