Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Universal Credit Scandals Exposed by Benefits Britain.

with 73 comments

Not Much has changed since the Above.

Ipswich Unemployed Action was going to give a detailed account of last night’s Channel Four’s Benefit Britain on Universal Credit.

It was excellent and there’s no need to give our own notes, except to say that the programme gave an indication of the personal suffering the new system is causing.

The job has been done, by the Daily Mirror.

Universal Credit ‘adviser’ told not to tell claimants about cash fund for clothes and bus fares

A reporter posing as a Universal Credit adviser trainee was told not to tell claimants about a vital cash fund for clothes, bus fares or other expenses to help them into work.

The undercover journalist spent seven weeks working at the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Bolton Universal Credit contact centre.

He was told by trainers not to bring up same-day advance payments for those struggling to make ends meet while they wait five weeks for the their first Universal Credit payment. These are among a number of extra changes benefits claimants can ask for – find out the full range here.

The reporter, working for Channel 4 Dispatches programme, was also told not to tell claimants about the Flexible Support Fund unless they specifically asked about it.

When the reporter questioned this, a trainer replied: “If we did, everybody would want one, yeah, and it’s a very small budget, so we don’t talk about it.

“It’s a bit like Fight Club – we don’t discuss what happens in Fight Club. So you don’t talk about flexible support fund either… so the work coaches usually bring this up…”

Universal Credit is a wide-ranging shake up of the benefits system. It has been criticised by domestic abuse charities for paying funds to couples, rather than individuals. It is feared this could lead to financial abuse in the relationship.

But the reporter was told not to draw attention to hardship fund payments, which are available for claimants to apply for once they have been sanctioned.

A trainer said: “You don’t offer it unless you think they’re in dire straits…. Again… the whole idea is the punishment, that’s what you’ve got to suffer but if you can’t manage, we’ll consider doing something for you.

“So they’ve got to say, ‘well I can’t manage without my standard allowance, so I need some help’ and you go ‘right, there is a hardship possibility’.

“You don’t advertise it but if they say, ‘I can’t manage’, they don’t have to say, ‘I need a hardship payment’, they say ‘I can’t manage’ and you say, ‘well I can’.”

There were also problems with IT systems during the reporter’s spell at the centre.

For 20 days, he was in rooms connected to the office loudspeaker and on nine of those days he saw computer programmes crashing and heard messages broadcast warning staff that computer programmes had gone down – once for the whole day.

On training, a DWP spokesman said: “The overall feedback from staff is their training is effective and more importantly they feel supported and confident in delivering this major welfare reform.

“This was the first induction course run for new external recruits in Bolton service centre and the first time the trainer had run this new training package.”

On same-day advance payments, the spokesman said: “Service centre workers are there to provide administrative support over the phone, not to build the close relationship with the claimant that our work coaches in Jobcentres do.

“At a new claim interview our work coaches inform claimants that budgeting advances are available “

On the Flexible Support Fund, he added: “Work coaches can identify if the locally-administered flexible support fund can help someone overcome barriers to work – not service centre workers.”

In respect of the hardship fund, the spokesman said conversations about availability take place in Jobcentres, not the service centre.

He also said that every letter sent out to claimants informing them that they have a sanction tells them about the fund and how to apply.

On IT, the spokesman said none of the examples of issues given to the department related specifically to Universal Credit.

He also said that at the beginning of last month, a planned upgrade impacted the service for three days but has since had no issues and resulted in an improved performance.

Defending the policy as a whole, the spokesman said: “Universal Credit replaces the complex myriad of means-tested benefits to simplify the system and make work pay.

“It is already transforming lives with claimants on Universal Credit moving into work faster and earning more.

“When fully rolled out it will make three million people better off with a £7 billion boost to the economy every year.”

The Government has reportedly spent £700 million on Universal Credit, one of its flagship reforms, but the roll-out is behind its original schedule and critics say the IT system is not fit for purpose.

You can find out when your local Jobcentre switches over here.

Then there is this, (Express and Star),

Universal Credit in disarray: union

Universal Credit, one of the Government’s flagship policies, is in “disarray”, suffering from a lack of staff, poor training and inadequate IT, according to a study.

A survey of around 400 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union showed that 90% believed expensive IT systems dealing with the benefit were less than adequate

Almost three quarters said working conditions were worse than in their previous role and four in five said the training was less than adequate to prepare them for working on the scheme.

Almost four out of five did not feel there were enough staff and two thirds said they were frequently asked to work overtime, said the union.

More than half said they did not think Universal Credit was an improvement for claimants.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “No one can trust Iain Duncan Smith (Work and Pensions Secretary) to tell the truth about Universal Credit so it falls to the staff to expose this wasteful and politically motivated shambles for what it is.

“It has long been obvious that staff are under-resourced and under-trained and that universal credit is at risk of collapse. The DWP cannot keep burying its head in the sand and hope these problems go away because they are only going to get worse if nothing is done.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The PCS survey comprises of only 13% of our 2,700 staff working on Universal Credit. They chose to ignore staff in our Jobcentres when conducting this research providing a skewed unrepresentative sample of union members.

