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Is Universal Credit working? ITV Anglia investigates

A video by Malcolm Robertson:

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis is being urged to attend a public meeting in the town over concerns that the Government's controversial new benefit system is leading to increasing numbers of homelessness.

Brandon Lewis MP

Yarmouth's one of the areas where universal credit is being rolled out ahead of the national introduction. It's designed to streamline the number of benefits people are receiving, but delays in payments are affecting tenants and landlords.

Paul Whatley's in receipt of universal credit. He says he'd had to wait weeks to be paid.

"Anything from six to ten to 12 weeks. . Unless you've got a job and they're topping up with universal credits you could find yourself with nothing, " he said. "It's only because of our local foodbank that we've been able to put food on the table."

Paul Whatley

Under previous benefit schemes, some of the money due to claimants would go to the council who would then pay their landlords. Now all the money goes direct to the person receiving the universal credit, but with delays in payments landlords are missing out.

"Its been disastrous for tenants but mostly for landlords, " says Sue Dawson, 35 years a landlord and for he first time facing mortgage arrears on her properties. ."There's a certain number of unscrupulous tentants that will live in your property for up to nine weeks, maybe more, while waiting for universal credit . When they get it they just do a flit without paying the landlord a penny."

Brandon Lewis admits some people are facing challenges over the way universal credit is being introduced, but insists this is a good scheme to get people into work and off benefits.

The local authority has a discretionary fund and Great Yarmouth has an underspend at the moment, " says the town's MP." There is capacity to give people support and they can get those advance payments to help them through that early transition period. I want to make sure they get the right information and the support they need.

Originally, universal credit was to be introduced across the entire country by the end of this year but it could now be 2021 at the earliest.

Man dies in suspected gas explosion

The bungalow after the explosion

One man has died in a suspected gas explosion at a bungalow in Eye near Peterborough.

It happened yesterday evening in Back Lane. Five five crews were called to the scene.

The bungalow after the explosion

An investigation is already underway to find the cause and a structural engineer has been called in to help make the building safe before the body can be removed.

Watch Russell Hookey's report below


Fire crew rescue cat

The cat rescue Credit: Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue

A crew from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue's Wisbech station have rescued a cat which was stuck on a roof. They've been tweeting about it:

The rescued cat Credit: Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue

Hospital evicts man from hospital bed after two years

Credit: PA

A man has been evicted from a hospital bed after "unnecessarily" refusing to leave for more than two years.

The patient arrived at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk, by court order in August 2014 and remained there until this year despite being deemed "fit for discharge", BBC News reports.

The hospital said it launched legal action against the man, who has not been named due to patient confidentiality, as a last resort.

A court of possession granted the order on December 1 and he was removed on January 10 and placed in accommodation in the community.

The gentleman had been occupying a bed unnecessarily at the James Paget University Hospital for more than two years – and every effort had been made to try to remedy this situation.

He repeatedly refused all offers of appropriate accommodation organised by our local authority and social care partners, despite being fit for discharge.

As a last resort, the Trust had to apply to the court to allow us to remove the gentleman from the hospital.

The decision to go to court was not taken lightly but our priority has to be considering the needs of all our patients and ensuring that our limited resources, which are under increasing pressure, are available to those who genuinely need hospital care.

We have worked with our partners in this case to ensure the gentleman continues to receive the appropriate level of care and support in the community, having left hospital.

– Director of Governance Anna Hills, James Paget University Hospitals

Protests against President Trump to take place across region

Donald Trump is to be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.

To mark the event a number of protests will take place across the region today.

The group - "Build Bridges, not walls" will be unfurling banners at bridges in Wellingborough, Luton, Wisbech, Cambridge and Norwich.

Many women from across the region are also heading to London to take part in the Women's March, which is designed to highlight the fight for equal rights.


Pensioner jailed for taking child pornography into the US

Paul Wilkins

A pensioner from Cambridgeshire who travelled to America to have sex with young boys has been jailed for 13 years in the US after admitting taking child pornography into the country.

Paul Charles Wilkins, 70, from Littleport near Ely, was caught after he made arrangements with undercover agents to have sex with a nine-year-old boy in California.

He had attempted to meet two other boys aged 10 and 12, but he was arrested in February last year when his plan collapsed.

Prosecutors said Wilkins ran an online group used by paedophiles and "persistently engaged in the sexual exploitation of children" before he went to the US in January 2016.

His plans collapsed in a sting by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

Wilkins was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison and a 25,000 dollar (£20,000) fine at a court in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

'Uber for bikes' scheme coming to Cambridge

The 'Ofo' system allows potential riders to use a smartphone app to 'hail' a bike Credit: ITV News Anglia

A new bike sharing scheme - dubbed "uber for bikes" - is due to be launched in Cambridge.

The "Ofo" system, which is the first of its kind in the UK, allows users to hail bikes in the same way as a taxi.

They'd then drop them off at their destination, where other users can then pick them up. The scheme will be rolled in March and the company says the cost of a journey will be under £1.

The Ofo bike-sharing scheme in Cambridge is under preparation. The first batch of bicycles, which are customized for British people, is on the sea, and will arrive at Cambridge in March.

We are going to bring our successful experience from China to Cambridge. With the Ofo app users can simply hire a bicycle anytime and anywhere on demand.

We are in touch with people from council and university to see if there is any help we can do to promote the cycling environment in Cambridge. We are also looking for some talented people to join us.

– Ofo spokesman
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