Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Jobcentre staff may go on strike

with 82 comments

This story came up a few days ago, which our contributors noted:

Covid: Strike ‘possible’ over longer job centre opening

The return to normal opening hours for job centres is putting users and staff “in harm’s way”, a union has warned.

The PCS said it would not rule out strike action, arguing the extension should instead put back until Covid vaccines were “fully rolled out”.

Job centres went back to their pre-lockdown hours on Monday, having previously been cut to 10am to 2pm.

Today we hear:

Universal Credit fears as Jobcentre staff could go on strike

Wales on Line reports.

A union says staff do not feel safe during the pandemic

Most Jobcentre workers do not feel safe going into offices after they fully reopened last week, a union has said as it warned of industrial action over the issue.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said a survey of more than 1,000 of its members found around three in five feel unsafe, while another one in five are unsure about their safety because of continuing fears about the virus.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These results reflect the anger and frustration our members feel every day. Thousands of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff have been providing support to claimants safely from home throughout the pandemic.

“The only logical reason they would insist on fully reopening is because management’s obsession with sanctioning vulnerable claimants.

“These stats show how staff feel and should send a strong signal to ministers that they need to urgently meet with the union to avoid potential industrial action.”

Then there is this story:

Written by Andrew Coates

April 19, 2021 at 5:31 pm

Half a million Universal Credit claimants hit by tax debt deduction.

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Universal credit: how to claim, and how much you will receive | Consumer  affairs | The Guardian

Half a Million of Them Hit by New Deductions.

But all is far from going well in Universal Credit land, and here’s a further reminder that the system does not just replace JSA and other benefits, but also includes that who used to receive Tax Credits. That is, people in work.

Half a million Universal Credit claimants shocked by sudden tax debt deduction

Carers and frontline workers among those targeted with many people unaware they even owed the money

Birmingham Live reports:

Around half a million people claiming Universal Credit or other benefits have been hit by a sudden tax deduction this year.

They have been targeted as the Government claws back tax credit overpayments from as far back as 17 years ago.

In response to a freedom of information request, the DWP revealed they had been docking payments to Universal Credit claimants because of tax credit overpayments at a rate of 47,000 cases per week this year – effectively wiping out the £20 a week boost given to Universal Credit recipients.

Cuts started on January 18 for people who had newly started claiming Universal Credit for the first time during the pandemic.

Many of the debts being chased are for thousands of pounds. The total amount owed in overpayment of tax credits is estimated to be £6 billion.

….

For those still receiving tax credits, the money is taken out of that with 10 per cent to 50 per cent of a person’s payment cut to claw it back, depending on earnings.

For those only on the family element of Child Tax Credits, payments are slashed by 100 per cent, meaning income is stopped completely until the overpayments are cleared.

And for those no longer on tax credits but now on Universal Credit or other state benefits, the debt is taken from those payments. The Department for Work and Pensions can impose deductions on Universal Credit and other benefits to recover third-party debts to HMRC and other organisations.

Only 1 per cent of tax credit overpayments are a result of fraud or negligence by the recipient. In the majority of cases, it’s said to be due to system errors by the HMRC.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 15, 2021 at 3:43 pm

As Local Housing Allowance is Frozen DWP Minister Thérèse Coffey Gets £1,885 for her London Pied à Terre.

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Robert Goodwill's visit to Scotland and Minister Coffey's visit to  Salisbury pub re-opening - Defra in the media

Coffey Celebrates Nice Little Earner for Tory MPs.

Tory MPs claim almost £3m in housing rent on expenses

Welfare secretary Thérèse Coffey, whose department runs the LHA system, claimed £1,885 a month.

Revelation comes at same time as government freezes housing allowance, which could drive many tenants into debt.

A spokesperson for tenants’ union Acorn said: “To commit to this [LHA] freeze at the same time as huge swathes of the government’s own MPs are claiming extortionate amounts on expenses to pay rent on second homes is disgraceful and perfectly demonstrates the contempt with which they treat low-income people in this country – particularly given many of these MPs are claiming these expenses for second homes at the same time as raking in profit from homes they are renting out to tenants, while already taking home salaries far beyond what most people could ever imagine.”

The Tory MP claiming the highest rent expenses is Helen Whately, minister for social care. Despite earning £113,612 as an MP and minister, she claimed £3,250 in housing rent from the taxpayer each month between April and November 2020 – £26,000 in total during those eight months.

If Whately claims £3,250 a month for the whole of 2020/21, she will receive £39,000 towards her rent during the financial year. This is higher than the estimated average annual pay of her constituents, the average full-time earnings in the UK, the average nurse’s salary – and over double the average full-time care worker’s pay in 2019/20.

Suffolk Coastal, Coffey’s Constituency, is within commuting range of London.

This is the background:

Benefits system increasing homelessness in London, research finds.

A report from Homeless Link, titled Homelessness and welfare benefits in London, found that both the frozen Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the benefit cap mean people claiming benefits cannot afford the housing that is available in the capital.

The report notes that the number of single people claiming Universal Credit in London increased by 88% between March, when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the UK, and August last year.

Meanwhile, an analysis found that 24 of the 32 boroughs in London do not have enough shared private rented accommodation to house those claiming the housing element of Universal Credit or housing benefit.

Across those 24 boroughs, only 54% of shared private rented accommodation would be affordable to those claiming benefits for their housing, the analysis found.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, chancellor Rishi Sunak reversed a multiyear freeze on the LHA rate, which determines how much housing benefit private renters receive, to ensure benefits covered the lowest third of rents in a local area.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 11, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Monitoring of Claimants “suspected of Fraud” Extended to Social Media.

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Social Media Surveillance #infographic - Visualistan

This story has appeared. Some suggest it is scare tactics, even scare-mongering, but it is still threatening. What has social media got to do with making a benefit claim?

20 million benefits or Universal Credit claimants hit by warning over their social media accounts Birmingham Live.

Welfare claims including Universal Credit are managed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

The DWP can look at your bank account and social media if it suspects benefit fraud, claimants have been warned.

Welfare claims including Universal Credit are managed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

And it has emerged the body has the power to investigate potential crimes in several different ways.

More than 20million people are using welfare support in Britain – a figure that is expected to rise.

In case you had not got the messages Cambridgeshire Live headlines.

Universal Credit: Social media stalking and covert surveillance used to investigate suspect benefit claims

Manchester Evening News

Anyone who is on benefits or Universal Credit can have their social media and bank accounts monitored at any time, it has been reported.

And so it goes:

Meanwhile by coincidence….

DWP confirms when Universal Credit and PIP claimants will see face-to-face assessments restart

North Wales Live:

Face-to-face assessments of certain benefits are set to resume next month, it’s been revealed.

It comes after they were suspended last year by officials at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2021 at 3:23 pm

DWP Launches Train and Progress (TaP).

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With Special Tap Scheme for Universal Credit Claimants.

Universal Credit claimants TAP into employment

Millions of jobseekers will be able to access longer work-related training while in receipt of benefits to boost their chances of finding employment.

Later this month, DWP Train and Progress (TaP), a new DWP initiative aimed at increasing access to training opportunities for claimants, will see an extension to the length of time people can receive Universal Credit while undertaking work-focused study.

Initially available for 6 months, the amount of time Universal Credit claimants can take part in full-time training will extend to up to 12 weeks throughout Great Britain – up from the current 8 weeks.

The change will ensure those receiving UC and in the intensive work search group can take advantage of sector-specific training from digital skills to social care and engineering while receiving the financial support they need.

It includes access to the level 3 adult offer, with the Department for Work and Pensions today announcing it will go even further and increase this to 16 weeks for those enrolled on level 3 Skills Bootcamps.

It is not entirely clear what these courses are, and exactly what this entails. The only media reports simply reproduce the DWP Press Release.

Will Legacy Claimants be eligible?

This name is alone is not welcoming. It sounds like something delinquent Americans got sent to in the 1950s.

Skills bootcamps

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, the Prime Minister also announced the skills bootcamp programme.

Skills bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of just 12 to 16 weeks for adults aged 19 or over and who are either in work or recently unemployed (some skills bootcamps have additional eligibility criteria). They give people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.

It is not clear that many new qualifications will help, given that employers and workers already say that a large number of differently named certificates confuses peeople;

The move comes as the UK government launches almost 400 additional free qualifications as part of the UK government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, and follows the announcement earlier this week of a further 13,500 Work Coaches in Jobcentres across the country.

People will also wonder if this statement relates to claimants:

There does not appear to be a current version of ‘Community Work Placement’ and all the rest, or is there? Things like that are hardly going to happen during Lockdown.

Tiah Paige Burrell says job seeking during Covid has felt “impossible”, leaving her low and close to despair. BBC 2 Days Ago.

The creative professional from Great Yarmouth, 20, left a job just before the pandemic began and has only worked for a month at her local theatre since.

According to new research from the Prince’s Trust, people under 25 account for three in five of the jobs lost during the crisis so far.

And it warns youth unemployment could rise even higher.

The problem, it says, is that younger workers are over-represented in sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, such as hospitality and entertainment, and these will take longer to recover.

They are also under-represented in occupations likely to see the strongest job growth coming out of the crisis, such as health and social work.

Meanwhile;

Written by Andrew Coates

April 1, 2021 at 2:46 pm

Surveillance of Jobseekers.

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Working from home? How to stay in touch and stay secure | Cybercrime | The  Guardian

Surveillance Capitalism.

This is an old topic but it remains there, “If your Claimant Commitment includes looking for work, you will be expected to do everything you reasonably can to prepare for and find work. In most cases, you will need to complete up to 35 hours of work search activity per week in order to receive Universal Credit.” (it began before Universal Credit).

People have already discussed this and how we fulfil it by applying for jobs, to be the honest the only thing that counts

Just hoping this does not give the DWP ideas….

Missing from desk’: AI webcam raises remote surveillance concerns

The Guardian reports.

System developed by French firm Teleperformance monitors home workers for ‘breaches’

For anyone concerned that an era of home working could also become one of remote surveillance, the training video for Teleperformance’s in-house webcam security system, called TP Observer, is the stuff of bad dreams.

Explained by “Anna”, a desk-sitting avatar complete with an artificial voice, the video introduces TP Observer as “a risk-mitigation tool that monitors and tracks real time employee behaviour, and detects any violations to pre-set business rules”.

Anna explains that this means home workers will have an AI-enabled webcam added to their computers that recognises their face, tags their location and scans for “breaches” of rules at random points during a shift.

Now the libraries are going to open again, I recommend this book. It’s a bit long, wordy, wildly generalising and breathless, but full of facts and ideas.

Book Review: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff.

Unlike industrial capitalism, which profits from exploiting natural resources and labour, surveillance capitalism profits from the capture, rendering and analysis of behavioural data through ‘instrumentarian’ methods that are designed to cultivate ‘radical indifference […] a form of observation without witness’ (379). The surveillance capitalists found an untapped reservoir of information that their services were collecting for internal analytics and programming, and they saw an opportunity: they could sell that ‘data exhaust’ to advertisers. For them, the humans attached to that data are just accessories.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 28, 2021 at 9:25 am

Call to raise Benefits to cope with Mental Health Crisis.

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Proper Benefits a Key to a Fairier Future.

People often talk of their worries about money, and none of more than those on benefits. It is less common to speak about their mental health, and the issues about plain and simple anxiety. It is one of those that governments do not admit but systems like Universal Credit and designed to create anxious claimants desperate to get out of a system that is designed to make them complete piles of job application, spend their time in ‘job search’, and constantly aware that they do not receive enough money to live properly on. Not to mention that many consider that they are being treated as refuse.

 

Raise benefits to curb UK crisis in mental health, expert urges

The welfare system is damaging the health of the poor and needs to be overhauled in the wake of the Covid pandemic, Britain’s leading expert on health inequalities has warned.

Sir Michael Marmot said increasing out-of-work benefits and support for low-paid workers as the country emerged from the pandemic could have a big impact in curbing a mental health crisis and even save lives.

Marmot, who chaired a seminal government review on health inequality in 2010 and warned last year that life expectancy had stalled for the first time in more than 100 years in England, said in an interview with the Observer that ministers should not “fiddle around the edges”, and instead should drastically reform the “uncaring” system in place.

“During the pandemic, we have seen that poor people got poorer,” he said. “We know that food insecurity went up. The likelihood of being in a shut-down sector increased the lower the income. So you’re either in a sector that was shut down, if you were low income, or you had to go out to work in an unsafe sector, or frontline occupation. Where we were in February 2020 was undesirable – and what happened with a pandemic is it made those inequalities worse.

“I have seen evidence that for some people in receipt of universal credit, there are mental health consequences. It is a brutalising system. Everyone should have at least the minimum income necessary for a healthy life. That means, ideally, all people of working age should be in work. That’s the desirable state.

“And in work, they should be paid a living wage. If they can’t work, for whatever reason, then the welfare system should be sufficiently generous for their health not to be damaged by that experience. We know what needs to be done. Let’s do it.”

This of course hardly helps people’s anxiety:

 

EXCLUSIVE Southampton MP Royston Smith charge the taxpayer £1 for his car parking during a visit to a food bank in November last year.

Still someone’s happy today:

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 21, 2021 at 3:54 pm

Freeze on Local Housing Allowance to Hit Low-waged and Claimants.

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Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in UK | DNS Accountants

Tories Ready to Throw Us Out of our Gaffs.

This really struck me yesterday.

Coming originally from London, and having many friends there, people talk all the time about the sky-high rents from the thieves, sorry, landlords. Someone I know spends nearly half her salary on funding the lifestyle of these idlers. Hell knows how you can get by if you’re on Universal Credit or Legacy Benefits.

When I had a gaff down Kentish Town in the 1970s we paid about a quarter of our wages in rent.

 

Benefits freeze will leave tenants across Britain facing rent arrears of £1,000

Guardian.

Low-income tenants across much of Britain will be left hundreds of pounds worse off from next month due to the government quietly imposing a real-terms cut in housing benefit, the Observer can reveal.

From April, the government is freezing the amount of local housing allowance (LHA), meaning tenants will receive the same amount of money as last financial year, even where rents have gone up. LHA is paid to tenants in privately rented homes, including those on universal credit.

In some parts of the country, tenants are set to lose more than £1,000 a year as a result of a combination of rising rents and the new benefit freeze, Observer analysis of government data shows. Those tenants affected will have to find the money from elsewhere, or else face growing rent arrears.

There is already evidence of an arrears crisis, with Citizens Advice estimating that half a million private tenants are behind on rent. The ban on most evictions, imposed at the start of the pandemic, was extended last week to the end of May.

“The freeze to LHA rates is yet another example of the government abandoning tenants – this will force many out of the private sector and on to the streets, and will force many more to choose between feeding their families and paying their rent,” said Nick Ballard, head organiser of tenants’ union Acorn.

Now this is the Tories’ responsibility, and specifically fat boy Eric Pickles who when not eating babies, introduced the ‘local’ Housing Allowance,  but I can’t help remembering this:

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 15, 2021 at 11:10 am

Kickstart Employment Scheme fails to get off the ground.

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“Fewer than 5,000 young people have started job placements on a £2bn Covid scheme that launched six months ago.”

