Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

TUC on Unfair Benefit Rulings.

with 97 comments

Unfair benefit rulings are another attack by Government on the poor, says TUC

The TUC reveals new evidence today (Friday) that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is moving people from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) purely to save money, even though the individuals are not fit enough to return to work.

The TUC has identified a number of case studies who have been awarded ‘0 points’ by Atos Origin Ltd – a company contracted by the DWP to carry out ESA assessment reviews – and declared fit to work when they had all previously been declared too ill to do so.

When they met with Atos Origin Ltd, Sue Hutchings had breast cancer and was awaiting surgery, while John Watkins had his arm in plaster from his shoulder to his fingertips following an operation.

They were moved from ESA at £96.85 a week on to JSA at £65.45 a week, losing them each £1,632.80 a year in benefit support, and forcing them to start looking for work.

Atos Origin Ltd receives millions of pounds in contracts from the DWP and large employers for assessing people who have been declared unfit for work. Advice workers all over the country have voiced concerns to the TUC over the large number of people being denied benefits following disability analysis undertaken by Atos Origin Ltd on behalf of the DWP.

This week (starting Monday 11 October) the DWP began two ESA re-assessment trials in Burnley and Aberdeen. The TUC is concerned that the Government is moving many disabled and sick people from ESA on to JSA to save money even though they are too ill to work. Statistics from the Tribunals Service reveal there has been a 128 per cent increase in ESA appeals for the first quarter of 2010 compared to the first quarter of last year.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘With the proposal to move more than a million benefit

More Here.

It seems that they are finally waking up to things we’ve pointing out since the dawn of time.

Anyone with similar cases should contact the TUC.


97 Responses

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  1. This is human rights abuse pure and simple but becouse it is done in the UK by the UK don’t expect anything to be done about it or it to achieve any propper outcry like any British government would have given if it happend instead in those Baddy countries like Iran,Serbia,Zimbabwe or Russia.

    The TUC have no leg to stand on they are a disgrace on this,This evil policy has been in place for a good year and was brought in by Neo-Labour who the TUC bank rolled regardless. Pure and simply the TUC could have got this whole human rights abuse knocked on the head at the drawing board stahge by telling the Neo-Labour Nazis straight that you try bringing in this human rights abuse and your funding from us stops immediatly…end of problem exactly the same position should have been taken over workfare, instead the TUC were like the Nazi’s Poodles. Utter disgrace, the TUC have now got as unfit to represent workers as the Labour Party, Bob Crow is the only one with any balls.

    No doubt some of these poor sods who now get the human rights abuse were in the TUC at work before they were disabled or lost their jobs.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 16, 2010 at 10:36 am

    • I would be a bit differently, but those of us who’ve been putting pressure on the TUC for some time now got nowhere while there was a Labour government….

      Andrew Coates

      October 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      • I did bare in mind when I made my comments your past experiances when you valiantly tried to get the TUC on board for the unemployed against Labours Workfare.

        The fact is Comrade Coates you Realy Tried when it matterd but they not only did not try they chose to deliberatly side with the violaters, The TUC realy need to remember what the reason they exit for is. This stuff is the most serious of serious it is blatant violations of basic human rights they chose to ignore instead they chose to fund the violaters attack on their own people.

        That makes them Collaberators in my book.

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      • There is no point in mincing words or pussy-footing about – look at where it has got it. Neo-Labour Nazis are cunts. The TUC are Collaborators and Traitors. They have sold the whole Labour movement down the river. Neo-Labour Nazi aren’t worth the time of day – just listen to that Millipede cunt!

        Sugar Puffs

        October 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

  2. its a vicious move this not only reduces their money but exposes them to further reductions,this time in the form of sanctions’ through no fault of their own.this gives the government more potential to cut benefits,those who are ill may well feel unable to face drawn out appeals even though its their only route to fair redress

    no one should be potentially sanctioned for illness it isn’t fair it isn’t their fault and increases ill health and nhs burden,£30 a consultation a gp informed me on a visit.

    the attitudes of some staff in the job centre is blatantly loud aggressive to those whose job search isnt to their liking and plain to everyone to hear,placing ill people into this arena is again counter productive to everyone.

    attempts have been made again counter productive to the individual to circle the difficulties of medical conditions’ and questions asked,you cannot expect to do this,the employer can simply shrug his shoulders and say we didn’t know how could we act at a latter date,health is a major barrier to work mental health more so as stress increases so does the chance of a complete relapse with detrimental consequences foremost again to the person who is ill who is left with the aftermath to deal with.

    employers are quick to sack once illness becomes apparent too,personally i lifted a gearbox many years ago suffered a back injury had time off went back and was mysteriously sacked unexpected a week later without a reason,the fight to obtain my month in hand pay was emence,the manager tried to cover up the fact there wasn’t any “not in my book” was the reply however this was recovered although at a barest rate.

    the above is only an individual experience and not an indication of everyone and treatment of valued skilled staff may be better but experience typifies this from job centre advertised vacancies’ which are generally poor companies’ this has been gone into before the high risks when dealings with these are encountered.

    this however indicates the risks are huge exposing those you have health problems to the labour market,the risk of discrimination is also extremely high and attitudes in the workplace are commonly not what they should be although again this does depend on quality of the employer.


    October 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

  3. Well said, ken. Once this evil policy comes into effect a lot of mentally distressed people are going to fall by the wayside. They will end up being hungry and homeless or committing suicide. The Job Centre is NO PLACE for people with mental health difficulties. People who are of sound mind find it difficult enough to cope with being shouted and bawled at and living under the constant threat of sanctions. This just Nazi-ism with a sugar-coating.

