Concerns have been raised about the roll-out of universal credit in Northumberland.
Universal credit aims to simplify the welfare system by replacing different benefits for things like Jobseeker’s Allowance with a single monthly payment. Some say it is a fairer, simpler way to deliver welfare, while others claim it often leaves people without any income for weeks.
Coun Scott Dickinson, ward member for Druridge Bay, has concerns. He said: “Universal credit is damaging and third-sector organisations are often picking up the brunt of supporting people.
“The county council has a briefing for councillors on how the council can help and I would like that to be opened up to third-sector organisations working in the county to better share information with those who are preparing to help families who will be hit hardest by this system.
“I fear that residents, especially those in a vulnerable position with the council housing team, will be pushed in to further debt and arrears. There may be residents who are in final-chance payment agreements – many of which have the payment plan as the final stage before eviction – who will have to potentially wait for money and be unable to make payments.”
Coun Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate services, said that work is already under way in the county to ensure a ‘smooth transition’ for claimants.