Fears growing over benefits change impact
FEARS are growing about the impact the Government's impending welfare reforms will have on thousands of Neath and Port Talbot families.
Neath Port Talbot Council is working hard to get the message out, while NPT Homes experts have helped tenants claim an extra £1 million in benefits they were entitled to.
There was some good news last month when it was confirmed people who were receiving 100 per cent council tax benefit would continue to receive it.
They were supposed to have started making a contribution from April because of a central Government cut, before the Welsh Government came up with £22 million to make up the shortfall.
However, thousands of people will be hit by the wider benefits changes, including the bedroom tax which will affect some 2,000 NPT Homes tenants alone.
Deputy council leader Peter Rees said the impact would be on the poorest people in the county's communities.
"We have tried to warn people early on about the impact of this particular piece of legislation," he said.
Meanwhile, the NPT Homes team has helped tenants get £1 million in previously unclaimed benefits since it was formed in 2011.
So far in this financial year, team members have made 636 home visits and advised tenants at 250 surgery appointments. This has led to 155 successful claims, raising £700,000 in extra benefits.
Financial inclusion team leader Nerys Rees said: "With some of the biggest changes in the welfare system coming into force this year, some tenants could see housing benefit being cut by up to 25 per cent.
"This is a considerable amount for households on low incomes. These changes will impact on an estimated 2,000 NPT Homes tenants, many of these are vulnerable or disabled."
The so-called bedroom tax is the first major benefit change.
It will come into force in April, with Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment shortly after.