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Help and advice on big benefit changes

Guardian News

Guardian News

Over a hundred people discovered how changes to the benefits system could affect them at an event hosted by the Rotherham Federation of Tenants and Residents.

Residents and organisations from across the borough attended the forum to discuss welfare reform and its implications.

RotherFed’s manager Steve Ruffle said: “Big changes to the benefits system are just a few months away.”

“April 2013 sees the introduction of the bedroom tax and the benefit cap. Housing Benefit, and all other out of work benefits, will be replaced by Universal Credit, with the national roll out beginning in October 2013.”

“The event was geared to residents and tenants giving an introduction to what local organisations know to date about the upcoming changes, covering these areas and others, including downsizing, and giving practical advice to support tenants.”

The event at Springwell Gardens Community Centre gave people the chance to find out whether the changes would affect them - anyone in receipt of benefits or tax credits could be affected.

As well as a panel of speakers including Rotherham Council’s deputy leader Coun Jahangir Akhtar and Wendy Foster and RotherFed’s Clive Hartley, the RotherFed event gave residents the opportunities to ask questions and discuss ideas.

The Citizens Advice Bureau and Laser Credit Union were also on hand to offer support and to help people better prepare.

Annette Cassam from Citizens Advice Bureau told the packed room: “In the future, you will receive all your Universal Credit in one payment, every month, and it will be your responsibility to use that money to pay your rent and all your other bills.”

“For some people, it is extremely difficult for them to get a bank account, and daunting to budget their own money.”

“In these situations, organisations such as Laser Credit Union can help set a jam jar account which helps them to manage their money, with funds effectively being put into separate jam jars - one for rent, one for the telephone bill, and so on.”

 

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