There do seem to be people on Universal Credit assigned to ‘schemes’ to get them back into employment, or at least somebody I know told me in town this morning that he’d  had been put on one. How they can take place at the moment is hard to see.

 

But as Superted says, this is also the case

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey is aiming to create 250,000 jobs through the scheme – but in six months, fewer than 5,000 people have started their placements.

Fewer than 5,000 young people have started job placements on a £2bn Covid scheme that launched six months ago.

Cabinet minister Therese Coffey updated MPs today after admitting there had been a “backlog” in the flagship Kickstart scheme – which she intends to create “250,000 jobs”.

The Work and Pensions Secretary boasted there were now “almost 150,000 roles approved”, of which 30,000 vacancies were “live right now”.

But she told MPs the number of actual roles started was “over 4,000” – up from 1,868 in mid-January. It’s understood the figure is between 4,000 and 5,000.

Ms Coffey hailed a 75% jump in firms’ applications to host a young person after a minimum number of places was axed.

Not that you would read this on her Twitter feed.

 

Or here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 9, 2021 at 5:20 pm

Budget, Cut to Benefit Postponed for Six Months.

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Response from Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The Government’s decision to cut Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit in six months – just as the furlough scheme ends and unemployment peaks – will pull 500,000 people including 200,000 children into poverty as we head into winter….”

 

 

The £20 weekly uplift to universal credit payments will continue for a further six months, the chancellor has announced.

Rishi Sunak said in his Budget speech that the benefit uplift introduced last April to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on household finances, which was due to end on 31 March, will remain in place until September.

He said working tax credit claimants would receive equivalent support over the next six months through a one-off payment of £500, due to the way that system works operationally.

The number of people claiming universal credit in the UK has doubled since the start of the pandemic, surging from 3 million in March 2020 to 6 million at the start of this year.

Around 446 people were still making new claims every hour in the first week of 2021, and a total of 4.5 million people have made a claim for the benefit since the start of the public health crisis.

Independent.

 

 

On Radio Four’s News at One today they gave a decent section on the effects that the eventual cut to Universal Credit will have on people.

Budget 2021: Sunak announces extension to universal credit £20 top up

The chancellor has announced that the £20 a week increase in universal credit payments will be extended for another six months.

Rishi Sunak said the measure, which is worth £1,000 a year, would help those hit hardest by coronavirus.

But campaigners said the top up, introduced at the start of the pandemic, should be permanent.

Labour said the move does nothing to address insecurity and inequality.

Universal credit is claimed by more than 5.5 million households across the UK.

The payment was increased by £20 a week in April 2020 as part of the Chancellor’s early economic response to the pandemic.

This issue remains:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 4, 2021 at 4:22 pm

Universal Credit “Has not Worked” – Labour.

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While we are waiting for the Budget this week…

 

No clear answer yet:

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds says Universal Credit system needs radical reform but for now the £20 uplift must be retained during the pandemic

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds has declared that Universal Credit “simply has not worked” and should be scrapped.

The call from Labour’s finance chief comes as claimants wait to hear if a coronavirus top-up on the benefit – £1,040 a year, equivalent to £80 a month or £20 a week – will be extended into the next financial year

Ms Dodds said the temporary rise for six million Brits must be “maintained during the pandemic” but in the long term, the welfare scheme must be replaced.

She spoke about Universal Credit on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, where she said: “In the near term what we’ve got to do is be clear to families that in the middle of a pandemic, they should not be seeing £20 less a week coming in when they’re struggling.

“In the longer term, what we really need to see is radical reform, scrapping that Universal Credit system because it simply has not worked for families.”

 

Today:

 

 

 

h

Written by Andrew Coates

March 1, 2021 at 10:28 am

Calls for new Beveridge Report: building a decent welfare system

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This was on Channel Four last night:

These serious calls have been made in the last few days.

What British politicians won’t admit – we need to transform the welfare state

A conversation about a fundamentally different welfare state ought to fall two ways: between immediate answers to the cruelties of our current systems, and longer-term ideas about how to completely reinvent it. The former might include an end to universal credit’s built-in five-week wait, the abolition of the cruel and arbitrary benefit cap, and no more sanctioning. It should extend to a recalibration of housing benefit so that people – including key workers – can afford to live in even high-cost areas, a watershed rise in our miserable rates of statutory sick pay, and the upgrading of the minimum wage and national living wage to the so-called real living wage (£9.50 across the UK and £10.85 in London), with an ongoing link to inflation.

 

Louise Casey: ‘Are we ever going to create a Britain for everyone?’

 

The former homelessness tsar thinks we need big, radical reform to tackle hunger, rough sleeping and poverty. And she has a plan

“We need to move into Royal Commission territory,” she says. “A new Beveridge Report [drafted by the economist William Beveridge in 1942, this was the document that led to the founding of the welfare state]. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.” Crikey. Is this a job she would like to take on herself? I look at her steadily, wondering if she’s going to indulge in a bout of it’s-not-for-me-to-say. But, no. She doesn’t much go in for let’s pretend. “Yes, I’d love to be part of that,” she says. “Government can, if it wants to, do something on a different scale now. The nation has been torn apart, and there’s no point being defensive about that. We’ve got to gift each other some proper space to think. We’ve got to work out how not to leave the badly wounded behind.”

….

We can get there quite quickly,” she says. “By March, there will be 6 million people on universal credit [in October, there were 5.7m]. Almost 4 million people are furloughed, and those still working are on less income [in a survey by the Resolution Foundation, 26% of adults reported suppressed wages during the first lockdown]. Unemployment has doubled [it stood at 1.72 million in November 2020], and will keep rising. Two million people are still on legacy benefits – which means they didn’t get the £20 uplift that came with universal credit. Then you add in the 5 million people who are in debt [42% of adults report using at least one form of borrowing to cover everyday living costs].

….

Pre-pandemic, there were 280,000 homeless in England and Wales. Earlier this month, the government announced that the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, which protects private renters, would be extended to the end of March. But it will end eventually. “At which point, family homelessness will rise,” says Casey. “If 25% of your population is affected, then you can’t just tweak old policies, working out the least expensive, least challenging thing that can be done. You need big new policies.”

Most of us will have views on this!

Written by Andrew Coates

February 23, 2021 at 10:03 am

Warning about the impact of cuts to Universal Credit.

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The National Government of 1931 cut benefits of insured workers by ten per cent.

I mention this because it was something that people, including my Glaswegian father,  remembered for years afterwards, Glasgow was of course on the places heavily affected by mass unemployment during the depression.

The Covid pandemic has had enormous economic effects as experts in the bleeding obvious say.

Specifically,

The number of people being made redundant in the UK is rising at the fastest pace on record as the second wave of Covid-19 and tougher lockdown measures put increasing pressure on businesses and workers.

Unemployment has hit the highest level for four years, while millions more workers have been placed on furlough. Although the jobs crisis has not been as bad as feared earlier in the pandemic, the government’s independent economics forecaster – the Office for Budget Responsibility – expects the jobless rate to more than double from pre-pandemic levels to 7.5% this summer after furlough ends, representing more than 2.6 million people out of work.

The UK’s Covid-19 unemployment crisis in six charts

This is from the East Anglian Daily Times, yesterday.

120% increase in Universal Credit claimants

The number of claimants for Universal Credit in Babergh and Mid Suffolk has increased by 120% amid the fallout from coronavirus – with a tsunami of extra demand expected.

Citizens Advice figures presented to Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils’ joint scrutiny committee on Monday revealed that Universal Credit claimants had gone up by 119% in Babergh and 122% in Mid Suffolk compared to December 2019.

Today the story about the looming cut to Universal Credit continues,

 

New Fabian Society research finds that over 700,000 people in working or disabled households are to be pulled into poverty by universal credit cuts. 

The report shows how the cut to universal credit will reduce the living standards of households in many different circumstances:

  • Households with a disabled adult will be hit by 57 per cent of the cuts (£3.7bn per year)
  • Families with children will be hit by half the cuts (£3.2bn per year)
  • Households where someone is a carer will be hit by 12 per cent (£700m per year).

Only 13% of the savings will come from non-working, non-disabled households.

 

New research has found that 95% of those who will be pushed into poverty by the cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit planned by Rishi Sunak this year are in working or disabled households.

Following the publication of the Fabian Society report Who Loses? today, supported by the Standard Life Foundation, the Labour affiliate has said the £20-per-week reduction to the benefit “raises fundamental questions of justice”.

Analysis found that 87% of the cut, £5.5bn, will fall on working and disabled households, while half, £3.2bn, will hit homes where someone is in work. Households with someone in employment will make up 65% of all those pulled into poverty.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Andrew Harrop warned that scrapping the £20-per-week uplift, introduced to help people cope with the pandemic last year, will “overwhelmingly punish working families and disabled people”.

The Fabian Society general secretary added: “The Chancellor’s planned cut will strip £1,000 per year from six million families and plunge three quarters of a million people into poverty.

“Some politicians like to pretend that social security is just for the work-shy. But the reality is that millions of working households need benefits and tax credits to make ends meet, as do disabled people who are out of work through no fault of their own.

“If ministers are considering a few months’ temporary extension to the Universal Credit uplift, that just isn’t good enough. The 2020 benefit increase must be placed on a permanent footing.”

The Chancellor introduced the increase last March. It is not available to those on legacy benefits: child tax credit; housing benefit; income-related employment and support allowance; income-based jobseeker’s allowance; income support.

It took the standard rate for a single claimant on Universal Credit for those over 25 from £317.82 to £409.89 a month. The extra support, worth over £1,000 annually to each household, is currently set to be withdrawn in April.

The paper published today shows that people who are not expected to be job hunting – those already in work or disabled – will be the main long-term victims of Sunak’s insistence on scrapping the uplift.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 17, 2021 at 10:59 am

Food Banks and Universal Credit.

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Queuing for a Soup Kitchen in Glasgow.

 

 

xclausx signals this.

When exactly did Food Banks become an established part of life in the UK?

In theory social security was meant to cover people’s basic needs, with enough money to get what you need to eat as a part of benefit levels. The welfare state is based on rights, a kind of universal insurance, but also a a minium protection for all,.

There are countries without a welfare state, and those with such a small cover for those in need that food provision is the principal last resort for the poor, working or not. ” In the US the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program. Known previously as “food stamps,” SNAP benefits can help you stretch your food budget if you have a low income. SNAP (food stamps), D-SNAP, and WIC for women, infants, and children. “

That said, people have fallen through that net for a long time (dole is very limited, and can simply come to a complete end after a fixed time), soup kitchens, have been part of the US landscape for decades.

The idea is that people should succeed if they merit it. Real failures, ‘losers’ as they call then, should have to reply on the generosity, if they can get it,  of strangers. Or go to the gutter. If really genuinely unfortunate the kindness of charity is available,

The world’s first food bank was established in the US in 1967, and since then many thousands have been set up all over the world. In Europe, which until recently had little need for food banks due to extensive welfare systems, their numbers have grown rapidly since the 2006 and even faster since the global economic crisis.

In the UK, traditionally food hampers have been given out to the elderly and vulnerable members of communities at Harvest festivals and at Christmas but all year-round hunger has been a prominent issue since 2007 and has dramatically increased since 2011. Most, but not all, UK food banks are co-ordinated by The Trussell Trust – a Christian charity based in Salisbury which serves as the UK’s only food bank network. The Trussell Trust was established in 2000; in 2004 they only ran two food banks but as of August 2012 a massive 252 were being operated.

In the UK, a food bank is not a “soup kitchen”. Whilst the majority of food banks do give food directly to the hungry it is done by the issue of a voucher system which is issued from a third party. Soup kitchens can be accessed by the hungry without the intervention, assistance or referral of any professional body.

The History of Food Banks

Trump did this at the end of 2019,

Hundreds of thousands of Americans who rely on the federal food stamp program will lose their benefits under a new Trump administration rule that will tighten work requirements for recipients.

The move by the administration is the latest in its attempt to scale back the social safety net for low-income Americans. It is the first of three proposed rules targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as Snap, to be finalized. The program feeds more than 36 million people.

The plan will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.

Trump admirer (“Jacob Rees-Mogg MP says he would vote for Donald Trump” and Brexit fanatic Jacob Rees-Mogg, now Leader of the House of Commons said in 2019 that,

The voluntary support given to food banks is “rather uplifting” and “shows what a compassionate country we are”, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.

He told LBC radio the only reason for the rise in their use was “that people know that they are there”.

..

“To have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are,” he said.

“Inevitably, the state can’t do everything, so I think that there is good within food banks.

“The real reason for the rise in numbers is that people know that they are there and Labour deliberately didn’t tell them.”

Thérèse Coffey agrees,

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has described food banks as the “perfect way” to help the poor.

 

The Honourable Lady is right to praise volunteers at her local food bank who support vulnerable people in their area.  The Honourable Lady is right to praise volunteers at her local food bank who support vulnerable people in their area.

“Marrying the two is a perfect way to try to address the challenges that people face at difficult times in their lives.

“The Hon. Lady will be aware of the work that we have been trying to do with the Trussell Trust, and I am pleased to say that we will also be having a roundtable of independent food banks to understand how we can help them and their customers to move forwards.”

You have to say that if Universal Credit is such a success, why on earth do we need these providers? Do we want to a society, a Trump utopia, where the poor dutifully queue for food? What about rights and equality, the right to a minium decent living standard for all?

Trump has gone. His fellow national populists in the UK should be booted out..

But now this is what people are saying,

https://twitter.com/jrf_uk/status/1359108381710163969?s=20

Here is what Moggy is concerned about today:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2021 at 4:41 pm

Protest over Universal Credit cut.

with 107 comments

 

white background: blue text reads: Apply the uplift to Legacy benefits! #20More4All. Bottom left of image is the DPAC Sheffield logo

There is no sign of any attempt to deal with the looking crisis that mass unemployment and a system, Universal Credit, is creating.

People on this site mention the difficulties the end of face-to-face contact with the Job Centre, and the problems those without the Net face: making claims in the first place, job search, threats of sanctions. There is also the issue, as Superted points out of “Universal Credit telephone interviews”, a rollicking ride for many. As Trev says, “No date or time specified, just “over the next few weeks I will be phoning you to book a telephone appointment”.

On one point Aleister writes,

The 35 hour jobsearch is unenforceable because it is left up to individuals to carry it out, as they see fit, and everybody therefore approaches it in different ways with different competences.

..

As long as you do something plausible by way of applications and write something jobsearch related down for the Jobcentre to see you should be fine.

This is good advice, but people who do apply for work on a regular and systematic basis, often still feel very anxious because this headlined 35 hour rule . That libraries and Jobcentre computers are not available at the moment will obviously make them worry a lot more.

You have the impression that already isolated people are in dire straits, that those who’ve been on the street are hovering around not knowing what the future will bring, that those forced to rely on food banks are pushed further to the margins, that debts and rent arrears are mounting.

The DWP is keen to remind people that it not just the unemployed who get Universal Credit.

 

This Saturday there was a Day of Action, web based, on the latest threat hovering over claimants.

 

 

 

 

Ministers told to publish impact assessment of removing £20-per-week universal credit increase

Independent.

