Greater Manchester Law Centre, which opened last year with backers including Maxine Peake and Michael Mansfield, has announced that it is refusing to assist the implementation of Universal Credit. Instead, the Centre has supported calls to stop the roll-out of the controversial welfare scheme which has put many people even further in debt and poverty.
The Law Centre has revealed that a local Job Centre approached it before the introduction of Universal Credit to request that they provide computers and supervisors to help people to access the scheme.
"This is not the role of the voluntary sector" the Centre states "We will not be complicit in a scheme which results in further adversity and punishment for vulnerable people. We therefore refuse to offer Universal Credit services and we demand that its roll-out is stopped...
"If Universal Credit is so convoluted and ineffective that voluntary sector organisations are relied upon, then it should not be implemented at all" it adds.
Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, and many public sector bosses and MPs have also demanded an immediate halt to the policy, highlighting a series of serious problems with the system, including a minimum six-week wait for payments to be processed.
A letter from organisations across Greater Manchester, including Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre Centre and Salford Mayor, Paul Dennett, has also called for a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit across Greater Manchester...
"It's been a complete disaster" says Debbie Blanchard from Greater Manchester Housing Action, who worked on the letter with Isaac Rose "In the areas where full Universal digital service has been rolled out, eighty per cent of claimants are in arrears after a year...It is a debt machine.
"It is also a homelessness machine" she adds "Young people under 22 are automatically assessed by the digital software as having zero housing costs. It can only end in disaster and is the next Poll Tax for this Government..."