Welfare reform ~ Liverpool
counts the cost
A unique analysis of the UK Government's
welfare reforms shows the most vulnerable in Liverpool have been hit by multiple
changes and it is costing millions of pounds in crisis payments and support.
Liverpool has become the 1st local authority in the country to carry out a
Cumulative Impact Assessment to examine the impact of more than 20 changes on
its own residents.
The aim of the assessment is to help Liverpool City Council identify those most
affected and ensure the City and its partners are providing high quality
benefits, debt and budgeting advice and support.
It builds on Sheffield Hallam University research published in March 2016 which
suggested that welfare reforms have cost the City's economy the equivalent of
₤157 million per year, set to rise to ₤292 million per year by 2020/21.
The report; which uses the UK Government's impact analysis reports and data held
by the Council; shows the changes to working age benefits since 2010 have
affected around 55,000 households (1 in 4) with the long term sick and
disabled, children and women disproportionately hit.
The lower Benefit Cap affects 743 families; 80% of them single parent
households; resulting in an average loss of income of ₤42.67 per family each
It is being launched in the Great Hall, at St George's Hall, Liverpool, on
Friday, 10 March 2017, at 11am.
The City Council, which has had a 58% cut in Central Government funding since
2010 and has to find another ₤90 million of savings by 2020; is having to use
around ₤7 million a year of its own reduced funds to help with rent top ups and
The headlines include:-
► 3,400 households with long term sick and disabled residents have been affected
by the Under Occupation Penalty (Bedroom Tax)
► Families with children have been hit by a freeze in child benefit, reductions
in Housing Benefit rates in the private sector, the Under Occupation Penalty and
the Benefit Cap.
► Younger people aged 16 to 29 accounting for almost 35% of applications for the
Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme, which makes emergency payments for people in
► Single private tenants aged 25 to 35 have seen a cut of around ₤34 per week in
their Housing Benefit.
► Women account for 60% of those affected by a cut in Council Tax Support and
65% of those hit by the Under Occupation Penalty.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said:- "This is the 1st time ever that a
complete picture has been pulled together of the impact of the welfare reforms
that the UK Government has implemented since 2010.
It shows clearly that some of the most vulnerable people in society have been
repeatedly affected by the changes that have been made and will be hit again
with changes that are coming down the line. Councils are on the frontline of picking up the pieces of decisions inflicted by
Whitehall, which is why this work is so important for us. It will help us shape
the support that we are able to offer now and in the future so that we are as
well placed as we can be in dealing with people living on the edge who are going
to be tipped into crisis as a result of the reforms.
In the coming year, we are setting aside an additional ₤2 million on top of the
₤7 million we already spend, introducing a Liverpool Lottery to support
organisations which help the most vulnerable in the City, and our own
not for profit energy firm; the LECCY, to help those in fuel poverty. But these
innovations will only go a relatively short way to offsetting the impact of
austerity; we are fighting against a strong incoming tide."
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend Paul Bayes, said:- "A measure
of a true and just society is our attitude to the poorest and the most
vulnerable in our society. This report provides a statistical analysis of that
measure and it makes hard reading. It does not surprise me that the brunt of
cutbacks and difficulties are shouldered by those in poverty, the long term sick
and the disabled, nor that people face double and triple whammies as the
different cuts strike them over and over. It does not surprise me; but it angers
me. It angers me that we allow this to happen repeatedly to our sisters and
brothers, to our children, to our neighbours. It angers me that our hard working
local politicians are forced to make heart breaking, difficult decisions over
where best to spend their very limited resources. It angers me that central UK
Government seems not to recognise both the injustice and impracticality of their
funding regime. I don't want to see a society where our children starve, where
our fellow citizens are punished for being disabled, sick and in need. In
today's world, in today's Britain we should be investing in support for people.
We should not punish, attack and demonise the very people who need our help
most. I am most grateful for the work of the officers of our City Council in
producing this excellent report. A single resource cut on its own is bad enough.
But when we look at the whole picture it becomes catastrophic. We need to
change. We are and could be a better society than this."
Councillor Jane Corbett, Cabinet member for fairness, social inclusion and
equalities, said:- "Contrary to the UK Government's narrative, many of
these are hitting families where there is someone in work. All it is doing is
dragging more children into poverty and affecting their life chances. At the
same time, they are shifting the responsibility to sorting it out from central
UK Government to Councils, housing associations and other partners while we are
facing massive cuts to our budgets. Populist rhetoric around savings to the
benefits bill must be set against the reality which is a huge cost to the public
purse of paying Discretionary Housing Payments and the social consequences of
housing families in temporary accommodation when they are evicted because they
can't afford their rent."
Further work will be carried out on the impact of welfare reform changes on
disabled people, families with children, the level of debt and which areas of
the City have been hardest hit. These will be incorporated into a final report
published later this year which will help the Council to further develop its
approach to support those affected by welfare reforms.