800 Dungannon benefit claimants lose out on thousands of pounds

A TOTAL of 800 Dungannon benefit claimants have had their allowances reduced in the past six months.

However, the bad news for the claimaints has been offset by the fact that 810 Dungannon District people saw their benefits increase during the same period.

The figures were released by the Department of Social Development in advance of one of the biggest shake-ups of the welfare system for years.

The changes will see a new universal credit replace a number of existing working-age benefits - the income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment support allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, child tax credit and income support.

The shake-up, intended to increase incentives to work, reduce in-work poverty and simplify the system, will be piloted in the north of England next April before being rolled out nationally for new claimants starting in the autumn.

UK government ministers said the changes would make it easier for people to move into work.

However, the introduction of the universal credit benefit system could leave the most vulnerable claimants struggling to cope, politicians and voluntary organisations have warned.

Up to half a million disabled people and their families stand to lose out under the government’s proposed Universal Credit, a report says.

The Children’s Society, Citizens Advice and Disability Rights UK say 100,000 households with children could have incomes reduced by up to £28 a week.

There is also widespread concern about managing Universal Credit online, the implications of it being paid monthly and being paid to one member of a household, and the gap when the current system is phased out and the new one starts.

“The new universal credit system risks causing difficulties to the 8.5 million people who have never used the internet and a further 14.5 million who have virtually no ICT skills,” says Citizens Advice.

Concerns are raised too about paying Universal Credit monthly.