Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Benefit Reform: What Will Happen.

with 25 comments

This is cross-pasted from Harpy Marx. I cannot recommend Louise’s Blog too highly.

Here’s an article which will be in the next edition of Labour Briefing written by Tony Benson on the realities of the welfare reform legislation.

The Government’s changes to the benefit system centred on the the Welfare Reform Bill are massive and extremely complex. There are 141 clauses and 14 schedules consisting of one nasty after another. These are answers to some of the more obvious questions about what is being done.

Will the proposed Universal Credit make it easier to get back to work?

No. It will be more difficult to afford and to find childcare. The rates of benefit withdrawal will be steeper so being in work is likely to make you poorer returning to work than you would be now. There will still be no account taken of travel to work costs, often in practice the deal-breaker for people looking at minimum wage jobs. If your pay goes up and down and this is not reported back to the DWP you are more likely to get a penalty or botched benefit calculation.

Much has been made of families in which several generations are “workless”. How will the Governments changes help such people?

The changes will not help. They are actually making things worse for such families. The rate at which a parent on Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit has that benefit withdrawn if their adult son or daughter returns to work has increased. This makes things more difficult for people in poor communities where young adults are forced by the housing shortage to continue to live with Mum and Dad.

The benefit system is complex and difficult to understand. The Government said that simplifying the system will help people understand how much better off they will be working. How is the complexity of the system being changed? It is being made more difficult and understand and to navigate your way through. The complexity of the benefits system comes from means-testing. Universal Credit will increase means-testing. In addition the increase in hoops that you need to jump through, sanctions for not doing/doing something have increased and the extra things such as the benefit cap all add complexity. They will do so in the most spirit crushing ways.

How will the various changes affect people’s ability to stay in their homes?

There are already a series of changes involving the calculation of Housing Benefit that will make it more difficult for people to stay in their homes once they are forced into living off benefits. Clause 11 of the Bill only provides a brief outline of the way housing costs will be addressed. The detail of what will be an area of huge complexity is being largely left to the Secretary of State to fill in when writing  the regulations that will be made under the Bill when it becomes law. It can be safely assumed that the Government will want to take on board the various interests of the mortgage firms, housing associations, private landlords and to a lesser extent local councils before writing out the regulations governing who be helped and who will not be helped to stay in their homes. The net result though is likely to be worse housing for all poor people along with ethnic minorities and people in London and other expensive cities.

How will these changes make it easier to get back to work?

The changes will make it less easy to get back to work. There will be an increase in the use of bureaucratic hoops such as “work-focussed interviews” for an unemployed jobseeker to jump through. There will be more sanctions to muck up your life if the DWP or outsourcing company in charge of peoples’ returning to work (it will not be the unemployed person in charge of this. As a de facto second class citizen they are not to be trusted with such a thing). Someone who loses their job can expect more fairy jobmother style bullying.

There has been a lot of anger expressed by people with disabilities about the changes to the benefit system. Are these people right to be angry or are the Government trying to help?

People are right to be angry. The main benefit for people with disabilities is Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is itself complex and difficult to get awarded. The replacement is called the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This new benefit will be more restrictive. The Government does not believe that there are that many people with disabilities. People with hidden disabilities such as mental health problems, arthritis or chronic fatigue are going to lose out in particular. The underlying attitude of the Government seems to be that if you cannot see a disability easily the person must be swinging the lead. Disability Living Allowance is based on the help that someone needs to lead as near as possible an everyday live. The Personal Independence Payment is restricted to the help that someone needs to carry out their basic human functioning. Anyone with a disability (which is a most people sooner or later) is to be forced into being a second class citizen.

This is quite apart from the biased and oppressive system of deciding if people are fit for work or not. This really is part of the benefit system that could do with a root and branch overall. Instead things are being made more difficult for people right at the time in their lives at which they need help while they get better. Various mental health organisations have pointed out how destructive this part of the system is for people with mental distress. Needless to say this part of the social security system is here to stay and is being made tougher on people.

Who will benefit from the changes to the benefit system?

Slum landlords, exploitative bosses and yuppies looking for an inner city home to do up. Most of all though the various outsourcing companies that will be on a real taxpayer funded gravy train while they bully the unemployed under the pretext of helping them overcome their attitude to working for a living: the only barrier that the Government will readily acknowledge even though it is an imaginary barrier that stops few people if anyone from working and having a decent standard of living.

