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Benefit refugees bring cost fears to Pendle
BENEFIT refugees who converge on Pendle could cost the borough at least £1,000 a time, a senior councillor has warned.
Town halls will assume control for administering council tax benefit from next April – and they have already been told they must make cost savings of 10 per cent.
And Coun David Whipp, cabinet member for community safety, is concerned that families from southern towns and cities, attracted by lower rents, will be tempted to relocate to Pendle.
Council chiefs confirmed that taxpayers would have to bear the brunt of any new claimants, which would work out at least £1,000, for the lowest-banded properties in the borough.
Coun Whipp said: “There is clearly potential for an influx of benefit refugees and that would have an impact on the number of council tax claimants.”
Currently there are around 700 empty properties in the borough and it is likely that the grants due to Pendle will either be frozen or reduced in the coming years, councillors heard.
Finance head Dean Langton said: “The additional cost would have to be borne for new claimants by current council tax payers or the council.
"This would mean we’d have to consider whether we will have to reduce the services the council offers or increase council tax levels.”
Coun Whipp claimed new council leader Coun Joe Cooney had declared, at a previous executive meeting, that Pendle was ‘open for business’ with regards to new arrivals. But Coun Cooney said this was not the intention behind his remarks.