|Today's Guest Post by Cllr Graham Simpson|
Many people do not realize the scale of the reforms that the Tory – Lib Dem government are making.
Cuts to local authority funding mean that every family in Kirklees will see essential services cut, or become more expensive. From school transport, library services, dog wardens, home care, road maintenance and a whole range of other services provided by local authorities government funding is being reduced.
Cuts to the police service already mean that there are 5,000 fewer police officers available to answer 999 calls than when this government came to power, with more cuts to follow.
Changes proposed for the legal aid system mean that no help will be available for medical negligence or domestic violence claims. Or to fight the withdrawal of benefits or refusal of invalidity claims (which currently have an appeal success rate of 70%)
Many people wrongly believe that the sweeping changes to the welfare benefit system in place already or shortly to become law, will only affect the unemployed.
While the cuts will affect those seeking work, they will also affect people with severe medical conditions who will find it harder to qualify for invalidity benefit. It will also affect those on low incomes that receive help with their rents, as well as those receiving council tax discounts and exemptions.
· From April 2013, national council tax benefits will be abolished and replaced with a raft of local schemes.
· The age at which single people will only be allowed housing benefit for shared accommodation is to be raised from 25 to 35.
· Working tax credit will now only be available for people working a minimum of 24 hours a week rather than 16.
· Under occupancy rules mean that Housing Benefit will not be paid towards bedrooms deemed to be unneeded. (A son or daughter at University will be classed as living there, rather than at their parents address, and same sex children of any age will be expected to share a bedroom.
· Housing Benefit for rented accommodation will be capped at the bottom 30% of the market rate and any extra will have to be found by the claimant.
It is unlikely that any resident will be immune from the cuts, either personally or through the experiences of family or friends. If you require help or advice please contact Kirklees Benefit Advice Service on 01484 223950.