MORE than 16,300 people in Wirral are now receiving personalised Universal Credit (UC), new figures have revealed.

Across the North West there are more than 339,000 people receiving UC while in Wirral the figure is 16,357.

The controversial new system replaces six previous benefits with one single monthly payment.

Birkenhead MP Frank Field has been a vocal critic of the changes and told the Globe that UC "brings hardship and misery."

Mr Field said: "For all too many people in Birkenhead, Universal Credit brings hardship and misery.

"The wait of five weeks, at least, before receiving a first payment, the eye watering rates of repayment on DWP loans that people take out to cover those five weeks, the lack of upfront support towards childcare costs, and the difficulties involved with using online systems to make and manage claims, are just some of the problems that drive people towards hunger and destitution."

Mr Field's comments are a stark contrast to the views of Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince who says that UC is a "force for good."

Mr Quince said: “Universal Credit is a force for good, delivering personalised support right across the North West and helping people find work.

“This week the employment rate reached a joint-record high and the jobs market continues to go from strength to strength.

"I have no doubt that this is due in part to our fantastic jobcentre staff, who work tirelessly to help people build their skills and find jobs.

“For people who want to find work, there’s a wide range of help available in jobcentres, including training courses, CV writing sessions and jobs fairs.”