TUC say around 850 newly unemployed people in Halton a month wait up to five weeks to get their first benefit payment.

The trade union say people face the longer delay under the new Universal Credit system and could find themselves going two months into arrears before support comes to them.

In Halton there are an average of 850 people who start claiming jobseekers allowance every month.

North west TUC regional secretary Lynn Collins said: “We know workers in the north west have suffered cuts in real earnings over the last five years, and will have relied on savings to get by, which means that many workers have no financial buffer if they lose their job. Help should be there when it is needed, but instead people will be left to rely on food banks and pay day loans to see them through the wait.

“Welfare reform is one thing but the five week wait is a collective punishment for anyone who loses their job. People need to focus on finding new work, instead of being stressed-out about how they will pay the rent, feed the kids and keep the heating on.”