While many organisations, including Greater Manchester Law Centre, have boycotted any assistance with Universal Credit, the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has signed a £39million contract with the Department of Work and Pensions to 'assist' people with applying for the controversial welfare scheme. Last night, Salford Trades Council passed a motion condemning the move...
"We not only passed the motion condemning CAB nationally but will also also offer support to any workers if they refuse to carry out the collaboration with the Government" says the Trades Council's Alec McFadden.
"Families will lose up to £2,400 a year via Universal Credit, which is a total disgrace, while Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer released new research last night showing that disabled children could lose up to £1,750 per year" he explains "The affect is everywhere. Iain Duncan Smith admitted Universal Credit was a mess and would only work if the Government put £2billion into the scheme now.
"Secretary of State, Esther McVey, is saying that the most important thing is that people work but they said that at Auschwitz...'Work makes you free'...The voluntary sector is shocked at CAB's decision, and Salford TUC says 'Re-think your position'. Universal Credit should be scrapped; it isn't any good to man or beast."
The full motion from Salford Trades Council states...
"Salford Trades Council unreservedly condemns the decision of the national Citizens Advice Bureau to agree to collaborate with Universal Credit whch is the flagship of the Tory Government and is creating poverty and misery for so many working class families."
Meanwhile, Paul Barlow, Director of Independent Together which provides leaving care services for 16-25-year olds says the Universal Credit roll out is causing hardship throughout the region...
"Problems with the rollout of Universal Credit, which merges six existing benefits into one, have dogged the system since work on it started in 2010" he explains "Two of the main reasons for referrals to foodbanks are benefit delays and benefit changes.
"The roll out of universal credit is far from complete and the uncertainty is driving people to foodbanks and even onto the streets" he adds "For the young adults in our care we can absorb some of the financial pain and help them out over the first few weeks. Others can fall out of the system through no fault of their own."
The Trussell Trust, which runs the Salford Foodbank on Mocha Parade, states that benefit transitions, most likely due to people moving onto Universal Credit, are increasingly accounting for more referrals and are likely driving up need in areas of full Universal Credit rollout. Waiting for the first payment is a key cause, while for many, the act of moving over to a new system is causing hardship.
Between 1st April 2017 and 31 March 2018, the Trussell Trust's foodbank network in the North West distributed 197,182 three-day emergency food supplies - more than any other region in England and Wales.
Paul Barlow also warns..."We already know that there are around one hundred rough sleepers on Salford's streets every night - twice as many as official figures suggest. While Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is tackling homelessness, the administrative uncertainty around Universal Credit is hampering progress."