"Eye watering" £42million bill for Braintree's housing benefit

Halstead Gazette: "Eye watering" £42million bill for Braintree's housing benefit "Eye watering" £42million bill for Braintree's housing benefit

THE top 10 housing benefit claimants in Halstead received more than £100,000 in the space of a year, latest figures show.

Following a seven month battle Braintree Council released the highest amounts paid out to homes in Braintree, Witham and Halstead, under a Freedom of Information Act.

Figures for the last financial year show the highest amount of £10,533 was paid to one working adult who lives in a four bedroom home with five children.

The total housing benefit bill for the district for 2013/2014 is £42.31million, which the Government gives £41.96million towards.
In addition to the £350,000 shortfall the council also pays £319,000 in administration costs for both housing benefit and council tax scheme, which is paid for using council tax contributions.
Braintree Council leader Graham Butland said: “It is a national scheme so we can’t reduce what we pay however the administration scheme is constantly under review.
“It is part of a huge welfare benefit bill that the Government is trying to deal with, it is unaffordable.
“I am pleased to say the coalition Government is actually dealing with it otherwise people will end up paying more and more tax as it is totally unsustainable.
“Braintree costs £42million and that is an eye-watering figure.”

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