December 7 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
MORE than 160 people hit by changes to the benefits system have applied to East Cambridgeshire District Council for emergency financial help in less than six months.
The Government’s controversial welfare reforms were introduced in April and meant many residents had the amount of housing benefit and Council Tax support they were receiving cut.
In order to help those most affected, the Government gave the district council £104,414 to hand out to people who were suffering “severe financial hardship” and the council has so far received dozens of applications.
In all, the authority has approved 71 of the 161 claims, rejecting 68 on the grounds that the applicant wasn’t sufficiently in need of help.
Linda Grinnell, head of finance at the district council, said: “Since the introduction of the benefit changes in April this year, a number of families and households have found their budgets being squeezed tighter than ever.
“Since April we have received 161 applications from residents in East Cambridgeshire and we have paid nearly £40,000 to 71 households. Unfortunately we have had to reject 68 applications but this was done after extensive income and expenditure checks revealed they could still afford to make the payments.
“We know that this is a difficult time for many and we are also acutely aware we will receive many more applications from residents throughout the rest of the financial year. To be fair to everyone, we will continue to judge every case on its merits to ensure we have the capacity to help those who are most desperately in need.”