Ministers are being urged to publish an internal government assessment probing the impact of removing the £20-per-week increase in universal credit payments on low-income families and poverty levels in Britain.

It comes as discussions between the Treasury, No 10 and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) continue over the future of the uplift, which was introduced at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic to give struggling families extra support.

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is reported to be pushing against the extra payments, costing £6 billion annually, becoming permanent despite intense opposition from some Conservative MPs, opposition parties and anti-poverty campaigners.

Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey told MPs on Wednesday that no decision had been reached on whether to extend the payments and it is expected Mr Sunak will announce any changes to the scheme at the Budget in March.

 

 

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 6, 2021 at 4:09 pm

Benefits ‘Top-Up’, All Party Parliamentary Groups Urges Extension.

with 155 comments

Keep universal credit top-up and scrap benefits cap, says all-party committee on poverty.

The government has come under renewed pressure from Tory backbenchers to extend the £20-a-week Covid top-up to universal credit as part of a range of measures to increase the level of pandemic welfare support.

A report published on Monday by the all-party parliamentary group on poverty – co-chaired by Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake – asks for the top up, worth £1,050 a year, to be retained beyond April and for the benefit cap to be suspended.

It also urges ministers to widen the £20-a-week boost to about 2 million people on so-called legacy benefits, including hundreds of thousands of disabled claimants who have received no extra social security support during the pandemic. It warns that failure to do so will create a two-tier benefits system.

…..

Separately, a group of Tory MPs are backing a bill by fellow backbencher Paul Maynard calling for a review of council-run local welfare schemes in England, which provide food, clothes, replacement cookers, fridges and beds for people in extreme hardship, but which have withered in recent years.

London now has the highest number of Universal Credit claimants in the country.

 

Universal Credit change sees half a million claimants warned of benefits switch

Birmingham Live.

As many as 500,000 benefit claimants have been warned of changes to the Universal Credit and benefits system.

It means some are at risk of being forced on to Universal Credit.

Between January 16, 2019 and January 27, 2021 a block was put in place stopping those on Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit or Pension Credit from being moved on to Universal Credit, if they also receive a top-up called SDP (Severe Disability Premium).

This was to prevent them suffering a big drop in income.

As that transitional protection policy ended on January 27, claimants could find themselves being switched on to Universal Credit.

But do not worry, all is fine!

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 1, 2021 at 10:24 am

Big Rise in Unemployment.

with 134 comments

How To Get The Most From Your Visits To The Jobcentre | Renovo UK

Unemployment hits 5-year high as 828,000 jobs disappear.

This is not surprising. You only to walk in our town centre to see that it is not probable that the fewer number of people there is not just the result of people working at home. Empty shops, closed pubs and cafés, are the most visible signs.

COVID-19: Jobless rate hits 5% as unemployment rises by 202,000 in three months

Sky.

The UK’s unemployment rate has hit 5% for the first time since 2016, according to official figures which suggest over 200,000 people lost their jobs in the three months to November.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also said 828,000 fewer people were on company payrolls through December compared to the pre-COVID-19 crisis month of February 2020.

The latest figures covered a time of continuing restrictions on the economy to curb the spread of the virus, including a four-week November lockdown for England, though the core statistics were better than many economists had predicted.

 

Big rise in redundancies among young people

BBC.

The number of people out of work in the UK has continued to rise, with those aged 25 to 34 facing the biggest risk of losing their jobs.

In the three months to November, people in that age group had a redundancy rate of 16.2 per 1,000, a fivefold increase on the same period a year earlier.

Unemployment rose to 5% from 4.9% as Covid continued to hit the jobs market.

Some 1.72 million were jobless, the Office for National Statistics said, the highest level in five years.

That was 418,000 more than in the same period the previous year, the biggest increase since late 2009.

Analysis: The unemployment rate hit a four-year high in the autumn and there is a risk it could go higher

The DWP …

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 26, 2021 at 10:37 am

Thérèse Coffey: Age and Obesity Behind Covid Deaths.

with 44 comments

 

John Glen: 'A week is a long time in politics' | Salisbury Journal

Grande Dame Coffey Pulls a Pint Load on Covid Deaths.

Most people would think that the Work and Pension Secretary would be concerned about er…Work and Pensions.

There’s plenty for her to talk about, rising visible and hidden unemployment, the coming cut to Universal Credit, homelessness, people queuing at food banks.

She, or a minion,  could take a strictly necessary trip from her nearby stronghold in Suffolk Coastal and look at the Sunday food distribution in Rope Walk, Ipswich, and see people begging in front of Sainsbury’s in Upper Brook Street. Both places are very close to the Catholic Church, St Pancras.

Well she is now trying to divert attention from herself…

 

In normal times I bump into the geezer who wrote this by these very places.

 

The Grande Dame has time to throw a wobbly on GMB.

WATCH: Therese Coffey ‘walks out’ of Piers Morgan interview on GMB

Paul Geater.

Suffolk Coastal MP and cabinet minister Therese Coffey cut off TV interviewer Piers Morgan as a discussion on ITV’s Good Morning Britain became heated when she was questioned about the number of deaths and those in hospital with Covid.

After Dr Coffey, who is Work and Pensions Secretary,  said the age of those who had caught the disease and the obesity in the population needed to be recognised, Mr Morgan said: “So are you saying the reason for us having the worst death rate in the world is the public: that they’re too old and too fat?”

Dr Coffey said that was a very insulting thing to say and that there were a variety of factors.

After they then talked across each other, Dr Coffey said: “Unfortunately I have to go to other interviews,” and Mr Morgan reminded her that government ministers had boycotted his programme for many months last year.

As he said: “You’re not going to explain why you think I was insulting . . .” Dr Coffey turned off her Zoom feed, saying: “You’ve already had 20 minutes of my time, I appreciate it’s 20 minutes of your time. Thank You, bye bye.”

We have put in a request to Dr Coffey’s office for her to call us about the interview.

H

Here is a reaction, as they pour in:

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 25, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Universal Credit Cut: Real Issues are Low Benefits and Failing Social Security System.

with 178 comments

No Cuts To Universal Credit

 

 

This was the alt-right reaction:

 

Universal credit: MPs urge PM to keep £20 benefit ‘lifeline’

BBC,

MPs have urged Boris Johnson to extend benefit increases worth £20 a week.

A non-binding Labour motion calling for the universal credit top-up to be kept in place beyond 31 March passed by 278 votes to none after a Commons debate.

Six Tory MPs defied party orders to abstain and voted with Labour, adding to the pressure on the PM on the issue.

 

 

The prime minister said the government had provided £280bn worth of support during the pandemic but all measures would be kept under “constant review”.

The motion, which will not automatically lead to a change in policy, was put forward by Labour as a way to put additional pressure on the government to continue the increase, worth £1,000 a year.

The Treasury is considering a partial climbdown over plans to end the boost to universal credit amid pressure from the work and pensions secretary, Thérèse Coffey, and after six Conservative MPs defied a call to abstain on a non-binding vote in the Commons.

Boris Johnson also hinted at a rethink over the £20-a-week uplift, which is due to end in April, saying the government wanted to ensure “people don’t suffer as a result of the economic consequences of the pandemic”.

The welfare minister, Will Quince, said a decision would be made closer to the 3 March budget because of the uncertain economic outlook. But the Institute for Fiscal Studies

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2021 at 10:41 am

Cut to Universal Credit?

with 140 comments

Image

Now as people here have, those on legacy Benefits never got the extra £20 a week.

 

But the bonus, or rather a small raise, is important to millions.

Boris Johnson raises fears he’ll cut Universal Credit by £20 a week for millions

Boris Johnson has dropped the strongest hint yet that he may cut millions of families’ Universal Credit by £20 a week in April.

The Prime Minister is facing desperate pleas not to remove almost a fifth of 5.7million people’s basic allowance.

But today he said he would “rather see a focus on jobs and a growth in wages than focusing on welfare”.

He added “the best thing is to get people into employment” – despite the fact 39% of the 5.7million people on Universal Credit in October already had a job.

Universal Credit was raised by £1,040 for the 2020/21 financial year to help with the impact of coronavirus.

This is the crucial bit,

Mr Johnson stressed any final rate was still under review – but refused calls to end the agony for families now.

He said: “I take your point. I think what we want to see is jobs. We want to see people in employment, we want to see the economy bouncing back.

“I think most people in this country would rather see a focus on jobs and a growth in wages than focusing on welfare.

“But clearly we have to keep all these things under review.”

 

Responses:

 

Here our contributors concerns are raised:

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 14, 2021 at 3:34 pm

A Million Covid-19 Universal Credit Claimants Have Deductions From Benefits.

with 260 comments

 

Child Poverty Action Group. 7th of January Press Release.

New Year call for an end to clawback of UC advances

More than one million households forced to claim universal credit (UC) when coronavirus struck are entering the New Year having debt deductions taken from their UC, and almost all include repayments of an advance taken out to get them through the five-week wait for a first UC payment, new analysis for the Covid Realities research project shows.

Nearly two thirds (63%) of those who claimed UC between March and June (‘Covid-claimants’) are having deductions taken from their monthly UC payments, compared with 41% of all UC claimants, the analysis by Child Poverty Action Group for the Covid Realities research project shows. That means a million new UC claimants living on less than their assessed need.

The Government suspended some deductions for three months from April 2020 as part of its emergency response to the pandemic. However, deductions for the repayment of UC advances were not part of the suspension and continue to be made as another lockdown begins in England and Scotland and more job losses and UC claims look likely.

Deductions can be taken from benefits for a range of reasons including repayment of a UC advance, legacy benefit overpayments, budgeting loans, rent arrears, utilities bills and mortgage interest. For UC claimants, deductions are limited to 30% of the UC monthly standard allowance but this still means that £179 (for couples) can be deducted each month.

For claimants already living below the poverty line, deductions can deepen their poverty significantly. Ignoring deductions, CPAG analysis shows that, the average household in poverty is 23% below the poverty line; in pounds and pence, for a couple with two children, that means they are £400 per month below the after housing costs poverty line.* However, if this family has to repay an advance, this will push them to £500 per month below the poverty line.** And if they have additional deductions on top of repayments of a UC advance, they could drop to £579 per month under the poverty line.***

1,060,000 ‘Covid claimants’ have a deduction of some kind from their UC. Of those, 810,000 are repaying an advance only, 50,000 have a deduction for another reason and 200,000 have deductions to repay a UC advance and another debt.

More news:

More news:

Regulator investigates DWP over universal credit ‘cover-up’

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is claiming not to possess documents that show estimates for the eventual impact of universal credit on disabled people, despite telling both the statistics regulator and MPs that they exist.

In the latest stage of an apparent attempt to hide estimates of how many disabled people will lose out financially through the introduction of universal credit, DWP has told Disability News Service (DNS) that no such written equality impact assessments (EIAs) exist from 2012 onwards.

The freedom of information response contradicts a statement made to MPs by the minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson.

It also contradicts information passed by DWP to the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).

This week, OSR promised DNS that it would investigate the apparent discrepancy.

The existence of any fresh EIAs is important because ministers, including work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey and Tomlinson, have stated on several occasions that around one million disabled households will receive a higher entitlement under UC than they would have received under the previous “legacy” benefits system.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 8, 2021 at 3:42 pm

Benefit System Realities.

with 288 comments

Universal Credit: We were panicking for a month, says working father-of-three | Belfast News Letter

Happy New Year!

As we all know one of the most frustrating things about benefits, or anything else, is having to make a query by telephone.

Even something like contacting your medical centre/GP can be hard these days, for obvious reasons.

xclausx  signals one of the worst cases this site has heard of recently.

The reasons do not seem that easy to work out.

EXCLUSIVE: Huge numbers of people were not even able to get into the queue for its overburdened Debt Management hotline – for people who are told they owe the DWP money.

Up to 50,000 people a day have been blocked from calling a crucial debt hotline run by the government.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has apologised after admitting a “large number” of people could not get through to its Debt Management line – which is used to reclaim money from people who are “overpaid” benefits.

It meant people facing destitution due to repayments were unable to speak to an advisor – even when the debt was not their fault.

When people are overpaid benefits, it is often due to DWP errors – or because they are a victim of fraud by someone claiming in their name.

The staggering number of blocked calls was revealed to Labour MP Stephen Timms, chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee.

Ministers told him 77% to 80% of calls “presented to agents” were answered between August and November.

But….

But that figure did not include people who could not make it into the system, because it only allowed a certain number into the queue at any time.

The DWP said “large numbers” of callers couldn’t get through when demand surged in November, thanks to a rise in automated debt notifications.

“At the height of this issue, an average of over 51,000 calls were blocked each day,” DWP minister Will Quince admitted.

This fell to less than 6,000 per day for December 7-11, he said.

Our contributors highlight many aspects of their own experiences with the benefit system

The ‘I’, a paper which is highly recommended, and only costs 65 pence to buy, has been running a series.

i‘s First time on Universal Credit series looks at the benefits system through the eyes of first time claimants during the coronavirus pandemic. We hear what it’s like to suddenly find yourself in this situation, the reality of a new life on benefits, and how opinions of the welfare system are changing after the number of Universal Credit claimants nearly doubled to 5.7 million this year.

Here is their most recent story,

First time on Universal Credit: I thought benefits were for other people, not me

Before receiving her first Universal Credit payment in August this year, Sarah McNicol had not claimed unemployment benefits for more than 30 years.

Still, someone’s had a nice time;

Written by Andrew Coates

January 1, 2021 at 4:43 pm

Food Banks: Demand Rising and Rising just as Food Supply Crisis Looms.

with 350 comments

What food banks are crying out for this Christmas – the items you can donate and how to do it - Mirror Online

Demand Keeps Growing.

 

In our town there is usually a queue outside Gregg’s in Upper Brook Street.

Just a few metres away there are, most of the time, people begging.

Grazia today,

Food banks across the UK have seen a 47% rise in need during the pandemic, according to The Trussell Trust, a charity that supports a network of more than 1,200 food banks, including this one. Between April and September, their food banks provided more than 1.2 million emergency food parcels – over 470,000 went to children. And their figures are just the tip of the iceberg.

We Want To Make Food Banks Extinct, But This Year They’re Busier Than Ever

This is worth reading;

 

COVID-19: Sainsbury’s warns of fruit and veg shortages if freight chaos not solved within days

Now with the real prospect of food shortages, which will affect everybody,  this toss-pot is saying this;

Here’s a suggestion for Xmas Presents.

Image may contain: text that says "Christmas tip: Give the Brexiter in your life an empty box on Christmas morning and tell them it's full of sovereignty. See their little faces light up!"

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 21, 2020 at 11:24 am

Universal Credit Fraud, DWP Hounds People for Debts they do not owe.

with 223 comments

It's a nightmare': woman faces £1,300 demand due to universal credit fraud | Identity fraud | The Guardian

 

This story appeared a couple of days ago and has raised a whole series of questions.

Stop hounding victims of universal credit fraud, DWP told

Guardian.

People whose identities have been stolen hit by demands for repayment for debt they do not owe.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is coming under pressure to stop hounding unwitting victims of a multimillion-pound universal credit fraud.

