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Monday, 1 July 2013

East Herts see claims for help with rents shoot up

In a fairly decent area of the country where poverty and crime is low relatively compared to other regions east Hertfordshire has seen claims for people struggling to pay rent increase. This is no doubt due to the governments vicious benefit cuts and our local councils unwillingness to fight the cuts. We have a Tory council around here so I wouldn’t expect them to be on the side of the poor but this article below quotes a local Tory councillor who clearly has no idea of the scale of the hardness on ordinary people out there struggling already. SWINGEING benefit cuts have seen almost six times the amount of people asking for help paying their rent than a year ago. Across the board, East Herts Council are being bombarded with calls and enquires from “confused and frustrated” people struggling to make ends meet as Government welfare changes come into force. In April and May this year 146 people in East Herts made requests for discretionary housing payments, up from 25 in the same period last year. A section of the report for the East Herts and Stevenage Council’s joint revenue and benefits committee, which meets tonight (July 1), said: “Customers have been generally confused and frustrated by the welfare reforms and are keen to express this dissatisfaction to officers. “The volume of contacts with customers is very high and often repeated.” The sweeping changes have lead to an increase of 15 per cent in the level of work done by East Herts Council and Stevenage Borough Council’s joint benefits service compared to last year. There has also been 503 more council tax payment reminders sent from May 2012 compared to May 2013, up 17.4 per cent to 3,388 from 2,885. The average value of the reminder is £87.55. Since April, 2,569 people in East Herts who used to get a 100 per cent discount in their council tax are now paying 8.5 per cent. This is after Government reduced spending on council tax support by 10 per cent. East Herts council passed this reduction on; something executive member for finance Cllr Mike Tindale (Con, Little Hadham) called “one of the council’s most difficult decisions” back in February when the budget was set. Speaking on Monday before the meeting (July 1), he said: “It was a very difficult decision about people who were already feeling the squeeze and were asked to pay more. “We were mindful of that and we wanted to spread the burden as wide as possible. “In retrospect, we feel what we did was right but there’s no easy way of making cuts.” Some of these people, which mainly consist of disabled people, the unemployed and those on low income, are paying council tax for the first time. “These customers are resource intensive and are demonstrating patterns of repeat callers,” the report continued. “There appears little understanding of council tax liability and payment requirements.” The report also mentions the benefits cap will hit 42 families in East Herts when it is rolled at intervals nationwide from Monday July 15. With article sourced from http://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/Hertfordshire/Welfare-cuts-see-rent-help-requests-to-East-Herts-Council-up-584-per-cent-20130701131937.htm So more crocodile tears “difficult decisions” etc etc how about these Tory councillors find out what it is like to live on a limited income always worrying how they will next pay the bills and feed themselves. These Tory councillors don’t know poverty and will never know it from their ivy towers. Whilst East herts on the whole is not fairing too bad from the cuts there are still pockets of poverty hidden away from public more often than not but it is still there. It’s those people who are struggling by I stood for when I stood for TUSC this year in the county council elections. Gaining 59 votes in a hugely true blue Tory area with no previous experience of standing was a decent effort. Shows even in leafy East herts three are people looking for an alternative to cuts and misery even if just a few at this stage. We all know cuts will carry on and we must hold firm our time will come as socialists even in areas we’ve never seen much action in in the past. We live in unprecedented times where anything is possible it would seem.

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