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Written by Andrew Coates

June 20, 2011 at 10:24 am

25 Responses

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  1. This is quite an an informative from another site 🙂 on the subject of Mandatory Work Activity, we will call the poster “derrick” (his real name of course) :-):

    “so here I am… 3 years unemployed

    applied 4 to 6 or more jobs “every single week”, and havent had “a single reply” as of yet.

    i’m the first in my area to be sent on this activity.

    so now, instead of applying for jobs which i’m qualified to do, administration/I.T, i now find myself stuck in a group of lackies, putting up road signs, and for what? 30 hours a week for 60 quid!

    i’m supposed to be with this ‘provider’ as they call it, for 2 years, so i can expect to be passed around all the local manual-labour businesses who want a ‘free worker’. I’m an “unemployed lay-about” as you people have labeled the entire unemployed population.

    I wonder what will happen when all the students who graduate this summer cant get a job, and get put on this programme, riots perhaps?

    Currently the MWA is given to the folk who havent been able to get a reply or an interview out of a rude british employer for the past year, but if you read the documentation on the DWP site, the work programme is to be phased in eventually for every person who is claiming jobseekers allowance for more than 3 months. Good luck Conservative party.”

    Wow, you really have no idea about the jobmarket do you. I have done thousands of applications. The jobs I have been applying for, I could do “in my sleep”. I lowered my “expectations” after 6 months sweetheart, all the way down to cleaning toilets and care work, and still I am not getting ANY REPLIES

    I have re-done my CV a billion times, it’s got NOTHING to do with CV or Interview techniques, I used to GIVE interviews DAILY. I USED TO WORK AT THE JOBCENTREPLUS. 🙂

    ID

    June 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    • Is putting up road signs not what what used to called a “job”, a blooming hard one too by the looks of them workers I pass on the road, out in all weathers, I’ve seen them soaked through to the bone, trying to hammer them blooming signs in that are blowing all over the places whacking them on the head. Saw one man being knocked out once, when I drove back he was was put into an ambulance, hope he was OK. Is this what the baldy man is expecting the “unemployed” to do for nothing, though how you can be unemployed trying to put in a road sign in the pouring rain in a gale force wind I don’t know. Blooming cheek of the bald man, I wonder how many road sign he has hammered in, none I expect!

      Maggie

      June 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    • I expect it wont be long before the baldy man will be sending the “unemployed” off the put out oil rig fires. Blooming cheek!

      Maggie

      June 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    • Follow-up comment:

      The only thing jobcentre advisors are taught to do, is to find out if people are not applying for jobs, and get them off the books, either by DMA, or by sending them on New Deal training.

      Provider’s only interest is getting a Tory government contract and getting commission from each person you send to do “any job that a human could do, no matter what it is, no matter their employment history”, it’s pathetic.

      I might film a provider meeting soon, put it on the net to show what actually is going on, and what all graduates can expect, what to look forward to! 🙂

      What the hell is putting up sign roads for 30 hours a week for 60 quid a week going to do to improve my chances of employment????

      The company has stated “NO INTENTION” of employing any of the people put onto this scheme, they are just grateful of the free manual labour. Once it finishes I will passed onto the next company who wants a free dole claimer to do a bit of free manual labour.

      It will be funny to see every single university graduate go onto this ‘slave labour scheme’ when they make it mandatory after 3 months of unemployment. We shall see programmers, politics students, history majors, physics students, english grads, all shoveling shit for the tories.

      You seriously believe, that every single graduate in this country will agree to go onto this without protest? Providers better make the most of their government contracts and get in as many commissions as they can, as any sane individual can see this tory scheme “wont last at all”. back to the 80s we go.

      ID

      June 20, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    • Maggie, your comment reminds me of the poor guy who was sent to the docks by Working Links – he was DECAPITATED!

      Gingerbread

      June 21, 2011 at 10:00 am

  2. Frank Field: Migrants take nine out of 10 jobs

    David Cameron’s plans to reform welfare are not radical enough as they do not punish the work-shy or reward those who have contributed to the benefits system, the Government’s poverty tsar has said.

    Frank Field, the former Labour minister brought in to advise the Coalition last year, says that the public wants tougher sanctions forcing the long-term unemployed back to work. In an article for The Daily Telegraph, he dismisses proposals to simplify the benefits system as “Gordon Brown’s approach, on speed”.

