Steve Rotheram has continued his call for government to devolve further powers to the Liverpool City Region in order to prevent further homelessness, hardship and misery as a result of the Universal Credit rollout.
Speaking on North West Tonight, last night, the Metro Mayor said that should the Universal Credit be rolled out, as currently proposed, will mean that many more people across Liverpool City Region will face being made homeless.
This week, alongside Frank Field MP, the Metro Mayor wrote to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke, proposing that Liverpool City Region be extended the same powers as Scotland and Northern Ireland in administrating the Universal Credit roll out.
Devolved authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland have secured two changes to the way Universal Credit is administered, so that claimants:
- 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 stated:
“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 build-up of rent arrears”.
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.