“The reality is Universal Credit is already transforming lives and our staff are passionate about the work they do.”


Written by Andrew Coates

March 10, 2015 at 10:19 am

73 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.


    March 10, 2015 at 10:41 am

  2. Reblogged this on sdbast.


    March 10, 2015 at 11:08 am

  3. Sure it will transform lives, but for the worse.


    March 10, 2015 at 11:16 am

  4. From, “I’m a JSA claimant ‏@imajsaclaimant 19m19 minutes ago

    #UniversalCredit flaws make shorter hours better for some, says review http://gu.com/p/46f6m

    More flaws – though I wonder how this stands with the rules on sanctions for those not working enough hours…

    “The coalition government’s welfare changes will make it more attractive for some people to work short hours, even if the policy does improve overall financial incentives to work, says a review.

    The flagship universal credit (UC) system has flaws that particularly affect millions of single parents, second earners and workers without dependent children – largely younger single people.

    For some, the work disincentives become worse than under the current system and, for others, the system is constructed so that their income falls very little if they halve their hours from 16 a week to eight, according to what is probably the largest independent review of the measure’s likely impact on more then 8 million claimants.

    UC has been criticised mainly for the IT failings that have delayed its introduction and added to its cost. But an inquiry being conducted by the Resolution Foundation suggests the scheme has other structural problems that need to be addressed by all parties after the general election.

    Labour has not said it will scrap UC if elected, but the party is bound to draw on the Resolution Foundation report to look at the extent to which the scheme can be recast to help those who do not benefit. ”

    More: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/10/universal-credit-flaws-shorter-hours-work-review-resolution-foundation

    Andrew Coates

    March 10, 2015 at 11:52 am

    • More attractive for some and so not for others, some picture that is. UC sure needs scrapping.


      March 10, 2015 at 1:09 pm

  5. From Comments section of http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/10/universal-credit-flaws-shorter-hours-work-review-resolution-foundation

    This is very telling about where things are going :

    ephemerid aBitMoreFairness
    5h ago


    Universal Credit was supposed to make work pay – in fact, for most, it makes work pay less than it does now.
    The idea was that people who could only get odd bits of work would lose less under UC than they do now.
    It’s not true – someone working and claiming HB and tax credits now gets to keep 76p per pound of gross pay, under UC it’s 65p or less.

    The other problem is the new rules on when a claim can be made and when the first payment can be made.
    All UC claimants have jobsearch conditionality, and they must wait 7 days before a claim can be registered.
    They are required to satisfy jobsearch conditions before they register the claim, so the jobcentre can refuse to register the claim and ask the claimant to try again in 7 days time – a sort of pre-claim sanction. Even though the claimant has not yet signed any Claimant Commitment and thus does not have any instructions on what is expected of them.
    Once the claim is registered, assuming all the online application is OK and all the supporting documentation is present and correct, it then takes a minimum of 5 weeks for the first payment to be processed. One little glitch and the whole thing has to be started again from scratch.

    If the claim is finally sorted out, the claimant will get their first payment at about 6 weeks – so unless they have a bit set aside, they are likely to get behind with rent and bills. While they wait, they have to provide jobsearch evidence.
    Established claims must then be updated with any changes monthly in real time; the assumption is that DWP, HMRC, employers, LA housing departments, the claimant, and the “work coach”, will all do this correctly. In real time.
    If there is an error on the claim, there is a new system of fines – whoever makes the error, the claimant pays £50 per error for “failure to maintain the correct administration of a claim” taken in full from the next due payment.
    The assumption is that the claimant is responsible for the administration of their claim, even when DWP staff are tinkering with it.

    The Dispatches programme has a piece of footage in which the undercover reporter asked about delays – the trainer told him that everything with UC gets delayed, except sanctions. No delays there.
    All UC claimants are subject to sanction. All of them. They are also “eligible” for the Work Programme. You could have a person working part-time at Asda for 25 hours a week, who gets sent back for the other 10 to earn their UC.
    There’s also no consideration for people who work and are expected to look for more or “better” work. They may have a good relationship with their employers but how long will that last when it becomes known that they are frantically looking elsewhere to avoid a sanction?
    It is up to the jobcentre “work coach” to decide what “better” work actually is, and however settled and happy you are in your job, if you work 35 hours but still need a UC top-up (to help with housing costs, say) your “work coach” has the power to refer you for sanction or refuse benefit entirely if you do not comply with whatever is imposed on you.

    UC is calculated on household income – so any other income/savings of any person in the household is used for the means-test. Whether that’s pay, pensions, other benefits, savings – it’s all got to be declared and it’s all included.
    A sick child who has a medical compensation award may have their “savings” counted; an adult child who works but lives at home will have their income counted; there is only one UC claim allowed per household, and before that person gets any UC all the household’s money must be considered.
    Also, what a lot of people don’t realise is that pensioners will be affected by UC.
    If a couple is made up of one person who is an OAP but the other is below pension age (and don’t forget, people are now waiting much longer for their pension) and the younger has to claim UC, the income of the pensioner is taken into account for the means-testing.

