Damaging impact of benefit cuts in Birmingham

The damaging impact of the government's proposed cuts to social security benefits has been highlighted in evidence submitted to a Birmingham City Council inquiry. The worst impacts will be felt on child poverty, people on low pay, young homeless people, disabled people, and people living in social housing.

The aim of the Council's inquiry is to understand what the implications of welfare cuts might be for communities and individuals in Birmingham, and whether there will be an impact on social cohesion in the city.

Key evidence themes

  • Large families’ finances may be affected in a number of ways, including the introduction of a benefit 'cap' and cuts to the Sure Start maternity grant. Increased demand for affordable childcare is likely as more parents are pushed into work, including lone parents with children aged five or over.
  • Many organisations are concerned that homelessness may increase, particularly among young people.
  • There is a potential for an increase in people moving in and out of neighbourhoods as they adapt to their new circumstances, affecting community cohesion. If people are facing financial hardship, eviction and debt and cannot cover their living expenses they may approach illegal money lenders for assistance, and there could also be an increase in crime and theft.
  • If people are worried about benefit cuts and don't know how to make ends meet they may become concerned and anxious, affecting mental health. People’s health and well-being may also be affected if they cannot afford basic necessities.
  • The payment of universal credit to only one member in each household may facilitate abusers who use financial controls and threaten the economic stability of entire households, including dependents such as children and older people.
  • The demand for advice services will increase significantly. People will not only need assistance with changes to their benefits in the short term, but also in some cases ongoing help to budget effectively as they move to a system of monthly benefit payments.

Source: Scrutiny Inquiry: The Impact of Welfare Reform in Birmingham – Written Evidence, Social Cohesion and Community Safety Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Birmingham City Council
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