GMLC Demonstration - Photo Courtesy of Greater Manchester Law Centre

Manchester law centre refuses to help implement universal credit

  • Greater Manchester Law Centre (GMLC) calls new system 'convoluted and ineffective'
  • 'All the examples of I, Daniel Blake are true' – GMLC's Astrid Johnson

Manchester’s most prominent law centre is refusing to help implement  universal credit and is supporting calls to end its roll-out.

Greater Manchester Law Centre (GMLC) says the new benefit is a “punishment” on vulnerable people.

In a statement, GMLC called the new system “convoluted and ineffective” saying that it would not “be complicit in a scheme which results in further adversity” for the most vulnerable.

This comes after a local Job Centre approached the organisation requesting that they provide computers and supervisors to help people access the scheme.

Experts have drawn attention to multiple problems with the universal credit system, including a minimum six-week wait for payments to be processed.

Development worker for GMLC, Astrid Johnson, said: “The government relies more and more on online services, but what people really need is a person to talk to, because they are being assessed as being fit to work, although they have a severe mental or physical problem”.

Ms Johnson fears the roll-out will led to similar problems as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

She said: “All the examples of I, Daniel Blake are true. We had one case that hadn’t been resolved, but the person involved had already died. Where was the judgement there when the person was so sick that he died during that period of appeal? Those are the kinds of cases we deal with.”

GMLC have joined the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, MPs and public sector bosses to demand a halt to the policy.

Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell described Universal Credit as “chaotic and broken” and said she was “dreading” its expansion.

GMLC provides access to free, independent legal advice and representation for the people of Greater Manchester. Since opening in August last year, they have helped clients claim back £370,000 in lost benefits in their first year.