Metro mayor continues calls to devolve powers
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