Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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Help us protect Merseyside’s most vulnerable residents from the worst effects of Universal Credit, urge Metro Mayor and MP

30 October 2017
Food bank

The Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, and the Chair of the Liverpool City Region Child Poverty and Life Chances Commission, Frank Field MP, are today urging the Government to give the City Region the flexibility it needs to protect vulnerable families from the worst effects of Universal Credit.

Devolved authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland have successfully negotiated with the Government, so that families:

- can receive their payments every two weeks, rather than once a month, to help them budget; and
- have their housing component paid directly to their landlord, to prevent the build-up of rent arrears.

Steve and Frank have written to the Work and Pensions Secretary, David Gauke MP, requesting similar arrangements for the City Region, as evidence mounts of food banks and rent accounts taking the strain of Universal Credit in its current form.

At Halton Housing Trust, for example, over £400,000 of arrears have accumulated as a direct result of the rollout of the full Universal Credit service. This means that just 18% of their tenants owe 55% of all their arrears. Prior to claiming Universal Credit, average arrears were £270. Post Universal Credit, the average arrears are now £448. This represents an average increase of 60%. Over the last 12 months the number of referrals the Trust has made to local food banks has more than doubled.

Steve comments: ‘It is simply wrong for the Government to be going ahead with the roll-out of Universal Credit when the pilots have resulted in chaos, hardship and misery. It’s a move that appears designed to worsen the already scandalous problem of homelessness in our society.  It is not even excusable to describe these as teething problems as there are profound design faults and injustices at the very core of the new system.’

Frank adds: ‘If the Government were to extend these new powers to Merseyside, it would relieve a huge amount of financial and human suffering among families in our region.’


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