In November, the Guardian revealed how benefits staff were struggling to deal with calls from people whose stolen identities had been used to make fraudulent universal credit claims in their name.

We featured the case of a Hampshire woman who had known nothing of the claim she had supposedly made until the DWP’s debt collectors demanded she repay a £1,300 advance payment.

Further victims have come forward to say they, too, are facing demands for £1,400-plus and are being told that 20% of their December pay packet will be seized by the DWP, unless they agree to set up a repayment plan – all for a debt they do not owe.

Today, the Scotsman,

Pilot pursued by UK Government over ‘fraudulent’ benefits claim

A Scots pilot has told how he is being pursued by the UK Government for benefit fraud after having his identity stolen.

Andrew Simpson* was contacted in September by a debt management company run by the Department of Work and Pensions claiming he owed £821 due to fraudulently claiming Universal Credit while being employed. The debt collectors wrote to his employer, demanding that the money was deducted from his next pay cheque.

However, Mr Simpson, from Edinburgh, who has been in full-time work with his current employer for the past eight years, has never claimed Universal Credit or any other kind of benefit

Our old chum meanwhile is enjoying some sexy-time looking at her achievements.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 13, 2020 at 10:53 am

Day of Action to Stop Cut to Universal Credit as Fabian Society Warns of ‘Double Trouble’.

with 160 comments

Image

Join the Protest!

The Guardian reports,

Rishi Sunak’s cuts ‘risk plunging more than 3 million into poverty’

Fabian Society study outlines threat if chancellor goes ahead with planned cut to welfare payments

Rishi Sunak risks plunging more than 3 million people into poverty if he goes ahead with a planned cut in welfare payments next spring, one of Britain’s leading leftwing thinktanks has warned.

A new study by the Fabian Society found that returning benefits to their pre-pandemic levels after a year-long boost would leave an additional 1.1 million people below the poverty line even on the most optimistic assumptions for the economy.

It added, however, that if the government removed the £20 a week supplement to universal credit (UC) against a backdrop of mass unemployment, the impact would be three times as severe, with 3.2 million people living in poverty.

The chancellor announced at the start of the Covid-19 crisis that he would spend £6bn on a one-year increase in UC, but did not say in last week’s spending statement whether he intended to.

Fabian Society:

DOUBLE TROUBLE: MASS UNEMPLOYMENT AND BENEFIT CUTS AFTER THE PANDEMIC

New Fabian Society analysis shows that planned benefit cuts could push between 1 and 3 million people into poverty.

The government’s decision this year to increase the support available in universal credit was a huge boost to millions of families. In 2020 temporary social security rises brought vital help to people who lost work or who saw their earnings fall, as well as providing a welcome supplement to many already on low incomes.

However, in 2021 these measures will be even more important, after other emergency schemes come to an end. From April next year people who lose their job or whose earnings drop will not have other forms of protection. Huge numbers are likely to be affected, given expectations of widespread job losses.

Fabian Society analysis reveals that, with the planned benefit cuts, poverty will rise significantly over the medium term whether unemployment remains low or climbs to levels last seen in the 1980s:

No change in unemployment: the number in poverty rises by 1.1 million and child poverty rises by 400,000
Mass unemployment: the number in poverty rises by 3.2 million and child poverty rises by 850,000
Without action, family incomes and spending power will fall and poverty will rise dramatically, compared to the position we have seen this year with emergency protective measures in place. It is now essential that ministers put the 2020 social security increases on a permanent footing.

Download.

Coffey has other things on her mind:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 4, 2020 at 7:34 pm

Universal Credit to be Cut and Local Housing Allowance Frozen?

with 136 comments

Universal Credit: Thérèse Coffey confident in system during coronavirus  crisis | Personal Finance | Finance | Express.co.uk
Future plans for Benefit cuts?
After Wednesday’s announcements it is  unclear what the government’s plans for Universal Credit are:
https://twitter.com/imajsaclaimant/status/1332058593848385537?s=20

Universal Credit: Millions face losing £1,000 in benefits, campaigners warn

BBC

 Six million households face a £1,000 cut to their benefits if a temporary increase to Universal Credit is not kept in place, new research claims.

Claimants were given a £20-a-week boost in response to the coronavirus pandemic in April, which will end in April 2021.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak says he will make his mind up about whether to keep the higher rate going next year.

Left-leaning policy researchers the Resolution Foundation urged him to keep it, to protect vulnerable families.

Failing to extend the £20 increase would hit families just as unemployment levels were expected to peak, the foundation said, with the government predicting 2.6 million could be out of work by the middle of next year.

Share

The director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, Paul Johnson, said it was “disappointing” Mr Sunak did not make an announcement on whether he would keep the temporary increase or not.

“If the government is not going to maintain it at its current level it should say so explicitly and give people time to prepare – £20 a week is a lot for those dependent on benefits,” he said.

“If it does delay announcing the increase until March and is once again unable as a result to increase legacy benefits and contributory benefits at the same time, then that would be simply inexcusable.”

Mr Sunak said the measure was introduced on a “temporary” basis, during a “many months of a national lockdown [with a] very severe set of restrictions”, saying it was a “period of acute panic”.

Other sources are already predicting the worst.

Universal Credit to be cut and Local Housing Allowance to be refrozen from April

 

Inside Housing.

Universal Credit will be cut and Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates refrozen despite a predicted surge in unemployment #UKhousing
Early in the coronavirus crisis in late March, the government boosted the Universal Credit standard allowance and working tax credits by £20 a week and increased LHA rates – which determine how much welfare support for housing costs private renters can claim – to reflect the cheapest third of rents in an area.

But Spending Review documents published today indicate that neither of these measures will be kept in place.

That is despite chancellor Rishi Sunak revealing today that unemployment is expected to surge to 2.6 million by the middle of the year due to the pandemic’s impact on businesses.

Budget tables show that ministers do not anticipate the £6bn spent on boosting Universal Credit and working tax credits in 2020/21 to reoccur next financial year.

And an accompanying report by spending watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said the government has decided that LHA rates “will be frozen in cash terms from 2021/22 onwards”.

Somebody’s happy:

here

Written by Andrew Coates

November 27, 2020 at 9:41 am

Thousands of New Work Coaches Being Recruited.

with 220 comments

Suffolk Coastal: Therese Coffey MP appointed Beer Parliamentarian of the Year after visiting all 118 pubs in her constituency | East Anglian Daily Times

Thérèse Anne Coffey Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

People begging in the streets have began to reappear in Ipswich.

There is at least one outside Sainsbury’s in Upper Brook Street every day.

But …

Jobcentre to recruit 170 ‘work coaches’ amid Covid-19 crisis

East Anglian Daily Times. 19th of November.

Jobcentres across East Anglia are to recruit 170 “work coaches” to help people find work during the coronavirus crisis.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – led by Suffolk Coastal MP, Dr Therese Coffey – is now recruiting thousands more work coaches in Jobcentres across the UK to help give people the skills they need to find new work.

”’

The 170 work coaches being recruited across East Anglia will also provide “expert mentoring” through people’s job search, with the DWP telling applicants: “Your tailored coaching can make a huge difference to their ability to find, stay in and progress in a job.”

The department, which has also brought in the Kickstart scheme to help young people and the JETS programme to give expert help to those out of work for three months, added: “More expert work coaches means more personal, tailored support for jobseekers who are looking to get going with a new career or to move on from a struggling sector.”

Dr Coffey added: “Work coaches deliver invaluable local employment advice, opportunities to develop skills for new sectors and vital new job support schemes su”tach as Kickstart and JETS, which we have put in place to give everyone the chance to succeed and will help drive East Anglia’s economic recovery.”

It hard to think of more irritating expression than Work Coach, but “tailored support” comes close.

Meanwhile:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2020 at 10:20 am

Food Bank Britain Faces Bleak Winter.

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Food banks report huge surge in demand for food parcels amid Covid pandemic

This is no surprise.

Most things like this you can see if you care to look, right bang in your area (obviously not in IDS’s manor).

As this Blog has mentioned there is a queue of people outside the Seventh Day Adventist Church in  this area waiting for food on a Sunday.

This is outside of the main local Food Bank network. FIND foodbank

It is just a lot more visible to anybody in the centre of the town.

Trussell Trust reports that it has already helped more than a million people affected by the Covid pandemic.

More than a million food parcels have been handed out families and individuals in crisis since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, according to new figures from the UK’s largest food bank network.

The Trussell Trust, who operate more than 1,200 food bank centres, says it has helped to support over 1.2 million households who have been negatively affected by the economic fallout, caused by the outbreak.

It includes 470,000 food parcels given to parents to feed their children, a 52% rise on last year, and is equivalent to 2,600 food parcels for children being given out every day since the start of the pandemic.

There is also an article by James Bloodworth which is really really worth reading:

Why the poor eat poorly

The Government has U-turned on free school meals. But moralising about people’s diets won’t help

BY 

 

When I was researching a book on low-wage Britain, I stumbled across an article in the Daily Mail about a woman who managed to survive on £1 a day. “Frugal Kath Kelly, 51, ate at free buffets, shopped at church jumble sales and scrounged leftovers from grocery stores and restaurants,” ran the story. “She even collected a staggering £117 in loose change dropped in the street.”

The story was written in admiring tones — Kath Kelly was presented as a sagacious and resourceful example to the poor. The underlying message was that the lower orders were feckless and stupid. Instead of sourcing and preparing healthy ingredients, they chose to plonk themselves in front of a television set and inhale pot noodles and multipacks of crisps.

 

…..

For those on low wages or benefits, poverty is the thief of time. Being poor invariably consists of countless hours spent waiting around for public transport, bosses, landlords or public sector bureaucrats. And that’s before one adds up the additional time it takes to care for a family. Even if it can be done relatively cheaply, preparing a healthy meal invariably takes longer than putting a pizza in the oven.

….

We no longer dictate the food those on unemployment benefits must consume (though the argument that we ought to is a frequent saloon-bar trope). But a peculiar moral tone to our conversations about food persists. This is not confined to one political tribe. Nowadays liberals too are often heard laying down pious strictures as to what the poor should eat and drink. Sugar taxes have been introduced and junk food advertising is set to be banned before the 9pm watershed. Newspapers such as The Guardian have called for the government to go even further in terms of regulating what people eat.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2020 at 11:03 am

Paying the Rent and Universal Credit.

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“Uplifted” SoS for Work and Pensions. 

This story has just appeared on the Guardian site – a paper that should be recommended for not taking its eye of the ball on the issue of Universal Credit.

When first asked to extend free school meals over the holidays, the British government pointed to its “uplift” to universal credit of £20 per week. The media dutifully mentioned the “uplift”, but when did it become impermissible to say simply “raise” or “increase”?

…….

It was the American writer Nathaniel Parker Willis, friend of Edgar Allan Poe, who first used “uplift” as a compound noun in 1845, in a poem describing the baby prophet Nathan’s presentation to King David: “His brow / Had the inspired up-lift of the king’s.” In the following decade geologists described how land could be subject to “uplift” over time. Not until the mid-20th century was it adopted in business to mean (at first) an increase in prices, and therefore profits – as in the fees charged to the government by Serco.

Perhaps the government hopes that by causing everyone to refer to an “uplift” in universal credit, they will seed the idea that their policies are uplifting in the happy-making sense (from the late 19th century). Meanwhile scientists have been keeping a close eye in recent years on “uplifts” in Yellowstone Park, caused by fresh magma deep in the supervolcano. A new mega-eruption would surely be very 2020.

I suppose Yankee Doodle Dandies are now running our benefits system.

This below shows what life is really like for the ‘uplifted’ claimants.

It  is a very high percentage.

Families hit by Covid-19 face debt as universal credit doesn’t cover housing costs

The rents alone in London are beyond belief to start with.

Here is some more news:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 4, 2020 at 4:09 pm

Universal Credit – Threat to Self-Employed Claimants.

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DWP has its finger on the Pulse.

A couple of days this was published;

Universal Credit ‘loans’ trap new claimants in debt and leave them unable to afford repayments, say MPs.

An influential group of MPs has called on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to introduce new Universal Credit “starter payments”, to ensure that new claimants can support themselves while waiting for an initial payment.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC), a cross-party group of MPs charged with scrutinising government welfare policy and recommending improvements, says the mandatory five-week-wait for a Universal Credit payment can leave many people unable to afford food and pay vital household bills.

The Committee’s new report, titled ‘Universal Credit: the wait for a first payment‘, finds that the current system of ‘advance payments’, that allow new claimants to borrow up to a full month’s worth of Universal Credit.

Today this is the news:

Self-employed people could lose hundreds of pounds per month if a little-known ‘Minimum Income Floor’ resumes as planned on November 13

A major change to Universal Credit on November 13 is set to cost self-employed people hundreds of pounds a month unless the DWP decides to delay it.

A little-known policy called the Minimum Income Floor (MIF), which limits how much the self-employed can get in benefits, was suspended for eight months due to Covid-19.

But that suspension is due to end on November 13, according to current laws.

Unless that date is extended, the MIF will take force again from that date – deducting some strivers’ benefits just as swathes of England are plunged into new lockdowns.

Ministers today told the House of Commons they are still reviewing whether or not to delay the November 13 date.

But they refused to rule out sticking to the date – despite the nation entering a second wave.

There’s also this:

Always at the cutting edge of social issues Coffey has herself been re-tweeting on subjects that concern us all, visiting the Golden Key and The Plough and Sail for a good lunch:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 21, 2020 at 10:40 am

Job Support Scheme Meets Universal Credit Problems.

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New Scheme Hits Problems.

Last week the Mirror pointed this out:

The coronavirus Job Support Scheme has been updated so workers whose venues are shut down will no longer be high and dry. But millions will still fall through the cracks.

1. It won’t help curfew-hit pubs – or theatres, cinemas and wedding venues

2. There’s no new help for the self-employed

3. Some workers in local lockdowns will get nothing for weeks

4. Shielding workers could fall through the cracks

5. And workers will be stuck on 67% of usual pay

 

The Mirror.

On Wednesday, the gaffe-prone PM said ‘whatever happens’ government schemes will mean ‘nobody gets less than 93% of their current income’ in Tier 3 lockdowns – but that isn’t true

Boris Johnson has quietly corrected a a false claim he made about the level of support people could receive during a Tier 3 lockdown.

On Wednesday, the gaffe-prone PM said “whatever happens”, government schemes will mean “nobody gets less than 93% of their current income” if their bar or pub is shut.

But it quickly emerged that that was untrue, because while many workers can get this sum, not all of them can.

The Tory leader said the 93% could be reached by taking the Job Support Scheme, which pays 67% of wages, and topping it up with Universal Credit.

Today appearing at a Downing Street press conference where he was quizzed about the Government’s response he didn’t repeat the error – although he has yet to correct the record in the House of Commons

They continue,

In reality, Universal Credit is not paid to anyone who has £16,000 or more of savings, or if their partner has more than £16,000 of savings.

It is also paid on the basis of household income, so if a husband has their income cut to 67% and a wife is on 100%, the husband may not be able to top up to 93%.

What’s more, some people will get less than 67% of their wage under the Job Support Scheme, because it is capped at £2,100 a month.

