When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Welfare reforms could take £34.5m out of city economy
WELFARE changes will damage Oxford’s economy to the tune of £34.5m, council bosses say.
Oxford City Council officials estimate the Government’s welfare cuts will see that sum of money disappear from the pockets of people spending money in the city every year.
The startling figures offer the first assessment of how much the cuts programme – being rolled out to slash Government debt – is affecting Oxford.
Cuts of £6.98m in incapacity benefits, £6.42m in tax credits and £5.88m in child benefit have been imposed as the Government attempts to simplify the welfare system into one single payment.
Speaking to delegates from councils across the country at a Local Government Association event in the city yesterday, council customer services director Helen Bishop said senior staff were concerned.
She said: “We are worried about the personal impact on the vulnerable in the city but it’s also going to have quite an impact on the economy of Oxford.
“It’s not just about the guys who are losing the money.”
She added that Oxford’s population issues had also made the impact of welfare reforms such as the so-called bedroom tax – a cut in benefit for housing tenants with spare rooms – worse.
She said: “We have had rapid population growth here, and large increases in the number of children and young people who make up our population.
“This has a large impact when it comes to the benefit cap and the bedroom tax.
Families with three children are most likely to be affected by a benefit cap, with at least 50 such families identified in Oxford.
Their potential loss will be £35 a week. But families with six children will be the worstaffected, losing about £226 a week.
And it is this money that is now draining out of the city’s tills and businesses, officials say.
The new data comes after the latest figures revealed more than 1,000 people in the city had already been affected by the benefit cap and so-called bedroom tax, which will cost the city £920,000 and £720,000 respectively.
Of the 1,037 already affected, 956 were hit by the so-called bedroom tax.
The controversial measure involves claimants having their housing benefit reduced by between 14 and 25 per cent if they are considered to have spare rooms.
But 105 people were hit by the benefit cap, a reduction of 26 per cent on the number which was originally predicted by the city council – 142.
Yet despite the numbers being below predictions, the fact that fewer people have been hit by the cap than expected has sparked concerns among benefits officers, who worry there may be more people out there who will be affected.
Comments are closed on this article.