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Pendle hardship funds could be returned
11:04am Friday 27th December 2013 in Pendle
A SENIOR councillor has voiced fears that around half of a major hardship fund, awarded to Pendle Council, could be returned to the Government.
Under its discretionary housing payments scheme, the borough council has £142,000 to give to the hardest-hit households, including those left worse off by the Government’s controversial bedroom tax.
But Coun Mohammed Iqbal, Labour group leader, said that, to date, only £53,460 had been distributed to struggling families – and around a third of applications had been turned down.
And if the trend continued, he told a full council meeting, only £71,000 would be handed out to homes in Nelson, Colne and West Craven before the end of the financial year, resulting in the leftover money being returned to Whitehall.
Coun Joe Cooney, council leader, said: “It was not so long ago that we issued a press release to remind people that that scheme was there. If we know people that are struggling then we should be promoting information about these payments in whatever way we can.”
Speaking later, Coun Iqbal, who represents Nelson’s Bradley ward, said: “It is disappointing that under the current leadership the council has turned down over 30 per cent of applications for help. By the current estimates we will be returning thousands of pounds from this scheme to the Government. I would ask why the council has not been more pro-active in identifying those most in need?”
Those qualifying for short-term assistance payments could also include those whose housing allowance has suddenly gone down, alongside those who have fallen foul of the new bedroom tax legislation.
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