'The Government has decided to cut the benefit instead of looking at the cause' - Haringey Council leader on the benefit cap (From Haringey Independent)
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Haringey Borough Council leader Cllr Claire Kober admits some may be forced out of the borough by benefits changes
The leader of Haringey Borough Council says she fears some people may not be fully aware of the implications of the benefit cap.
Councillor Claire Kober spoke to the Haringey Independent about the council’s plans to deal with the benefit cap, which is being piloted in Haringey and three other London boroughs.
The government will introduce a £500-a-week benefit cap in the London boroughs of Haringey, Enfield, Bromley and Croydon from April.
Councillor Kober said: “What we need to do is have an honest conversation with people about how the cap is going to affect them and what their options are in the long term.
“These changes are very complicated and what worries me is that some people may not be fully aware of the implications of these cuts so it is important we talk to people.
“The benefit cap will hit people’s housing benefit and over time will mean they will build up rent arrears and eventfully some people may be forced out of the borough.”
In the BBC current affairs programme Newsnight, it was revealed last week some people on benefits are being advised by Haringey Council they could move out of the borough to cheaper parts of the country.
However the council said no one will be forced out of the borough against their will during the six-month trial period, starting in April.
Councillor Kober added: “I also think the Government has misconceived the policy as a whole. The benefit bill needs to be cut and something needs to be done because it is too high.
“The government has looked at the cost and decided to cut the benefit instead of looking at the cause of people’s need to claim.
“The combination of a lack of affordable housing pushing people into private renting, the poor economy leading to more people being out of work and general lack of housing supply means more people have to claim these benefits.
“As a council what we are really trying to do is help people get into work. Once they have jobs they won’t be hit as hard by the cap.”
According to figures from the Department of Work and Pensions, up to 1,300 households in Haringey will be affected by the changes that would see benefits limited to £26,000 a year.