Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

End the Benefit Freeze, “predicted to increase poverty more than any other policy”.

with 63 comments

Image result for benefits freeze

I imagine many of us have the same routine.

Look in B&M for cheap food offers (tins of tomatoes to start with), and walk around to all the other places where stuff is good value – Aldi, Lidl, near the top of the list.

Every time – and I’m not talking about Bills, this is everyday, you notice that prices are slowly, but surely, going up.

Unlike benefits.

The Benefit Freeze started, believe it or not, in 2014.

The horror began where so many do – at Conservative party conference. In September 2014, then Chancellor George Osborne announced to the audience in Birmingham that benefits for people of working age would be frozen for two years.

New Statesman.

In the last few days there’s been a number of stories about this injustice.

Welfare Weekly,

Tory benefit freeze ‘predicted to increase poverty more than any other policy’

Chancellor Philip Hammond urged to end the freeze to working-age benefits a year earlier than originally planned.

It has been predicted that prolonging the four-year freeze to working-age benefits will “increase poverty more than any other policy” introduced by the Tory Government since 2015.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC), a cross-party group of MPs, has received evidence showing that a family of four receiving Universal Credit will be over £800 a year worse off by 2020, when the controversial freeze is set to end, “even if both parents are working full-time on the National Living Wage”.

And analysis of figures from the House of Commons Library shows that affected households will have incomes between £888 and £1,845 lower in 2019-20, in real-terms, than they would have had if the freeze wasn’t in place.

Evidence compiled by the WPSC found that ending the benefit freeze – for all frozen benefits other than child benefit – a year earlier than originally intended would lift 200,000 people out of poverty.

“Households have seen significant actual cuts to their real income because of the various caps and freezes since 2010: a single earner couple with two children’s income will fall by 0.7% in real terms, and an out-of-work lone parent with one child by 6.7% in real terms, between 2010/11 and 2019/20.”

Witnesses told the Committee that that the main issue driving poverty and destitution “is that working-age benefits are paid at far too low a level now and have been for a number of years”.

They added: “Obviously, that has been exacerbated by the benefit freeze, so they are losing value year on year.”

The UK’s largest food bank network Trussell Trust says the only way to alleviate poverty and ease demand on food banks is to “ensure incomes, from both work and benefits, can meet people’s living costs”.

The charity recommended that the benefits freeze be lifted and benefits uprated in line with inflation, “in particular, Child Tax Credits and the Child Element of Universal Credit should be uprated in line with inflation to reflect the additional, inescapable costs upon families.”

The demand for an end to the freeze came from the Work and Pensions Committee,

Benefit freeze “predicted to increase poverty more than any other policy”: Committee to question Amber Rudd on benefit levels “driving destitution and poverty” – ahead of Spring Statement next week, Committee makes costed case to end freeze year early.

During March the Committee is taking evidence on the effects of the – effective – cut in people’s living standards.

Ahead of the evidence hearing the Committee has written to Amber Rudd saying “the current freeze was originally designed to save £3bn… the Treasury would still make in-year savings of £2.5bn in 2019/20, even if the freeze was ended a year early. This, combined with the most recent monthly public borrowing figures showing a budget surplus of £14.9bn in January 2019—£5.6bn more than the surplus in January 2018, and the largest January budget surplus on record   – lead the Committee to encourage the Secretary of State to “urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider ending the benefit freeze a year early”.

This call fell on deaf ears:

The Mirror.

Benefit freeze from April APPROVED by MPs – costing families up to £1,800 a year

It means millions of people’s benefits will be frozen for the fourth year in a row – while MPs’ pay rises 2.7% to almost £80,000

MPs tonight approved another year of the cruel benefit freeze – meaning it is now costing some families £1,800 a year.

Millions of working-age people’s benefits will now be frozen for the fourth year in a row from April.

