PEOPLE in South Yorkshire will be among the worst hit by the Government’s welfare funding cuts, according to a new report released today.
The Coalition has announced changes to disability living allowance, housing benefit, incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance, in a bid to cut the £150 billion deficit.
Forecasters at the Centre for Cities say the cuts will be most profoundly felt in areas like South Yorkshire, which have already been badly damaged by the recession and the decline in industry.
They say Barnsley will have received the fifth largest welfare cuts per person in the country by the next General Election in 2015.
By then public spending in the town will have been slashed by £41m - and welfare spending will have been cut by an average £181 for each resident. Meanwhile welfare will be cut by £166 per person in Doncaster and £137 in Sheffield.
Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East, said: “This is further evidence that the people paying the price for Cameron and Clegg’s cuts are people in areas like my own in Barnsley.
“At the same time they refuse to take proper action against the banks who are to blame for the financial crash and the deficit.”
As well as painting a grim picture for the next four years, the Cities Outlook 2011 report says South Yorkshire’s urban centres were some of the worst hit by the recession in 2008 and 2009.
The report - which does not produce data for Rotherham - reveals the total welfare bill in Barnsley in 2009 was £689 million or £3,043 per resident, equating to 26 per cent of the town’s total economic output.
That year the total welfare bill in Sheffield was £2.19 billion, or £2,739 per person, and in Doncaster it was £867 million, £2,989 per person.
The report says: “Many of the cities with larger welfare bills are those that are experiencing other economic challenges, for example they tend to have suffered most from de-industrialisation and its associated effects.”
The report says Sheffield, Barnsley and Doncaster had below-average employment levels last year.
While working-age employment nationally stood at 70.4 per cent between July 2009 and June 2010, in Sheffield just 66.4 per cent were in work, in Barnsley 67.4 per cent were employed and in Doncaster the figure was 66.1 per cent. Across South Yorkshire the average weekly wage was around £430 - well below the national average £491.
Statisticians said Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants shot up in Barnsley and Doncaster during the recession, where manufacturing jobs fell by the wayside.
The report says: “Blue collar workers were hit the hardest as a result of the severity of the recession in the manufacturing and construction sectors.”
It adds: “This meant that some cities experienced large rises in claimant counts during the recession while others only experienced relatively minor increases.”