AS MANY as 700 local residents could be hit financially by the Government’s new Benefit Cap, Oldham Council has warned.
After 7 November, the maximum amount of out-of-work benefits working-age families can receive in the borough is £20,000 with single adults with no children not able to claim more than £13,400.
Total household welfare payments will be capped at £384.62 per week for couples or lone parent households and at £257.69 per week for single person households with no children.
The changes could impact on a total of 520 households in Oldham, 47 of which already have a cap on their benefits. Around 125 Universal Credit claimants are also affected.
The new cap will be implemented in stages with the 47 existing capped households affected from 14 November and newly capped households affected from 12 December.
The Department for Work and Pensions has written to affected residents directly to inform them of the changes and residents will also be reminded at their next Job Centre Plus appointment.
However, Oldham Council is concerned some residents may still be unaware and could experience financial hardship, particularly with the changes coming so close to Christmas.
Cllr Abdul Jabbar, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “In Oldham we have made great strides through our Get Oldham Working team to tackle unemployment. We’ve created more than 3,750 employment opportunities in less than three years.
“However, there will always be people who, for whatever reason, will find themselves unemployed and this cap will leave more than 500 Oldham residents worse off.
“Another concern is how close this cap is to Christmas and that it comes at a time when temperatures are dropping. We do not want to see people falling into fuel poverty.
“I will be writing to the Government to express my concern about the implementation of this cap.”
All households which include someone entitled to Guardian’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or an award of Universal Credit which includes the carer’s element will be exempt from the cap.
Claimants affected by the benefit cap are allowed a 39-week “grace period” which provides protection for those with a consistent work history whose employment has ended or they have been forced to leave work due to a change in their circumstances.
If residents are affected their housing benefit will be reduced to make sure the total amount of benefit they receive isn’t more than the benefit cap level.
For support, residents should contact the Benefit Cap helpline on 0345 605 7064 and to find out how they will be affected, can visit www.gov.uk/benefit-cap