    Sugar Puffs

    October 16, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    • Too Right, There are practicly no full time jobs for experianced people just laid off to get, what in hells chance do this amount of ill people thrown onto the jobs market all at the same point stand of getting jobs?

      So they’l end up victimised and punished on permanent workfare.

      Lowestoft's Finest

      October 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    • Couldn’t agree more.

      This push has been going on for a while now, and the present ‘crack down’ on ill people is only one of a series.

      There are of course loads of different kinds of mental distress. Who knows where depression becomes an illness, and when it’s a normal reaction to being shat on.

      But I saw a woman I know when I signed on last week who has the most serious type of mental illness you can imagine.

      I won’t go into details but let’s say she hallucinates and worse.

      Making her sign-on is an obscenity.

      Andrew Coates

      October 17, 2010 at 9:45 am

      • This treatment of blatantly ill people disgusts me, and it’s not good enough following a disaster that everybody could see was going to happen to those people for the state to come out with the usual glib “Lessons have been learnt” becouse its blindingly obvious they wern’t, haven’t been in the past and won’t be in the future , becouse the state can get off with brushing everything under the carpet each time.

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

      • Too right. The State are daft they KNOW what the effect of their evil policies will be before they implement them. Think back to the fiasco that was the Child Support Agencies, all of those poor WORKING guys that after the Child Support Agency screwed them over they were left with so little to live on that suicide was the only option.

        Value Baked Beans

        October 17, 2010 at 10:41 am

      • The State are‘nt daft

        Value Baked Beans

        October 17, 2010 at 10:42 am

      • No C words all the time.

        Reserve it for the last shout.

        I’m sick of its use every time you post VBB.

        Now be a good boy and calm down and clam up.

        Andrew Coates

        October 17, 2010 at 11:18 am

      • Welcome to Great Britain where consequences are something that only the poorest people have to bother about.

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 17, 2010 at 10:50 am

      • May I offer my most sincere apologies, Comrade Coates. It’s just that I feel very strongly about certain issues. Given the brutality of Government policies and the inanity of some posters I readily admit that my passion at times does express itself through my language. I will be sure to temper myself in future. Sincere apologies for any offence. VBB

        Value Baked Beans

        October 17, 2010 at 11:38 am

      • Well George Osbourne can expect £50 a form penalty from her every time she has to fill a form in.How on earth are vunerable people like her who don’t know up from down meant to cope with this £50 a form law?

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm

      • How is it even possible to fill in a job centre from without making a mistake – everyone does it! Just another money grabbing scheme of Georgie Porgie!

        FND Zleb

        October 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm

      • And what are these “mobile hit squads” going to be doing?

        FND Zleb

        October 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm

      • Mobile hit Squads? Don’t they play records on a mobile disco?

        Normal In Norfolk

        October 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm

      • Stay tuned you jobseeking pop-pickers… a mobile hit squad will be in your area soon playing you the hits of today and some poptastic gold from yesteryear… oh yeah… did I mention our chhariddy work. Have a poptastic time Smashie and Nicey xx

        Smashie & Nicey

        October 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm

      • “The Unemployed…. they do a lot of work for chhariddy”.

        Normal In Norfolk

        October 17, 2010 at 6:42 pm

  4. Glory to the Greek Rioters.

    “Lessons about market crises from Greece’s quiet recovery”.


    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 17, 2010 at 9:32 am

  5. STAVROS and SPIRIO: We say re posts 1- onwards. We have NOT been shouted or bawled at by our providers or jcp. “If” you are polite to them they will be polite to you. THEY ARE THERE TO HELP YOU


    October 17, 2010 at 9:38 am

    • Either you pair are wind-up merchants or are genuinely thick, in which case I do feel sorry for you. Just in case it does need spelled out. Providers/JCP are Private Companies/Corporations and as such are out to make as much money as possible. Private Companies/Corporations don’t give a stuff about their customers/employees, their sole raison d’etre (reason for being) is to increase shareholder profit. Providers achieve this by channelling public (TAXPAYERS) money into Private hands. Anyone who seriously believes that the likes of A4e, Reed in Partnership, Working Links, TNG is either extremely naive or desperately in need of psychiatric care. Now, that it has been spelled out for you there is no further need for you to come on here posting your daft comments. And if you do, then we will all know what your agenda is. Millie

      Millie Tant

      October 17, 2010 at 11:23 am

      • Dear Millie and Others.
        We hope you are very pleased with yourselves for the worry you are causing with you scare stories. Half of these seem too good to be true. Some of the so called posts are causing needless worry. Nobody knows what is going to be announced until later this week. There is nothing that can be done to change anything as all the papers are now before parliment. As the saying goes SHIT HAPPENS

        Mr Stavros and Mr Spiros

        October 18, 2010 at 12:43 pm

  6. Anyone who seriously believes that the likes of A4e, Reed in Partnership, Working Links, TNG is THERE TO HELP YOU is either extremely naive or desperately in need of psychiatric care.

    Millie Tant

    October 17, 2010 at 11:25 am

    • STAVROS and SPIRIO are (W)Ankera’s Finest…..Ignore Them

      Lowestoft's Finest

      October 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm

      • Too right, Lowestoft’s Finest! I couldn’t have expressed it better 🙂

        Value Baked Beans

        October 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm

      • Dear Lowestoft’s Finest.
        I think you need a geography lesson.
        We are Greek our Captial City is ATHENS. Ankera is in TURKEY. By the way there are NO brackets or letter w in any of the above capital city names


        October 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm

      • Hey Stavros and Spirio, bigmouths. You ain’t welcome around this manor. Beat it!


