This post is by Advice Services Coventry which supports people in Coventry from all backgrounds who require advice in a wide range of circumstances.
The cumulative impact of increased unemployment, cuts to public services and significant welfare reform means there is a growing number of people in the city whose circumstances are precarious.
5 Key Impacts of Funding Cuts on Coventry
Cuts in funding and changes to welfare benefits have led to the re-assessment of many people on disability related benefits. This has led to significant reductions in income for people who are sick or disabled. Six months ago there were 4,000 Coventry disabled people who had been incorrectly assessed and since the waiting times for appeal hearings has increased to 12 months, this will inevitably have increased.
With the fall in long term, permanent and secure employment in the city, many people are turning to short term work via employment agencies, our evidence shows that their employment rights are not well protected. Advice Services Coventry has seen cases where we have been unable to secure redress for workers who have had their rights ignored as this sector is very fluid with businesses starting and ceasing to trade on a frequent basis.
Advice Services Coventry is concerned about significant pressure being placed upon the Job Centre Plus service, which has resulted significant issues with the quality of the service provided by local and national Job Centre Plus teams. The impact this has on clients generates unnecessary work for advice agencies, a number of other agencies and the local authority. We have seen examples of clients being incorrectly sanctioned and for it to take as long as 6 weeks to rectify the error during which time our client was left without any money.
As a partnership, we are very keen to share our expertise on welfare benefits with the Job Centre Plus to avoid these types of devastating errors.
Housing benefit cuts will make access to housing more difficult, particularly in the private rented sector, whilst increases in fuel costs and food will make finances and housing more difficult to sustain. Advisory Services Coventry has an important role in feeding back the impact of changes in housing benefit to policy makers but also to ensure that people are aware of all help that may be available to tackle the issues they are facing managing household budgets and sustaining tenancies.
The cumulative impact of cuts in welfare benefits, the reductions in support services, and the increased living cost, means that an increasing number of people are going to be left with very difficult choices. Do people pay their rent and council tax, heat their home, or eat? Such difficulties will put further burdens on health and social care services. All of these are incredibly difficult choices, but very real choices to a significant number of people in Coventry. We are more likely to have to negotiate with creditors in a slightly different way, even if they are a priority debt (i.e. council tax), in an effort to avoid homeless or destitution