    UC was supposed to simplify the system. In fact, it has made it much more complex.
    All the benefits included in it will still be active and in payment for many as UC is rolled out; people on other benefits and Support Group ESA will stay on the old systems and some benefits will remain contributions-based as they are now.
    UC is all means-tested, so people who have paid NI conts for years won’t get the same entitlement they have now for NI conts-based benefit if the benefit they want to claim is under the UC umbrella, but others will if it isn’t.

    It’s a mess. A horrible, complicated, incompetent – and vicious – mess.


    5h ago
    18 19

    Little is said about the impact UC will have on the low-income self-employed – disastrous is about the best word to describe it. Currently, a self employed person who has a bad patch can still receive just enough money to live on and would qualify for rent assistance – under UC, there is to be an ‘assumption’ made that self-employed people have earned the equivalent of minimum wage – therefore, if you have a bad week, you won’t be entitled to much help because the system has you down as earning money you haven’t earned.

    I predict a large number of low-income self-employed folk will just give up and sign on as unemployed. There is little incentive to stay in your low-paid self-employed work under this system because of this ridiculous earnings assumption and also because whereas we currently deal with the HMRC for administration of tax credits, we will be forced to deal with the far more inhuman and incompetent DWP for Universal Credit and have to be subject to similar scrutinies from them as the unemployed already endure – no incentive to keep at our modest livelihoods at all under this rotten system.

    bluejewel PaulTreloar
    3h ago
    3 4

    As is common where new legislation has impacts on people’s current position, there are Transitional Provisions that apply when a claimant is moved from any of the assortment of benefits onto UC. These provisions are claimed to lessen the immediate impact of change. In the famous words of IDS ‘No one will be worse off in cash terms on changing to UC’. (An obvious and craven barefaced lie!)

    However, consider these differences in approach and policy. There is no transitional provision for the move of currently self employed TC claimants onto UC. The ‘minimum income floor’ will be applied (35 hours x MW assumed).

    On the other hand, unlike TC, for UC capital is to be taken into account. This includes savings/property/shares etc. But here, the transitional provisions apply. So, a tax credit claimant who owns a second property worth £250,000 currently has some small amount of deemed income applied. On the move to UC, it will not be taken into account at £250,000 and therefore make the person ineligible for UC, but will stay the same as TC until they change their circumstances.

    Why the strict treatment of the low income self employed, but concessions given to those with possibly large amounts of capital wealth?

    I guess the best that can be said is it is at least on a par and consistent with Tory ideology as a whole.

    Charlottejane TheWatchingPlace
    2h ago

    Thank you. The points you make cannot be reiterated often enough. Many self employed people on WTC and CTC have no idea what’s about to hit them- and if they try to sign on, they will just get sanctioned and kicked out of the system that way. Think that sanctions mean losing just £72 per week if you’ve got kids? Think again: they are planning to take the lot, leaving you with £0.00 to live on. All of this was in the white paper published in 2011, so everyone in this situation presumably has a contingency plan by now…

    And Finally to Show just how ill thought out the legislation is written:

    3h ago

    Under UC, they will become entitled to new support for part-time working.

    That is, and always has been for UC, an ‘interesting’ point. One of the main aims of UC is to get people into full time work and to discourage part time topped up with benefits. As far as I can see from reading the small print, part timers who fall into the category of being able to work full time will be required to seek and find more work. And we all know what happens if you are deemed to have fallen short of this requirement. Yes, all together now, ‘”SANCTIONS!” Where zero hours fits into this is anyone’s guess.

    Also, self employed will be deemed to be earning 35hours at min wage (TC does not stipulate any particular ££s earnings) before any calculation is made. That’s going to be a bit of a shocker to all those who, encouraged by DWP with the carrot of tax credits went self employed.


    March 10, 2015 at 1:38 pm

  6. Court fees.

    The controversial court fees hike is set to go ahead next week despite an attempt by Lord Pannick to defeat the plan at the 59th minute.

    The House of Lords approved the statutory instrument implementing the planned hike this week, which means court fees will rise by as much as 600% from next week.

    Justice minister Lord Faulks argued that the increase would not affect the majority of cases and was necessary to fund the court service.

    The government claims it will bring in an extra £120m.



    March 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm

  7. Shopping, at least in the modern sense of leisure activity, really is no fun when you are poor. In effect, you stop becoming a consumer and become a survivor.

    No one seems to be mentioning you still have to do ’35hrs jobsearch’ while you’re destitute.

    Another Fine Mess

    March 10, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    • I like many others will always see people walking up and down the high street looking through the shop windows, going into the shops to look around but that is all they do for they can’t afford to buy anything they see in those shops, myself I buy only what I need and not what I want. which is the case for millions as we all know.


      March 10, 2015 at 2:13 pm

  8. More than 105,000 households ‘helped by troubled families programme’

    The programme – confined to England – works with families that have nine different problems, but the definition of whether a family has been turned around is controversial.

    A family has been turned around if all children have been back in school for a year when they were previously truant or excluded, and youth crime and antisocial behaviour has been significantly cut across the whole family. Alternatively an adult in the home has moved off benefits and into work for three consecutive months or more.