Amber Rudd in the meantime is dancing with unicorns.

https://twitter.com/AmberRuddHR/status/1102946279783624704

Written by Andrew Coates

March 6, 2019 at 11:08 am

63 Responses

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  1. Money loses roughly half it’s purchasing power every twenty years (hence why a lottery ticket double to two quid after twenty years. Using ballpark figures means that in ‘real terms’ the current age 25 and over, single person JSA/UC of £73.10 has lost approximately £9.14 a week of purchasing power (or £475.15 a year). The longer the ‘freeze’ lasts the more purchasing power will be lost. Even if/when benefits are ‘unfrozen’ the cumulative losses will still stand. Even ‘re-adjusting’ £73.10, as an example, to around £82.24 won’t fix the injustice entirely. Claimants should also be entitled to full recompense for monies that have been stolen from them through this vindictive policy.

    Frosty

    March 6, 2019 at 11:53 am

    • *Figures approximated over 5 years.

      Frosty

      March 6, 2019 at 11:59 am

    • JSA increases in line with the September (Q4?) RPI. The benefit freeze started in 2016? No increase in April 2016. So JSA/UC (£73.10) is stuck at the 2015 Quarter 4 RPI (260.0). The 2017 Q4 RPI was 276.4 which means that from April 2018 JSA for a single person 25 and over should have been £77.71. The 2018 Q4 is 284.9 which means that JSA from April should be £80.10. A shortfall of exactly £7.00 a week or £364.03.

      Abacus

      March 8, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      • ..or £364.03 a year.

        Abacus

        March 8, 2019 at 1:40 pm

      • Assuming the 2018/19 RPI increases in line with the 2017/18 RPI JSA would be £82.49 from April 2020 meaning the benefit ‘freeze’ will leave jobseekers £9.39 a week (£488.30 a year worse off)! Shocking!

        Pocker Change

        March 8, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    • Like receiving a £364.03 a year sanction without even knowing about it. And still at least another year (2020) of this ‘freeze’; ‘working age’ benefits won’t be ‘unfrozen’ from 2021 at the earliest.

      Chilli

      March 8, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      • Sanctions are ON TOP of this bloody benefit freeze!

        Struggling Single Parent

        March 8, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    • If you can afford to buy gold coins as a hedge against inflation (gold generally increases in value, in real terms, as currency declines in value) and for reasons of privacy (DWP won’t know). Also gold isn’t fragile and doesn’t burn or spoil if it gets wet or whatever.

      Oh là là!

      Oh là Larry

      March 9, 2019 at 10:22 am

  2. As far as food shopping goes you can’t beat cheap and ‘a bit tasty’ when you are on a budget 😉

    Down and Out in Ipswich

    March 6, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    • All these snacks and junk food just to fill our stomach isn’t doing our health much good though. We have ballooned to in excess of thirty stone since the benefit freeze. Does anyone really believe Jacob-Rees Mogg shops in B&M and Aldi for junk food. He looks the type who has a Ryvita and glass of orange juice for breakfast. No prizes for guessing who will live the longest.

      The Fatties

      March 6, 2019 at 12:24 pm

      • Only the good die young.

        Chi-Chi Rodriguez

        March 6, 2019 at 4:09 pm

      • Which means we won’t be welcoming Jacob-Rees Mogg to 👿 Hell 👿 any time soon – unfortunately 😦
        Although it is pleasing to report that Iain Duncan Smith is already roasting nicely 😀

        Diablo

        March 7, 2019 at 4:10 pm

      • Here’s his Parliamentary report:

        The Devil’s Tune
        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        The Devil’s Tune is a novel by British Conservative Party politician Iain Duncan Smith, published in November 2003.

