Middlesbrough 'Worst Hit' By Benefit Cuts

11 April 2013, 06:11 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Researchers say working adults in Middlesbrough could lose out on £720 a year under benefit changes.

The Government's raft of controversial welfare reforms will take almost £19 billion a year out of the UK economy and hit northern England hardest, researchers said today.

People in Blackpool will lose out more than anywhere else in Britain when changes to the benefits system kick in, according to academics at Sheffield Hallam University.

Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Glasgow will also be disproportionately affected.

However, wealthier areas, predominantly in the South, such as Cambridge, Surrey and the Cotswolds, will see the smallest financial losses.

Researchers looked at the financial impact of changes made by the Conservative-led coalition to housing benefit - including the so-called bedroom tax on public housing tenants who have unused rooms - disability living allowance, child benefit, tax credits, council tax benefit and several other hand-outs.

Professor Steve Fothergill, from Sheffield Hallam's Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, led the study, which was based on a range of official statistics.

He said:
"A key effect of the welfare reforms will be to widen the gaps in prosperity between the best and worst local economies across Britain.

Our figures also show the coalition Government is presiding over national welfare reforms that will impact principally on individuals and communities outside its own political heartlands.''

He said the three regions of northern England - the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humberside - can expect to lose a total of £5.2 billion a year in benefit income.

Much of the south and east of England outside London escapes comparatively lightly.

Researchers calculated the average amount that every working-age adult stands to lose in each region of Britain per year. 

People in Middlesbrough will lose an average of £720, making it the worst affected part of the North East.

Prof Fothergill said:
"Some individuals are relatively unaffected by the welfare reforms whereas others face multiple financial losses arising from different elements of the reforms.''

However, the Department for Work and Pensions said the reforms will benefit the vast majority of working households.

A Government spokesman said:
"Around nine out of ten working households will be better off by on average almost £300 a year as a result of changes to the tax and welfare system this month.

Raising the personal allowance to £10,000 we will have lifted 2.7m people out of income tax since 2010.

Our welfare reforms, including reassessing people on incapacity benefit, will help people back into work - which will benefit the economy more than simply abandoning them to claim benefits year after year.

These changes are essential to keep the benefits bill sustainable, so that we can continue to support people when they need it most across the UK.''