    The government figures show 117,910 families had been contacted and of these 96,163 families achieved the crime, antisocial behaviour or education targets, while 10,508 families reached the employment definition. But this left around 10,000 families in which no progress had been made.



    March 10, 2015 at 2:31 pm

  9. “Everything with Universal Credit is delayed, except sanctions. No delays there”.

    Spot-on quote!!!


    March 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    • Of course, a sanction in an instant.


      March 10, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      • A benefits sanction map of the UK shows how claimants are being treated with cruelty, according to the homeless charity Crisis.

        It said the map illustrates the “post code lottery” of sanctions – when claimants have their payments stopped.

        And it warned that homeless people are being affected disproportionately.

        However the government said that the number of people being sanctioned had actually fallen over the last year.

        It said there were 170,000 fewer sanctions in the year to September 2014 than in the year before.

        But in its report, Crisis claims the system is still deeply unfair.

        It said sanctions rates varied between 15.4 per hundred claimants per month in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, and 1.8 per hundred in the Western Isles.


        Andrew Coates

        March 10, 2015 at 5:50 pm

  10. Britain needs to draw a line under the debate about mass surveillance by the intelligence agencies sooner rather than later to stop them getting distracted from their work, Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, said on Tuesday.

    The senior Conservative said his party would legislate early in the next parliament to give the security services extra powers and address legitimate public concerns about their oversight.

    But he said the debate about privacy sparked by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, whose revelations about mass surveillance by the agencies were published by the Guardian and others, “cannot be allowed to run on forever”.



    March 10, 2015 at 3:25 pm

  11. Another sharp quote about Universal Credit which is supposed to “simplify” the benefit system:

    “It’s a mess. A horrible, complicated, incompetent – and vicious – mess”.

    And don’t forget the £50.00 fine you get for EACH administration error: “the claimant pays £50 per error for “failure to maintain the correct administration of a claim” taken in full from the next due payment.
    The assumption is that the claimant is responsible for the administration of their claim, even when DWP staff are tinkering with it”.


    March 10, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    • So without enough people being employed for UC, computers crashing, current employees making mistakes due to being over worked, the claimant will have to pay. and just how many times will they have to pay £50.


      March 11, 2015 at 7:17 am

  12. There is a way to escape all this cruelty and that is to bring about a multi party partnership to reach the 323 MP threshold to form a majority government of a group of parties.

    Today the small parties that actually offer the poor anything are getting nil coverage in blogs, forums, the media, TV, even if running in 1/6th of MP seats so should legally be receiving fair media coverage.

    But the poor from babes in wombs to mothers to grannies and grandads, outnumber all other voters in a great many voting areas where the sitting Tory and Lib Dem MP only got a few votes to put him into the job.

    This is especially in the most populous nation of the UK, England.

    As this is predicted by all pundits as the most severe hung parliament ever, there is now talk that the Tories will just stay in power, even if they lose their job by not getting enough pencil crosses by their name on Thursday 7 May.

    Labour, even with the Scots SNP and Welsh Plaid Cymru, will not get sufficient to run a government.

    Labour needs to abandon Scotland and use that funding in England and the Tory and Lib Dem marginals in Wales to support these parties with ads and media coverage:

    – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)

    – Class War

    – Mebyon Kernow in Cornwall (with the most slim majorities of all of Tory and Lib Dem MPs)

    These are natural allies in an arm’s length manner called ‘support and confidence’, which is what the Scots SNP and Plaid Cymru of Wales offer anyway.

    So the poor, most in work about 5.5 million, 2.6 million poor pensioners, unemployed, 11 million disabled, chronic sick, lone parents, the 1 million 60-64 only on some kind of welfare facing nil state pension for life from the flat rate pension from 2016, could utterly change their fate of growing penniless starvation, whilst the rich have never had it so good.

    See more at:



    March 10, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    • Yes, there sure is a way to escape all this cruelty, thousands of people have done already.


      March 11, 2015 at 8:17 am

  13. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.


    March 10, 2015 at 11:33 pm

  14. Reblogged this on L8in.


    March 10, 2015 at 11:34 pm

  15. Reblogged this on ElderofZyklon's Blog!.

    Cj aka Elderofzyklons Blog

    March 10, 2015 at 11:48 pm

  16. Reblogged this on markcatlin3695's Blog.

    Mark Catlin

    March 11, 2015 at 7:25 am

  17. Further evidence is emerging that welfare cuts are pushing working households into poverty, say the Scottish National Party (SNP).

    Giving evidence to Scotland’s Welfare Reform Committee, Professor Steve Fothergill of the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, said benefit cuts will push already struggling working households “further down into in-work poverty”.




    March 11, 2015 at 8:00 am

  18. “If you’re left without money, no phone, no internet access, unable to bathe, feed yourself, pay for the bus fares to interviews, you’re looking dishevelled, how can you fulfil the [35 hours-a-week] job search requirements?”

    Another spot-on quote about sanctions under Universal Credit!


