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'Austerity has hit North West families hard including those in work' - Children's Society

Charity says 'a risk more children will be pushed into poverty' Credit: PA

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.

'Austerity has hit families hard including working families' Children's Society Credit: PA

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.”

– Rob Jackson, Area Director for The Children’s Society in the North West

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.

Concern over delays to "PIP" benefit payments

Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger. Credit: PA

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."


Disability Living Allowance replacement introduced

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 will be phased in across the North West

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.

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