Call on government to halt benefit plan

Great Yarmouth Town Hall's Victorian clock is back in working order

Great Yarmouth Town Hall's Victorian clock is back in working order - Credit: Archant

A group of councillors is urging the government to rethink its benefit changes which they say could make people homeless.

The cross-party group were set to discuss the issue at last night’s meeting of the full borough council.

A resolution on the agenda called on work and pensions secretary Damian Green to launch an urgent and immediate enquiry into “all the negative and detrimental consequences that the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) is having in Great Yarmouth.”

The group of Conservative, Labour, Ukip and independent councillors also called for the immediate suspension of the housing benefit element of UC, to allow those who are subject to the benefit changes to reapply to the new UC system without the threat of them being evicted.

In the new system benefits are paid monthly instead of fortnightly. However, if you make an error in the online form you could be without any payment for over six weeks, and in the most extreme cases, some people have been made homeless.

The Labour group were also set to propose another resolution to ask Mr Green why Yarmouth had been chosen as a pilot area for the full digital roll out of UC.

The resolution stated: “It was quite clear that there was not capacity within the system to deal with this, especially in a place like Great Yarmouth which has high levels of deprivation. We now have over 2,000 residents applying for UC, many of these residents in private rented accommodation who are in receipt of housing benefit are facing eviction and there has been a huge increase in the number of people visiting food banks.”

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In August Great Yarmouth Food Bank said it was so busy that it is having to ration what it gave to people, putting the increase down to the roll out of UC in the borough.