Changes to benefit system sees influx of worried residents to Ely’s Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice Bureau, Ely

Citizens Advice Bureau, Ely - Credit: Archant

THE Citizens Advice Bureau in Ely says it has seen an increasing number of visitors to its Market Street offices since the Government announced sweeping changes to the benefit system.

Beverley Howard, chief officer at the bureaux in Ely, said more volunteers were needed to help cope with the influx of worried residents, with many more expected through the door in the coming weeks as changes to housing benefit kick in.

In the last month, there has been a 13 per cent increase in benefit inquiries, with that figure expected to double over the next six months.

She said: “People are calling in for advice in increasing numbers. They are extremely concerned and don’t know what they can do. An added pressure for everyone is the applications have to be made on line.

“We can help with the forms and look at their options, such as taking in a lodger or assist them to apply for any grants but ultimately it may be that we help them manage with less money.”

According to figures obtained by the Ely Standard, almost 500 tenants living in social housing in East Cambridgeshire stand to lose a portion of their housing benefit under the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.

The Government announced at the start of this year that it planned to re-assess the benefits paid to residents in social housing if their home had one or more spare bedrooms.

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Tenants could lose 14 per cent of their benefit payment if they have a single spare bedroom or 25 per cent if they have two or more extra rooms.

East Cambridgeshire District Council estimated that those with one spare bedroom stand to lose £13.44 a week from their housing benefit, while those with two or more spare rooms stand to lose £28.80 a week.

In addition, changes to Council Tax benefit introduced on April 1 mean the even those on benefits will be expected to pay a proportion of their Council Tax.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the bureaux can call in to collect an application form or e-mail

If you need advice contact the Ely branch on 0845 130 6442 or drop in Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 9.15am-12noon.