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Cuts to welfare hit one in six homes in Brighton and Hove
Sweeping welfare cuts have left one in six city households out of pocket.
Brighton and Hove City Council estimates between 17,000 and 20,000 homes have been affected by benefit changes so far.
Many of the residents who have lost out are feared to be vulnerable, and those confused by the complex reforms.
These include singletons, families with children and pensioners – with the elderly, young and disabled the main recipients of state aid.
Now council bosses are supporting research which will identify who, out of the city’s 120,000 households, are most in need of support.
Dr Tom Scanlon, the city’s director of public health, said the overall impact of the cuts on people’s lives was still “unclear”.
He said: “In a time of austerity, this sort of research is essential as it helps us to identify those people who will experience the greatest hardship.
“It will help us understand the practical difficulties they face and how the council and other services can help to lessen this hardship with practical support.”
Reforms introduced this year include changes to housing benefits and council tax, the end of crisis loans and community care grants, the benefit cap and introduction of universal credit.
Mike Weatherley, Conservative MP for Hove, argued the cuts were necessary to help tackle the national deficit.
He said: “It is quite right our reforms are far-reaching as it means in the future we can actually afford to help those who really need looking after.
“The nation’s books weren’t balancing by £180 billion each year when we took over.
“That sort of financial mismanagement helped nobody.”
The research will look at how people are spending their money, where they can afford to live and the condition of the city’s housing stock.
Data will show how reliant people are on help from avenues including the church, mental health services and food banks.
By assessing the results of the research, the council hope to be able to provide practical support for those in need.
Rob Jarrett, a Green councillor and chairman of the council’s adult care and health committee, said: “There is a real danger vulnerable people will suffer if we do not help provide appropriate advice and support.
“The information from this research will ensure that we get the right help to the right people during this turbulent time of change.
“We are committed to doing all we can to ensure the well-being of everyone in the city and will do all we can to help residents struggling with the affects of the national welfare reforms.”
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