Thousands in East London expected to be hit by welfare reforms

Thousands of East London’s “poorest and most vulnerable” families are expected to be hit by changes to the welfare benefits system.

The government’s reforms came into force this month, and are expected to affect as many as 10,000 households in Newham and Tower Hamlets.

The two councils estimate up to 4,000 households are to be affected new caps in housing benefit.

A further 4,500 could be hit by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ which means working age social housing tenants lose up to a quarter of their housing benefit if officials decide they have more bedrooms than necessary.

Isle of Dogs resident Wesley Travis is among those affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.

He said: “I will lose the money that I currently receive for a second bedroom in my flat – which I really need for my six-year-old daughter.

“It is difficult to see how the government are helping people. I am trying to build a life and career so support my daughter, and they are now taking away the little help they have given me.”

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The changes – designed to cut the government’s £23billion annual housing benefit bill – have been slammed by council leaders.

Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “The government’s vicious and unfair approach to welfare reform will cause damage to many residents.

“Their heartless proposals will potentially destroy the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.”

Benefits help lines and workshops are available in Tower Hamlets to help people understand the impact of changes, while tenants in Newham have been invited to raise concerns with the council.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman said: “The unprecedented changes to welfare support, social housing reform and government cuts to services will affect our poorest families and vulnerable households most.

“Many could be pushed further into poverty”, he warned.