        October 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    • you will never know.


      October 18, 2010 at 8:51 am

  7. Strange SPIRIO is not a Greek name, it reminds me of Cheerio’s a breakfeast cereal which is apparantly widely available throughout the Turkish Republic so no doubt you are familiar with it?

    So Cheerio Spirio and Stavros

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm

  8. Just heard on the radio George Osbourne is planning to fine people £50 who make unreasonable mistakes filling in dole application forms.

    This is just going to back fire and cause massive ques and the jobcentre staff workload to sky rocket, becouse nobody now will risk filling in these forms themselves but instead will just use excuses to force the staff to do it for them thus swerving any potential £50 fine.

    Expect to hear, “My english eesh not So Good” or “I’m a traveller and never learn’t to read or wtite properly” or “I can’t see I broke my glasses and waiting for a new pair from my oppticians” “you will have to fill it in for me instead”

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 17, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    • Yeah, it’s “on-the-spot” too, so you are gonna have to have at least £50 (for one mistake) on you every you visit the dole office.

      Rocket Star

      October 17, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    • will this apply to peeps who don’t fill their diary in properly… I’m always being told to fill me diary in properly.. and I can hear all the other signers being told 2. maybe it will soon cost more to sign on than we will receive in benefit .


      October 17, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    • Well spotted, Samantha! Form ES4JP 01/04 Looking for Work – your Job Seeker’s Diary – the form that is *never* filled in to the satisfaction of the Job Centre staff. And this form is part of the “evidence going through” when you put in your fortnightly claim. When I think about it, maybe these “on-the-spot” fines are just a sneaky way for Job Centre staff to apply sanctions on a whim without having to go through the Decision Making & Appeals procedure.

      Frozen Pea

      October 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    • “mistake on a form” – what does that mean anyway? What sort of mistakes? Why not just correct it?

      Frozen Pea

      October 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm

  9. What will be the score with people who are with RIP when they sign on, becouse becouse RIP are now under suspicion from JCP for providing dodgy paperwork RIP clients have to now show the jobcentre a copy of the last RIP interview every time they sign on.As RIP provide the paperwork who will get the fine if its wrong (which no doubt coming from RIP it will be ,(bearing in mind thats why the trouble originaly started)Will RIP or their client who never filled it in be fined?

    FND Zlec

    October 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm

  10. To add to the above problem RIP clients were forced to sign an agrement the first day they went there stating RIP will share information with the JCP and third parties, so as far as I see that makes RIP additionaly responsible not their clients for RIP’s mistakes.

    FND Zlec

    October 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm

  11. This is what you get when you combine Workfare with the Big Society:

    Crystal Balls

    October 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    • Who leaked the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Limpicks?

      JSA Titanium (Becouse you're worth it)

      October 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm

  12. Just stumbled across this site


    JSA Titanium (Becouse you're worth it)

    October 17, 2010 at 7:26 pm

  13. Benefit Fraud was at around £2 Billion… the Government got this down to £800 million.

    Now its quoted at around £5 Billion

    Is it me or can I smell blulhsit?

    Are they using old figures and/or including “official error”?

    Flexible New Deal

    October 17, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    • Yes, it’s tough slogging it out on £4.50 an hour, thought times were hard on £5.93, but now the guv have brought in that new NMW policy.

      50 Year Old Unskilled Worker

      October 17, 2010 at 10:08 pm

      • You cannot be a 50 year old worker (assuming you worked throughout your life or most of it) and be “unskilled”.

        If you understood the “policy” just on work experience alone it would be approx £3.30 premium to add to the £4.50 “base rate”.

        This calculates to £7.80

        Times hard on £5.93? I make it £1.87 better off!! Idiot!

        Flexible New Deal

        October 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

    • “Are they using old figures and/or including “official error”?”

      I can’t remember how the numbers break down, but that oft quoted 5 Billion includes administrative errors by DWP as well as customer errors.

      Average Joe

      October 18, 2010 at 6:52 am

      • Figures out specify that in 2009/10 tax year DWP spent £115 million to deal with £150 million of fraud.

        I am not sure to what extent of the figure was reclaimed or whether it was just community service and prison sentences (costing more to the taxpayer).

        From 175,000 cases of benefit fraud… I beg to differ that spending approx 75p of taxpayers’ money per every £1 of fraud to catch these people is money well spent.

        It is a crime. It is a problem. However, when compared to DWP official error in the billions… you do really need to grasp reality that it will cost money to catch these people, but the margins of the value from those caught to the cost of anti-fraud expenditure is way too low!

        On average the 3,000 (approx) fulltime staff dealing with 175,000 cases (created from 250,000 phone calls to benefit fraud hotline. 135,000 cases (of the 175,000 cases) closed without further action) equates to just under 60 cases per staff member – or 5 a month (approx one a week).

        35-40 hours per week determining whether a person has defrauded the state? How difficult can it really be? There will be indepth long investigations included but the far majority were closed without further action.

