Just How Nasty Can the DWP Get?
New Work Coach at the Jobcentre.
Reforms could cause hardship over Christmas in Cumbria
Hat -Tip Obi Wan Kenobi.
Friday, 28 November 2014 North West Evening Mail
CASH-STRAPPED benefits claimants could be left without benefits for up to five weeks over the Christmas period.
New applicants to universal credit in Millom will be the first in Copeland to get the monthly paid benefit on December 8.
It will be rolled out to the rest of Copeland on December 15 but the change from benefits being paid fortnightly to monthly to “replicate work” could leave new claimants without money.
Councillors have raised concerns about how the introduction of universal credit, which replaces six means-tested state benefits, will affect residents.
Labour town councillor Denise Burness told Millom Town Council on Wednesday: “The big issues are the changes that affect people in Millom. They are going to be paid monthly and it’s going to be in arrears. They have to apply online and the money’s going into their banks. For people who know how to budget it’s not a problem but if it’s going to go to that from nothing it’s going to be a problem. The timing stinks, it’s taken for granted people will be able to apply online and we do not have support for people who do not have a job centre, like in Millom.”
Members of Copeland Borough Council’s executive panel last week heard the new payment scheme will be rolled out next month for new claimants, who are either single or couples without dependants.
Councillor Allan Holliday was concerned that the changes would leave people without payments over Christmas.
Julie Betteridge, head of customer and community services, said: “Sadly that might happen.
“At least there are services out there like the foodbanks and Citizens Advice Bureau that people are getting help from. Universal credit is such a small part of it – there is a greater issue of people losing their jobs at Christmas.”
It is unclear when Copeland’s foodbank centres will be open over Christmas.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “It could take up to five weeks for their benefit. It’s not a delay but a new way of doing it so that we are replicating work because it’s paid monthly.
“If it is determined you do not have enough money before the benefit would come in you can apply for a benefit advance. We are putting in extra support through budgeting and the job centre will be able to direct them.”
Universal credit will replace jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, child tax credit, employment and support allowance and income support.
Carol Graham, manager of Copeland Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “The DWP said numbers in the initial rollout aren’t high. But it is happening over Christmas and it will be an issue for those people who are affected by it.”
She said CAB will be closed between Christmas and New Year.
Comment: this is an example of the kind of arbitrary power we have been criticising.