The Job Support Scheme is only open to workers whose businesses are forced to shut completely by government, not those that can stay open but are hit by restrictions.

Then there is this:

n

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2020 at 7:21 pm

Unemployment Rises, Out-of-Work Face Universal Credit Low Benefits.

with 352 comments

.Universal Credit tweaked to make it easier for self-employed to get cash quicker

Drastic Cuts in Income for Workers Who Become Unemployed.

 

This is the news today:

The UK unemployment rate has surged to its highest level in over three years as the pandemic continues to hit jobs.

BBC>.The unemployment rate grew to 4.5% in the three months to August, compared with 4.1% in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile redundancies rose to their highest level since 2009, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

It comes as the government prepares to impose tough local lockdown rules that will force some businesses to close, potentially leading to more job losses.

UK job figures: why there is worse to come

The big picture is that unemployment is going up while employment and participation in the labour market are going down.

These trends look sure to get worse as the economic recovery seen during the summer peters out and the government cuts back on its support for wages. Rishi Sunak’s response to the figures from the Office for National Statistics was telling.

The DWP are hot off the mark:

What about the social security system for those out of work?

This is the basic problem:

Then there is this:

The Rowntree Trust notes:

They are campaigning for the £20 extra to be made permanent, but no word about the legacy claimants who do not get this.

Somebody has pointed this out:

People on this site have noticed the importance of this:

And so it continues…

Written by Andrew Coates

October 13, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Thérèse Coffey plans to help millions back to work.

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DWP MInister Thérèse Coffey on her “Dream Job” and Universal Credit. | Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Coffey: Workers Experienced in Customer Care Can Retrain for New Jobs.

The DWP Minister Thérèse Coffey has stirred up controversy for her latest helpful suggestions.

The Mirror reports,

The government’s welfare chief has prompted fury by suggesting sacked cabin crew can retrain as carers.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey claimed thousands of airline staff made redundant after planes were grounded and international travel ground to a halt in the coronavirus crisis should switch careers.

She told The Spectator: “I want to encourage them to perhaps go into teaching or go to college and to be the people who train the next lot of people who are going to do those jobs.”

She added: “How do we help draw out of them the transferable skills that they have, and that could be working in social care?

“It may not be their dream job for the rest of their lives.

“But it may well be very useful: They get more money coming in than if they’re on benefits and it can also provide something really valuable and rewarding.”

Yet Thérèse Coffey has defenders, well, at least one: the person who wrote the article that’s got people hot under the collar..

How Thérèse Coffey plans to help millions back to work

The Work and Pensions Secretary on unemployment, reshuffles and turning cabin crew into nurses

Writing for the popular Alternative View column, Davidus Toricus Spartacus, in the Spectator Katie Ball, née Bollocks (creator of  the podcast, Women with Balls, note, this is not made up) begins by noting, “Many things have gone wrong for the government over the past few months, but the welfare system has (so far) held up. “

My main task has been making sure that DWP runs effectively. Being in the news would probably be a sign that it wasn’t,’ she says over lunch in The Spectator’s boardroom. ‘I’m a great believer in the DWP being boringly brilliant — or brilliantly boring.’ After just 13 months in the job, she has already lasted longer than her last five predecessors.

We hope a ‘good lunch’ – the MP is much-loved in Suffolk Coastal for her support for local hostelries, sacrificing many hours visiting pubs, inns and ale-houses to support their work for the community – and this good feed put her in more than usual good spirits.

She thinks the social care industry could benefit from workers experienced in customer care such as air hostesses. ‘How do we help draw out of them the transferable skills that they have and that could be working in social care? It may not be their dream job for the rest of their lives. But it may well be very useful: they get more money coming in than if they’re on benefits and it can also provide something really valuable and rewarding so there are those sorts of things where we are going to try and help people think through what it is they can do, even if it is only for the next two to three years.’

She also supports Boris Johnson’s enthusiasm for air hostesses to become nurses. ‘I’m sure other cabin crew as well who are male could make equally good nurses. It’s just whether or not people want that as a complete lifestyle change.

Reflecting on issues that concern us, the well-being of her soul, she said,

As a practising Catholic who has missed mass on a Sunday only six times in her life, Coffey is more relaxed than most politicians when it comes to discussing faith. One of the upsides of lockdown, she says, was online church services: ‘We just basically did a tour of the UK. I’ve become quite fond of St George’s in Taunton, the St Gerard Majella in Bristol — very nice priest there. Northampton Cathedral is pretty good. A church crawl is a bit different to a pub crawl, isn’t it?’

We take this fine distinction on the word of a seasoned  veteran of many a tavern and rustic taproom.

Therese Coffey MP appointed Beer Parliamentarian of the Year after visiting all 118 pubs in her constituency

Will she ever be booted out?

She is the second-longest serving Tory work and pensions secretary, but would need to last until the next election to take first place from Iain Duncan Smith. There’s a rumour she confronted the Prime Minister a few months ago at cabinet about reshuffle reports in the press — he told her she wouldn’t be moved anytime soon. When I mention it, she blushes and won’t get into the details of what was discussed, but she does say rumours of hirings and firings are unhelpful, especially in a department where the lifespan of a Secretary of State is measured in weeks and months.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Job entry targeted support (Jets): New Government ‘scheme’ for the unemployed.

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Government announces new £238 million JETS employment programme that will  help hundreds of thousands of jobseekers

Somebody was well proud of that ‘Jets’ name!

 

Thérèse Coffey was on BBC News this morning, most of the time she spent sucking up to Johnson and his handling of the pandemic.

 

She managed to spend about a minute on the new scheme, though when I caught the words, ‘Reed’ and ‘Shaw Trust’ a large rodent scuttled round the room.

The BBC site says this,

Job Entry Targeted Support is aimed at helping those out of work because of Covid-19 for three months.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said it would give people “the helping hand they need”.

But Labour said the scheme “offers very little new support” and it was “too little too late”.

More details in the Guardian

New jobs coaches will help people back to work, says Rishi Sunak

Thousands of work coaches will be hired under a new government employment programme to help those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, amid fresh warnings of an unemployment crisis as the furlough scheme ends.

The £238m job entry targeted support (Jets) scheme will help jobseekers who have been out of work for at least three months. It will be available to people receiving the “all work related requirements” universal credit payment, or the new style jobseeker’s allowance.

The Department for Work and Pensions says Jets will “ramp up support” to help people back to employment, with specialist advice on how to move into growing sectors, as well as CV and interview coaching. It is recruiting an additional 13,500 coaches to help deliver the programme.

The Currant Bun spills the beans (blimey that’s a bit of an image…!)

It specifically targets Universal Credit (UC) All Work related Requirements (AWRR) and New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants who have been unemployed for at least 13 weeks.

Through JETS, the Department for Work and Pensions will give scheme-members access to tailored, flexible support to help them quickly get back into employment.

The new programme will also see a number of providers offer a range of help, including specialist advice on how people can move into growing sectors, as well as CV and interview coaching.

The programme will give job hunters a return-to-work action plan, which will be agreed with their personal Work Coach, and complemented by peer support and opportunities to build their skills.

Veterans of these “schemes” may have other views.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 5, 2020 at 6:59 am

Universal Credit System Failing To Deal With Mass Unemployment.

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Universal Credit - universal chaos? - Church Action on Poverty

Today this story looks like stirring the issue of Universal Credit up again, yet again,

 

This story appeared yesterday.

 

300,000 universal credit applications in first few months of pandemic deemed ineligible due to savings.

To be honest most people, if not all of us, would not have thought of this, since we do not having anything near the savings limits.

At least 300,000 applications for universal credit during the first four months of pandemic were deemed ineligible because those trying to claim had over £16,000 in savings or their partners were deemed to earn too much under strict means-tested welfare rules, according to official figures obtained by the Labour party.

The article continues,

About 26% of new universal credit claimants are from managerial, administrative and professional backgrounds, according to findings by the ESRC-funded Welfare at a Social Distance academic research project, a trend that may bring fresh scrutiny of a welfare system designed primarily for people on low incomes.

Daniel Edmiston, a lecturer in social policy at the University of Leeds, said the benefits system was unable to keep pace with real-life living expenses for many entering it as a result of Covid-19: “First-time claimants are often surprised by the amount they receive, and the UK’s flat-rate system of payments, given the contributions they have previously paid into the system.”

There are currently about 6 million people on universal credit, twice as many as before the pandemic. A surge in benefit applicants is expected this autumn as furlough support winds down and hundreds of thousands of jobs are cut.

This again is something we would find odd that anybody did not know about, and by ‘we’ I mean not just people on benefits now, but our friends and those we know, many of whom have been unemployed.

A Guardian investigation, in which more than 200 people submitted accounts of their first-time experience of universal credit after losing their job under Covid-19, revealed shock and surprise at the tight restrictions on eligibility – and the parsimoniousness of what is available to those who manage to qualify for support.

Emma Dempsey, 32, a freelance TV producer who was refused both universal credit and financial help through the self-employed income support scheme, told the Guardian: “I have paid taxes all my working life … I feel the state has completely broken its social contract with me.”

As this comment indicates on the same topic,

Ben Claimant continues and retweets this:

I already know people on benefits who’ve been pushed out onto the street, into temporary/emergency accommodation. I bet plenty here do too. This is not news for us.

What is being done to prevent this now spiralling out of control?

Here is another aspect to benefit poverty:

 

 

 

Asked about this Ms Coffey has said,

Ms Coffey replied: “Well Mr Chairman, you’ll be aware it was a one-year measure introduced by the Chancellor as part of the £9.4m injection into the welfare support for people in this difficult time.”

She continued: “As it stands, I think it’s fair to say the legislation does automatically come to an end, but I will be open with you in that a lot of these discussions on what we continue to do with welfare support are still in active discussions with The Treasury.”

Mr Timms sought clarification on Ms Coffey’s response and asked: “So that particular point remains under review at the moment?”

Ms Coffey confirmed that it was and said: “Yes, there’s a number of different elements and I think more broadly, we’ve been thinking carefully about our spending review which is under way.”

She went on to explain how the Budget would normally be the time for discussing these matters, but as it has been postponed until “early 2021” Ms Coffey said the DWP would need to have a “separate process in how we take that forward in our consideration.”

Daily Record.

So it stands at this:

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 1, 2020 at 3:24 pm

“Tsunami of Unemployment” Coming Warns Gordon Brown.

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Job odds worst in 50 years as 4,000 go for single vacancy in work 'lottery'

Facing  “tsunami of unemployment”

Today there is this:

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown warns of ‘tsunami of unemployment’ after lockdown

Edinburgh News.

Former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has warned of a “tsunami of unemployment” and business bankruptcies – unless the Chancellor delivers new economic lifelines.

..

Mr Brown, former MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, will address a Communication Workers Union conference today (Monday).

He said: “Facing a winter of massive job losses, rapidly-mounting unemployment and a wave of businesses bankruptcies, the Chancellor must go back to the drawing board, call a jobs summit to understand the despair in communities and rewrite his winter plan by fixing its fundamental flaws. “

He said last week’s package didn’t help 1.5m people currently unemployed, or those on Universal Credit and the self-employed excluded from the furlough scheme.

He added: “Shamefully, there was nothing additional to the inadequate Kickstart scheme for young people, 500,000 of whom will likely end up on the streets or isolated at home, and becoming this century’s lost generation.”

Mr Brown warned: “It is becoming clear the majority of the four million furloughed will be unlikely to benefit from the ‘part-time’ wage subsidy –now that the government’s contributions drops from 80 per cent in March to 22 per cent from November and workers have to accept a 22 per cent pay cut.

“Millions of workers need far more help if they are to get jobs or stay in jobs.”

Gordon Brown has been on television over the last few days:

Brown is involved in this initiative:

These are recent headlines.

Covid: Jobs scheme ‘won’t stop major rise in unemployment’

 

Rishi Sunak’s new jobs support scheme will slow but not stop, “major” job losses, influential think tank the Resolution Foundation has warned.

The chancellor said he hoped the new plan, announced on Thursday, would “benefit large numbers”.

But the Resolution Foundation said the fact firms had to pay employees for hours not worked meant many would have “little or no incentive” to use it.

The plan “will not significantly reduce the rise in unemployment,” it said.

The Foundation also highlighted that around six million of the UK’s poorest households could see their incomes cut by £20 a week from next April, when the government’s temporary boost to basic benefits comes to an end.

The Resolution Foundation notes,

The rise in unemployment, combined with planned benefit cuts, mean a grim outlook for living standards

Extract.

Given that very significant government support protected household incomes from the full force of the pandemic’s hit to GDP in its early stages, rising unemployment is the point at which household incomes start to be seriously impacted. Flowing off furlough and onto unemployment benefits is not just a matter of moving between schemes, but means a very significant fall in income, as Figure 4 shows. While a worker on £20,000 a year would have had 83 per cent of their income covered by the JRS when furloughed, when they are made redundant UC will only replace 29 per cent of their former take-home income. UC’s basic level of support for a single adult (excluding any housing or child-related support) is only £94 a week (around £4,900 a year): a level considerably below the absolute poverty line of £150 a week.

But, as well as the likely rise in unemployment this winter hitting living standards, there is a risk of a further blow in the spring, because on current plans, policy is still set to change from supporting incomes to cutting them. In the early months of the crisis, changes in benefit policy – not least a very welcome £20 a week boost to tax credits and UC – meant that the incomes of the poorest were relatively well-protected. But this boost is currently only intended to go up to March 2021.

The planned withdrawal of the £20 a week (£1,040 a year) boost would be a significant mistake. It is inconceivable that the labour market will be in full health by April, even assuming a rapid vaccine roll-out: the crisis will by no accounts be ‘over’. Second, there is the question of the basic adequacy of the benefit system. The £20 a week boost can be seen as a reflection of the fact that out-of-work support was not adequate when we entered the crisis and – without the boost – certainly won’t be adequate in future. And third, ending the boost would mean withdrawing perhaps £8 billion from disposable incomes in 2021-22, precisely from those groups and places that need it most to support spending and the economic recovery in 2021-22.

As Figure 12 shows, the losses from this withdrawal would be very large – with the average income of the bottom half of the population falling by £600 (with this average calculated including pensioners and others who would be unaffected). In Scotland, the South of England and the East Midlands, around one in four non-pensioner households are set to lose over £1,000. But in Northern Ireland, Wales, the West Midlands, and the North of England, that rises to around one in three households.

This is another analysis confirming the above:

Millions face a bitter winter of rising unemployment and squeezed living standards’, says MP

Welfare Weekly.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 28, 2020 at 10:13 am

Unemployment Set for Big Rise as DWP Recruits New Staff.

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HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambrige sit and talk with Anife, a newly appointed Work Coach.

Royalty Do Their Bit: Meeting a former claimant who recently joined the DWP as a Work Coach.

Ken reminds us that unemployment is set to rise, a lot.

This is the Guardian article he links to:

New Covid-19 restrictions mean UK unemployment will get much worse

Larry Elliot.

Bank of England forecasts for 7.5% unemployment this winter may have to be revised up considerably.

