WALTER CRONXITE tots up the financial impact of benefit cuts on Croydon – which were loyally voted through by the borough’s two Tory MPs
Detailed research conducted by Croydon Council, published ahead of next week’s cabinet meeting, shows that 1 in 10 of all the borough’s adults will be victims of so-called “welfare reform”, piled on top of the Bedroom Tax and abolition of Council Tax benefit measures introduced since 2013.
Both of Croydon’s Conservative MPs – Gavin Barwell and Chris Philp, recent recipients of a 10 per cent wage increase – voted in favour of this latest grab of money from the hands of those in greatest need.
“27” is a special number for Croydon’s Tories. Ahead of the 2014 local elections, they used the number in gaudy red colours in their political leaflets in a scare tactic, to try to remind voters of the 27 per cent Council Tax increase by Labour from 2003.
But now those same Tories are taking 27 – with six extra zeroes – out of the Croydon economy, potentially threatening the turnovers of many local businesses and causing misery for thousands of families.
The cost to the Croydon economy and the borough’s Council Tax-payers could be even greater. The council, private landlords and the courts will face extra costs, too, as rent arrears are likely to mount up, Council Tax goes unpaid, more credit cases clog up the courts and private rented sector tenants get evicted, forcing them to place themselves at the mercy of the council to provide them often expensive emergency accommodation.
In a detailed analysis of the impending unfairness, the cabinet paper identifies 10,105 Croydon people from hard-working families who will receive £12.6 million less a year in lost tax credits.
It is worth pointing out that none of this detail appeared anywhere in the Croydon Fairness Commission’s draft report, despite the council spending £200,000 on the exercise.
There are 24,253 other Croydon people not in work who from next April will be encountering the freezing of Job Seekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support and Local Housing allowances. Tenants in the private rented sector, where rents are ballooning, will be at risk of being tipped into homelessness, emergency accommodation and deprivation.
These costs come on top of the £8 million a year already being lost in Croydon in welfare benefits from the hated Bedroom Tax and the end of Council Tax benefit replaced by lower Council Tax support. This change has already been hurting 16,000 residents.
Reducing the back-dating of housing benefit to one month, instead of six months, will hurt more than a thousand residents, taking £800,000 from them.
This, it is believed, will affect the mentally ill, many of whom who can not keep on top of their financial affairs.
The Benefit Cap, ESA capped at JSA levels, excluding under 21s from Housing Benefit, the Universal Credit single room rate and the Universal and Child Tax credits capped at just two children will take another £6 million out of the pockets of some of Croydon’s hard-pressed families.
All this misery is to come as Universal Credit is to be run by Croydon Council by April, with all the risk of system failures, missed payments and confusion, and with further cuts expected for local councils, such as Croydon, in Gideon Osborne’s Autumn Statement later this month.
Paul Scott, the Labour councillor for Woodside ward, told a meeting of Labour supporters at the Croydon Assembly on Saturday which was addressed by John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, that the austerity agenda of the Tory Government was nothing more than an attack on all public services. “Local government is being destroyed by the Government,” Scott said.
“There is no longer any pretence that the Government is funding local authorities. We’re having to make cuts
Inside Croydon: Named among best regional media campaigns, 2014.
- Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 729,297 page views in 2014.
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org