Liverpool

New Liverpool mums on benefit 'unable to leave hospital'

Baby bank
Image caption The L6 community centre is opening a baby bank next month

A new mother said she was unable to leave hospital with her newborn baby because of a 10-week delay in her Universal Credit payments.

The Liverpool woman, who does not want to be named, was told she could only be discharged with a car seat for her baby and ended up "begging anyone".

The L6 community centre in Everton came to her aid with a new car seat, pram, nappies and other essentials.

The Department for Work and Pensions said "100% advances are available".

Her story is all too common, reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Everton ward councillor Gerard Woodhouse, who runs the L6 community centre and is due to open a baby bank next month, said he knows of 30 similar cases.

Image copyright BSIP
Image caption More new mothers are struggling since the roll-out of Universal Credit

He said he had seen "shocking hardship" since the roll-out of Universal Credit in the city.

Mr Woodhouse said: "What we are finding is that there are people having babies who have not got a cot or pram or anything to take the baby home.

"The baby is left in the hospital when the mum goes home until a social worker or NHS find them provisions."

The anonymous mum, who does not have a car, said it was a "very traumatic" time after the birth of her baby girl in January.

"I was at a very low ebb and, without the L6 centre, I dread to think what would have happened to Linzi and I."

She said she did not receive any benefits until the middle of February and was "petrified" social services would get involved.

"By then I owed it all out."

'Poverty and destitution'

The woman is now doing volunteer work at the centre on Queens Road to "give something back" but said she knew of other new mums who were also struggling.

The DWP said: "On Universal Credit, no-one has to wait to be paid as up to 100% advances are available from day one of a claim.

"New mothers could also be eligible for a £500 grant towards the cost of having a child."

Former Labour minister Frank Field said it was further evidence of the "destruction being caused to family budgets by Universal Credit".

"We desperately need a rescue package for these families, otherwise yet more babies will be born into poverty and destitution."

The independent MP has previously claimed that women in his Birkenhead constituency were being forced into prostitution by cash shortages as a result of Universal Credit.

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