        (Anon to NBFH: “Dave has a job working for ### at ### although is claiming benefits…”)

        Plans of action:

        1) check Dave has an active claim for benefit
        2) contact the employer to get confirmation of him working and enquire the duration etc.
        3) get a copy of the bank statement which may show wages being paid in
        4) check his benefit claim record to determine duration of which the benefit fraud and calculate the amounts
        5) get some footage of Dave for additional evidence
        6) interview …
        7) prepare case for prosecution

        (drop out if any of the steps return negative)

        If one person was doing the above (Although in reality it is team work which means a better use of resources) steps 1-4 is two days maximum. Add a morning to film Dave going to work and perhaps him going off home. Alternatively, employer CCTV will be adequate! Interview half a day… and a half day preparing a case (if applicable) This is around 2-4 days total. In a team this can be reduced significantly. There will be more difficult cases such as people playing sports etc. when claiming to be disabled but many are straight forward.

        I dont think the ConDem(n) Government should be stating figures of £5 billion when most of that is by official error. Doesn’t that take the piss? Real taxpayers’ are paying DWP staff who many will pay tax (but of real taxpayers’ taxes) and go round “losing” taxpayers’ money in addition.

        Flexible New Deal

        October 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      • Flexi, it must be increadably easy to catch people, especialy if you remember that working on the side is a two way thing though their are millions of claimants their are far fewer employers and far fewer dodgy employers you can get it down even further to name the types of occupations. then narrow that down to those firms busiest times of year, so instead of catching one person working on the side you could catch a whole bunch, up here its often the same firms that get caught time and time again. Rather than coughing up the price of investigating individual claiments that might be a false lead anyway far better to catch them en masse via watching known dodgy employers at the right moment.

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 18, 2010 at 1:23 pm

  14. The Spending Review leaks are coming thick and fast, coupled with a few choice hints from ministers. The coalition is proving masterful at manipulating the story. It now seems certain the Spending Review on Wednesday will involve dramatic and deep cuts affecting those on low incomes and benefits but the last three weeks have been dominated by talk of pain for the “squeezed middle” and the rich.

    The Child Benefit cut for payers of 40% tax was widely criticised in the media as not having gone to plan for George Osborne at Conservative Party Conference, but in truth it did a clever job : making it look as though those at the top are bearing great pain. Saturday’s news about rail fares going up 30-40% also for many people conjures images of southern commuters who can basically afford it being asked to pay a bit more (even though the reality is that vast numbers of ordinary people will really struggle as rail fares rise). Raising student fees does a similar job : prompting headlines for days about squeezed middle class kids leaving university with massive debts before going into highly paid jobs and paying them off (although yes, there was also concern about putting poor people off university education) . And the defence cuts have been a great distraction for the government PR operation : with acres of coverage of whether aircraft carriers that won’t be delivered for years will have Harriers or helicopters flying off them before the new Joint Strike Fighters finally arrive in about eight years (if we’re lucky).

    But over the next couple of days the bad news for those at the bottom will leak and be briefed in abundance. Already it seems child benefit is to be cut further – essentially being scrapped for most families whose children are over 16 years old. The building of affordable social housing will largely stop, as the budget is raided by between 60-80% to save billions. The government is intending to spend less on benefits paid to those living with disabilities. And it also intends to spend billions less on giving people on modest incomes tax credits. (Read Faisal Islam’s blog on the details)

    You might ask if the news gets out anyway what does the government gain by trying to manipulate it? Well, it is all about lasting impressions. This government wants to be seen as progressive – as doing more for those at the bottom than it does for those at the top. The last few weeks have been about establishing the coalition really cares about fairness, and is prepared to hit the better off. If that idea is well planted voters might not feel so bad about what is happening to those at the bottom. And if there are enough stories about waste and benefits cheats (as there were again this weekend) then they might regard more of those at the bottom as the undeserving poor.

    We are entering an unprecedented period for news. There are going to be so many stories it is going to be very hard to know where to point our attention. And it will take a long time for much of it to emerge. Within Whitehall departments this wednesday will be “a good day to bury bad news” like no other before. But we may not actually get the details of how overall spending decisions impact on people and jobs at the frontline for months.

    The Axeman Cometh – And Now for the Poor Too

    George Osborne has claimed the Conservatives are the true progressives in British politics. Whether we will be able to truly judge that on Wednesday is not clear. He’s done a good job of staying ahead of the story so far, dribbling it out in clever chunks. But even he is going to struggle to stay in control of the biggest cuts since the twenties.


    Channel 4 News

    October 17, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    • I think Osbourne will be testing the water on wednesday, who ever puts up least resistance to cuts is going to be then targeted most in sucessive budgets.

      Unfortunatly, I think its going to be the poorest who repeatedly get it in the neck having no effective lobbyists or political representation. Lets face it Neo-Labour opend the door to this for the Tories especialy as thanks to those traitors we would havebeen on workfare already.So Neo-Labour declared open season on the poor.

      Whats alarming as well is what ever whacky SS rules the Tories implement, we need to realise will never be revoaked they are permanent, the only party who could possibly revoke them are the labour Party but lets face it they won’t as they are about pandering to the same Tory Voter demographic and in 13 years of Labour did they repeal any of Thatchers draconian Anti strike legislation? No chance !!! I suspected if Brown would have won the last election that fat Kulak would have happily of added to it.

      Short of wednesdays budget kicking off a wave of Greek Style Rioting or permanent ongoing French style street action which to scare hell out of the government and makes them realise that if cuts have to come its not worth the risk targeting the poor so cut elsewhere (but Frankly I can’t see any street action can’t see happening).

