‘Uni­ver­sal credit will be dev­as­tat­ing for the vul­ner­a­ble’

Accrington Observer - - NEWS - DO­MINIC SMITHERS do­minic.smithers@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE re­place­ment of six ben­e­fits with a sin­gle monthly pay­ment will be “dev­as­tat­ing” for some vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in Hyn­d­burn, it’s been claimed.

A pi­lot scheme will see the roll­out of Uni­ver­sal Credit across the bor­ough from Fe­bru­ary 2018.

Hous­ing ben­e­fit, in­come sup­port, work­ing tax cred­its, child tax credit, em­ploy­ment and sup­port al­lowance and job seek­ers al­lowance will be taken over by one sin­gle monthly pay­ment.

The gov­ern­ment says this will make it eas­ier for those who need it, to un­der­stand and claim.

How­ever, a mo­tion to Hyn­d­burn full coun­cil has raised a num­ber of con­cerns, and called for them to be com­mu­ni­cated to the gov­ern­ment.

Pro­posed by Labour MP Coun Tim O’Kane, the mo­tion high­lights con­cerns that “hard­ship” will be caused by a built in sixweek wait­ing pe­riod be­fore Uni­ver­sal Credit is awarded, con­cerns over the level of de­duc­tions ap­plied to claw­back ad­vance pay­ments and sanc­tions, and it also states that hous­ing costs sup­port for Hyn­d­burn’s home­less pop­u­la­tion is “not an ap­pro­pri­ate fit for Uni­ver­sal Credit”.

It states: “Uni­ver­sal Credit has been in Hyn­d­burn since 2015 but on a mainly lim­ited scale. How­ever, the num­bers of res­i­dents mov­ing onto Uni­ver­sal Credit from 2015 have been re­stricted to new claimants and straight­for­ward cases.”

Coun O’Kane said: “Hyn­d­burn is one of the most af­fected places in the coun­try, with a third of the pop­u­la­tion qual­i­fy­ing for Uni­ver­sal Credit.

“I think the chances of it go­ing right are not good.

“The main prob­lem is the six-week wait­ing time, which is built in to it.

“Those who aren’t on it al­ready, are go­ing to have to wait even longer.

“It is a vi­cious cir­cle, which is driv­ing peo­ple into the hands of loan sharks. The im­pact that this will have on peo­ple is very se­ri­ous. It will be dev­as­tat­ing for a lot of peo­ple.”

Hyn­d­burn’s Labour group has claimed re­search shows 16,000 fam­i­lies in the con­stituency will be claim­ing Uni­ver­sal Credit by 2022.

Gra­ham Jones MP said: “Uni­ver­sal Credit is a dis­as­ter for work­ing fam­i­lies in re­ceipt of low, in­ter­mit­tent or vari­able in­come.

“With one in four fam­i­lies suf­fer­ing a sig­nif­i­cant de­lay in in­come, it can only have a neg­a­tive im­pact on them and their chil­dren.”

The mo­tion was due to be de­bated at the full coun­cil meet­ing on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 9.

Coun Tim O’Kane

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