If we ran a book club ‘Universal Credit: Unintended Consequences’ report would be on our recommended list. This new report pulled together by Liverpool City Council incorporates the views of a wide range of Liverpool’s city leaders. While focused on Liverpool, the report is relevant nationally, talking about the unintended consequences of Universal Credit:
There is mounting evidence, including our own Liverpool research that shows the actual effect is the reverse of what was intended; Universal Credit is harming the very people it was designed to support.
Councillor Jane Corbett, Assistant Mayor for Fairness and Tackling Poverty and Joint Chair of Citywide strategy
City leaders from Councillors, the Mayor of Liverpool, Business leaders, Third Sector, Housing Association and Faith leaders come together in this report to share their views and concerns. While recognising that many of the aims of Universal Credit are commendable, they describe the reality that people who have already made a claim have experienced, both in Liverpool and in the areas of the country which have piloted full service:
I am angry when I see so many Foodbanks putting a sticking plaster on a failing system. I disagree with complacent politics that pats Foodbanks on the head of being an expression of charity. Instead, I am angry that basic needs are not met, with individual denied any opportunity to build their lives, grow and flourish.
Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, Joint chair of Citywide Strategy Group
Incremental changes to Universal Credit since its inception including, in particular reductions to ‘work allowances’ mean that it will now pay significantly less to many low-income in-work households than the Tax Credit system which it replaces.
Martin Jungnitz, Assistant Director Revenue and Benefits, Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council’s Welfare Reform Cumulative Impact Analysis in 2017 found that welfare reform was disproportionately impacting on people with disabilities, women, people with children, young people and social sector tenants aged 40-59. There is a strong call in the report for a pause in the roll-out of Universal Credit to learn from mistakes and address the issues.
Principles and philosophy must be married with practicality to ensure citizens who are impacted by such profound changes to their welfare provision are not subjected to circumstances which impede their ability to either obtain employment or, if they are in employment, to sustain and thrive in such a position
Paul Cherpeau, Chief Executive, Liverpool and Sefton Chamber of Commerce
From a city already under great pressure from government cuts, this report comes across as generous and restrained - making the call for action and for dialogue more powerful.
For me, Cllr Jane Corbett’s description of the welfare reform as ‘counterintuitive’ captures in one word the thoughts and feelings of so many people who have seen the reality and not just heard the principles of these changes - let's get this report shared, read, talked about as widely as possible.
This is our recommended reading......... what about yours?
Hannah McCowen, Resettlement Passport Co-ordinator.