      Lowestoft's Finest

      October 18, 2010 at 10:34 am

  15. Social housing budget slashed by spending cuts

    Channel 4 News has learned that the budget given to new social housing will be reduced by up to 80 per cent and child benefits for the over-16s will be cut. Economics Editor Faisal Islam reports.

    The Chancellor George Osborne will announce cuts on Wednesday of up to £83bn. Channel 4 News has learned that £3bn of those savings could come from ending child benefits for over 16s, something that will affect up to two million families.

    Also, £8bn spent on building affordable social housing will also be slashed.

    Housing Associations were given a 40 per cent government subsidy to build some 50,000 homes last year, nearly half of the entire stock of new homes. Insiders suggest that if cuts reach 80 per cent of the Budget that new social housing will collapse to just a few hundred per year.

    But the Chancellor George Osborne insisted Britain would emerge stronger, saying there were tough choices ahead but he would see the spending cuts through.

    He said: “The priority has been to target waste and welfare, to invest in our healthcare, to have real increases in our school budgets and to invest in the things that are going to make our economy strong.

    “We have got to make some tough decisions but the priority is healthcare, children’s education, early years provision – particularly for some of our poorest – and the big infrastructure developments like Crossrail, Mersey Gateway, the synchrotron, broadband.

    “Those things are actually going to get us out of this stronger and able to pay our way in the world.”

    Social Housing Debate

    Joining us from East London was Stephen Timms Labour’s shadow work and pension secretary – and with us in the studio was David Orr, the Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, which represents over a thousand housing associations.

    David Orr strongly attached the decision to cut social housing saying:

    “What we’re seeing now is a sustained assault on people who are in poor quality homes, who are homeless or badly housed. Even those who are in homes are likely to lose them because of the housing benefits cut.

    “This will not just have a profound impact on people who are homeless but it will take 40,000 construction jobs out of the economy.

    “It feels economically incompetent to me.”

    Stephen Timms said of the child benefits cuts

    “If there’s going to be more cuts in child benefit, as well as the £12bn VAT rise in January, that will have a big impact on household income and therefore spending.

    “Therefore on the economy, the risk to the economy and return to growth to the economy I’m particularly concerned about.”

    Timms said he felt the George Osborne’s plans for reducing the deficit were going “a lot further than we would have gone, to an extent which puts the recovery of the UK economy at risk.”


    Channel 4 News

    October 17, 2010 at 10:46 pm

  16. How buy-to-let was bailed out, is back, and may be bad for Britain

    The British housing dream was about owning your own property. Somewhere along the line that turned into owning other people’s property too.

    And though many expected the credit crunch and the recession to put paid to buy-to-let, with many stories of city centre flat hell, it never happened across the country.

    And now, the cult of the amateur landlord is back, and you’ll be able to see that in my film on tonight’s Channel 4 News.

    Property values have held, rents are now rising, a piddling number of repossessions, the government is slashing red tape, mortgage volumes are surging (though from a low base), and the old names in buy-t0-let (BTL) lending, such as Paragon, are back in the game.

    In fact BTLers were the undoubted unintended champion lucky winners from the emergency slashing of interest rates by the Bank of England. Whilst charging thousands of pounds in rent, their interest only mortgage deals – especially those on trackers – charge just hundreds of pounds.

    But this is not just about low interest rates. The ability of banks to service this relatively new market was undoubtedly saved by the bailout of Britain’s banks. Buy-to-let only formally started in 1996. Yet, remarkably, Channel 4 News has established that 56 per cent of buy to let mortgages ever lent in Britain now sit on the books of bailed-out banks.

    Roughly half of the outstanding buy-to-let mortgage stock is currently being nursed by the State in some form. Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock’s joint £30bn BTL mortgage book is being slowly run off, in direct government hands from an office in London. And then astonishingly, in figures that the mortgage industry does not want you to see, that have been passed to me, about 65 per cent of buy-to-let lending in the year after the banking bust, was coming from bailed-out lenders.

    Buy-to-let is a quasi-nationalised industry.

    None of this would matter, if buy-to-let was unequivocally good for everybody. But it is not. It is clearly redistributive, a means of concentrating wealth where it already lies, and has questionable impacts on social mobility.

    The old government’s key housing affordability tsar told me that BTLers had been directly outcompeting first time buyers for the same housing stock. It is common knowledge at the top of the mortgage industry that between 2005 and 2008, buy-to-let replaced first time buyers as the “marginal buyer” in the housing market. In other words, BTL pushed up house prices ever more, at a time when they appeared to be falling. Good for some, not for all.

    I saw for myself how, even now, estate agents would market £100,000 houses in greater Manchester to well-heeled investors in Kensington on the basis of rental yield. Buy-to-let means that multiples of rental yield replace multiples of salary as the pricing mechanism for our homes.

    So BTL has a dark side. It has undoubtedly pushed house prices up, and reduced the stock of owner occupier housing. That said, for those suffering from non-existent returns on savings, it is easy to see why they are attracted to the returns from landlordism.

    Now that the government owns the majority of this industry, the fact that it creates winners among the rich and wealthy, and losers amongst the poor and young, is a matter of profound public concern. Indeed in Lord McFall‘s much complimented Treasury Select Committee investigation into the financial crisis, one of the ignored recommendations was for the government to come up with a strategy for what to do with “its” buy-to-let book.

    It could perfectly reasonably be pointed out that this is part of a healthier long term trend away from Britain’s property obsession towards more renting. Instead of the historic UK aspiration of 80 or 85 per cent of households being owner occupiers, we are heading towards 60 or 65 per cent, closer to the EU average.

