The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has published the first in a new series of reports that will monitor the effect of the Government’s Welfare Reforms in Greater Manchester and in particular, the impact of Universal Credit as it is rolled out across the city-region.
The new reports will provide Greater Manchester’s public services with vital information on numbers of people affected by welfare reform including how many people have been sanctioned in Greater Manchester, the effects of replacing Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments, the benefit cap’s local impact and levels of food poverty.
Greater Manchester Leaders considered a number of actions the city-region could take to mitigate the worst impacts of welfare reform on people in the city-region.
At September’s GMCA meeting Oldham Council Leader Sean Fielding set out a series of proposed actions the city-region could take, including bringing together local discretionary schemes and support services so that those at their most vulnerable receive the coordinated support wherever they are in Greater Manchester. Other proposals include seeking control from Government over Local Housing Allowance rates and powers similar to those of the Scottish Government which help vulnerable people with initial direct rent payments.
Fundamentally, Greater Manchester wants to try and ensure that the welfare system provides the right level of care and financial stability to those that need it, whilst also providing the right support to enable people to secure and progress in work.
A full action plan, which will set out how Greater Manchester will support those most vulnerable residents who are affected by welfare reforms, will now be brought before Greater Manchester’s public bodies in early October.
Greater Manchester lead for Education, Skills, Work and Apprenticeships, Councillor Sean Fielding said: “The Greater Manchester Universal Credit Monitor will allow the GMCA and all of our public services to get vital information about the impact that welfare reform is having across our city-region.
“The National Audit Office, Work and Pensions Select Committee and Universal Credit Full Service Survey have all found serious issues with Universal Credit and I’m clear that people here should not suffer as they move on to this new benefit. Across Greater Manchester public authorities are actively looking at how we can work better together with the powers we have to try and support vulnerable people who may be hit hard by welfare reform.
“However, Greater Manchester can’t do this alone and we want to work with the Department for Work and Pensions on this important agenda. We already have a strong track record of working in partnership with DWP nationally to develop localised approaches to supporting people back to work and an excellent local relationship with Jobcentre Plus.
“As the full Universal Credit roll out takes place across Greater Manchester this year Leaders are committed to making sure that people here in our city-region are, as far as possible, not negatively affected. Other devolved administrations have already taken steps to mitigate the worst effects of Universal Credit and Leaders, along with Greater Manchester’s public services are considering a range of similar actions we could that would work for our city-region.”