        The book is notable for its uniformly negative reception, such that, as of March 2013, a paperback edition was never published.[1]

        Literary significance and criticism
        “And I honestly wish I didn’t have to say this, because it feels like kicking a man when he is down… but, really, it’s terrible. Human sympathy strains in one direction; critical judgment the other. Terrible, terrible, terrible.”
        Sam Leith, Daily Telegraph[2]
        “The Devil’s Tune by Iain Duncan Smith is scarcely the greatest literature of all time but as a thriller and easy read it will while away a plane journey (or, at 400-plus pages, a couple of plane journeys) perfectly pleasantly…the dialogue is severely cliché-ridden but people do have a habit of talking in clichés.”
        Ann Widdecombe, Conservative politician and novelist[2]
        “It’s not exactly Tolstoy, is it?”
        Edwina Currie, Conservative politician and novelist[2]
        “IDS has as much chance of doing a Winston Churchill as Rapper Tony Benn has of going quadruple platinum.”
        John Sutherland, Northcliffe Professor of English Literature, University College London[2]

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil%27s_Tune

        Andrew Coates

        March 7, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      • SUPPORTING CLAIMANTS IN THE LIGHT TOUCH REGIME
        INTENSIVE ACTIVITY PROGRAMME –
        ACTIONS AT THE INITIAL WORK SEARCH INTERVIEW

        The light-touch regime motivates and encourages claimants to increase their earnings as quickly as possible. This helps claimants to reach their Conditionality Earnings Threshold(CET) giving them the best chance of becoming financially independent from Universal Credit.

        https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/301588/response/743734/attach/3/FOI%204794%20part%201.pdf

        ken

        March 8, 2019 at 12:26 am

      • The Amazon customer reviews of The Devil’s Tune by Iain Duncan Smith are hilarious. Check them out by clicking the link below.

        https://www.amazon.co.uk/DEVILS-TUNE-Iain-Duncan-Smith/dp/1861056664/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1552029624&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+tune+iain+duncan+smith#customerReviews

        Ro

        March 8, 2019 at 7:22 am

      • I only began a few seconds ago, and how right you are!

        “You might think that with all his practice crafting works of fiction, from his education history to DWP statistics, that Iain Duncan Smith could deliver an interesting creative novel. You would be mistaken if you did though, as it turns out his incompetence is truly unbounded, his ability to turn whatever he tries his hand at in to an abject failure is unparalleled.”

        Andrew Coates

        March 8, 2019 at 4:55 pm

  3. “the Treasury would still make in-year savings of £2.5bn in 2019/20” exactly what Chris Grayling has just wasted.

    Meg

    March 6, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    • Grayling was born on 1st April 1962… April Fools Day! Tee-hee.

      Stop Messin' About

      March 6, 2019 at 4:07 pm

  4. Reblogged this on sdbast.

    sdbast

    March 6, 2019 at 2:27 pm

  5. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating!.

    A6er

    March 6, 2019 at 5:51 pm

  6. Cash is King, I’m Reducing my Digital footprint (Going to Cancel SKY, BT, Virgin, Netflix and Amazon Prime Soon). Living Off-Grid out here in a Log Cabin Deep in the Woods and Outside, of Mainstream Society and Far Away from Civilisation Is the Way to Go 😀 Hunting, Fishing and Shooting is the Only Way to Survive 😀
    Having Swan, Mallard Duck and Wood Pigeon Stew with Toasted Squirrel for Tea 😀

    Pauline - UB40

    March 6, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    • Just by saying making work pay doesn’t make any difference to a current crisis,stress rises,time spent dealing with problems,energy bills on the rise again/food prices and the uncertanty many people face.

      Residents face near-record council tax hikes, CIPFA research reveals

      Residents in England face council tax increases of 4.5% in the coming year – the second highest increase in a decade, according to CIPFA analysis

      https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/03/residents-face-near-record-council-tax-hikes-cipfa-research-reveals

      ken

      March 6, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    • The ways landlords are trying to stop homeless people begging outside their buildings

      ‘Hostile architecture’ has been reported across the country

      It is a system of displacing what many businesses and local authorities see as ‘surplus humanity’,

      https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/ways-landlords-trying-stop-homeless-15925683

      People treated like pigeons.

      ken

      March 6, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    • I tried that but, because every square inch of the country is owned by someone, usually got told to f*ck off within a day or two of pitching my tent. The road kill hedgehogs and badgers I cooked up were quite tasty though, especially with a cauliflower or similar nicked from local farmers unless, of course, the crop had been sprayed with insecticide recently in which case the veg gave me the sh*ts.

