Impacts on people and communities
While each council is examining the impacts of welfare reform on its own communities and areas, ANEC is working with them, and other partners, to build up a picture of the impact across the North East. Most recently, in November 2014, ANEC responded to the government consultation on Local Welfare Provision in 2015/16. Overall our work on the issue of welfare reform had focussed on:
- The impacts on individuals, both in terms of potential loss of income, and the new demands that will be placed on them such as having to claim online and to manage a monthly budget;
- new pressures on councils, such as having to administer council tax support and the replacement for the Social Fund, on top of increased pressures on advice and support services;
- financial pressures on councils and social landlords, such as higher levels of arrears and increased collection costs;
- impacts on the local economy, including significant losses of spending power; and
- the wider impacts, such as those on education, health, community cohesion and crime and disorder.
Our aim has been to:
- Obtain and share evidence on the impact of the reforms on individuals and on those groups most likely to be affected;
- use this evidence to support advocacy activity and to ensure that the Government understands the impact of the reforms in the North East;
- share best practice on measures to support affected people and groups, such as advice services, measures to support people into work, and support for credit unions; and
- consider the scope for joint action in relation to responsibilities falling on local government, such as the localisation of council tax support.
We have undertaken a number of actions and initiatives including:
- Responding to the government consultation - Local Welfare Provision in 2015/16 working through the ILG, we commissioned Teesside and Northumbria Universities to carry out a major study of the impact of welfare reform in the North East;
- in March 2013 we presented a major seminar on welfare reform with a range of speakers including representatives of the Citizens Advice Bureau, the National Housing Federation and the Institute for Local Governance (ILG);
- we are monitoring a wide range of written evidence including Government papers, reports of Parliamentary committees (such as the Public Accounts Committee report on managing the impact of housing benefit reform) and academic studies;
- we have responded to Government consultations, including those on Measuring Child Poverty, the draft Local Support Services Framework and localising support for Council Tax in England; and
- we set up a member-led Family Poverty Task and Finish Group which has now published its report advising ANEC across a range of issues that relate to family poverty, including the impact of welfare reform.
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