Search

Council feels the heat as Camden residents protest against benefit changes

12:24 21 February 2013

Residents fill the council chamber at Camden Town Hall for last Thursday

Residents fill the council chamber at Camden Town Hall for last Thursday's meeting.

Archant

In March, the Welfare Reform Act 2012 received royal assent and was enshrined in British law.

It was the final step in a lengthy parliamentary process to legislate for what the Department for Work and Pensions calls “the biggest change to the welfare system for over 60 years”.

From April, the implementation of these changes will begin – affecting more than 50 different benefits and payments.

But opponents fear the drastic effect the reforms will have on the community and are urging Camden Council to do more to fight the government’s plans.

Last Thursday, almost 250 residents packed into the town hall for an impassioned community meeting to discuss the changes and protest against the council’s approach to the plans.

Eileen Short, of Camden Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations, said: “We don’t believe that anybody should be forced out of their home due to the benefits cuts. Camden Council needs to give assurances that they will not evict people who get into arrears due to the benefits cuts.”

Among the headline changes is the introduction of the Universal Credit (UC) system. This will streamline six individual benefits into one single payment paid into a bank account on a monthly basis. Claimants will have to manage their allowance to ensure they have enough to cover all their living costs. The UC system will include housing benefit, jobseekers allowance and child tax credit.

The idea behind the new system is to get rid of the “benefits trap” – of people in work ending up worse off than if they were on benefits.

The government will also be introducing tough sanctions for people who refuse a job. Those who refuse work on one occasion in 12 months will have their benefits withdrawn for three months – stretching to three years for those who refuse work three times in three years.

Ms Short said: “UC and the sanctions regime is stepping up a whole string of penalties on people which shifts away from the idea of benefits in a civil society.”

Two other key strands of the reforms are the overhaul of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and significant changes to housing benefit, including the so-called “bedroom tax”.

From June, DLA will be replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for those aged 16 to 64, where claimants will be expected to undergo eligibility tests.

Petra Dando, of Camden United for Benefit Justice, criticised the “blanket approach” to assessing different and complex disability needs under the new system.

She said: “It’s not a fair system, especially when you know the government has certain targets to reduce benefits.”

The government will also introduce a cap on the total amount of benefits received – £350 a week for a single person and £500 a week for families with children.

Camden Council believes this £500 cap will affect 761 families (2,817 people) not living in social housing who may struggle to afford to live in the borough.

If alternative accommodation cannot be found in Camden or in London, as a last resort, the council has admitted it may be forced to look for housing in places like Birmingham, Leicester and Bradford.

Camden Council’s leader Cllr Sarah Hayward, said the authority was “proud of its success in preventing homelessness”.

She said: “Sadly, however, the scale of the cuts, high private rental costs and lack of available housing in Camden will mean that more people will soon have to consider moving from the borough and, in some cases, London entirely.”

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Friday, August 26, 2016
Yasmin Farah

Police are appealing for the public’s help to find two sixteen-year-old girls who have gone missing from Camden.

Friday, August 26, 2016
Mary Langan with her 23-year-old son, James

Carers of adults with demential and disabilities are demanding change after a report revealed there is a “breakdown of trust” on the Haringey boards designed to represent them.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Nina Martynchyk with her foster mother, Nina B

A young woman who overcame anorexia is organising a conference with the Royal Free Hospital to draw attention to how the condition affects children and teenagers

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Highgate School

Students and staff at Highgate school were reflecting on a very impressive set of GCSE results today, with 88.2 percent of exams receiving a grade of A* or A.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Hampstead School is in Westbere Road (Pic credit: Google streetview)

The Hampstead School has once again seen its GCSE results improve today, with nearly a quarter of all grades receiving an A* or A grade.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Hornsey School for Girls

Girls at Hornsey School for Girls were today collecting some stellar GCSE results.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Sam White has praised William Ellis pupils

The headteacher of William Ellis school, Sam White, was full of praise for his students today after a promising set of GCSE results.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
UCS school

University College School was today celebrating the second best set of GCSE results in its history, with a remarkable 88.6 percent of exams achieving either an A* or A grade.

PROMOTED CONTENT

The showroom is located in Hayes

After 25 years as a trade-only business, family-run door manufacturers Composite Door Master are set to open their first public showroom in Hayes this weekend.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now