The clampdown could not have come at a worse time for the chancellor. Rishi Sunak has admitted that unemployment will rise over the coming months but he hoped that temporary cuts in VAT and stamp duty, together with his eat out to help out scheme, would limit the rise in joblessness.

Now the chancellor is coming under pressure to extend the furlough scheme, which has prevented the unemployment rate from rocketing by paying workers to stay at home.

Why?

Gordon Brown, who was in charge the last time Britain faced an economic crisis, used his first keynote speech to a Labour conference in a decade to call on Sunak to come up with a new economic recovery plan within days.

The former prime minister said job prospects were at their worst in 50 years. There were, he added, 2,932 applicants for a single warehouse job in Northumberland, 2,653 applicants for a factory job in Sunderland, 2,154 applicants for an administrative job in Coventry and 15,000 applicants for 10 assembly operative jobs in Birmingham.

The Federation of Small Businesses supported Brown’s call for urgent action. “Many businesses – particularly those at the heart of our night-time economy and events industries – are now seriously fearing for their futures,” said its national chairman, Mike Cherry.

What is going to happen?

As the wage subsidy scheme unwinds, the Bank of England expects unemployment to rise substantially, reaching 7.5% by the end of the year.

That, though, was before the new restrictions were announced. By winter’s end it could now be a lot higher than that.

What is the DWP doing?

Here is an indication:

 

This is coming:

Royalty has already been pitching in to help out.

DWP Boss Thérèse Coffey is doing her best to stimulate the economy (and it’s only a short drive from Ipswich, for those of us with a sturdy MPV with seating for six, and up to date Sat-Nat  to navigate the lonely, bus-free, back lanes and by-ways of Suffolk).

 

One could mention the Kickstart Scheme, but to the readers of this Blog the message below is the important one:

The Covid Pandemic  Denial Maniacs,  whose comments here keep mysteriously vanishing,are no doubt getting ready for a weekend piling up bog rolls, just in case.

 

h

Written by Andrew Coates

September 23, 2020 at 5:42 pm

The New Wave of Covid-19 Claimants and the Old Wave of Universal Credit Problems.

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The New Wave of Claimants.

A few days ago this was the news (BBC),

The UK unemployment rate has risen to its highest level for two years, official figures show.

The unemployment rate grew to 4.1% in the three months to July, compared with 3.9% previously.

Young people were particularly hard hit, with those aged 16 to 24 suffering the biggest drop in employment compared with other age groups.

The below sheds some light on who the new claimants are,

Who are the new COVID-19 cohort of benefit claimants?

University of Salford Manchester.

Since March 2020, we have witnessed the fastest increase in the number of people claiming working-age social security benefits in the UK since records began. The incorporation of a new group of benefit claimants into the social security system has presented its own procedural and administrative challenges for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Some commentators have lauded the government’s response to the crisis amidst a surge in new claims. Beyond the sheer volume of claimants, recent developments present a fresh set of priorities for those working in benefit, income and employment support. These priorities stem from the considerable challenges facing the UK labour market with sizeable portions of the economy having to adapt to a ‘new normal’ of altered hours and working practices alongside shifting demand and capacity. Additionally, these priorities stem from a large new group of claimants who face their own unique challenges in accessing adequate social assistance and appropriate employment support during the course of the pandemic.

This is a summary:

The new cohort of COVID-19 benefit claimants are more likely to be:

  • younger: almost half (46%) of new benefit claimants are aged between 18-39 years old, compared to 37% of existing claimants.
  • BAME: 8% of new claimants are from BAME backgrounds compared to 6% of existing claimants. New BAME claimants have been disproportionately impacted by job loss and/or a reduction in their hours.
  • men: 49% of new benefit claimants are male compared to 43% of existing benefit claimants.
  • not experiencing a disability: only 38% of new benefit claimants experience some kind of health condition or disability compared to 67% of existing claimants.
  • from a higher ‘social grade’: more than a quarter (26%) of new claimants are from social grade AB compared to 15% of existing claimants.
  • university graduates: almost a third (32%) of new claimants had a University Diploma or above, compared to 26% of existing claimants. In part this is driven by the younger age profile of new claimants who are more likely to be university graduates. However, this is also evident when focusing exclusively on those aged 18-39. Amongst this age group, 41% of new claimants hold a university diploma or above, compared to 28% of existing claimants.
  • owner occupiers: 29% of new benefit claimants were owner occupiers compared to 25% of existing claimants. In addition, only 13% of new claimants were social renters compared to a 33% of existing claimants.

Anybody looking for stories about Universal Credit on the Net will notice that papers, particularly the right-wing loony bin type, are full of clickbait stuff.

They are trying to appeal to the above people who must be looking around for some way to lessen the impact of being on the dole.

Universal Credit: Are you eligible for SDP payments of over £400 a month? Check now (Express)

Universal Credit claimants could receive an additional payment of £812 – rules explained (Express)

This stuff reminds me of the junk-mail you get in your In-Box from Dogsville USA, “New Benefit for Veterans!”.

Our contributors by contrast noticed this a couple of days back.

The House:

Scrap Universal Credit and replace it with a system that offers a safety net for all

Labour has long been calling for changes to social security to avoid entrenching people into a cycle of poverty they cannot escape. We have been clear that the Government must adopt five urgent social security measures to provide immediate support to people affected by the coronavirus crisis:

  • Convert Universal Credit advances into grants instead of loans, ending the five-week wait.
  • Remove the £16,000 savings limit which disqualifies individuals from accessing Universal Credit.
  • Suspend the benefit cap.
  • Abolish the two-child limit in Universal Credit and Tax Credits.
  • Uprate legacy benefits to match the increase in Universal Credit, providing an immediate increase in Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment Support Allowance.

In the meantime people are struck with the existing system.

This means that a lot of people, a real lot, are having to adjust to things like this:

1.6 million households hit by £60 cut to benefits in just one month

Welfare Weekly,

Well this chap is helping out:

Our Boss is spreading joy and light in a different way:

I watched Sky Arts yesterday.

It is about as entertaining as being stuck on Orford Ness in mid-winter drizzle.

I was not impressed….

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2020 at 9:21 am

Thousands of new Work Coach vacancies open across the UK…

with 447 comments

Your local jobcentre is hiring! Make a difference and apply to be a Work Coach today.

Are you “so

People may have missed this announcement. (though Trev  has not……).

  

 

 

Here it is again!

The number of Work Coaches is to be doubled to 27,000 nationally.

  • Employment Minister calls for those who want to make a difference in their communities to apply now.
  • Thousands of new expert Work Coaches to boost support for jobseekers and build back an even stronger economy.

From today (Thursday 10 September 2020), jobseekers across the country will be able to apply for one of thousands of new jobcentre Work Coach vacancies being offered by the Department for Work and Pensions, as part of its pledge to double the number of Work Coaches to 27,000 by March 2021.

Getting Britain back to work as quickly as possible is vital, as the UK strives to build back an even stronger and more resilient economy. Thousands of new Work Coaches will be at the forefront of this recovery, and will be deployed in communities across the country.

These expert Work Coaches will be trained in how to get the best out of people and make sure they have the support they need to get back into work.

Through a rapid recruitment plan, the department will have 4,500 Work Coaches in place by October 2020, with a further 9,000 by March next year.

Minister for Employment, Mims Davies said:

Getting Britain back into work is key to our national recovery and our DWP Work Coaches are on the frontline of this effort – boosting their numbers means we can build back stronger.

Our Work Coaches not only deliver financial support to millions of claimants across the country, but take time to listen, encourage, advise, and ensure everyone has access to the best support available – helping those facing a tough time get back on their feet sooner.

If you are someone who cares about your community and are keen to take on a fresh role helping others, then you can make a real difference by becoming a Work Coach and I want you to join our team today.

Work Coaches will deliver:

  • New flagship programmes, such as the £2 billion Kickstart scheme, a key part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, which puts young people receiving benefits first in line for new, high quality, six-month roles provided by employers from all sectors. The placements give them a wage for the duration and the chance to build their experience and professional networks.
  • Increased support for 40,000 jobseekers of all ages will also be available through DWP’s Sector-based Work Academy Placements, which received a £17 million funding boost this summer and will help people learn new skills through a mixture of work experience and training.
  • Work Coaches will also offer vital retraining opportunities to people looking to start a new career, as well as support for those who need to update their skills and CV, or simply prepare for an interview.

For more information on applications and deadlines in your region, please visit the Work Coach recruitment site.

Today’s announcement to boost the frontline comes as jobcentres across the country continue to offer more support for jobseekers in Coronavirus-secure offices, as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs. While many appointments will still be conducted virtually, jobcentres are now open for customers to meet safely with their Work Coaches face-to-face when necessary.

AFfer this good news Thérèse Coffey is on yet another roll!

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2020 at 8:14 am

The Full Return of Job Centres and Benefit Sanctions.

with 271 comments

 

Image

 

Benefit Sanctions were reintroduced in July,

The return of benefit sanctions is a risky, painful and dangerous bet by the government

New Statesman.

Against a potential backdrop of mass layoffs, the cruelty of the old system is going to feel a lot sharper.

Benefit sanctions will return to the United Kingdom from 1 July, the government has confirmed. The requirement that people claiming Universal Credit demonstrate they are actively seeking work was suspended during the lockdown, but will resume on Wednesday, when Job Centres reopen and in-person meetings there return.

DWP docked 35,000 people’s benefits at height of coronavirus despite ending sanctions

The Mirror reported on the 20th of August.

More than 35,000 people were losing money to benefit sanctions at the height of coronavirus – despite them being halted.

Thousands were still having their payments docked long after new sanctions were suspended for three months due to the pandemic.

Now the DWP has plans to fully-open Jobs Centres the process looks set to begin against in earnest.

05 Sep 2020

PCS has reiterated that the safety of members is our priority as we oppose government plans to get 80% of civil servants in England to attend their usual workplace each week by the end of September.

We have been informed that permanent secretaries have been told to greatly increase the number of staff in workplaces. The government claims sending tens of thousands of civil servants back to their buildings by the end of the month would be “hugely beneficial”.

As we understand it, departments which have not staffed offices up to the so-called Covid safe limits must now seek to do so. This must be done in a supposedly Covid-secure way, taking advantage of the return to schools this month and increased public transport availability.

Moreover departments are being strongly encouraged to use staff rota systems to get more staff into the workplace over the week, for example 20% for five days, 30% for three days and 30% for two days.

Departments have been set a target of 80% of staff in England to attend their usual workplace each week by the end of September. Staff elsewhere in the UK are expected to follow local guidance and continue working from home.

We understand the prime minister has asked to see departmental return to the workplace figures on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 7, 2020 at 10:25 am

Former DWP Chief Stephen Crabb calls to make the £20 addition for Universal Credit permanent and extend it to legacy benefits.

with 288 comments

Equal Benefits for Claimants! Raise Legacy Benefits in Line with Universal Credit Rates! | Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Stephen Crabb, “legacy benefits like JSA, ESA and IS should be raised to match the universal credit increase.”

This is the benefits story of the day:

‘allo, ‘allo, what ‘ave we here?

Read the article…..

As a first step, the government should make permanent the additional £20 per week for the universal credit standard allowance that it brought in to strengthen social security during the crisis. Removing it next spring, as currently planned, will amount to a painful cut in income for many people still struggling to come to terms with the loss of their jobs and who have found the transition from furlough to benefits a very hard landing indeed.

In parallel, the personal allowance of so-called legacy benefits like JSA, ESA and IS should be raised to match the universal credit increase. This is particularly important for those with disabilities, and their carers, who make up most of the people remaining on these benefits. It’s just not right that some of the most vulnerable people have not seen equivalent protection.

My Government Must Do More To Help Working Poor Cope With Covid

We should also look at extensions to the furlough scheme, writes Stephen Crabb MP.

Meanwhile this rumbles on.

The Work and Pensions Committee, a Commons Select Committee, is continuing its investigation into Universal Credit.

There next evidence hearing session is on the 2nd of September,

Universal Credit: the wait for a first payment

Inquiry

Universal Credit has a “baked in” wait for the first payment. After completing all of the stages of their application, claimants must then wait for at least five weeks to receive their award. They can ask for an Advance payment if they need money more urgently, which they then pay back out of their future Universal Credit payments.

Many organisations have concluded that the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment must be reduced or eliminated entirely. There is, however, a lack of agreement about how this might be most effectively—and affordably—achieved. Some of the options suggested include:

  • Scrapping the five week wait for all claimants: for example, by making the Advance non-repayable;
  • Offering non-repayable Advances to some claimants: for example, those considered vulnerable;
  • Allowing more flexibility for the start of a claim to be backdated;
  • Extending run on payments to cover all legacy benefits;
  • Substantially reducing the rate at which Advance Payments—the main existing mitigation measure—are paid back, to help claimants better manage their money;
  • Paying UC two-weekly, like many legacy benefits, rather than monthly.

The Committee wants to help the Government to better understand the upsides and downsides of these options, and explore other possible solutions.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 31, 2020 at 3:04 pm

The 35 Hours a Week ‘Job-Search’: 2.3 million claimants for 90,939 Jobs.

with 131 comments

Image

35 Hours a Week!

The hard right Express takes a brief break today from whinging about Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory.

Universal Credit UK: DWP warns payments will stop or reduce if you fail to do this

When claiming Universal Credit, a person will need to make an agreement with their work coach which is called a “Claimant Commitment”.

The requirements of things they need to do will depend on the individual person’s situation.

It may be that it includes activities such as writing a CV, looking and applying for jobs, or going on training courses.

The Express continues mentioning things like a change of circumstance, and everything else you have tell the DWP.

But it does not go into the detail of the “looking and applying for jobs.”

This is in interesting post which chimes with what people on this site have been saying for some time.

Absurd as 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants required to chase “90,939 Jobs” on DWP Jobsite (findajob.dwp.gov.uk)

It is absurd to require 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants to search for work up to 35 hours per week, or face severe financial penalties (benefit sanctions), when the DWP itself is only able to get UK employers to advertise just 90,939 jobs on it’s own website.

All UC claimants are required to accept a Claimant Commitment (CC) and this will include sanction based obligations to search for and prepare for work. It is highly probable that nearly all of the 2.3 million claimants will have a CC requirement to evidence creating a DWP ‘Find A Job’ (FAJ), uploading their CV to it and then using it to search and apply for work through FAJ.

 

And, as our contributors have already noted,

Followed by:

Enforcing the rule about jobsearch has always been a sore point.

If you are on one of these ‘courses’ it is not unknown to be stuck in front of a computer every day ‘doing’ jobsearch.

Or was, because nobody can exactly see these ‘courses’ operating at the moment.

Or making sure that everybody has access to the Web.

As katrehman says,

How do they expect claimants with no WiFi, landlines or even maybe no credit/Internet left on their PAYG mobile if they have a mobile, to search for jobs or spending an hour or two ringing employers? I have a PAY phone for a tenner per month I have 4GB Internet, fine as WiFi is included in my rent, plus unlimited minutes and texts, I work and top up on payday, but for those on 74 a week or even 94 this is A LOT of money! So I guess there’s still jobclubs and mandatory JCP job search sessions?

But the DWP is here to help!