    But there are winners and losers from that process, and I see no public debate, despite the public stake.


    Channel 4 News

    October 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm

  17. The British obsession with owning your own property is truly pathetic, eg pay way over the odds for a property that’s not worth it leaving yourself way OTT in debt. And the reason it seems they do this is not about having somewhere to live but so they can have something to borrow against to stick themselves further into debt. Most people haven’t got a clue of what the reality of house price rises mean either becouse just about everywhere rises proportionaly so only people who wan’t to turn their house into cash eg are lucky enough to have somewhere else already to live and don’t wan’t to buy another property realy benefit.

    So lets face it those people are the usual minority rich elite that rule and thus make the laws in their own favour every time in this country.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 18, 2010 at 9:13 am

    • Very true lowestoft but it’s going to be hard to rent since the cuts affect the Housing Association-Social Housing budget.

      There’s plenty of people already who doss down on friends’ floors, and that’s going to get worse.

      Personally I am really vexed about the cut in Housing Benefit by 10% after a year on the Dole.

      That is going to be a real problem for loads of people.

      Andrew Coates

      October 18, 2010 at 9:17 am

  18. Could your landlord try and up your rent now by 10% to cover it when it goes down?

    Only thing is if you get a job in the meantime you have just upped your own rent 10% so another 10% to find, also this idea may go wrong and encourage landlords to boot out unemployed people before their rent goes down to hold onto the bonus 10% benefit they had upped by getting in new unemployed. Soon Landlords will be wanting to see proof of how long somebodies been unemployed before they house them.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 18, 2010 at 9:35 am

    • The whole point of this evil policy is to make the unemployed homeless, that’s why it’s a reduction in Housing Benefit, not JSA – like a pre-payment electricity meter you cut yourself off. It will also mean greater administration costs for social landlords as they attempt to recover the arrears accrued. The government also intends to remove the option for social tenants to have their rent paid directly to their landlord. When we see great swathes oh homeless on the streets the effect of these barbaric policies will become apparent. The Government is hellbent on crushing the proletariat and destroying social housing.

      Value Baked Beans

      October 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

    • And 10% one year…. don’t want to give the Government ideas…. horrific times are ahead….

      Value Baked Beans

      October 18, 2010 at 10:52 am

  19. This is worth looking at, Oxfam UK Poverty Blog.

    A bit worthy and miserablist though (even by comparison with us!):


    For example,

    “We know a lot about people of working age who are claiming benefit. We know from all our research that they will frequently have very chaotic and difficult lives. They may be mentally ill, or have long periods of distress. They may be physically unwell. Frequently they have responsibilities to care for others – their partners, their parents, their children. We also know that the work that many people in this position can get is insecure, poorly paid and frequently results …”

    Andrew Coates

    October 18, 2010 at 10:59 am

    • Cheers, There’s some interesting stuff on the Oxfam site (though as you say they’ve even managed to out suicide note us). So between phoning the Samaritans I came across this on the UK:

      “due to poor wages and working conditions, the number of people in work and living in poverty now outnumber the amount of people out of work and living in poverty”

      Surely they should have made the ational top headlines with that info and if anounced ahead of Osbournes budget the news would have had the wheels off his immediate plans, likewise I doubt if on the back of that news he would have dared slither to the Daily Mail to repeatedly attack those on benefits instead he would have just slitherd back under the stone he came out from and kept his head down till he anounced a hastily modified budget.

      Lowestoft's Finest

      October 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

      • But Osbourne would have retaliated that he “intends to make people better of in work”….

        by reducing benefits.

        Value Baked Beans

        October 18, 2010 at 11:29 am

      • Wouldn’t have got them out of poverty either way though, bearing in mind its a measure of comparative national income and he’s getting flack over bailed out bankers bonuses going up again, and hes also PR wise in a terrible position by being an inherited muliti millionaire commenting on the issue.

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 18, 2010 at 11:43 am

  20. owning property reflects “ones” social status,or doing the right thing as its called by some.people are quick to discuss what its worth but when prices start falling nothing more is said.unfortunately the housing stock that was available for the public has been largely sold off by the conservatives,these people will be regarded as those that aspire too and more probably vote conservative.the downside homelessness because of shortage.

    another downside is negative equity this can burden a mortgage payer with tens of thousands debt that they are highly unlikely to recover for some years’,the obsession with ownership has caused those that bought three or so years ago to be hit often very hard.

    its very difficult to see how someone can commit to twenty five years of mortgage,today’s labour market its uncertainty again is a major cause of dreams turned sour.


    October 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    • Too right, ken. Most (if not all) mortgagees will never pay off the debt. But, maybe that it the whole idea – let them work their socks off for a couple of decades and then re-possess the property at the last minute, just when they think the end is in sight 🙂 Property in this country is going to become more and more concentrated into fewer and fewer hands – we are all going to become tenants of feudal landlords.

      Red Pepper

      October 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm

  21. Three peers to be suspended from Lords over expenses claims

    Three peers are to be suspended from parliament in the toughest punishment enacted in the House of Lords in modern times after an inquiry found that each had broken expenses rules to wrongly claim tens of thousands of pounds in expenses.

    Lady Uddin, Lord Paul and Lord Bhatia face suspension from the house for varying terms and have been ordered to pay back £125,000, £40,000 and £27,000 respectively.