    March 11, 2015 at 9:08 am

    • It is difficult enough to “fulfil” the 35 hours-a-week jobsearch requirement even if you did have money, phone, internet access, washing facilities, food, bus fares, clean clothes, etc!!!


      March 11, 2015 at 9:10 am

      • They’ve removed the phones’ to make life difficult too. 35 hours jobsearch appears questionable lawfully.a while back a young adult with learning difficulties on a documentary was given this. while there was chaos in the system similar to sanctions the conditions were also immediately apparent.

        The best road is to complain to your local MPs’ as mentioned in the programme.


        March 11, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      • Please advise me whether a sanctioned claimant is still expected to make themselves available for work?

        If so, please make clear whether they must still do the mandatory 35 hours a week job search expected of Universal Credit claimants, and give guidance on how someone with no money for food, electricity, mobile phone credit, internet access or transport to their Jobcentre is expected to do this without incurring further sanctions?

        In response to your first question, claimants are required to engage with work related requirements designed to help them move closer to work or increase their earnings throughout
        their Universal Credit claim. These requirements are tailored to an individual’s needs, experience and circumstances and agreed between the work coach and the claimant. If the
        claimant receives a sanction period, following a failure to comply with their requirements, it is important that they continue to engage with support and meet their work-related requirements.

        In reply to your second point, there are safeguards in place where a sanction is imposed. A claimant whose Universal Credit is reduced by sanction may apply for a Recoverable Hardship Payment if they are unable to meet their immediate, basic and essential needs. Further information can be found in chapter L1 if the “Advice for Decision Making Guide



        March 11, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    • Please could you provide the current DWP polices if any relating to the 35 hours job
      search for people on job seekers allowance (JSA).

      We have understood your question to relate to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
      claimants to whom the Jobseekers Act 1995 and Jobseekers Allowance Regulations
      1996 apply.

      As there is no legal requirement for JSA claimants to undertake 35 hours of Work
      Search Activity each week, no legislation or national guidance stating otherwise



      March 11, 2015 at 5:51 pm


    Media quote:

    “Duncan Smith’s hopes for Universal Credit have not been realised. “I think he did genuinely believe it would be transformational. But anyone who knew anything about it thought that he had got the risk cost ratio wrong.”


    March 11, 2015 at 9:18 am

  20. These media quotes about UC are interesting – so I hope readers are not bored:

    “As a civil servant working on the UC pilot for Glasgow (oh am I in trouble), not one person working on it, be it bottom to top believe that this is nothing but a joke. It doesn’t work and will never work, delay after delay, costs of IT rising daily and staff going off their heads trying to meet unrealistic targets. Its a tool to hammer the vulnerable and I for one am glad it will take years for it to happen, hopefully a new government will scrap it. And why does every workplace have idiots that think its a great idea, I can only assume the staff in Rugby are paid actors or heartless sadists”.


    March 11, 2015 at 9:30 am

  21. These quotes are just too good to leave out:

    “We need to get back to benefit staff being clerks not subalterns. As it is we’re heading into the world of Dickens,Kafka and Orwell”


    March 11, 2015 at 9:36 am

    • Amelia Gentleman seems a bit off here to me. How can anyone/everyone living £1 to £1 fund a full time 35 hour job, jobsearching week after week.

      Coalition Britain: after the teething problems, will universal credit work?

      Another Fine Mess

      March 11, 2015 at 11:29 am

      • Most claimants must sign a contract that says they will commit to spending 35 hours a week searching for work on the principle that looking for work should be a full-time job. “We are finding that some people are being sanctioned immediately because they were not doing 35 hours of job searching,” Louden said. “This is quite an onerous requirement, particularly if you have issues of IT literacy.”

        Not doing 35 hours job search, because most on benefits don’t have their own pc so have to look around for one with internet access, 35 hours search at a library, with the amount of unemployed, no chance. which is why people are sanctioned. especially those who use UJM where they have given the DWP access.


        March 11, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      • I was asked about what I was doing for my Job search when I signed on yesterday.

        I replied, “I am doing exactly what I agreed to in my Job Seeker’s Agreement.”


        “Exactly what it says in the Agreement.”

        Andrew Coates

        March 11, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      • The DWP are always looking for reasons to sanction someone, as in your case, only your stating the agreement beat the soon to follow sanction. if you were one that didn’t know about it, which is what every adviser thinks of every unemployed person of course.


        March 11, 2015 at 1:17 pm

  22. Scottish ministers have today called on the UK Government to accelerate the devolution of new welfare powers for Scotland, recommended by the Smith Commission.

    “It has been over a month since the Working Group met for the first time and weeks since the Smith Commission delivered its recommendations. Over that period of time there has been a frustrating lack of progress from the UK government in recognising that its current proposals do not meet Lord Smith’s recommendations.

    “We want to see early progress on flexibilities around Universal Credit as well as assurances that the UK Government will deliver the Smith report in full.

    “It’s really frustrating that the UK has refused to make early progress on those flexibilities, although these are technically feasible now. And they have refused to change their draft clauses which fall short of the Smith proposals.

