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News Report Page 20 of 21
Publication Date:- 2018-02-17
News reports located on this page = 4.

Council calls for rethink on Job Centre closures

LIVERPOOL City Council is again calling on the Government to reconsider its programme of Job Centre closures. The Department for Work and Pensions closed Norris Green, in September 2017 and Aintree, in October 2017; while Edge Hill and Wavertree are due to shut their doors on 2 March 2018 and 16 March 2018 respectively, with claimants having to travel to Toxteth instead. 

Those affected are having to make much longer and more costly journeys to their mandatory 'signing on' appointments; in some cases 2 bus rides, a ½ mile walk and a journey time of an hour each way. If they do not attend they risk being sanctioned and losing benefits.

Mayor Joe Anderson and Cabinet member for employment and skills, Cllr Lana Orr, have now written to the new Employment Minister Alok Sharma MP asking him to consider 2 proposals:-

Co-locating Norris Green and Wavertree Job Centres in local One Stop Shops.

Placing Job Centre Plus staff in public/community buildings such as libraries where claimants could sign on.

Councillor Lana Orr, Cabinet member for employment and skills, said:- "There is no doubt that the closures will cause greater hardship for our poorest residents who use these centres. It places an added stress and burden on people who are already struggling to make ends meet and the extra cost is money they can ill afford. We accept the Government needs to make savings on its building costs, and what we are proposing is a far more efficient use of the public estate in which they co-locate Job Centre services in community buildings, rather than just cutting people adrift. Some unemployed people are living on just over ₤70 a week and can't afford to pay for broadband at home. They need the professional support offered by staff to fill in their applications so they stand the best chance of getting off welfare and into work. These decisions are being made by Whitehall officials based on demographics, rental cost and accommodation and not on the basis of need. Large parts of north Liverpool are left without a Job Centre, despite having high claimant counts. It is just another obstacle hindering people's chances of getting into work and the savings made could well be outweighed by an increase in the benefits bill. We have already worked positively with the DWP on the move of the City Centre Job Centre Plus into St Johns Market. It provides a blueprint of how we can cluster relevant support services in one place together, in this case a credit union, white goods store and help for the homelessness."

Please also let us know what you think about these plans, via emailing us via:- News24@SouthportReporter.ComAlternatively you can also send us your views via Tweeting us at:- @SouthportReport or posting on our Facebook Page.

Parents urged to be cautious before applying for Tax Free Childcare

THE Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is urging parents and carers to check their position before applying for the new Tax Free Childcare (TFC) as they may find other benefits they currently receive are stopped or that other childcare schemes can offer more financial support than TFC.

The roll out of Tax Free Childcare (TFC) is now complete. Although many will benefit from the scheme, it does add a further layer of complexity to the already complicated childcare landscape, says LITRG.

Chair of LITRG Anne Fairpo said:- "We are fully supportive of the help provided by the TFC scheme to working parents looking for reliable, high quality, affordable childcare but when set alongside existing childcare offerings, the childcare landscape that results is incredibly complex for very many people. If an existing Tax Credit claimant makes a claim for TFC, even if they do not claim any help with childcare costs through Tax Credits, their whole Tax Credit claim will be automatically terminated. If they live in an area where Universal Credit. full service has rolled out they may find that they are not able to claim Tax Credits again and this is very confusing."

Someone is not entitled to TFC if they claim Tax Credits (any Tax Credits, not just childcare support) or Universal Credit... They also cannot receive childcare vouchers or directly contracted childcare, via their employer, at the same time as receiving help through the TFC scheme. This means that people thinking of applying for TFC need to ensure that it is the right scheme for them before claiming, which involves a series of complex calculations.

Anne Fairpo said:- "For some people, who do not currently receive any Government benefits or childcare support, the choice to apply for TFC will be an easy one. However, those on lower incomes who claim Tax Credits or Universal Credit. or who get help with their childcare costs through their employer need to ensure they seek good advice to make sure that TFC is the right choice for them when compared to the other options. Those new to paying childcare will need to work out carefully which scheme will provide them with the most financial support. At present, we do not think there is anything like enough clear guidance and support to help people fully understand the rules and conditions of each scheme and to understand how the schemes interact and which 1 will be most financially beneficial. It is crucial that the Government do more to support parents and carers with these difficult decisions. As well as more guidance, we would like to see an extension of the childcare helpline to provide specialist, trained staff who can help with better-off calculations otherwise there is a risk that decisions will be made that leave people financially worse off and in some cases may be irreversible."

Does this affect you or someone you know? Please do let us know what you think about these plans, via emailing:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com with your thoughts on this issue.  Alternatively you can also send us your views via Tweeting us at:- @SouthportReport or posting on our Facebook Page.

52,000 children of public sector workers in North West pushed into poverty

ALMOST 52,000 children in the North West with a parent working in the public sector are now living in poverty according to new TUC analysis that have been published Thursday, 15 February 2018. Since 2010, the region has seen over 17,000 more children (51% rise) fall into poverty since 2010. The TUC research also shows that by April 2018, 1 in 7 children in the UK (550,000) in public sector working families will be living below the official poverty line as a result of the public sector pay cap, tax and benefit changes.

The analysis shows:-

An extra 150,000 children with at least 1 parent working in the public sector will be below the poverty line this April; an increase of 40% since 2010.

Families where both parents work in the public sector are the biggest losers from the Government's pay restrictions and benefit changes. Their average household income will be down ₤83 each week in real terms by April 2018.

Households where 1 parent works in the public sector and another works in the private sector will lose on average ₤53 a week.

The South West (+55%) has seen the biggest increase in child poverty rates among families with a public sector worker in England. It's followed by the North West (+51%) and East Midlands (+50%).

Separate TUC analysis shows that holding down public servants' pay reduced spending power in the North West region by ₤7 billion since 2010.

The average North West public sector worker today earns ₤2695 less than if their pay had risen in line with inflation (CPI).

TUC Regional Secretary for the North West, Lynn Collins said:- "The Government's pay restrictions and in work benefit cuts have caused needless hardship all over the UK. Public servants shouldn't have to worry about feeding or clothing their kids, yet many are struggling to afford even the basics. Ministers must give nurses, teachers and other public sector workers the pay rise they have earned or more families will continue falling into poverty."

Smooth transition planned for shelter closure

LIVERPOOL City Council has the:- 'provision and expertise in place' to deal with the wind down of the temporary homelessness shelter at Kingsway House in the City Centre, which is set to close, on Wednesday, 28 February 2018.

The shelter - set up and managed by the Signature Living Group; has been open during the winter to provide drop in accommodation for rough sleepers.

Liverpool City Council officials are currently working with the team there to ensure a smooth transition of the residents to the new Labre House facility on Camden Street, as well as utilising other accommodation providers around the City.

Councillor Frank Hont, Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, explained:- "Making sure we can make a smooth transition from Kingsway House to the Council's facility at Labre House on Camden Street is crucially important. I'd like to thank Lawrence Kenwright and Sue Wright and their team for the work they've done over the past few months in providing emergency accommodation and to their brilliant team of volunteers who have shown such compassion and dedication in helping rough sleepers. The next stage is to put in place a plan for each of the residents in Kingsway and ensure a smooth transition when it closes at the end of the month. People can be assured that the Council has the provision and expertise in place to offer tailored support. This is what we mean when we say there's 'always room inside.'"

Councillor Hont added:- "Whether it's us, or Signature, or any of the fabulous voluntary organisations that do so much to help vulnerable rough sleepers, we are all trying to achieve the same result: a City where no 1 is left on the street."

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