Overwhelming number of social tenants who claim benefits worried about welfare changes
New research by the national charity Turn2us has found that over four-fifths (82 per cent) of social tenants who are claiming means-tested benefits are worried about future changes to the welfare system.
Significant changes to the benefits and tax credits system are taking place over the next few years.
Worryingly, over two-thirds (69 per cent) of claimants living in social housing said they would feel more stressed about their financial situation if their benefits were to be cut or reduced, whilst nearly two in three (63 per cent) fear they would have to cut back on food. Furthermore, almost three-fifths (58 per cent) are concerned they may get in to debt.
Claimants also expressed uncertainty over Universal Credit which is being introduced gradually to replace six means-tested benefits for working-age people. Over two-fifths (41 per cent) said they feel unsure about this new benefit because of negative stories they’ve heard in the media.
The new findings are released as part of the Turn2us Benefits Awareness Campaign, which aims to help people in financial hardship to access all the support available to them. The charity’s website has a free and confidential Benefits Calculator that reflects the latest welfare changes, so that anyone can check their current entitlements and how to make a claim.
The website also features information on benefits and other help for different circumstances, and a benefit changes timetable so that people can see if and when they might be affected by the changes taking place in 2016 and beyond.
The charity’s research further demonstrates how crucial welfare support is for those on lower incomes, with 88 per cent of social tenants saying it has had a positive financial impact. In addition, over two-fifths (43 per cent) say it has helped them to remain independent, and nearly a third (32 per cent) report it has relieved some or all of the stress they felt prior to claiming.
Simon Hopkins, chief executive of Turn2us, said: “Our new findings reinforce what we hear so often from the people we help – welfare support is a vital lifeline for those experiencing financial hardship, and without it, they would struggle to pay for housing, food and other essentials, and provide for their families.
“It is therefore understandable that there is concern and uncertainty over future welfare reform. We would urge anyone who is worried about their situation to visit our website where they can find the latest information on benefit changes, and check their current entitlements. Anyone who thinks they might see a reduction in their income can also use our free tools to see if they might be eligible for any additional support.”