    “Just last week both the Welfare Reform Committee and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlighted the scale of the damage inflicted by Westminster’s austerity agenda on people across Scotland.



    March 11, 2015 at 11:30 am

  23. There’s a reason why so many people call the now benefits system inhuman, its because you cant help people unconditionally with a system that needs to save and or make money conditionally. The 2 cannot co exist as it flies in the face of the model of capitalism.

    In order to capitalise, you must have someone/s or something/s to capitalise from.

    You cant get rich without making people less rich to penniless, so basically your financial position is the by product of producing wealth for another individual/s.

    This means someone with no assets to capitalise on is negative wealth or better put, they reduce another’s ability to increase or create wealth and so impedes the capitalistic model.


    March 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm

  24. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras revives claims for compensation and the possibility of seizing German assets in return for the crimes carried out by the Third Reich



    March 11, 2015 at 12:41 pm

  25. Benefit Sanctions – Britain’s Secret Penal System


    It is a matter of high concern when the benefit system treats people worse than convicted criminals.


    March 11, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    • Absolutely right – we here have long pointed out how the ‘court’ of the DWP, coachey-coachy, is a parody of elementary justice.

      “Few people know that the number of financial penalties (‘sanctions’) imposed on benefit claimants by the Department of Work and Pensions now exceeds the number of fines imposed by the courts. In Great Britain in 2013, there were 1,046,398 sanctions on Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, 32,128 on Employment and Support Allowance claimants, and approximately 44,000 on lone parent recipients of Income Support. By contrast, Magistrates’ and Sheriff courts imposed a total of only 849,000 fines.

      Sanctioned benefit claimants are treated much worse than those fined in the courts. The scale of penalties is more severe (£286.80 – £11,185.20 compared to £200 – £10,000). Most sanctions are applied to poor people and involve total loss of benefit income. Although there is a system of discretionary ‘hardship payments’, claimants are often reduced to hunger and destitution by the ban on application for the first two weeks and by lack of information about the payments and the complexity of the application process. The hardship payment system itself is designed to clean people out of resources; all savings or other sources of assistance must be used up before help is given.

      – See more at: http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/resources/benefit-sanctions-britains-secret-penal-system#sthash.fRI6KUPs.dpuf

      Andrew Coates

      March 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      • No “time to pay” the sanction either. Time to pay the fine is actually part of the punishment anyway as it supposed act as a constant reminder; if they had the choice and means most fined criminals would rather pay it off in the one instalment and ‘get it over with’… but still, fined (sanctioned) criminals don’t suffer the same instant, total and devastating loss of income that sanctioned (fined) jobseekers do.

        Probation Officer

        March 12, 2015 at 2:54 pm

  26. Please could you provide the current DWP policies relating to daily
    signing for people on job seekers allowance (JSA) that explain why
    someone is placed on daily signing.

    Daily Job search/Work Search Reviews

    Daily Job search/Work Search Reviews are face to face interviews which have
    been introduced as one of three Help to Work measures to help claimants who
    have completed the Work Programme.

    Claimants are to attend Daily, Jobs search/Work Search at the Jobcentre, at a
    different time each week day, for up to 13 weeks from the point they are placed
    in the Daily Job search/Work Search regime.
    Conducting Daily Job search/Work Search Reviews.

    Daily Job search/Work Search follows the format of any other Jobs each/Work
    Search Review. However, although the claimant may continue to plan their
    job search activity on a fortnightly basis, they will need to demonstrate job search
    activity on a daily basis.



    March 11, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    • Best to click on the link below instead of reading the message below, (the way it turned out, bugs me!)


      March 11, 2015 at 7:03 pm

  27. Please provide me with any recorded data held by the DWP, which states that
    claimants can be forced to use a Jobcentre IAD (Internet Access Device) to apply for
    vacancies under threat of being sanctioned if they decline.

    Under the Jobseekers Act 1995 and Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations 1996
    claimants may be required to apply for specific jobs, which they are capable of doing.
    Where this involves applying for a job via Universal Jobmatch or any other internet
    job site and the claimant cannot do so by other means, use of a DWP Internet
    Access Device (IAD) can be provided.

    Where the method of application for the job in question is to apply on-line by sending
    a CV or application form to the employer and the claimant fails to apply because they
    refuse to use a DWP IAD which is made available to them, benefit may be affected.
    However, in such circumstances, the case is referred to a decision maker who will
    take into account all available information, including the claimant’s reasons for not
    complying with a specific requirement, in deciding to impose (or not) a benefit



    March 11, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    • I see we are back round to this again.

      Judging be the FOI response, I see DWP has wised up as that response is blurred to say the least.

      First things first the individuals accessibility to other mediums must be assessed as being on mandated jobsearch. doesn’t mean others cant be used to perform the same said task at a different timeframe and still be presentable come the designated sign on period.

      The very fact I can bring my own laptop and wifi and not use there system validates this very point.

      You draw from two important laws here and that is the data protection act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011.

      In the act of applying for a vacancy through someone else’s device, through a website to an intended IP address will require as the DPA legally defines the use of personal and or sensitive data. This means 3 DPA processing/privacy policies and consent to are required.


