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Universal Credit could 'devastate' thousands of people in Hyndburn - claim

The clock is ticking down on the replacement of six benefits with one single monthly payment

Councillor Tim O'Kane

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 six-week 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

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.

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