Filling the gaps in the welfare system essential to London’s recovery

Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, raised concerns about the widening gaps in the welfare system at this week’s (23rd July) London Assembly Plenary meeting. The meeting was held to discuss the capital’s economic recovery Covid-19, with an expert panel outlining measures that City Hall and the Government can take to mitigate the impacts of the looming recession. Ms McCartney warned that gaps in the safety net meant “too many Londoners are being left to fall through the cracks.”

Ms McCartney asked the regional secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Sam Gurney, about the implications of a further spike in Universal Credit claimants as the Government’s furlough scheme begins to wind down.

Her question follows a new London Councils report, which reveals how Universal Credit’s five week wait policy has caused a spike in rent arrears amongst council tenants.

Mr Gurney said more Londoners risk becoming reliant on a Universal Credit system that “isn’t fit for purpose” and fails to cover the costs of living, despite some of “tweaks” made by the Government in recent months.

Ms McCartney also asked the panel about the plight being faced during the Covid-19 outbreak by thousands of Londoners with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).

Chair of the London Recovery Taskforce’s Economic Recovery Working Group, Cllr Georgia Gould, said local authorities across the capital are acting to support those who cannot access certain parts of the welfare system due to NRPF restrictions. But Cllr Gould said councils’ efforts were being hampered by a lack of Government funding.

Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, said:

“Clearly, those leading London’s economic recovery understand that the Government must address the widening gaps in the welfare system.

“From the five-week wait for Universal Credit to the No Recourse to Public Funds policy, too many Londoners are being left to fall through the cracks.

“If local authorities are to continue to support the vulnerable in our communities, they urgently need a long-term funding guarantee from Central Government.

“As we confront another recession, we need to look at the stark lessons of the last decade and ensure that this time around, no one is left behind”.