Debt fears over benefits move

NDET 22-10-13 RKH 1 Celebrating Christians against poverty first birthday, Robert Cook, Terry Long, Maureen Long, Bethan Ward.

NDET 22-10-13 RKH 1 Celebrating Christians against poverty first birthday, Robert Cook, Terry Long, Maureen Long, Bethan Ward.

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A Ripley charity says people must learn vital skills if they are to stay out of debt as Amber Valley gets ready for the next wave of welfare changes.

As the new Universal Credit payment scheme, that merges six working-age benefits into one, is slowly rolled out across the UK from this month, debt experts at Christians Against Poverty (CAP) are voicing concerns that some people could be drawn into greater hardship.

“We’re at the very start of the system being gradually introduced,” explained Bethan Ward, from the local CAP debt centre based at All Saints’ Church, Ripley.

“When it’s fully implemented, Universal Credit will bring a lot of changes. It will be paid once a month, rather than fortnightly or weekly.

“Housing benefit won’t go directly to the landlord anymore, it will go into the claimant’s bank account and in trials elsewhere this has caused serious problems for some families.

“Our worry is that some people will be unused to seeing so much in their account and won’t be aware that the security of their home depends on them managing it well – a concern too for local landlords. Government ministers say most people will be slightly better off with Universal Credit– it’s just going to take some getting used to.”

CAP celebrates it’s first anniversary this weekend at All Saints’ Church, on Mosley Street , this Sunday with a special service.

The charity gives free debt help to all regardless of age, gender, faith or background.