    Only two other peers have ever been suspended before and the penalties are the most stringent ever imposed. There will be a vote on Thursday, which is expected to ratify the sanctions.

    In the wake of the inquiry, Labour announced it was suspending Uddin, who a spokesman said could face “further disciplinary action”, and Paul resigned from the party. Bhatia is a crossbencher.

    All three peers were accused of naming properties outside London that they hardly visited as their primary residence in order to designate their London homes as their second property and maximise their expenses.

    Each had broken rules to claim the £174 a night allowance for accommodation when they in fact lived within a few miles of Westminster. Uddin and Bhatia were judged to have deliberately broken the rules while Paul breached the rules demonstrating “gross irresponsibility and negligence” but did not act in bad faith.

    Uddin and Paul escaped police prosecution when the Lords rewrote the expenses rules earlier this year to clarify that members could designate a property as their primary residence even if they only visited once a month.

    An investigation by the Lords sub-committee on members’ interests, chaired by the former MI5 boss Lady Manningham-Buller, which is today published by the House of Lords standards and privileges committee along with recommended sanctions, found that:

    • Uddin first claimed her brother’s flat, then a flat she owned in Kent, as her first home when in fact she rarely stayed away from her main home four miles from central London. The committee rejected Uddin’s argument that the two flats had been “bolt-holes” during a troubled period in her marriage, saying a bolt-hole did not constitute a main home. It allowed her to claim £125,349.10 in overnight and travel allowances. She faces an 18-month suspension, which was reduced from three years on appeal.

    • Paul, 115th on the Sunday Times rich list, claimed for expenses purposes that his primary residence was a flat in a hotel he owned to claim overnight expenses. He “freely” admitted he had never spent a night there. The report said: “We do not feel justified in finding, on the balance of probabilities, that Lord Paul acted dishonestly or in bad faith. However, his actions were utterly unreasonable, and demonstrated gross irresponsibility and negligence.” Paul faces a four-month suspension and has already repaid £41,982.

    • Bhatia has lived in a £1.5m family home in Hampton, southwest London, for 20 years, but from 2007 claimed his primary residence was a two-bedroom flat in Reigate, Surrey. Bhatia faces an eight month suspension and has already repaid £27,446.

    The reports of the committees were published today, along with transcripts of evidence sessions in which the peers defended themselves and evidence submitted in their favour. A written statement by Lady McDonagh in defence of Uddin accused the committee of showing “little or no cultural understanding of being a Muslim women born outside of the UK”.

    Lord Strathclyde, the leader of the Lords, said: “I was shocked and appalled by these cases. There was a clear and serious abuse of taxpayers’ money. The penalties recommended would be the toughest handed out by the House of Lords.”

    He added that the rules that allowed the scandal had been scrapped so “bogus” claims could no longer be made.

    Police investigations into Uddin’s and Paul’s expenses were dropped after a Lords committee clarified the rules on expenses in January to allow peers to justify calling a property their main home, even if they had visited it just once a month.


    Crystal Balls

    October 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm

  22. gordon browns plan to keep people in their homes was another scandalous misleading stunt,the northern rock bank led the way to repossessions.




    this may be old news but underlines the contempt successive governments have shown to the general population often through misleading statements.politicians can simply retire from public life,the consequences for the population isn’t so easy to disappear.

    those on benefits have been been singled out more then most as they are seen easy pickings’ in economic tough times.as “adding to the burden” savaged by the tabloid press and made hate victims to those who are fortunatly still in work.

    gutter politics’.


    October 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm

  23. As per normal all the worst examples of theft come from the Neo-Labour Party. Apparantly now the Lords can get up to £300 a day no need for reciepts living allowance.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    • And your point is, Lowestoft’s Finest? You bloody dimwit!

      Sir Rupert Ramsbottom-Haverstock-Fortesque-Smythe

      October 18, 2010 at 5:23 pm

      • The point is he lives too near Norfolk to be a Suffolk-ite

        fredrick peasley-jeffries

        October 20, 2010 at 8:27 am

      • I am the very beating heart of Suffolk, you on the other hand fredrick peasley-jeffries or “Diamond Geezer” as you are no doubt known in your location clearly live too close to Essex to form a clear geographical view

        So sit on that one Sir, then try to remove the screw top without using your hands.

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 20, 2010 at 9:58 am

  24. Watch your mouth Sir Rupert Ramsbottom-Haverstock-Fortesque-Smythe becouse otherwise once ED Milliband realises just how completely underepesented the Rom ethnic minority is in the house of Lords , and duly creates me the post of “Lord Hard Shoulder” I will be insisting you clean my trailor both inside and out, and best bring some shake N’ Vac to put the freshness back whilst your at it.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 18, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    • Bloody buffoon!

      Sir Rupert Ramsbottom-Haverstock-Fortesque-Smythe

      October 19, 2010 at 11:34 am

  25. Pity the House of Lords isn’t in Suffolk, as I heard Suffolk County council planned to close the expensive Pensioners Drop In Centres.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 19, 2010 at 8:46 am

    • And your point is, Lowestoft’s Laziest? You bloody buffoon!

      Sir Rupert Ramsbottom-Haverstock-Fortesque-Smythe

      October 19, 2010 at 11:36 am

      • Hey site admin. I thought that toffy-nose twits were banned from posting… and what happened to the “no more than three barrel names rule”?

        Turnbridge Wells

        October 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

      • Maybe lowestoft’s finest should apply for the job of village idiot in sudbury. i hear they are looking for one.