      (Schedule 1, part 2, point 2)

      1:The internet service provider (ie BT, virgin, etc).

      2: The device owner (owner of PC and associated equipment).

      3: The website/s the user intends to transfer said data through (ie UJM, jobsite, monster, etc).

      Just because someone owns a device doesn’t mean they can except cookies on a claimants behalf. Cookies can only be consented to by the user whom the data refers to.


      (Regulation 6, The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011).

      This is just the tip so it amazes me how DWP manage to still trick people via jobseekers direction to either open a UJM account or use there systems.

      Look they can JD a claimant to open a UJM account BUT they CANNOT JD a claimant to upload any personal and or sensitive data, they CANNOT JD a claimant to enter any personal and or sensitive data and they cannot JD a claimant to transfer personal and or sensitive data to any third party or new second party.

      The same applies to the use of there system/s.

      Consent is only legal if freely given by the individual of sound mind in writing or by action, free of coercion (force or threat) and deceit.


      March 12, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      • Just to add clarity to processing/privacy policies and consent,

        Theres also the intended party to receive said data but it was omitted for the purposes of addressing discussions regarding DWP.

        This doesn’t mean it cannot form a part of a claimants defence, just that it is highly unlikely to be required in such a circumstance in terms of evidence to the contrary.


        March 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      • As we all know, it’s good that the same/similar topics come up now and again for all the new comers to this site or others.


        March 12, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      • Not intentionally.


        March 12, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      • Please, spend just 10 minutes learning the correct use of their, there and their.
        Your comment above “The very fact I can bring my own laptop and wifi and not use there system validates this very point.” confused me a bit, until I realized you mean ‘their’ system.

        Andy Crofts

        February 8, 2018 at 3:25 pm

  28. Pensioners escaped effects of austerity while young suffered most.

    Coalition Britain: Retirement-age households saw income rise 10%, while that of working-age homes fell 4%, according to study by the Resolution Foundation.

    Gavin Kelly, the Resolution Foundation’s director, said the sharp divergence in fortunes across the age spectrum resulted from more over-60s being in work, as well as positive policy choices to protect pensions from Osborne’s spending cuts. “Part of it is a wage effect: their wages have fallen dramatically less than younger people’s. Recessions are always bad for younger people; this one has been disastrous,” he said.

    Angus Hanton, co-founder of pressure group the Intergenerational Foundation, said: “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the interests of the young are being sacrificed for the comfort of wealthier older people. The packhorse generation may start to question the social contract when they see these ‘woldies’ receiving special treatment from pensioner bonds, the triple lock, and undeserved benefits.”



    March 11, 2015 at 8:13 pm

  29. Nick Clegg is facing a revolt from grassroots Liberal Democrats who will demand a firm pledge to scrap the bedroom tax at the party’s spring conference starting on Friday.

    In a letter to The Independent, 90 Lib Dem general election candidates and activists call for the bedroom tax to be ended for existing social housing tenants, who have seen their housing benefit cut if they have a spare room. They want the party manifesto to go further than Mr Clegg’s promise to exempt claimants when there is no smaller property available in their area.

    The activists welcome the reforms pledged by the Deputy Prime Minister, but say: “We are also pleased to support revoking the under occupancy charge, so it will only apply to new tenancies going forward.”

    Kelly-Marie Blundell, Lib Dem candidate in Guildford, who organised the letter, said the manifesto should also protect benefits for disabled people by excluding them from the 1 per cent cap on working age benefit rises proposed by the Conservatives.



    March 11, 2015 at 9:55 pm

  30. DWP have announced a large scale voluntary exit scheme across the whole of the Job Centre network. This exercise is aimed at cutting up to 3,600 jobs. The staff will leave DWP in June 2015.

    Who is eligible to apply?

    1.All AO’s in WSD (excluding Visits, Access to Work and National Partnership Team and the staff recently allocated to Contact Centre satellite sites)
    2.All EO’s in WSD (excluding most Work Coaches, Visits, Access to Work and National Partnership Team).
    3.EO Work Coaches are eligible to apply in the following Districts only
    •Surrey and Sussex
    •Devon Cornwall & Somerset
    •Thames Valley
    •Cumbria and Lancashire
    •East Anglia
    •Midland Shires

    4. All HEO, SEO and Grade 7 staff in WSD (excluding Visits, Access to Work and National Partnership Team).

    The last day of service for staff leaving under this scheme will be 30 June 2015.



    March 11, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    • Who’s ever going to employ them again?

      Another Fine Mess

      March 11, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      • We can all imagine what the atmosphere will be like between all the staff in the JC’s, none of them will want to leave voluntary due to what is going on these days.


        March 12, 2015 at 10:10 am

      • Just the other day, a subdued Jobcentre advisor was telling a client about these job losses. The point was made that when these Civil Service jobs go “in here”, they will not be replaced!

        I wonder how long it will take for Jobcentres to disappear altogether – as has been predicted on numerous occasions before?


        March 12, 2015 at 10:53 am

      • And don’t forget the other 30,000 Civil Service job losses!


