STRUGGLING families in Tameside would be more than £600 a year worse off, as a result of planned government changes to housing benefit.
Currently the amount that can be claimed in Local Housing Allowance is calculated to reflect the bottom half of the rental market in a particular area.
But as part of the government reforms the amount will be calculated according to the bottom third - resulting in a reduction in the amount that can be claimed.
The new rules are expected to be implemented by the government by October next year. And, in Tameside, estimates suggest that this will have an impact on more than 4000 households.
Across the borough figures show that families renting a four-bed house will lose £12-a-week - equivalent to £624 a year. And those in smaller properties will see their entitlement fall by £8-a-week, equivalent to £412 a year.
Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds says the changes will have a significant impact on struggling families in Tameside. And, while he accepts the need for reform, he says changes need to be implemented more gradually.
He said: "The prospect of losing up to £12 a week will be a real concern to families who are already struggling on modest incomes.
"Housing benefit does need to be reformed, but these plans are being implemented with too much haste. And they won't give claimants or landlords the necessary time to adjust."
Nationally 700,000 people are expected to lose out as a result of the reforms, by an average of £9 a week - including more than 56,000 over-65s.
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Douglas Alexander said: "The Government's plans mean that 700,000 of the country's poorest people, including 114,180 in the North West, will be on average £9 a week worse off, with no time for individuals or landlords to adjust.
"This is a big drop in income for people struggling to make ends meet.
"The Government just doesn't seem to understand that higher homelessness, like longer dole queues make it harder not easier to deal with the deficit."
Published November 8, 2010