Benefits changes fight

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COUNCIL chiefs want to fight changes to state benefits which will affect more than 19,000 residents across the district.

Wakefield’s Labour group have expressed concern over government proposals to make changes to council tax and housing benefits from next April.

Coun Graham Stokes, cabinet member with responsibility for benefits, said alterations to council tax benefit would see thousands of residents worse off.

He added housing benefits for those in social housing would be restricted for those occupying a larger property than was deemed necessary.

Coun Stokes said: “We are extremely concerned about the impact that these changes will have on many hard working families living in this district.

“Families who can least afford to lose out during these difficult times. The changes the government are proposing could increase financial hardship for a significant number of local residents.”

Coun Geoff Walsh, leader of the council’s Conservative group, said the welfare system needed “reordering.”

He added: “Housing benefits and welfare is a huge bill that people have to pay which in 2010 was more than health, education and defence budgets combined.

“We need to see fairness in the system for tax payers and for people who look upon welfare as a last resort.”