UK & World News
Welfare Reforms: Councils Hit By Benefits Cuts
The burden of supporting households losing out through the Government's welfare reforms will fall heavily on councils, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.
The LGA says the average income of households claiming benefits will drop by more than £1,000 under the changes.
Four out of every five households on benefits will be in need of council assistance.
Councils could be forced to cut spending on roads and care for the elderly in order to support those hardest hit by the changes.
A study into the impacts of Iain Duncan Smith's shake-up of the welfare system estimates that many households affected by the cuts would not be able to mitigate the impact of the reforms.
The report, commissioned by the LGA, also casts doubt on the effectiveness of the Work and Pension Secretary's flagship universal credit scheme.
The scheme is aimed at ensuring claimants are always better off working, suggesting it was "unlikely to significantly increase employment".
The study, carried out by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, estimated that the income of households claiming benefit will be £1,165 a year, or £31 a week, lower in 2015/16 as a result of the changes.
Overall, 45% of working age households receive one of the main benefits or tax credits, and 59% of welfare cuts will fall on households where someone has a job.
"The impacts of the reforms are likely to be most strongly felt in areas with the highest dependence on benefit - the North East, parts of London and a swathe of coastal towns and cities including Thanet, Tendring, Great Yarmouth, Scarborough and Torbay," the report added.
According to the study, the effect of housing benefit changes, including the overall benefits cap and the size criteria - the so-called "bedroom tax" - will affect 1.71 million households, 1.18 million of which contain no one in work.
The study suggested that just 155,000 workless households may mitigate the effects by finding employment, and a further 115,000 households by moving.
But a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Crucially, this research, as the LGA itself acknowledges, doesn't take into account the combined impacts of the Government's reforms, including the raising of the personal income tax threshold, and the benefits of Universal Credit which will make 3 million households better off.
"The fact remains that the benefits bill has become unsustainable and it's only right we take action to bring it under control, but we are bringing in all our reforms in ways that protect pensioners, vulnerable and disabled people."