Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds council proposes plan to combat poverty and payday loans

More than 2,400 council tenants have fallen behind on their rent in Leeds since changes to housing benefit came into effect, a report says.

The city council said it needed a new anti-poverty strategy to deal with the effects of welfare reform.

It also proposed a campaign to promote credit unions and deter people from using payday or doorstep lenders.

The campaign would be funded in part by a "social fund payment" from a potential new casino operator.

'Out of control'

Tenants with spare bedrooms face reductions in housing benefit following changes introduced in April.

A report, to be discussed by the council's executive board on 19 June, said 6,728 council tenants had been affected, out of a total of 58,500, and 2,436 of those had fallen into arrears.

It said a plan also needed to be put in place to help families deal with the introduction of universal credit.

Leader of the council Keith Wakefield said: "We are already seeing that welfare reform is leading to an increase in rent arrears for a significant number of people, and this is only going to get worse.

"We are soon going to see a situation where people who have less money to manage their day to day costs will get into increased debt and will need to access credit facilities, which often means use of payday lenders or other expensive borrowing, which can often spiral out of control."

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