Counting the cost of controversial benefit reforms

Council calculates cost of welfare reform

The council is counting the cost of controversial benefit reforms brought in by Westminster.

A seven-strong team is being put in place to cope with changes that have implications of £2 million for the authority.

A sub-committee was briefed on the situation this week.

Director Justin Tracy said: “It is expected that pressures on council services such as social work and homelessness will arise as the impacts of welfare reform take root.

“Therefore, work is under way to identify the resources required and the possibility of establishing a staff team.”

The reforms triggered pressure on the council budget with £421,000 needed for the council tax benefit replacement scheme, £159,000 to offset a reduction in the Department of Work and Pensions administration grant, £115,000 to offset the loss of council tax benefit overpayment recovery and £500,000 to cover the potential impact on services.

A figure of £215,000 per annum for the next two years was set aside to support enhanced advisory services with £262,000 to support other impacts from the reforms.

An extra £136,000 was added to the change fund support welfare reform planning and money advice services over the next two years.

But the reforms did also bring in almost £350,000 in extra funding from the DWP and Scottish Government mainly to cover administration and set-up costs.

Four officers have been working on the reforms since March and three more are being recruited.