    He calls for “good, reliable” people who have worked and paid National Insurance to be prioritised for help above others, particularly those who have not contributed to society.

    In the first year of the Coalition, 87 per cent of the 400,000 newly created jobs have gone to immigrants — as Britons fail to chase work, according to new official figures uncovered by the Labour MP. Under previous Labour administrations the figure was about 80 per cent.

    Mr Field, who was recruited by Tony Blair to “think the unthinkable” but was unable to introduce radical Labour policies, predicts that the Coalition’s approach will ultimately fail.

    The reform of the welfare system is regarded as one of the Coalition’s success stories and Mr Field’s criticism is likely to be a blow to ministers. He is the second former Labour minister appointed as a policy adviser who has rounded on the Government’s proposals. Last week, Alan Milburn, a former health secretary, described revised plans for the NHS as a “car crash”.

    Conservative ministers were also previously highly critical of the last government’s failure to secure new jobs for British workers and the latest figures are likely to embarrass David Cameron. Companies are thought to be turning to foreign workers to fill vacancies because of a dearth of adequately qualified or motivated Britons.

    “It is the great paradox of welfare,” Mr Field says in his article today. “When Tony Blair won the 1997 election, the total number of benefit claimants of working age stood at 5.7 million. When Gordon Brown went to the country in 2010, the level was the same — even though more than three million jobs had been created under Labour.

    “The problem was that, of those new jobs, 80 per cent went to immigrant workers. And now, the same disturbing pattern is more marked.” He adds: “I fear that, at the next election, we will still be having the same debate on welfare reform as we had at the last four.”

    Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has unveiled plans to simplify the complex systems of benefits into a single universal credit that is designed to ensure that those in work are always better off. He has also introduced a work programme – under which private firms are paid to train and return the long-term unemployed to the workplace.

    Last night, a source close to Mr Duncan Smith said that the programmes “will work” and that early results were already positive. The source added that the official figures on immigrant workers were a legacy of the Labour government and that the new programmes had only recently been introduced.

    “Labour failed to introduce a proper sanctions regime in 13 years,” said the source. “We need to get the unemployed work-ready and we know this is an urgent problem which is why we have introduced the work programme. When faced with young, sparky eastern Europeans coming here to work, it is essential that Britons have the skills to compete.”

    In his article, the former Labour minister, who was an outspoken critic of Labour’s welfare schemes — particularly Mr Brown’s complex system of tax credits — also said that tougher sanctions were needed to force back to work people who refused jobs that they believed “were only fit for immigrants”. He said: “This group of recidivist, workless claimants know from past experience that governments leave them alone.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/8585750/Frank-Field-Migrants-take-nine-out-of-10-jobs.html

    The Torygraph

    June 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm

  3. Some videos you should consider watching (I recommend)…

    http://www.workprogramme.org.uk/videos/resist-fascist-jobcentre-practices.html
    http://www.workprogramme.org.uk/videos/jobcentre-advisor-police-state-britain.html
    http://www.workprogramme.org.uk/videos/jobcentre-security-police-state-britain.html

    I dont know the person who did the video but he makes many great points; I am sure many of you will agree!

    Work Programme

    June 20, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    • lol I watched these videos a few days ago after following a link from another recommended video, I forgot forgot to flag them up, sorry 😦 This guy does make some really good points, looks like he has put up a new one too 🙂

      Doris

      June 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

  4. I noticed this on Sunday – can’t they get anything right or are they just interested in handing over cash and people to the Unemployment Bizniz?

    Ministers have been warned in a confidential report that welfare reforms designed to encourage people back to work risk being delayed because they depend on the successful launch of a complex government IT system.

    Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, plans to introduce the much-vaunted universal credit – designed to make work pay for those currently on benefits – by 2013. But the success of the reform depends entirely on building a computer program to establish how much each universal credit claimant is earning in work and how much they are due from the state.

    A report commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), details of which have been leaked to the Observer, reveals serious concerns among government IT suppliers over whether the deadlines for the new system can be met. It also says that Duncan Smith’s claim that no one would be worse off working under the new system “may challenge plans to transition tens of millions of accounts in a four-year window. There may be thousands of exceptional cases that inhibit… the finish date of 2017.”

