Welfare Reform – Impact in Argyll and Bute Michael Nicol [email protected] Welfare Reform –Impact in Argyll and Bute in 2014/2015 • Welfare reform will cost an estimated £24 million in Argyll and Bute. • This is a cost per working adult of £430 per annum. • Local Housing Allowance rules changes will affect an estimated 1,500 households costing £2million or £40 per working age adult. • Under Occupancy or “Bedroom Tax” affecting up to 1000 families and costing £1million or £10 working age adult. • Non-dependant deductions will result in an estimated loss of £500,000 affect 500 households and cost £10 per working age adult. Welfare Reform –Impact in Argyll and Bute in 2014/2015 • Disability Living Allowance reform will affect an estimated 800 individuals at a cost of £2 million of £40 per working age adult in the area. • Replacement of Incapacity Benefit with ESA will produce an estimated loss of £6 million for 1,700 individuals costing £110 per working age adult. • Changes in Child Benefit will cost £3 million or £65 per working age adult and affect nearly 10,000 families. • Tax Credit reforms will affect an estimated 5,400 families and produce an estimated loss of £4million per annum or £80 per working age adult. Welfare Reform –Advice needs in Argyll and Bute •Argyll and Bute CAB advised on 2,184 new issues in 2012/13. These issues covered a wide spectrum of advice needs, 22.89% were benefits related and 12.18% Housing. Welfare Reform - advice needs 1ST April – 31st December 2013 Consumer Goods and Services, 3.06% Debt, 52.04% Benefits, Tax Credits and National Insurance, 17.76% Education, 0.34% Employment, 4.85% Utilities and communications, 2.38% Travel, transport and holidays, 0.55% Tax, 2.30% Relationship, 1.91% NHS Concern of Complaint, 1.07% Immigratio n, Asylum Legal, and 2.93% Nationality, 0.18% Financial products and services, 1.89% Housing, 7.81% Health and community care, 0.92% Welfare Reform - advice needs 1ST April – 31st December 2013 • CAB dealt with 3818 issues between April and December compared to 2184 in the whole of 21/13 • 678 Benefit, Tax and National Insurance issues compared 357 in 12/13 • 298 Housing issues compared with 193 in 12/13 • 1987 Debt issues compared with 1193 in 12/13 • CAB still operating at capacity despite 9 new members of staff. Welfare reform advice needs in A&B – underoccupancy charge • The under-occupancy charge is having a real and harmful impact on people’s lives, and often the most vulnerable in society – those with disabilities, children in separated families etc. • People are ‘trapped’ into paying the 'bedroom tax' in that there are not enough one bedroom properties available to down-size to in Argyll and Bute. • Over 800 households are affected by Under-occupancy in Argyll and Bute whilst the Scottish Welfare Reform Committee report that there are 398 Housing Association bedsit/one bedroom properties available. Welfare reform advice needs in A&B – Discretionary Housing Payments • The Citizens Advice Bureau has a high number of clients who approach us seeking advice on under-occupancy and how to mitigate it. They are often unaware of the existence of Discretionary Housing Payments which can be used to bridge the shortfall between housing benefit and rent. • A&B Council has been allocated an additional £550,390 from the Scottish Government to be paid over in March 2014 in order to provide additional Discretionary Housing Payments. This is additional to the core DHP funding of £370,656 provided by DWP. • In Argyll and Bute 372 awards have been made out of 627 determinations with a total awards value of £254,783. • There is an average payout of £685 per application. Welfare reform advice needs in A&B – Scottish Welfare Fund • Up to the end of November 2013 Argyll and Bute Council has spent £56,000 on crisis grants and £131,000 on Community Care Grants. • The volume of claims has grown exponentially – In November 160 requests for crisis grants and 43 for Community Care grants were received by the Council. • Long delays in applying for applications on the phone and clients often have no access to the internet. Clients often unaware of the service. • CAB has seen cases in which fuel poor clients who use coal are unable to apply for a crisis grant from the SWF to heat their homes. This is because coal is an unregulated fuel and does not meet eligibility criteria. Case Studies • Client A is struggling with rent arrears. He has rent arrears of £3,000. He has set up a payment plan for the arrears and is managing to pay £40 per week even though his only income is Job Seekers Allowance. This means over half his income goes to the repayment arrangement. He has a daughter who stays with him regularly as a result of the chaotic nature of her mothers lifestyle and as a result is subject to the underoccupancy charge of 14%. He applied for the discretionary housing payment three months ago but has heard nothing about his application Case Studies – Personal Independence Payment • Another application for a Discretionary Housing Payment by a client was refused even though the client used his extra room for medical purposes. He eventually received his DHP after CAB intervened and wrote a reconsideration letter. • Client B, who lives in a remote location in Argyll, submitted a new application for Personal Independence Payment six months ago and this has still not been assessed. After intervention from Citizens Advice and her MSP she has finally received an appointment from ATOS. However it will be seven months from her initial application until her assessment. Board of Directors Bureau Manager Geraldine Day Money Advice Worker (ACHA tenants) Audrey Perella Money Advice/Outreach Worker Wendy Baillie Admin Support Worker Angela O’Neill Housing Debt/Money Advice West East Michael Nicol Dionne McCabe Volunteers Helensburgh extension Jane McMath PASS (Patient Advice & Support Service) Claudia Albrecht Benefit Advice West East Sandra Staniland Michelle Banks Admin Support Worker Morven Munro Citizens Advice Provides aims to provide a holistic service to clients Where do we go from here? • • • • • Refer to us Work together Use ABAN Communication Be alert to clients who could benefit from CAB services.