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Government's welfare reforms 'costing county £43 million a year'

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Government's welfare reforms 'costing county £43 million a year'

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing

Government's welfare reforms 'costing county 43 million a year' Government's welfare reforms 'costing county 43 million a year'

The government's welfare reforms are estimated to cost the county of Herefordshire £43 million annually, according to a new report.

New figures in the latest 'Understanding Herefordshire' report show that around 14,500 households in the county now live in poverty with the impact of policies such as the bedroom tax hitting families hard.

The report, a key decision making document for the local authority, says there is increasing need for local support services, such as food banks, as the use of sanctions and delays in benefit processing creates a demand for 'crisis' support.

Due to limited support offered by the Conservative-run council's welfare provisions scheme, those seeking support are frequently referred directly to food banks by social workers, housing associations, Citizens Advice Bureau and charities.

The number of food parcels given out by the Hereford City food bank in the first three months of 2014 was double the number given out in the same period of 2013 and around two fifths of these were reported as being related to benefit issues.

Herefordshire Council is currently reviewing its welfare support scheme and looking at food aid specifically.

Earlier this month, local newspaper the Hereford Times revealed that Herefordshire Council was keeping just under £300,000 of welfare assistance unlabelled in its social care budget for the coming year.

The council says it wants the cash to help welfare initiatives rather than the crisis loans for which it was intended.

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