Local charity, Exeter’s Citizen Advice Bureau has received a helping hand from the recently formed Exeter Board.
A grant of just over £15,000 has been awarded from the Board’s Community Grant Fund.
The money will be used to provide additional specialist advice and information services following the introduction of the Coalition Government’s Welfare Reform Act.
The Bill provides for the introduction of a ‘Universal Credit’ to replace a range of existing means-tested benefits and tax credits for people of working age, starting from 2013.
A key measure in the Welfare Reform Act is to replace Disability Living Allowance for eligible working age people (aged 16 to 64) with a new benefit, Personal Independence Payment, from April 2013.
Devon County Council’s Liaison member for Exeter, Andrew Leadbetter says; “I am delighted that we are able to help Exeter Citizens Advice Bureau. We recognise what an excellent job they do and we feel this is a very good use of our money,providing a service that all residents of Exeter can access – and of course you never know when due to a change in circumstances you may need their help.”
Steve Barriball Chief Executive of Exeter CAB said; “Obviously there are huge changes happening to the welfare system and currently we do not have the funding required to help people who may be affected by these reforms. We are delighted to have received this grant, because we’ll be able to provide specialist advice to help clients during the first year of transition to the new welfare system. We were invited to talk to the Exeter Board in November 2012 about the impact of the changes, and made our funding bid in the back of the support we received from members at the meeting.”
The Exeter Board replaces Devon County Council’s Exeter County Committee.
The joint committee, which is the first of its kind in Devon, aims to help shape local services with more resources delegated at a local level so communities are able to access a wider pool of funding for project that would complement each other, as well as see increased neighbourhood and community involvement.
Members of the committee have a combined annual community budget of approximately £99,000 (based on £1 per elector from Devon County Council and 10p per elector from Exeter City Council).
Members include nine Exeter County Councillors and five Exeter City Councillors. The Board has invited representatives from the Exeter Vision Partnership, the University of Exeter, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and a range of other public sector and community organisations across the City to participate in its work.
Information about the Welfare Reform Act
On 8 March 2012 the Welfare Reform Act received Royal Assent. The Act legislates for the biggest change to the welfare system for over 60 years.
The Bill follows the November 2010 White Paper, ‘Universal Credit: welfare that works’, which set out the Coalition Government’s proposals for reforming welfare to improve work incentives, simplify the benefits system and tackle administrative complexity.
Besides introducing Universal Credit and related measures, the Bill makes other significant changes to the benefits system.
• introduces Personal Independence Payments to replace the current Disability Living Allowance
• restricts Housing Benefit entitlement for social housing tenants whose accommodation is larger than they need
• up-rates Local Housing Allowance rates by the Consumer Price Index
• amends the forthcoming statutory child maintenance scheme
• limits the payment of contributory Employment and Support Allowance to a 12-month period
• caps the total amount of benefit that can be claimed.