 

The Minister is spreading joy:

All is going well.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 25, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Basic Income Trials: Solution to Benefit Poverty or Mirage?

with 38 comments

A Universal Basic Income Is Essential and Will Work - Global Research

Solution or Mirage?

 

Support is said to be growing for Basic Income. Some of our contributors have shown interest and have noticed that this experiment is underway:

Germany to give people £1,000 a month, no questions asked, in universal basic income experiment

The Independent article says,

Researchers in Germany will give a group of people just over £1,000 a month, no strings attached, as part of an experiment to assess the potential benefits of introducing a wider universal basic income (UBI).

The radical idea has attracted a growing amount of interest around the world as a way of potentially supporting people during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Advocates claim a small, regular income from the state to all citizens would help tackle poverty, encourage more flexible working practices, and allow some people to spend more time caring for older family members.

The German pilot study will initially see 120 people handed the monthly sum of 1,200 Euros (£1,085) to monitor how it changes their work patterns and leisure time.

Researcher Jurgen Schupp – who is leading the ‘My Basic Income’ project at the Berlin-based German Institute for Economic Research – said he wanted to discover how a “reliable, unconditional flow of money affects people’s attitudes and behaviour”.

The present trial follows this one in 2019.

Germany’s ‘money for nothing’ experiment raises basic income questions

250 randomly-selected recipients of Hartz IV, the bottom rate “safety net” German welfare payment, have begun to receive their monthly €416 without any conditions attached.

Hartz IV recipients have certain obligations to meet, for example, the need to keep appointments at the job center or to show evidence of looking for work. Failure to meet the conditions might see their benefits cut via “sanctions.”

For the next three years, the activist organization Sanktionsfrei (“Sanctions-Free”) will automatically reimburse any sanctions imposed on the 250 test recipients. Effectively, they will be guaranteed a basic income of €416 every month.

The participants will fill out regular questionnaires, documenting the effects of their new status. An additional 250 Hartz IV recipients will act as the control group, filling out the same form while still being subject to the usual conditions.

Strictly speaking, this endeavour, labeled “HartzPlus” is not a Universal Basic Income (UBI) experiment. For starters, it is backed by a private organization and is not supported by the German government.

…..

some observers of HartzPlus have pointed out that it is not a UBI as it is not paid if the person finds a job which pays more than the welfare claim.

The present experiment is just that, an Experiment.

Germany is set to trial a Universal Basic Income scheme

  • Starting this week, 120 Germans will receive a form of universal basic income every month for three years.
  • The volunteers will get monthly payments of €1,200, or about $1,400, as part of a study testing a universal basic income.
  • The study will compare the experiences of the 120 volunteers with 1,380 people who do not receive the payments.
  • Supporters say it would reduce inequality and improve well-being, while opponents argue it would be too expensive and discourage work.

The study, conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research, has been funded by 140,000 private donations.

Interest in Basic Income continues.

There is interest in the USA.

This was reported in July.

Twitter boss donates $3m to basic universal income project

BBC.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has become the first investor in a radical plan to give people a basic income, regardless of job status.

He has donated $3m (£2.4m) to the scheme, which is being piloted by the mayors of 16 US cities.

He said it was “one tool to close the wealth and income gap”.

The idea of governments paying a basic income to citizens has gained momentum in response to the threat to jobs from artificial intelligence

There are three basic problems with applying  experiments in Basic Income  to a whole country.

  • Unlike social security payments they do not redistribute money by taxation from those who make extra cash out of other people, business and the wealthy, and give some of this surplus to those who have less money. Everybody gets the same basic income.
  • Despite claims that Basic Income schemes would give everybody “enough to live on” no proposed system can allow for the variable and extra costs that payments under social security systems (in Europe at least) cover, Housing Benefit (local Housing Allowance), or the extra cash needed by ill or disabled people (PIP and so on). The German plans, for example, would mean that somebody who is unemployed and paying rent would still have to rely on getting welfare payments to cover housing costs that go beyond the sum given.
  • Apart from not fully covering people’s needs, they do not answer a problem that unemployment brings for those who wish to work: to use our abilities as we can.

There would have to be criteria to get Basic Income – they could not be open to anybody from anywhere to come and claim.

A large proportion of public spending would go on any variety of the scheme. We would have the absurd position in which those with large private incomes would get an extra “top up” every month.

Would pensioners get the money? If this is the case we would see a huge increase in spending on the retired alone.

As Anna Coote says (Guardian. 2019.  Universal basic income doesn’t work. Let’s boost the public realm instead)

The cost of a sufficient UBI scheme would be extremely high according to the International Labour Office, which estimates average costs equivalent to 20-30% of GDP in most countries. Costs can be reduced – and have been in most trials – by paying smaller amounts to fewer individuals. But there is no evidence to suggest that a partial or conditional UBI scheme could do anything to mitigate, let alone reverse, current trends towards worsening poverty, inequality and labour insecurity. Costs may be offset by raising taxes or shifting expenditure from other kinds of public expenditure, but either way there are huge and risky trade-offs.

Money spent on cash payments cannot be invested elsewhere. The more generous the payments, the wider the range of recipients, the longer the scheme continues, the less money will be left to build the structures and systems that are needed to realise UBI’s progressive goals.

The report Coote cites, Universal Basic Income. A Union Perspective, says,

At the heart of the critique of UBIs contained in this brief is the failure of the most basic principle of progressive tax and expenditure, which can be summarised as “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”.

Whereas universal benefits such as healthcare or unemployment payments are provided to all who need it, UBI is provided to all regardless of need. Inevitably it is not enough to help those in severe need but is a generous gift to the wealthy who don’t need it. It is the expenditure equivalent of a flat tax and as such is regressive. But the consequences are more than a question of principle.

The estimates of funds required to provide a UBI at anything other than token levels are well in excess of the entire welfare budget of most countries. If we were able to build the political movement required to raise the massive extra funds would we chose to return so much of it to the wealthiest, or would it be better spent on targeted measures to reduce inequality and help the neediest?

What’s more such schemes require the total current public welfare budget to be used. Do we really want to stop all existing targeted programmes such as public housing, public subsidies to childcare, public transport and public health to redistribute these funds equally to billionaires.

UBI would erode the basis for the welfare state.

And this raises other practical political issues. With a UBI in place many have argued that the states obligations to welfare will have been met. That people would then be free to use the money as they best need – free from government interference. With such a large increase in public spending required to fund a UBI it would certainly prompt those who prefer market solutions to public provision with powerful arguments to cut what targeted welfare spending might remain.

Arguments put by proponents of UBI to counter these questions usually involve targeting of payments, or combination with other needs-based welfare entitlements. However, as this report notes, models of UBI that are universal and sufficient are not affordable, and models that are affordable are not universal. The modifications inevitably required amount to arguments for more investment, and further reform, of the welfare state – valuable contributions to public debate but well short of the claims of UBI.

It is a mirage solution.

It is one of the unfortunate mirages of UBI, as clear from the evidence and trials outlined in this report, that UBI can mean all things to all people. But the closer you get to it the more it seems to recede. A further, and significant point for trade unionists, is the assumptions UBI proponents make about technological change and the effect on workers. The argument that technology will inevitably lead to less work, more precarious forms and rising inequality is deeply based on the assumption that technology is not within human control. In fact, technology is owned by people and can be regulated
by government if we chose.

Work is not disappearing – there are shortages of paid carers and health care workers, amongst others, across the globe. And precarious work can be ended at any time with appropriate laws. What is missing is the political will to control technology, and work, for the benefit of the population. In this regard UBI is a capitulation to deregulation and exploitation, not a solution to it.

If, in a sense, with the Pandemic work is disappearing. Is a massive transfer of spending from the welfare state to everybody through UBI, instead of targeted schemes that focus on maintaining employment, the answer?

The German scheme, DW noted back in 2019, has this difficulty,

The most persistent criticism that advocates of a universal basic income face is the question of cost. For example, to take a crude measurement, if the close to 70 million adults in Germany were all to receive an unconditional, universal basic income payment of €416 per month (the current Hartz IV rate), the annual cost to the German government would be around €350 billion. In a savings-obsessed country, that might prove a hard sell.

All the problems outlined above indicate that Universal Basic Income is not a solution but a mirage.

The neoliberals of the Adam Smith Institute  think differently.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 23, 2020 at 9:42 am

Mass Unemployment Coming, Calls for “Permanent Increase in Universal Credit.”

with 237 comments

FInally there is the poverty created by low benefit levels  – even with the ‘top up’ for those on UC, which those on Job Seekers Allowance and other ‘Legacy Benefits’ are refused.

Everybody knows – I only have to go out of the front door and walk to the town centre and look at the state of the shops, and see the small numbers of passengers on the buses  – that there have been mass job losses.

The Government is recruiting Work Coaches to meet the rise in claims.

It is said that their role models are going to be saintly folk in a certain Yorkshire Jobcentre, always ready to help claimants and deal with the occasional scamp.

Totals of the out-of-work are set to rise further.

Today we hear more confirmation of the arrival of mass unemployment, suggesting that we are on the verge of a ” Great Depression”.

Readers will note that because this is going to affect more than the usual ne’er do wells Tories are calling for a rise in Universal Credit rates.

End of UK furlough scheme ‘means needless loss of 2m jobs’

Two million viable jobs will be needlessly lost under the government’s plan to end its flagship jobs support scheme, Boris Johnson is being warned on Sunday, amid cross-party demands for further emergency help.

After confirmation that Britain has entered the deepest recession since records began, new analysis seen by the Observer finds that as many as 3 million jobs will still be reliant on the government’s furlough scheme by the time it is closed at the end of October.

While 1 million jobs will be lost permanently as a result of the pandemic’s impact and changing demand, it finds that the remainder could be saved in the long run by adopting a successor to the furlough scheme focused on viable jobs in the hospitality, entertainment and construction sectors.

The new research, drawn up by the Institute for permanent increase in universal credit warns that simply withdrawing the furlough scheme with nothing in its place will cause unemployment at levels “not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s”. It also calls for major increases in universal credit to help those who are out of a job – an idea that is gaining support among Tory MPs.

You read it right,

Meanwhile, support is growing on the Tory benches for a permanent increase in universal credit to help those out of work. Stephen McPartland, a Tory MP who led a successful rebellion against tax credit cuts in 2015, said: “We have to support those who will be losing their jobs and universal credit needs to change if it is going to provide that support. It is clear what needs to be done, but the political will to find the funds has just not been there.”

Pressure is building outside parliament. Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We’re already supporting one person every two minutes on a redundancy issue. As the furlough scheme ends, that number could snowball. Failure to act now risks long-term social and economic scarring that could take decades to recover from. It’s crucial the government takes further steps to prevent redundancies and strengthen the safety net for people who’ve struggled as a result of this crisis.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, warned that the number of over-50s who were made redundant and then completely fell out of employment was already rising sharply. “We fear that unless the government intervenes to help, unemployment among older shielded workers is set to soar,” she said.

Read the calls again….

…to help those out of work. Stephen McPartland, a Tory MP who led a successful rebellion against tax credit cuts in 2015, said: “We have to support those who will be losing their jobs and universal credit needs to change if it is going to provide that support. It is clear what needs to be done, but the political will to find the funds has just not been there.”

Pressure is building outside parliament. Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We’re already supporting one person every two minutes on a redundancy issue. As the furlough scheme ends, that number could snowball. Failure to act now risks long-term social and economic scarring that could take decades to recover from. It’s crucial the government takes further steps to prevent redundancies and strengthen the safety net for people who’ve struggled as a result of this crisis.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, warned that the number of over-50s who were made redundant and then completely fell out of employment was already rising sharply. “We fear that unless the government intervenes to help, unemployment among older shielded workers is set to soar,” she said.

Here is the IPPR report and recommendations:

 

Long Term Unemployment Crisis Looms for Older Workers.

with 271 comments

Emily Andrews (@Emilyishness) | Twitter

Putting it Mildly: Quarter of a million over-50s ‘will never work again’.

Our contributors have been discussing plans to recruit an extra 13,500 Work Coaches.

Whether or not they are needed to sign claimants on, “coaching” people back into work is not going to be the major problem, Coachey!

It’s going to be a lot more than that.

Quarter of a million over-50s ‘will never work again’ after coronavirus

Telegraph.

You cannot read any more unless you wish to pay the keeper at the gate of the Telegraph’s pay-wall.
If the Torygraph thought that was going to stop our Crack Reporting Team you can sod off….
The same story appears here,

A quarter of a million over 50 ‘will never work again’ after coronavirus

A major problem for older job seekers is that training and apprenticeship programmes tend to be geared towards younger people, the Centre for Ageing Better said.Andy Briggs, government czar of older workers and managing director of Phoenix Group, an insurer, said: “It’s also up to employers to crack down on unconscious bias. If a senior reveals their age on a resume, they are much less likely to get the job. ”

Older women, in particular, find it difficult to keep their jobs because many have to adapt their jobs to family responsibilities, he added. One in four women over 50 provides informal care for a loved one, compared to one in eight men the same age, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Women are likely to be the hardest hit. Nearly 40,000 women aged 50 to 64 have left the labour market since the start of the pandemic, as shown by the analysis of ONS data by job site Rest Less. At the same time, economic activity has increased in all other age groups of working-age women. For men aged 50 to 64, it increased by 3%.

Stuart Lewis of Rest Less said: “In the last recession, women could retire at age 60. Today he is 66 years old. Losing their jobs will force them to retire early, which many cannot afford.

Diving into savings and pensions will eat up funds quickly, especially when stock markets are down.

Since March, the number of women over 50 claiming universal credit has jumped 95%, compared to 92% among men in the same age group.

Which leads to some crafty leg work and,…….!

The new report from the Centre for Ageing Better and Learning and Work Institute shows that the number of older workers on unemployment related benefits has nearly doubled as a result of the pandemic – increasing from 304,000 in March to 588,000 in June.

There is a risk of a ‘second wave’ of job losses for older workers as the furlough scheme comes to an end in October. One in four older workers – 2.5 million in total – have been furloughed, and hundreds of thousands of these workers may be unable to return to their previous jobs as some sectors struggle to recover.

The report finds that older workers who lose their jobs are far more likely to slip into long-term worklessness. Just one in three (35%) over 50s who lose their job return to work quickly, compared to two in three (63%) workers aged 25-34. Over 50s who are unemployed are twice as likely to have been out of work for over a year than those aged 18 to 24.

A mid-life employment crisis: how COVID-19 will affect the job prospects of older people

Over 50s have been poorly served by previous employment support programmes. The Work Programme – which was introduced following the last recession – failed older claimants; just one in five (19%) adults in their late 50s found a lasting job, compared to two in five (38%) young people aged 18-24.

Many older workers interviewed as part of the new research explained how the crisis had left them pessimistic about their future employment prospects, uncertain about their next steps, and concerned about employers’ perceptions of older workers.

‘When you read that there’s 9 million people that have been furloughed and they’re saying that 1 million people are going to be made redundant. It is going to be very hard and you’re competing with younger people who understand the IT stuff a bit better. So, it’s not easy at my age anyhow.’

On the cusp of retirement, and soon to change this Blog, I can agree with the last sentence 100%.

