Help for people hit by welfare reforms

Kensington Fields

Financial help is set to be given to people in Liverpool who need to move home due to the impact of welfare reforms.

It is one of a raft of measures aimed at increasing take up of the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme, which replaced DWP Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants earlier this year.

Under the plan, the policy will be extended so it can help with the cost of moving home as a result of benefit reductions such as the under occupation penalty (bedroom tax), which affects 11,000 tenants in Liverpool.

Support will also be provided where people are being threatened with eviction due to debt, and to help with the cost of starting work.

Up to £1 million will be provided to other organisations to bid for specific work to support the objectives of the scheme, up to a maximum of £75,000 per application.

Mayor Joe Anderson said: “All the evidence we have is showing that the poorest people in our city are suffering as a result of the welfare reforms and the austerity measures.

“It is absolutely vital that we do all we can to support those who through no fault of their own are being punished because, for example, they live in social housing with an additional bedroom.

“This is part of the council’s commitment to helping those who are most in need, which has also included setting up the Tackling Poverty Action Group, supporting food banks through the Mayor’s Hope Fund and giving £1 million to credit unions to try and stop people turning to loan sharks.”

Staff who work with vulnerable customers, such as social workers, social landlords and others working with people setting up home will help promote the scheme.

The council will also extend the use of freephone 0800 numbers to all Benefits Service calls including housing benefit, council tax support, free school meals and benefits maximisation advice.

And additional staff will also be employed by the benefits maximisation team to help people affected by welfare reforms.

Since April, there have been more than 10,500 applications for funding from the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme, with payments totaling almost 750,000.

Separately, the council has already paid out over £1.1 million in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to people affected by housing benefit reforms.

A report recommending the changes to the Liverpool Citizen Support Scheme will be considered by the Mayor’s Cabinet on Friday 20 December.