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Benefit reforms hit Haringey Borough Council 'like a smack out of nowhere'
A finance chief has defended claims that Government cuts to benefits will force families out of the borough.
Haringey Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Joe Goldberg, condemned the Government’s “appalling” plans, which will come into force on April 15.
He said families are likely to be the hardest hit – with benefits capped at just £500 a week for lone parents, couples, and couples with children, who work fewer than 24 hours a week.
The caps come as rents in Haringey soar, making the outlook bleak for many struggling families who may be forced to leave London in search of cheaper rent and living costs.
According to Cllr Goldberg, the plans have hit Haringey “like a smack out of nowhere”.
Although the changes are just two months away, he also claims he “can’t tell” exactly how they will operate and believes the administration involved is likely to be "shambolic".
While clearly concerned about the impact the changes will have on Haringey’s families, the politician told St Ann's and Harringay area forum and committee on Monday that people will “ultimately have to make their own choices” about how to make ends meet.
Speaking to the meeting at South Harringay Junior School in Mattison Road, he claimed “all sorts of choices” will present themselves to those affected by the cut in their income, although admitted none of them are “particularly good”.
Cllr Goldberg said people may have to apply for a lodger to move into empty rooms in their properties, or be forced to apply for smaller accommodation.
Single claimants will also have their weekly benefits capped at £350 for those who work fewer than 16 hours a week.
Cllr Goldberg expects the number of people evicted from their properties will rocket as they will be unable to cover the rent once the reforms begin.
Ultimately, he expects the reforms to cost the council at least £3million in the first six months as it will be responsible for protecting people from homelessness once they are unable to cover their rents.
People with one spare room will have their benefits slashed by 14 per cent in a bid to encourage them to move to smaller properties. Those with two spare rooms will see their benefits plummet by 25 per cent.
With a housing shortage in the borough, concerns were raised that people will be forced to move to smaller properties outside of Haringey and beyond.
According to council forecasts, 433 people living in private accommodation in Haringey but receiving housing benefit are expected to lose out under the plans.
The money-saving scheme, which aims to encourage people into work, is also expected to cut the benefits received by 288 people living in temporary accommodation, 78 people in council houses, and 195 people living in homes owned by a housing association.
Haringey is one of four boroughs to pilot the changes, along with Enfield, Croydon and Bromley.