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Universal credit rolled out from North West

Controversial benefits shake-up Credit: PA Images

A controversial shake-up of the benefits system that was piloted here in the North West is rolled out across the country, this morning.

Universal credit combines six benefits - including housing benefit, JSA and tax credits - into one single payment.

The scheme's been criticised by the National Audit Office as badly managed and failing to deliver on its targets.

Knowsley residents hardest hit by cuts

The most deprived English councils have suffered the biggest cuts in spending power and most of them are in our region. Nine of the ten poorest and hardest councils are here in the North West.

Manchester tops the table but Knowsley has lost the most with £403.86 less per person to spend that they did in 2011. The league table was produced by researchers at the House of Common.

Manchester, Liverpool, Barrow and Salford all came in the top five councils experiencing the largest cuts to their funding at the same time as having some of the poorest health.

Labour claim the greatest cuts are in areas with the highest numbers of older people living with disabilities but the government says they've been fair.

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Crisis welfare grants could be axed

More than twenty six million pounds of funding which meant to help some of the most desperate families in the North West is under threat from government cuts.

Run by local councils, the 'Local Welfare Assistance Schemes' are often the last line of defence for nearly two hundred thousand households throughout the region, every year

Rob Jackson from the Children's Society says the funding is vital for some people.

Will Greater Manchester get greater powers

It's believed the Government is planning to give more powers to councils in Greater Manchester to run their own affairs. George Osborne is thought to be preparing an announcement next week creating a new 'super council' which would make decisions on areas like transport. Ralph Blunsom looks at that and Ed Miliband's plans for devolved power in the North West

Barrow among 'unhappiest' places in the UK

Barrow-in-Furness has been named as the "unhappiest" place in the country according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Barrow Town Hall Credit: ITV Granada

The ONS compiles reports on wellbeing from various factors including "health, relationships, job satisfaction, economic security, education, environmental conditions".

Barrow and South Ribble were in the five least happy areas of the UK, along with Dartford in Kent, Torridge in Devon and Maldon, Essex

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No houses in the North West "easily affordable"

Credit: Press Association

There are no longer any areas in the North West where housing is 'easily affordable' according to a new report by the TUC.

The research found that 50% of housing in the region costs at least five times the local average salary.

Even previously ‘easily affordable’ areas, such as Bury and Rossendale, are now out of reach for many local people with house prices now over five times the average wage.

Properties in the Ribble Valley are the most unaffordable - house prices there being more than seven and a half times local average earnings.

HSBC closes bank account of Bolton based charity

A Muslim charity has accused a bank of putting lives at risk for shutting down its account.

The Ummah Welfare Trust based in Bolton has distributed 70 million pounds to projects in 20 countries. It has had a presence in Gaza for the past 10 years.

But the charity has now received a letter from the HSBC to tell them their account is being closed for being beyond the bank's "risk appetite".

Ashley Derricott reports:

HSBC closes Bolton charity's bank account

A Bolton-based Muslim charity has accused a bank of putting lives at risk for shutting down its account.

The Ummah Welfare Trust has distributed 70 million pounds to projects in 20 countries. And it's had a presence in Gaza for the past 10 years.

But the charity has now received a letter from the HSBC to tell them their account is being closed for being beyond the bank's "risk appetite".

Mohammad Ahmad is from the charity.

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