Councils braced for ‘huge rise’ in demand for support due to welfare cuts

Local government leaders warn spending on social care and other key services could be hit unless councils are given resources to meet extra demand

Four out of five households receiving benefits will need extra help from councils to help them cope with the drop in income they face under the government’s welfare reforms, research has found.

The Local Government Association (LGA) warned that councils could be forced to reduce spending on social care and other key services if the coalition fails to provide local authorities with the resources needed to meet the extra demand for support.

Households claiming benefit will see their income fall by an average of £1,614 per year by 2015/16 under the reforms, according to an analysis carried out for the LGA.

A lack of jobs and affordable homes to offset the drop in income means most households are likely to turn to councils for assistance, the study found. Council services sought could include financial assistance through discretionary housing payments and personal support to help people manage finances.

Sharon Taylor, chair of the LGA’s Financial Panel, said: “Unless more is done to create new jobs and homes, households will be pushed into financial hardship and we will see a huge rise in the number of people going to their councils asking for help to make ends meet.”

“Ministers must ensure councils have enough resources to meet demand. Local services have already taken the biggest cuts in the public sector and it would be wrong if councils had to reduce spending on other services such as caring for the vulnerable and fixing the roads to meet the new costs brought about by these changes to national policy,” she added.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “The government’s attack on social security provision is not only hurting those unable to find work. Millions of working families are seeing an even bigger reduction in their financial support.”

“Rather than addressing the shortage of jobs and affordable housing that is blighting many areas, ministers are slashing local authority budgets and expecting councils to deal with the fallout from their reforms,” added O’Grady.

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