Northampton Hope Centre, the charity supporting homeless and vulnerable people, is calling for urgent multi-agency talks to review imminent changes to the benefits system.
Many Hope Centre clients suffer from emotional trauma or are battling addictions
The new Universal Credit will replace a number of existing working-age benefits across the country from October 2013, including housing, child tax credits and unemployment support.
‘The Universal Credit requires most people to submit their claims using the Internet’
As well as combining separate fortnightly benefits into one monthly payment, the Universal Credit will also require most people to submit their claims using the Internet.
However, some are warning that Northamptonshire is unprepared for the full impacts of the biggest shake up of the welfare system in years.
Catherine Maryon, General Manager at Northampton Hope Centre, explains:
“We have real concerns about how homeless people will apply for Universal Credits using the Internet, and also manage their finances with one monthly payment.
“Not only will this prove challenging to those without access to, or experience using a computer, but many of our clients suffer from emotional trauma or are battling addictions which and require careful support with managing their finances.
“We are now calling for an urgent meeting with all key organisations in the County helping homeless and vulnerable people to prepare a coordinated response to these changes.”
We are now calling for an urgent meeting with all key organisations in the County helping homeless and vulnerable people
Catherine Maryon, General Manager at Northampton Hope Centre
Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire and a strong supporter of the Northampton Hope Centre, added:
“I welcome the introduction of Universal Credit – it will simplify current benefits and ensure work always pays.
“But as a great supporter of the work done by the Hope Centre for Northampton’s homeless, I sympathise with their concern about the need to provide support for the transition to new arrangements for these vulnerable people. The proposal for a local multi agency meeting is a sensible way to address these real concerns.”
Northampton Hope Centre is currently marking the first anniversary of its move to Oasis House on Campbell Street, where the charity provides day centre services and life skills support for up to 100 people every day.