      • Naughty, someone’s hacked my mates hotmail account.

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      • Sudbury (Suffolk) is a market town not a village.

        Flexible New Deal

        October 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm

  26. Lowestoft’s Finest= “Priceless beyond compare when it comes to adding “Authentisitay” to the IUA Neighbourhood”.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    • Dear Lowestoft.

      The word is AUTHENTICITY. I thought somebody with YOUR degree of knowledge would at leat take time to use his/her spell checker

      The English Teacher

      October 20, 2010 at 8:22 am

      • As you clearly saw with your own eyes yesterday I am both a Office Administrater, Web Designer and Web Adminer beyond compare all of which I couldn’t practice if my comand of the English Languadge, Spelling, Typing and Grammer are as dodgy as you claim.

        I anm still spelling it “Authentisitay” and what’s more what the hell do you know in comparison to my mightyness you are just some English Teacher teaching Edumacation in some crappy Edumactional instumutution.

        So Sniff my gloved hand

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

  27. Here’s a question for you.
    Can someone threatened with a referral to a decison-maker be sanctioned if he gets a job before the referral takes place? Would he still get the 4 week housing benefit run-on?

    Martin Black

    October 19, 2010 at 9:19 pm

  28. Let’s have a think about the underlying structural inequalities in our economy which have contributed to the situation we are in today.

    21 percent of the net wealth of this country is owned by 1 percent of the adult population.

    53 percent is owned by the top 10 percent.

    By the time you reach the 50th percentile of adult population 93 percent of total wealth has been allocated. That means 50 percent of the adult population have less than 7 percent of the total wealth of this country.

    This level of inequality is a constant throughout our history. There is a small elite, a slightly expanded middle mass to serve it, and the vast peasantry.

    It would be in the majority interest to act against the elite interest, the majority having little to lose (but their chains), however, most people side overwhelmingly with their masters especially when it’s expressed as being for the national interest. For national read elite.

    Will this ever change?

    Cabbage Soup

    October 20, 2010 at 10:45 am

  29. Will this ever change?

    Well as things stand if anything the recession is just going to consolidate more of the national wealth into the hands of the same small elite. Its bullshit were all in it together the wealthiest are going to do very nicely thank you out of this recession.

    You take when national industries were privatised, initialy the share opptions are oversubscribed by small investers who are just in it for quick money as the shares are allways initialy undervalued. Within a short time the big hedge funds have bought up the majority of the small investers shares.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 20, 2010 at 11:29 am

  30. I was listening to a program on the radio the other day saying recruitment agencies have already seen the supply of temporary positions from local government dry up. I don’t see where the jobs are going to come from, now private buisnesses are reporting a huge slump in orders from abroad as well as here so the jobs arn’t going to come from there either.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 20, 2010 at 11:35 am

    • “shared room” housing benefit rule to be extended from 25 to 35.

      BBC News

      October 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      • So you can be 34 years old living in a studio flat. That is rather sad tbh.

        Flexible New Deal

        October 20, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      • This is quite sneaky in a way as it could result in a significant reduction to the benefit already being paid to those under 35 whom are already housed in 1/2 bedroom flats. And their there is the 10% reduction to Housing Benefit after being unemployed for a year yet to come in.


        October 20, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    • Funny you should say that…

      Directgov Ipswich jobs never apepar to change much since the site launched.

      Of course many jobs are going to have very common titles… (Administrator, Sales Assistant, Supervisor etc.) but there is always an Event Co-ordinator, Driver, Door Canvasser, Leaflet Distributor, Banker etc.

      Out of curiosity, I periodically check up employers/agencies of such titles from the current, and past, either jobs I have applied for or noted due to curiosity… apart from an odd few, the rest are exactly the same employers/agency with the same job advert.

      (I must add that this also exists for common job titles, and when I say I check up on… I don’t mean a week time as its likely the same job vacancy is still open, I mean since March til middle October)

      Flexible New Deal

      October 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm

  31. Ok the chancellor has made his speach. Now just sit back and wait for the departments to announce the changes via their ministers. It was not that bad. And time limits on esa is a goof thing. Gives you time to get yourself sorted and back to work

    Job Seeker

    October 20, 2010 at 12:51 pm

  32. sorry that should read good thing

    Job Seeker

    October 20, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    • No, it should read goofy thing.

      Andrew Coates

      October 20, 2010 at 2:57 pm

  33. Are long term unemployed going to lose 10% Council Tax Benefit as well as 10% housing benefit?

    Lowestoft's Finest

    October 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    • I doubt it Lowestoft,would be more expensive to collect than anything else, and would be just to transfer money from one govt dept to another.

      Andrew Coates

      October 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      • Cheers Andrew,that’s a minor relief at least, Was just imagining like you said getting caught up in the nit picking of it all and getting hauled to court for owing something mental like £1.50.

        Years ago I recieved this stream of CTB overpayment nottifications (about 4 in total), I realy got my hopes up they were all full colour stationary jobs anyway when I got the final one including a cheque it was for about 16p total. Things can go mind bogglingly petty with this crowd.

        Lowestoft's Finest

        October 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      • Though I will check.

        CSR report (awaited by all our fans, from the DWP, BBC, to the YMCA and Uncle Tom Cobbly) tommorow (that’s when I’ve got the nerves up to read all this kind of stuff, yuk!).

        Flexy will add his trained analysis.

        Though anyone can contribute on the stand-in post I’m just putting up.

        Andrew Coates

        October 20, 2010 at 3:42 pm

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