Further 60 families in Lichfield and Burntwood to be hit by new benefits cap

An extra 60 families in Lichfield and Burntwood could be hit by new benefits reforms.

The current limit of £26,000 per family is set to be dropped to £20,000 under plans unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne.

But figures to be discussed at a meeting of Lichfield District Council’s community, housing and health overview and scrutiny committee reveal that 75 families in the area are likely to be affected by the changes – up from the 15 which are already limited under the current cap.

A report also warned that the welfare reforms may mean some tenants “find it increasingly difficult to afford their rental payments” – and said statutory homeless families may find it hard to prove they can afford to take on properties in the first place.

The projections also outline how the average family will lose out on £48 a week, while ten will see their monthly benefits income drop by more than £100 a week.

“The date of the introduction of this measure is expected to be from Autumn 2016,” the report explains. “This means that a family would have a maximum weekly benefit entitlement of £384 per week from which they would have to pay all of their housing and living costs.

“There are a total of 75 families on the list of those affected by the rent cap in Lichfield.”

Further welfare reforms will see a reduction in the housing benefit for social housing tenants.

Eligible residents have previously had their rent payment covered, but from April 2018 it will be capped at the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate.

Lichfield District Council’s figures show that 46 Bromford properties will face a shortfall when the measures are introduced.

And there was a warning some vulnerable residents could be hit hard by the changes, with a half-a-million pound funding hole for supported social accomodation.

The report added: “The average difference is only £1.55 per week. It is therefore felt likely that most general needs tenants will not be affected by the LHA cap as the benefit they receive is already below the LHA level.

“However, some of these tenants will be subject to a service charge in addition to rent and when added together, there could be a gap.

“There is a more signifiant issue for social housing tenants who are elderly, learning disabled etc living in supported housing where the costs of their tenancy – because of the additional support provided – will be above the LHA rate.

“Bromford has 238 sheltered and extra care tenancies affected, plus 22 units of temporary accomodation. The estimated shortfall between current cost and LHA-capped housing benefit has been estimated at £500,000 per annum.”

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.