Commenting on media reports that the roll-out of Universal Credit is to be paused, Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said:
“If the Government is listening to sense and pausing the rollout of Universal Credit then it cannot come soon enough.
“In the last week alone, we have seen two former Prime Ministers warn about the social costs of pressing ahead with this botched policy.
“Both Sir John Major and Gordon Brown have likened Universal Credit to the poll tax, while Iain Duncan-Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary has said the system urgently needs £2-3 billion extra to avoid families sliding into penury.”
He added: “As one of the poorest cities in the country people here deserve more than to be experimented on in a Whitehall petri-dish. It is morally wrong to roll-out a policy when all the available evidence shows it entrenches the problem rather than resolving it.
“The Resolution Foundation think tank recently reported that three million families – including working households – will be worse off by an average of £200 a month.
“Ministers squandered the initial cross-party support for simplifying the benefits system because they wanted to make the changes ideological. We need to see urgent reform including scrapping the horrendous wait of up to three months that new claimants face between applying for UC and receiving their first payment.”
Mayor Anderson added: “We need to see a fresh approach that listens to frontline practitioners who are left picking up the pieces. Universal Credit costs Liverpool council taxpayers over £3.5 million as we subsidise those who are waiting for their UC claim to be processed, or those penalised through the ‘Bedroom Tax’ or sanctions.
“As a council, we spend more than any other council in the country providing a range of discretionary payments to avoid families falling into utter destitution – but we are at braking point dealing with the demand.”
He added: “This is the last chance to change course before the DWP presides over a total breakdown of its policy and untold harm to millions of the poorest and most vulnerable.”