    The government has yet to announce the identity of its IT supplier for the universal credit project, which will have a tie-up with the PAYE systems run by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). However, in May, during a conference call organised to announce his company’s quarterly results, the chief executive of Informatica, a Californian IT firm, said it would be involved.

    Consultants at Intellect, the trade body for the IT industry, were commissioned by the government late last year to ask IT suppliers whether the DWP’s timescales for the universal credit were realistic. In their report to Iain Duncan Smith, they wrote: “While many felt that from a technology perspective the timescales appeared achievable, this came with heavy caveats. Some felt the timescales were aggressive and cause for concern, particularly since the precise requirements are unlikely to be confirmed before the final bill is approved by parliament.

    “Some suppliers felt the timescales were unrealistic, citing the following reasons: there are no alternatives being prototyped; eight months for the core development is possible if done properly, but unrealistic given the number of additional traditional interfaces, and in particular the one from HMRC.”

    When Joe Harley, chief information officer at the DWP, was asked last month by the Commons public accounts committee whether the new system would be the most complicated ever undertaken, he would not deny it.

    Last night Labour MP Stephen Timms, the shadow employment minister, said: “Ministers’ promise to put all new benefit applicants through the new universal credit IT system by October 2013 looks unrealistic. The new IT system will require every employer in the country to send PAYE data electronically every month to HMRC,” Timms said. “That is a huge undertaking on its own. And key elements of universal credit policy are still not decided – for example, how self-employed people will be handled and how support for childcare will be assessed. From my experience of past government IT projects, there just isn’t time now to sort it all out before the deadline.”

    Last night Intellect refused to comment on its report, citing confidentiality. A DWP spokesman said: “Universal credit is on track and on time to secure a welfare state fit for the 21st century.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jun/19/universal-credit-2013-delivery-doubt

    Andrew Coates

    June 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    • A very long winded way of achieving what they want!

      I dont know why benefits for housing etc. aren’t directly interlinked into jobseekers allowance that way they can make savings to both when someone is sanctioned. Thus the only other method to claim housing benefit is for low income families/people who prove they got work (i.e. to avoid those doing a loophole of the concept) That to me is what Universal Credit is about… bundling as much together as possible so they can all be taken away at once! For 3 years!!!

      I can see Universal Credit being scrapped as it increases red tape and doesnt really solve a problem. It sets to remove a large number of benefits replacing it with one highly complicated benefit system which just isn’t the way to go.

      Work Programme

      June 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm

  5. Long time no post Andrew heres the scoop. I signed on today. I was toldthat I am being referredonto the Workprogramme for upto 2 YEARS. Iwas asked which organisation I was dealing with and I replied action for blind people. Ok thats right i remember you been seeing them a long time.

    I rpelied yes until those idiots at a4e stopped me. Well youll be pleased to know as far as I am aware they have bene awarded no contracts whether or not they have been awarded sub contracts is another matter but the dudley branch of a4e has gone. YIPEEE I said they couldn’t arrange a piss up in a brewery which is rather ironic brewery close by.

    OK Well here why i willdo kyron I will phone a coupleof the providerrs FourStar AKA EOS And Newcastle Colleges AKA INITRAINING. he found out that it was fourstar now eos that has got the contract with Act For Blind people. WE are having A hells game her eyou see kyron we don’t even know who the subcontractors are and whose affilliated with whom. BLOODY HELL I THOUGHT THESE NUMBNUTS have awarded contracts and they don’t know who best supports their customers needs.

    Will Keep Ya informed as to what goes on

    ALSO I withdrew my consent fr third party providers to contactme last february and well they are breaching privacy regs so I am going to write a letter to the information commissioner

    OH Also as for the ICE Complaint still being looked into but I had it confirmed by my DEA that he would be willing to tell them that I was doing my own CPD/Self study to keep my skillsup and not as a4e claimed they were pushing me in that direction. I said well I want to destroy them lie by lieplant a seeed of doubt in the case examiners mind as to how truthfull they haven’t been

    Kyron

    June 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    • Kyron I hope that Action for Blind People are able to help – you seem satisfied with their work in the past.

      Our objective here is for everyone to get the best deal they can out of the system, though we want that system changed.

      When Kyron gets something good there will be celebrations in Ipswich – even the cats and dogs will jump for joy!

