Experts fear benefit overhaul will throw Boston’s poor families into financial turmoil

Stuart Hellon
Stuart Hellon

Planned changes to council tax benefit could throw some of Boston’s poorest families into financial turmoil – with warnings of worse to come.

People receiving help towards their bills could see the support slashed by 25 per cent next April, following cuts in Government funding, meaning they will have to pay more of the amount themselves.

The change comes at a time of great upheaval in the benefits system – and one community group has warned it will simply exacerbate problems faced by those who are already struggling.

Stuart Hellon, manager of the town’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) said: “I understand the funding issues, but I don’t think we can view this in isolation. There is a whole raft of changes coming. Are they going to be able to afford 25 per cent of something they weren’t paying before when they are going to be hit by other things as well.”

Mr Hellon, who was speaking at a meeting of Boston Borough Council scrutiny committee, said the number of people seeking help from the CAB had increased, and staff failed to see many people.

“One of the things that is concerning me is our ability to cope with demand,” he added.

Other benefit changes in the pipeline include changes to housing benefit and Job Seekers’ Allowance.

Chancellor George Osborne said last week that benefit increases would be capped at one per cent for three years.

Christine Johnson, manager of Boston’s Job Centre Plus, said: “The changes that are going to face our customers are massive.”