        March 12, 2015 at 10:58 am

    • DWP have announced a large scale voluntary exit scheme across the whole of the Job Centre network
      Available in the new Dignitas Job Centres.

      Another Fine Mess

      March 12, 2015 at 12:16 am

    • We won’t be shedding any tears… fuck ’em! 😀

      The Crocodile Family

      March 12, 2015 at 4:29 pm

  31. OT : UKIP – True Colours revealed.

    Thin edge of the Wedge for Nazi Nasty Party Lite:


    First it was don’t let the unemployed drive… then Oh we have loads of Nazi’s we’ve had to let go because they let the Cat out of the Bag too Early…Next up will be as we want True Tory votes, UKIP Gov. will back euthenasia for the undesirables, as the list gets ever longer… Why pay for deportation when you can kill them? Which is cheaper? Its all for austerity sake as and we’re all in it together….


    March 12, 2015 at 8:12 am

  32. Checkpoint Charlie – Tory style!

    Tories want local journalists’ personal details – passport number, driving licence number, home address and £20.00 into the bargain, before admission to General Election events:



    March 12, 2015 at 9:34 am

    • Because they know don’t they, in order to hide the truth of the events on the day.


      March 12, 2015 at 9:55 am

    • Your driving licence number also gives away your date of birth – there is enough in that list to take out a Wonga loan. Is that what these Tories are up to?


      March 12, 2015 at 2:42 pm

  33. Former Health Minister has criticised the Government for ignoring repeated demands for an inquiry into how benefit cuts are affecting mentally ill claimants.

    Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat Minister for Care Services in 2011-12, told the Daily Mirror that the Government “don’t seem to care” how benefit cuts are affecting mentally ill people.

    He said that more than 100,000 people with mental health problems have been found ‘fit for work’ and later “forgotten about” on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

    Mr Burstow told the Daily Mirror: “We know almost half of people taken off incapacity benefit, assessed, and found apparently ‘fit to work’ have mental health problems, and the Department responsible have absolutely no idea what’s happened to them.



    March 12, 2015 at 11:55 am

    • This indeed is a problem.

      I’ve been on ‘courses’ with people who have severe mental health issues, in one with somebody who has restraining orders.

      It is frankly medieval cruelty.

      Andrew Coates

      March 12, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      • I’m now seeing more people sitting down on the concrete in the high street with sleeping bags, this is what is happening to those who the DWP have no idea of. where some of them have had their benefit stopped for 3 years.

        It sure is cruel.


        March 12, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      • A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that the city of Tucson, Arizona, can forcibly remove scores of coffin-like “pods” set up on city sidewalks to protest against treatment homeless people but that the demonstrators can continue to camp out on the pavement.

        Under the decision by US district judge David Bury in a federal lawsuit stemming from the Occupy movement more than three years ago, the protesters have until Friday evening to clear away the brightly painted plywood boxes, city spokeswoman Lane Mandle said.

        “At that point, we’ll remove them,” Mandle said.

        The encampment of tents and twin-bed-sized pods stretches along several downtown city blocks near a small park by City Hall.

        Occupy organizers who began sleeping in the park itself in 2011 to protest what they called criminalization of homelessness sued the city, claiming the arrest of campers there violated their constitutional rights to free speech and free expression.



        March 12, 2015 at 1:08 pm

  34. Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Universal Credit scheme will do little to help single parents increase their working hours, a new report shows.

    The report ‘Paying the price: Single parents in the age of austerity‘, from the charity Gingerbread – who provide advice and support to single parents – found that extra help for childcare costs to be rolled-out within Universal Credit don’t go far enough.

    Under Universal Credit, support for childcare costs will increase from 70% to 85%. But a decade-long cap on childcare costs parents can claim back, mean it won’t make financial sense for single parents to move from part-time work into full-time employment.

    The cap on childcare costs only allows up to £175 a week for a nursery place for one child, or £300 a week for two or more children.

    Under Universal Credit the amount parents can claim back within the cap will rise from £122.50 a week to £149 a week, for one child. However, the average cost of childcare in the UK currently stands at around £212 a week – rising to as much as £283 a week for full-time care in London.



    March 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm

  35. Intelligence committee publishes its report on privacy and security: Politics Live blog

    Rolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including Nick Clegg’s LBC phone-in, the Lib Dem funding allegations and the intelligence and security committee’s report on privacy and security



    March 12, 2015 at 1:04 pm

  36. EAT THE RICH!!

    Vote for CLASS WAR!!

    March 12, 2015 at 2:29 pm


    Vote for CLASS WAR!!

    March 12, 2015 at 2:30 pm


    Do you remember the harrowing report about the incident on 7 January this year at a police station in Clydebank where a woman set herself on fire and died a short time afterwards?

    Katrien Praats, a Belgian national, was homeless at the time and had been in contact several times with the local Council on housing matters. It is know she had been refused a face-to-face interview with a homeless persons officer on the day of the fire incident.

    The report into her tragic death is being kept secret by the Council. I see.



    March 12, 2015 at 2:56 pm

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