      Andrew Coates

      June 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm

  6. Well Andrew two worksplacements and a paid job sadly the contract finished and the college i wa sat wasn’t able to keep me on. Yes I am pretty happy with them.

    I do admit to hating the fact that all the DWP seemsto be is contract this and contract that. I have a low opinion of charities that have got involvedwith the DWPlike this.

    The original system where a dea had got discretion and allowed you or through his owncontacts sent you to a charity.

    OH BY the WAY The DWP is paying £400 pound perperson forthese so called charities and employment bizniz companies to see you. Now correct meifim wrong but If average J Bloggs caught the train to say birmingham £3.50 Every fortnight the money will be used up for that person in a little under 2 years. Thats assuming a lot of things like the rate of inflation. No Money for actual training AS I FIGURED, and No realmoney for someone to see you for any real length of time. Sime old BULL different name.

    Kyron

    June 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

  7. Kyron: If a complaint about a provider – referred to ICE – is upheld, even partly the provider has to pay ICE £5,000. So here’s hoping ICE uphold your complaint against A4e. Can you imagine their reaction at having to cough up £5k!

    A4e Protest

    June 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm

  8. It will all be cut It will all be cut.

    the rabbi

    June 23, 2011 at 7:21 am

  9. Work Programme providers are already using the stick of 3 year sanctions against people. During my interview with Seetec last week, one of the staff casually raised the issue and wanted to know what I thought about it.

    Average Joe

    June 25, 2011 at 7:38 am

    • As no-one is going to survive 3 years without any money, 3 years is a totally arbitrary period of time. They might as well make it 20 years. People will either kill themselves or steal from Sainsbury’s. I myself prefer the latter option…

      Crystal Balls

      June 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

      • At least be pickey: anyone tried the Sainsbury’s Basics Sausages?

        They’re made by slave labour in the Suffolk Alps out of dead squirrels and mud.

        A firm doing MWA have the contract for the next year.

        Andrew Coates

        June 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      • I’m a sardine man myself 😛

        Crystal Balls

        June 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    • In what way? Its 6 months maximum at current!

      They will never get 3 year sanctions approved so don’t be intimidated. MWA only got kept in with 30 or so votes against a motion to annul it.

      Besides I am working on abolishing the Work Programme and Mandatory Work Activity scheme!! 😛

      Work Programme

      June 25, 2011 at 9:57 am

      • I admire your optimism 😯

        Crystal Balls

        June 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      • Well… sanctions work in parallel with entitlement. A claim remains active when payment stops… although 6 month sanctions are controversial enough, its rather short term in regards to long term unemployment.

        3 year benefit sanctions (thats 6 times worse than 6 months) add fuel to the fire of benefit sanctions being denial of social security which is where the fun begins haha…

        As for workfare schemes… as far as I am aware at current, MWA is poorly prescribed in law so no one is eligible and same with Work Programme… notification are not legit.

        Already specified reasons on my website for MWA (including letter) The Work Programme stuff is coming this week!!

        Work Programme

        June 26, 2011 at 11:01 am

      • I suppose you’ve been ‘invited’ to a talk at the Job Centre in the coming week.

        It’s a likely that we will hear more about the Work Progamme there Worky.

        Andrew Coates

        June 26, 2011 at 11:06 am

  10. NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST AUGUST 27TH.
    BE THERE AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
    FROM 7AM TILL 8PM FEEL FREE TO COME ALONG EVEN IF ITS JUST FOR 1 HOUR.
    MANDATORY WORK ACTIVITY = NAZI GERMAN SLAVERY
    1.YOU CAN STAND OUTSIDE ‘ANY JOBCENTRE’ AND DOESNT HAVE TO BE THE ONE YOU ATTEND.
    2.TURN UP ANYTIME FOR SUPPORT OR BRING A BANNER/SIGN
    3.FOR THE SAKE OF OUR HUMAN RIGHTS WE MUST DO THIS.
    Remember – Soon you may lose your job ! and the person replacing you may be a MWA Slave !!! They will work for free for the dwp and eventually take over all jobs- UNPAID and REAL ‘PAID’ work will be NO MORE !!!!!!!!!!!!
    27th august outside any Jobcentres from 7am.
    let your opinion be heard.

    Anne Ferrari

    July 16, 2011 at 8:14 am


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