Jan 24 2013 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
MEASURES to help support council home tenants adjust to changes to welfare payments were passed by West Lancs council.
Among the steps agreed were proposals to work closely with a local credit union and to take on an additional officer to work with tenants. The council said this would ensure residents can access the best value banking, energy and telecoms products.
Cabinet members also agreed to the promotion of direct debits and agreed in principle a scheme to allow tenants to buy replacement goods such as washing machines and furniture at “affordable” interest rates.
Cllr Adrian Owens, cabinet member for housing finance, said: “Welfare changes are coming as part of the Government’s plans to reduce the overspending inherited from Labour and ensure that work pays. However, we realise that these changes will impact significantly on many of our tenants. That’s why we are taking steps to increase our officer support and develop additional options to help tenants balance their household books.”
The Government is making changes to housing benefit from April and Universal Credit will be introduced next year.
A report that went before cabinet stated the reforms “will have a profound impact on the way in which people on low income, who are reliant on benefits, including housing benefit, manage their money. The full impact of these changes are at present unknown but with over 1,100 West Lancashire tenants being affected by the new bedroom tax there has never been a greater need for financial inclusion and support for tenants to manage their money, and have access to a range of products to enable them to adjust to their changing financial circumstances”.