It's claimed almost one million (934,800) children in the North West live in families facing a four-year freeze to their benefits, research by The Children’s Society reveals.
The Children's Society is warning that from April the freeze will hit almost 500,000 low-income families in the region. It says it risks pushing many more children into poverty over the next four years as living costs rise.
It adds that almost two thirds of those affected in the North West – 605,000 live in working households who receive benefits to top-up low pay.
The freeze forms part of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which is due to be debated in Parliament today.
Families on low incomes across the North West are facing a barrage of cuts. If ministers are genuinely concerned about child poverty they must reconsider plans to freeze benefits over the next four years. At the very least, the Government needs to guarantee there will be no further cuts when the Chancellor delivers his Budget next month.
“Austerity has hit families hard, including those in work. Further cuts to support would push more children into poverty and undermine incentives for families to move into work or earn more.”
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.
There's been growing concern over delays in processing payments of a new benefit for thousands of people with disabilities.
Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, was brought in last year.
Granada Reports' Political Reporter Daniel Hewitt has the story:
Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger says people across the North West have been waiting for up to 12 months for benefit payments they're entitled to.
Personal Independent Payment (PIP) replaced DLA last year and have been criticised by MPs and charities for because of the delays.
Ms Berger, the Shadow Minister for Public Health, is raising it Parliament today, saying there is particular problem in Merseyside.
Speaking ahead of the debate at the House of Commons, the MP said: "The government claimed that ‘PIP’ payments would offer people with long-term ill-health or a disability support with extra costs so that they can still live a full and independent life.
"Instead, people have faced costly delays, sometimes for months on end, without the help they need."
Liverpool will be hit 'disproportionally' hard by welfare reform, and charities fear disabled people will be most affected.Read the full story ›
The minister for disabled people and Tory MP for Wirral West, Esther McVey, said changes to the benefit system are about "understanding disability in the 21st century" and adapting a system which will work better in the future.
The MP said the new scheme is not aimed at saving money.
The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will be replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for people aged 16 to 64 from 8 April.Read the full story ›
A new benefit which replaces the Disability Living Allowance for people with a health condition or disability aged 16 to 64 is introduced in the North West today.
The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme will first be introduced for new claims in Merseyside, North West England, Cumbria, Cheshire and north-east England.
It will be rolled out nationally for all new claims from June 2013.
- The personal independence payment scheme is being introduced for people with a health condition or disability aged 16 to 64.
- From today, it will be introduced for new claims in Merseyside, North West England, Cumbria, Cheshire and North East England. It will be rolled out nationally from June.
- Currently, there are no current plans to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children under 16 and people aged 65 and over who are already receiving it.
- Some people may require an assessment to work out the level of help needed.
- Most people currently getting DLA will not by affected by the change until 2015, according to the government.
Our political reporter Daniel Hewitt reports from Warrington, one of four 'pathfinder' towns in the North West, trialling the government's answer to Britain's bloated benefit system.