Sunderland MP grilled over welfare changes

MP Julie Elliott during a question and answer session for young people at the YMCA in Toward Road, Sunderland.

MP Julie Elliott during a question and answer session for young people at the YMCA in Toward Road, Sunderland.

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YOUNG people got the chance to grill an MP over benefit changes that many fear could leave them homeless.

The event, at the YMCA in Toward Road, was part of Welfare Action Week and saw Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott face tough questions from teenage critics.

MP Julie Elliott during a question and answer session for young people at the YMCA in Toward Road, Sunderland.

MP Julie Elliott during a question and answer session for young people at the YMCA in Toward Road, Sunderland.

YMCA worker Jax Cadger said: “In times like this, with the recession, young people have a lot of questions that might not have been addressed by MPs.”

Welfare Action Week aimed to highlight the Government’s proposed welfare changes to housing benefit which, it is feared, could push thousands of people out of social housing.

Under the proposals, housing benefit will be phased into an overall universal benefit, and tenants may not be able to have their housing payments paid directly to landlords.

Also in the reform policy are plans are to cut the amount of benefits that people can get if they are deemed to have a spare room in their council or housing association home.

Mrs Elliott said she enjoyed the session, with lots of youngsters turning up to discuss the proposed changes and express their views.

“They are worried that flats they have might be taken away from them,” she said.

“A lot of these people have worked really hard to make a better life for themselves and they feel like the Government are trying to stop them helping themselves.

“One of the problems is that these are just proposed changes so I can’t say definitely that this is going to happen, but I was explaining how the process works.

“They are going to take their issues up with the Government and even spoke about putting together an e-petition.”

Twitter: @sunechohannah