Metro mayor con­tin­ues calls to de­volve pow­ers

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - News -

THE metro mayor has con­tin­ued his call for the Gov­ern­ment to de­volve fur­ther pow­ers to the Liver­pool City Re­gion in or­der to pre­vent fur­ther home­less­ness, hard­ship and mis­ery as a re­sult of Uni­ver­sal Credit roll­out.

Speak­ing to BBC North West Tonight, Steve Rotheram said that should Uni­ver­sal Credit be rolled out as cur­rently planned more peo­ple across the Liver­pool City Re­gion – which in­cludes Hal­ton – will face be­ing made home­less.

Mr Rotheram and Frank Field MP have writ­ten to Work And Pen­sions Sec­re­tary David Gauke propos­ing that the Liver­pool City Re­gion be ex­tended the same pow­ers as Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land in ad­min­is­trat­ing the Uni­ver­sal ● Credit roll out.

A spokesman for Mr Rotheram said de­volved author­i­ties in Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land have se­cured two changes to the way Uni­ver­sal Credit is ad­min­is­tered.

It means claimants in both ar­eas 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.

The let­ter from Mr Rotheram and Mr Field said: “It is our be­lief that the ex­ten­sion of those flex­i­ble ar­range­ments to the Liver­pool City Re­gion could help fam­i­lies bet­ter man­age their in­come and pre­vent the buildup of rent ar­rears.”

Uni­ver­sal Credit re­placed six pay­ments in­clud­ing child tax credit, in­come sup­port, hous­ing ben­e­fit, and work­ing tax credit.

Mr Rotheram’s spokesman said the call comes against a ‘back­drop of chaos, acute hard­ship’ and in­creased home­less­ness in ar­eas where the new ben­e­fit has been pi­loted.

Re­cently 89% of lo­cal author­i­ties sur­veyed stated they are con­cerned that the roll out of Uni­ver­sal Credit will ex­ac­er­bate home­less­ness fur­ther, mainly be­cause of the move away from di­rect pay­ment of rent to land­lords and the pres­sures placed on vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple by on­line ap­pli­ca­tion pro­cesses.

Fam­i­lies are al­ready suf­fer­ing long de­lays in re­ceiv­ing pay­ment whilst lo­cal author­i­ties are strug­gling to make dis­cre­tionary hous­ing pay­ments with bud­gets al­ready de­pleted by the im­pact of aus­ter­ity.

Steve Rotheram MP

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