Residents facing new benefits cap warned of “pressing need” for them to get a job

Residents set to be hit by a new benefits cap are being warned there is “a pressing need” for them to find a job.

Figures have revealed that welfare reform changes could hit an additional 60 families across Lichfield and Burntwood.

Chancellor George Osborne’s new benefits cap will see the maximum a household can claim drop from £26,000 to £20,000 a year.

The moves will now see 75 families facing cuts to the money they receive.

A report to Lichfield District Council’s community, housing and health overview and scrutiny committee revealed that more may need to be done to help people into work before the changes are introduced later this year.

“The council has been provided with a list of households likely to be affected,” the report explains. “Contact needs to be made with these households to alert them to the incoming benefit cap and encourage them to take action.

“Lichfield District Council may join social landlords in having conversations with these tenants about the pressing need for them to obtain work.”

The local authority has also said it hopes to work with other organisations to help people find jobs.

“Out front line staff need to be trained on signposting to help people get into work,” the report continues.

“In partnership with Bromford’s money advisers, we will arrange to assess the circumstances of those households for whom we have a statutory duty, including assessing whether they would pass an affordability test. We will do likewise with households we are working with the prevent their homelessness.”

The council admits it may be able to support some families affected by changes to housing benefit through the discretionary housing payment (DHP).

The money is earmarked to allow councils to help residents meet their housing costs and avoid the risk of homelessness, but it has historically been underspent in Lichfield and Burntwood.

The council’s report adds: “We will need to review our DHP policy and consider whether any changes are needed so that households affected by the benefit cap are eligible for short term help.”

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