More staff for Colchester council to help people ‘under attack’ from benefit cuts
- Credit: Su Anderson
A north Essex council is to take on more staff to help residents who are “under attack” from welfare cuts.
The Liberal Democrat/Labour/Independent coalition administration at Colchester Borough Council has said it is concerned at the impact of the government’s planned £12billion of national cuts to benefits.
To help mitigate the impact on people within Colchester, the council has pledged to restructure some of its customer service team and take on some additional staff to allow it to work one-to-one with affected residents – some of whom could lose up to £2,000 a year according to the authority – ahead of an expected rise in workload.
Officers will be “pro-active”, directly contacting those they know will be affected by changes to warn them of the welfare reforms, and attempt to help them reduce their dependency on benefits.
This could be by helping people to find work, reduce their debts, and to stay in their own homes.
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Mark Cory, cabinet member for resources at the council, said: “We as an administration believe some of these cuts will cut too deep.
“We feel our residents are under attack from government cuts, and we want to help them
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“We are looking at supporting residents in the best way we can and enabling them to have better support.
“We are not going to increase their benefits, that’s not in our remit. But we are committing to this, before the Comprehensive Spending Review, because we feel it’s only going to get worse.
“Personally, as a teacher, I see the effect on families and how they can or cannot cope, and I feel with cuts to benefits there should be more funding for housing and education to balance it, but there’s no evidence that will happen. Also with Right to Buy and restrictions on borrowing to build council housing, hand in glove with housing benefit cuts, do not add up.”
Colchester Borough Council, working with its housing provider Colchester Borough Homes, ran a similar intervention ahead of the last round of cuts announced in 2012.
More details around how the council will directly help people, and how many extra staff it will take on, will be revealed in the coming weeks following the agreement of this principle.