Hundreds flock to benefit changes information day
MORE than 250 people took the opportunity to find out more about how welfare benefit changes will affect them by attending a one-stop shop information event in Melton.
Melton Council officers were inundated with enquiries about council tax benefit changes and the bedroom tax, both of which will hit families in the pocket from April.
About 1,500 working age council tax benefit recipients in the borough will have to pay more towards their council tax from April as a result of the benefit reforms.
Members of the public were invited to watch a brief video about the changes before being able to get further help and advice from a whole range of agencies which attended Tuesday’s event.
Experts were on hand to give advice on money and energy-saving, employment and training and all sorts of other issues having an impact on the whole family budget.
The information day, hosted by the Melton Town Community Forum, was held at Gloucester House (Age UK) from 4pm to 7pm. It was free for people to attend and light refreshments were available.
Forum chairman Peter Roffey said: “It was one of the best turnouts we’ve ever had for an information event. It was a great example of how Melton, as a community, is working together in partnership and giving people the information they need.”
Keith Aubrey, Melton Council’s strategic director, added: “A lot of people were concerned about the council tax benefit changes. That’s the most immediate change people will be hit with from April.
“The event went really well and we certainly gave out lots of information to a lot of people.”
Melton mum-of-two Joss Wilkinson said the information day was a big help. She said: “It has helped and I’ve got more information now about the changes but I think I’ll probably still need to know more.”
Melton borough councillor Dr Matthew O’Callaghan said: “The event not only informed people of the changes but also provided a good holistic range of what’s on offer to support them.
“While 300 is a very good turnout, I’m concerned this is still only 20 per cent of those affected. It may be worthwhile holding a similar event in April after people have seen their benefit payments reduced and want to do something about their financial position.”
Mr Aubrey said: “There’s obviously a need out there for more information and access to support and advice. If we can help with that we will. It’s more about what type of event people will need after the changes come into effect.”
l You can find out a wealth of information about how the changes will affect you by visiting the council’s website www.melton.gov.uk
One of the support sections features three calculators people can use to help work out how the changes will impact on their budgets.
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