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'Government's benefit cuts will hit black and ethnic population hardest'

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'Government's benefit cuts will hit black and ethnic population hardest'

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Communities, Housing

Camden Council 'to deliver £3 million savings' through improved benefits service Camden Council 'to deliver £3 million savings' through improved benefits service

Community leaders have warned that Croydon's black and ethnic populations will be disproportionately affected by the Government's benefit cuts.

Croydon Council will become one of four local authorities to trial the Coalition's welfare changes in April, which will see each households' overall benefits capped at £500 a week.

There are fears that the cuts will lead to an increase of homelessness in area, This Is Croydon Today reported.

And Nero Ughwujabo, chief executive of Croydon Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Forum, believes the majority of those at risk of homelessness are from the communities he represents.

He said: "I am told that a significant proportion will be black or minority ethnic households.

"Many of the people who are already turning up at the council because they have nowhere to sleep are African-Caribbean. My concern is that others aren't aware the cap is happening."

The council says it has written to 657 households that are likely to be hit with the cap.

However, DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) statistics puts the figure at 900 families, with 300 losing more than £100 a week.

Neither the council nor the DWP could provide a breakdown of the ethnicity of the Croydon households that will be affected by the chanages, but the DWP did add that nationally 40 percent of those households affected will contain someone from an ethnic minority.

Mr Ughwujabo said: "The Government has brought in these changes with little debate and little understanding of who will be affected. There is not enough time in which to inform, engage and support these families.

"So we have got to take responsibility at a local level. It's in the council's interests to do some proactive work and raise awareness of the potential problems.

"If more action is not taken then a lot of people – some with children – will find themselves in a very difficult situation.

"It will be an unacceptable problem for the community, and for the council, because these families will ultimately require more resources."

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