The extent of suffering in the Dales inflicted by the welfare reforms can be revealed for the first time this week as figures show a three-fold leap in the number of people applying for emergency handouts since changes were imposed.
Figures from Derbyshire Dales District Council show that, so far this year, there have been 114 hardship handouts in the Derbyshire Dales – compared to 98 in the whole of 2012.
A spokesperson for the authority said: “We have worked hard to minimise the impact of these changes on hard-pressed claimants by ensuring that no one has had to pay more than 8.5 per cent of their liability. A Hardship Relief Fund has been set up, granting relief on an exceptional basis for limited periods.”
But Cllr Irene Ratcliffe, of Derbyshire Dales District Council and Wirksworth Town Council, believes the figures show how much people are “struggling” with the reforms and how the overall policy is “wrong”.
She said: “In a place like the Derbyshire Dales there simply aren’t enough smaller properties available for people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ to move into. They have no choice but to take the hit and people are finding it hard.”
If you are struggling as a result of the welfare reforms, you can call 01629 761188, email firstname.lastname@example.org or seek independent advice from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau on 0844 3752712.”