The Haringey Governors’ Association is very concerned about the looming changes to welfare benefits under the 2012 Act, some of which are being trialled early in Haringey now. Changes include the imposition of the Benefits Cap which covers among other things local housing benefit, child benefit, child tax credit, the bedroom tax, reduction in the social fund, carer’s allowance, new charges for council tax and more.
The DWP impact assessment expects that 57,000 families will be affected; 29% of households affected will lose more than $100 a week; seventeen boroughs, including Haringey, will have at least 1000 families affected. Haringey LA states that over 3,340 children will be affected.
Families who are affected may be told suddenly that they must move as well as finding it impossible to feed and heat themselves and pay their rent. It will get worse when all claimants must apply for benefits under the new rules by email only (languages?).
One way of assisting might be to hold a meeting at your school at which the London Credit Union could explain to students, parents and staff what the credit union can offer. Our local credit union, London Capital Credit Union, (http://credit-union.coop/ [email protected]) would be able to help parents to manage their losses better. The credit union runs savings accounts which allow parents to borrow at very low rates of interest. This keeps families out of the clutches of the money shops which can charge over 2000% interest on loans. They also run savings schemes for students, and hope to run financial literacy programmes. The credit union provides all materials and training and takes full responsibility for the operation of accounts. Deposits are fully covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Another way we might help is to look at our charging policies to check all charges made to students including requests for voluntary contributions, music tuition etc; check the cost of school uniform; make sure that all eligible families have applied for free school meals; and consider the use of the school’s hardship fund if there is one.