This is what her NIbs is thinking:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 9, 2020 at 3:36 pm

Universal Credit Is Not Working – House of Lords Report.

with 322 comments

 

After having posted about mass unemployment looming people have been speaking more and more about redundancies and the prospect of being out of work. You don’t have to have family or friends who are affected, just look on the Web, and here (one of our contributors excepted).

It is seriously worrying when secure jobs are under threat.

These things tend to work out in ever-expanding rings.

Now people face the prospect of joining the inner circle of hell, the dole, and specifically Universal Credit.

Their Lordships have produced this report which is making a splash.

The reason is obvious, as this Sky headline underlines,

Universal credit ‘harms the most vulnerable’, says major report amid surge in claims

Some 3.2 million people made new Universal Credit claims between the start of the lockdown in March and mid-June.

The BBC covers the story

Universal Credit ‘failing millions of people’, say peers

Universal Credit is “failing millions of people”, especially the vulnerable, according to a new report from peers.

The Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee said it agreed with the government’s aim for the scheme – to bring together multiple benefits into one payment.

But it criticised its design, blaming Universal Credit for “soaring rent arrears and the use of food banks”.

Welfare delivery minister Will Quince said the government was “committed to supporting the most vulnerable”.

But he said the scheme had “defied its critics in unprecedented and unforeseeable circumstances” during the coronavirus pandemic, adding: “The case for Universal Credit has never been stronger.”

Reactions are beginning to tumble in.

One poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said the report “reinforced the scale and urgency of reforms needed”.

And Labour said the system was “simply not working”, instead “pushing people further into poverty and debt”.

Note well this bit.

The Lords’ report said cuts to social security budgets over the last 10 years had caused “widespread poverty and hardship”.

As a result, the committee said Universal Credit needed “urgent investment just to catch up and provide claimants with adequate income”.

The peers called on the government to make the rise in payments due to the coronavirus crisis permanent.

They also called for a non-repayable two-week grant to be introduced to cut the current five-week wait for a claimant’s first payment.

The government said urgent payments were already available, but peers said the standard five weeks “entrenches debt, increases extreme poverty and harms vulnerable groups disproportionately”.

So, Universal Credit is a problem.

Let’s begin with the beginning, with the money you have to live on.

Coming up to my Pension I notice that even the increased UC payment is far below Pension Credit.

It would also perhaps be better if this report came from other people  than those who Daily Allowance (£150) alone (excluding their other revenues, paid in guineas or  gold sovereigns)  is nearly the JSA rate for a fortnight.

This is what their Lordlyships say,

Lords Select Committee.

 

The Economic Affairs Committee publishes its report ‘Universal Credit isn’t working: proposals for reform’, which calls on the Government to make substantial changes to universal credit in order to protect the most vulnerable.

“Most people, including our Committee, broadly agree with the original aims and objectives of Universal Credit. However, in its current form it fails to provide a dependable safety net. It has led to an unprecedented number of people relying on foodbanks and not being able to pay their rent.

“The mechanics of Universal Credit do not reflect the reality of people’s lives. It is designed around an idealised claimant and rigid, inflexible features of the system are harming a range of claimant groups, including women, disabled people and the vulnerable.

“Universal Credit needs more money to catch up after 10 years of cuts to the social security budget. It requires substantial reform to its design and implementation, the adequacy of its awards, and how it supports claimants to navigate the system and find work.

“The five-week wait for a first payment must be replaced by a non-repayable two-week grant to all claimants. The monthly payment calculations which can result in big fluctuations to claimants’ incomes should be fixed for three months. Historical tax credit debt needs to be written off.

“The punitive nature of Universal Credit has not worked. It punishes the poorest by taking away their sole source of income for minor infractions. It needs rebalancing, with more carrot and less stick, particularly as large numbers of claimants will have ended up on it because of events completely out of their control.”

Other findings

The Committee’s other key findings and recommendations include:

  • The Government must prioritise helping people into work, particularly with the increase in unemployment that the Covid-19 pandemic is causing. All claimants should have a work allowance, at a higher rate than now, to allow them to keep more of their award as they move into work.
  • The Government should consider reducing the taper rate to ensure that the poorest in society do not pay higher marginal effective tax rates compared to the richest in society.
  • The conditionality requirements on claimants who can look for, or prepare for work, has been increased significantly over recent years. Less emphasis should be placed on obligations and sanctions. Instead, there should be more support to help coach and train claimants to find jobs or to progress in their current roles. Conditionality should be adapted to accommodate changing labour market conditions, including at the local level, particularly in the light of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The UK has some of the most punitive sanctions in the world, but there is limited evidence that they have a positive effect. Removing people’s main source of support for extended periods risks pushing them further into poverty, indebtedness and reliance on food banks. There is a substantial body of evidence which shows that sanctions harm people’s mental health. The Government should evaluate the current length and level of sanctions. It should also expedite its work on introducing a written warning system before the application of a sanction. Sanctions must be a last resort.
  • The Government is doubling the number of work coaches in response to potential levels of high unemployment. This may not be enough to support people to find work in a stagnant labour market with high levels of competition for jobs. A cap should be introduced on the number of cases for which each work coach can be responsible.
  • Paying awards on a monthly basis does not reflect the way many claimants live. It causes unnecessary budget and cash flow problems. All claimants should be able to choose whether to have Universal Credit paid monthly or twice monthly.
  • Including childcare support in Universal Credit was a mistake. Paying costs in arrears has been a barrier to in-work progression and in some cases, it has been a disincentive to work. The Government should remove childcare support from Universal Credit and be made into a new standalone benefit paid in advance.

ITN carried this story a couple of days ago,

Food banks report ‘unprecedented demand’ during Covid crisis as unemployment predicted to rise to 10% by the end of 2020

Food banks experienced their “busiest month ever” during the coronavirus crisis as families faced a loss of income due to job losses or furlough schemes, the Trussell Trust has said.

The food bank network saw an 89% increase in demand for emergency food parcels in April compared to the same period in 2019.

The figures included a 107% increase in food parcels sent to children with the number of families seeking help almost doubling since last year.

The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) reported similar increases reporting 175% more emergency food parcels given out in the UK during April 2020 compared to last year.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 31, 2020 at 6:54 am

Mass unemployment on the cards.

with 120 comments

UK headed for mass unemployment like the 1980s without urgent ...

“Eight people are claiming benefits support for every job opening”.

Two headlines in the Guardian.

Today: Eight people claiming employment support for every vacancy, says thinktank

Richard Partigan.

Analysis comes as some new vacancies in UK are receiving hundreds of applicants each

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits per job vacancy in Britain has increased fivefold since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an employment thinktank.

The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) said approximately eight people are claiming benefits support for every job opening, up from 1.5 people per job before the crisis began in March.

The number of job vacancies in Britain has plunged by almost half a million since January to 333,000 in June, hitting the lowest levels since comparable records began in 2001. With companies making redundancies, putting hiring plans on hold or furloughing their workers, the numbers of people claiming unemployment-related benefits has climbed by 112% since March to reach more than 2.6 million – resulting in an average of 7.8 benefit claimants per vacancy.

Last week it emerged a restaurant in Manchester had nearly 1,000 applications for a receptionist post within 24 hours, while pubs in London have also pulled in hundreds of applicant despite offering very few jobs.

As many as 9.5 million people – a third of the UK’s workforce – have been been placed on the government furlough scheme, which covers 80% of workers’ wages. However, economists fear that the Treasury closing the scheme at the end of October could trigger mass unemployment unparalleled since the 1980s.

Office for National Statistics:

Labour market overview, UK: July 2020

Estimates of employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and other employment-related statistics for the UK.

Also today: Recruiters inundated as virus takes toll on UK labour market

The jobseeker

‘I can see my mental health declining massively’

Ellie, based in Devon, has applied for 100 jobs since she was made redundant from a food service company the day before lockdown. She had been in the job for less than a month but with cafes and pubs closing, the business went downhill “really rapidly”. Ineligible for the government’s furlough scheme Ellie, 25, found herself out of work for the first time.

“I had a good few weeks of being really down and depressed. I didn’t have the strength to job hunt,” says Ellie. She eventually landed a temporary contract with a call centre in May but knows that the work could end at any time. “It’s really stressful not knowing if I could be let go tomorrow,” she says.

Our Boss is on the job immediately!

https://twitter.com/theresecoffey/status/1287855223495634945?s=20

Written by Andrew Coates

July 28, 2020 at 8:10 am

Claimants Moving to Universal Credit to Get Bonus.

with 170 comments

EXTRA 2 WEEKS' MONEY FOR THOSE MOVING TO UNIVERSAL CREDIT - Island ...

More Money for Some on Benefits as Unemployment Set to Soar.

This looks a fishy.

The DWP has announced that thousands of benefit recipients moving on to Universal Credit will receive up to two weeks of additional cash to provide them with extra support

Is there a catch?

Ah….

This one-time payment, known as a run-on, will help people during their first assessment period, and will not have to be paid back.

It’s been in place for housing benefit claimants for more than two years – and has benefited around 2.3million people so far according to DWP figures.

However, from this month, it will also be paid to those who join from child tax credit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance and working tax credit.

In total, it could help an estimated 1.1million households, according to one report seen by Birmingham Live.

What about those who remain on Legacy Benefits?

 

From Wednesday, July 22, if someone’s existing claim of income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) or income support ends due to them applying for universal credit, they will be eligible for a payment worth up to two weeks of their former benefit.

Anyone on the legacy benefits being replaced by Universal Credit is moved across when their circumstances change, such as moving home, losing their job or having a baby.

But….

Everyone else on the legacy benefits is expected to be moved across by September 24. This date is much later than originally forecast and will increase the cost of implementing Universal Credit to £4.6 billion.

So, it’s nothing for those on legacy benefits, who will remain deprived of the extra £20 a week Universal Credit claimants get.

In the meantime the mess that is Universal Credit was shown up in Court today.

Universal credit earnings calculations unlawful, judge says

Guardian

Single mother lost up to £463 a month due to four-weekly pay cycle not fitting rules

A working single parent who was benefit-capped and left up to £463 a month worse off because of the “irrational” way universal credit calculated her monthly earnings has won a high court victory against the Department for Work and Pensions.

The ruling – the second in less than a month in which the DWP’s guidelines for assessing universal credit earnings have been ruled unlawful – found the system was unreasonable and placed absurd conditions on benefit claimants who fell foul of it.

Universal Credit: Mum wins High Court fight against DWP

BBC.

A single working mother has won a High Court challenge against the Department for Work and Pensions over its “irrational” Universal Credit system.

Sharon Pantellerisco, from Merseyside, had her benefits cut as her employer paid her salary on a four-week basis.

However, if she had been paid a monthly salary, the reduction of up to £463 per month would not have been applied.

The High Court said the DWP’s method when calculating earnings in this case had been “irrational and unlawful”.

The DWP has been contacted for a comment.

The court heard how Ms Pantellerisco, from Southport, is the sole carer of her three dependent children who all live together along with her eldest child, who is now aged 19.

The 41-year-old is employed for 16 hours a week at the national living wage rate but, because she was paid on a four-week basis, this resulted in her falling short of the income threshold to avoid the benefit cap.

Watch out for this – seriously worrying for many people.

Looks like Coffey is thinking about her holidays (tweet with 3 likes!)

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 20, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Court Rules Against “No DSS” Discrimination.

with 369 comments

Many of us know people affected by this discrimination, and others who are terrified at losing their jobs because their landlords say they will not keep on tenants who are receive Housing Benefit (It’s being replaced by Universal Credit.)

BBC.

A judge has ruled that blanket bans on renting properties to people on housing benefit are unlawful and discriminatory.

The “momentous” court ruling found a single mother-of-two had experienced indirect discrimination when a letting agent refused to rent to her.

She ended up homeless with her two children, when her case was taken on by housing charity Shelter.

The judge ruled “No DSS” rental bans are against equality laws.

Previously cases backed by Shelter – and first reported by BBC News – have established that “No DSS” landlords and agents are guilty of indirect discrimination, but the cases were settled before any court heard them in full.

In February 2018, single mother Rosie Keogh won compensation for sex discrimination from a lettings agency that refused to consider her as a tenant because she was on state benefit, but the case was settled out of court.

The ruling was welcomed by the housing charity Shelter as a “nail in the coffin” of the No DSS rule – an archaic reference to the former Department for Social Security – used by some landlords to describe the vetting of a class of tenants they regard as unsuitable.

Rose Arnall, the Shelter solicitor who fought the case, said: “It finally clarifies that discriminating against people in need of housing benefits is not just morally wrong, it is against the law.”

But….

Although the ruling, made in a virtual hearing on 1 July, does not set a legal precedent, Shelter said it sent a warning to landlords and letting agents that they should end the practice. Five similar cases brought by the charity in recent years were settled out of court in Shelter’s favour.

This is a welcome decision.  But but apart from not creating a new law, or right to housing, it will not end accommodation problems for people on Benefit, the fact that benefits do not always cover rents, or housing problems in general.

Such as this:

Foodbanks and homelessness charities fear ‘huge storm’ of demand this autumn

FOODBANKS and charities working with the homeless are fearful of a “huge storm” of demand this autumn, as the effect of redundancies are felt and hunger mounts.

Already, volunteers are looking ahead with “fear and trepidation at what is coming down the road at us”, one foodbank manager reported.

Charities fear that, as government support tails off in the autumn, the demands on charities will increase to unsustainable levels, and that a new wave of homelessness will be unleashed. Those most at risk of destitution are those already vulnerable, including migrants who are have no access to government support.

(Just as a note, I am about to reach retirement – this will mean this Blog will not continue in its present form).

Written by Andrew Coates

July 14, 2020 at 8:08 am

Job Search Proof Returns as Mass Unemployment Predicted.

with 275 comments

Quote reads: "Well, they say 35 hours. That’s what you’d sign the disclaimer for. But if you job searched for 35 hours, and you’re not getting a job, I’d guarantee within a month you’re going to have depression."

Job Search Returns.

Contributors have been talking about signing-on and sanctions.

Job Search, and the proof, by UC Diary, print outs, or  completed form,  is at the centre of the Sanctions Regime:

Here is the research link:

 

Meanwhile:

UK unemployment rate could hit 15 per cent with second Covid wave, says OECD

The UK unemployment rate could soar to 15 per cent if there is a second wave of coronavirus infections, the OECD has said.

Even without a second wave, the global economic organisation reckons unemployment could hit 11.7 per cent, a level not seen since the 1980s.

It comes as the UK gradually reopens its economies after lengthy coronavirus lockdowns. As it does so, the government plans to gradually wind down its support for the economy.

The OECD today added to fears that the removal of support will lead to a surge in unemployment when it published a report into jobs markets around the world.

By the end of the year, the UK unemployment rate will have jumped to 11.7 per cent from the current level of 3.9 per cent, it said.

The labour market will take time to recover, the report predicted, with unemployment only dropping to 7.2 per cent in 2021.

However, the OECD said that a second wave of infections and the subsequent lockdown could send unemployment soaring to 14.8 per cent as millions lose their jobs. That would be well above anything seen in recent memory.

Our Boss is gearing up!

Written by Andrew Coates

July 7, 2020 at 10:31 am