Universal Credit: Important advice to Liverpool residents following welfare cut and rising bills

Advice has been published to help Liverpool residents who may be affected by cuts to Universal Credit and increasing energy prices.

One in ten people across Portsmouth will be hit by a reduction in Universal Credit. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The Government has announced the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit, which was brought in during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been withdrawn.

The reduction in benefit for those already on low incomes and the ongoing increase in energy prices has prompted Liverpool City Council to advise residents that help is available.

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The local authority has a number of schemes to aid people in crisis, providing help with paying council tax, rent and for essential goods.

Universal Credit change will ‘hurt so many’

Deputy Mayor, Councillor Jane Corbett, warned that one in three households in Liverpool are in poverty and a third of people on Universal Credit are already in work.

She said: “The £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit being rolled out from today by the Government is going to hurt so many of our residents and make it impossible to make ends meet for so many households.

“It sounds like a small amount of money but it will be the difference between being able or not to keep you and your family warm, fed, and clothed.

“Many thousands of our families will be facing a very difficult winter with the end of the furlough scheme, the end of the £20 uplift in Universal Credit, the lifting of the eviction ban, rising fuel bills and coming just before Christmas.

“Despite the financial challenges we face, we have a number of schemes available to help people who need short term support and we would encourage people to get in touch, rather than struggle alone.”

Rising energy bills

People in the UK could see their energy bills rise by hundreds of pounds next year, analysts have said.

Research agency Cornwall Insight has predicted that the energy price cap will soar by £400 in the spring.

Rising Council Tax

Households in Liverpool could see their council tax rise by up to 5% in order to keep up with current government spending plans, according to a financial think tank.

The Institute of Fiscal Research has issued the forecast, which outlines that a rise in council tax of at least 3.6% would be needed to keep up with spending.

However, due to extra costs, this could increase to a rise of 5% a year through to 2024/25. This equates to the average household bill in England rising by £160.

How to get help with benefits, energy bills, Council Tax and more

Benefits advice

Request benefits advice or get help with Universal Credit claims today at www.liverpool.gov.uk/bms or check if you qualify online at www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators. You can also call freephone 0800 028 3697 or visit any One Stop Shop. You can also speak to your landlord if you’re a social housing tenant.

Debt

Your local Citizens Advice can help you deal with debt. You can book appointments with the city centre money advice team on 0151 233 2771. Call 0344 848 7700 or visit www.citizensadviceliverpool.org.uk to find your local office. For details of other organisations go to www.liverpool.gov.uk/debt

Council Tax

Call us today on 0800 028 3686 if you’re having problems paying your Council Tax, have Council Tax arrears, are struggling to pay back overpaid Housing Benefit or owe other debts to the council.

Council Tax Support helps you pay some of your Council Tax if you are on a low income or claiming certain benefits. You can claim whether you own your home or rent, or whether you’re working or unemployed.

Free school meals

Apply today at www.liverpool.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals or call free phone 0800 028 3697 and your family could save over £400 per year and your child’s school can receive up to £1,900 additional funding for every eligible child.

Housing

Housing Options provides help and advice if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Call us on freephone 0800 731 6844. Visit any of our One Stop Shops – www.liverpool.gov.uk/onestopshops or call 0151 233 3000

Fuel and energy bills

Our Healthy Homes team can provide free help and advice if you’re struggling to pay your fuel bills, and energy saving hints and tips to help keep you warm and your bills low. They may also be able to help with replacement boilers and windows. Visit www.liverpool.gov.uk/housing/fuel-poverty-and-energy-efficiency/ or call them on freephone 0800 0121 754.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) can give you short term help to pay your rent when Housing Benefit or Universal Credit does not meet your rent in full. You can apply if you receive Housing Benefit or the housing cost element of Universal Credit or there is a shortfall between your rent and benefit entitlement.

Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme

If you find yourself in crisis you can apply for support to get food and basic necessities for you and your family including gas and electric vouchers (urgent needs) and furniture and household essentials (home needs). An emergency or crisis might be a fire or flood, or you have had to move due to violence or fear of violence, or you are leaving care or prison and need support to stay in the community.

Foodbanks in Liverpool

Your local foodbank can provide at least three days’ emergency food and support to people in crisis. You can get a voucher from your: health visitor, social worker, local citizens advice or charity organisation and take your voucher to your local Trussell Trust foodbank to receive your emergency food. Your local church or community centre may have their own system and you may not need a voucher.

Short-term benefits advance

If you’re waiting for your first benefit payment and don’t have enough money to cover food and essential items such as rent, gas and electric you can ask your local Job Centre for a short-term advance.