      Bare Grills

      March 9, 2019 at 10:29 am

      • Ger orf me land!

        Farmer Brown

        March 9, 2019 at 11:44 am

      • Kindly vacate my land with immediate effect or one will be forced to put a bullet to your brain!

        Crazy Toff Landowner

        March 9, 2019 at 11:48 am

  7. There can be no excuse for giving MPs a £2000 pay rise, and then holding down all the other working-age benefits for another year.

    Alan Turner

    March 6, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    • No excuse is necessary: the government of the day can walk over you without a why or wherefore. The benefit freeze was done during Osborne’s shift when screwing over benefit claimants scored points and saved money at the same time. How could someone as morally vacuous and black hearted as George Osborn possibly miss a chance of killing two birds with one stone?

      Stephania Flourica

      March 6, 2019 at 6:51 pm

      • Indeed! The Government of the day can round you up and ship you to a concentration camp somewhere in Eastern Europe if it so desires without your by or leave: no permission necessary.

        Dachau

        March 7, 2019 at 10:21 am

      • Indeed! The Government of the day can round you up and ship you to a concentration camp somewhere in Eastern Europe for extermination if it so desires without your by or leave: no permission necessary.

        Dachau

        March 7, 2019 at 10:21 am

  8. Universal Credit blamed for number of people in crisis housing in one county doubling in two years

    In Denbighshire, there are now 515 households classed as ‘at risk of homelessness’

    Controversial benefit Universal Credit has been blamed for a 125% increase in the number of people being put in emergency accommodation by one North Wales council.

    “People are coming from Denbighshire and outside the county and it’s because of the changes the government has made in Universal Credit and benefits caps that we are seeing people in this terrible situation.

    https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/universal-credit-blamed-number-people-15925079

    ken

    March 6, 2019 at 6:54 pm

  9. Hard Brexit Means Hard Times on the Toilet

    One consequence of leaving the EU that Brexiteers forgot to reckon with? Nationwide toilet paper shortages.

    The Brexit secretary has warned of food shortages. The defense secretary has warned of soldiers on the streets. The Bank of England has warned of a financial crisis. The Taoiseach of Ireland has warned of violence at the border. And the queen, it has been reported, will be evacuated.

    But new rumblings from Britain’s beleaguered paper importers may finally make clear what’s at stake. In conversations with industry experts, Foreign Policy has learned, a no-deal Brexit may leave Britain without an adequate supply of toilet paper.

    While Brexit preppers have stirred headlines in recent months with their pre-emptive purchases of essential items, the stockpiling of large manufacturers—and the lack thereof—matters most. And in the case of the United Kingdom, where the average resident uses an unrivalled 110 rolls of toilet paper per year, the highest figure in Europe, any meaningful measure of forward planning would require more real estate than is currently available.

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/03/05/hard-brexit-means-hard-times-on-the-toilet/

    Shit Hits the Fan

    March 7, 2019 at 12:41 am

    • Toilet roll is flying out the supermarket doors at the moment. Lots of BOG OFF (geddit 😀 ) offers on. We have enough to last several lifetimes 😀

      Bog Brush

      March 7, 2019 at 10:05 am

    • It looks like their going to leave the EU on the 29th,bus shelters in Berkhamstead have posters, for both EU workers and passport’s to Europe,however we are in Europe nothing is going to change that.

      ken

      March 7, 2019 at 3:07 pm

  10. In recent weeks I have been inundated with comments from benefit claimants trapped on the legacy benefits where the level of benefit remains frozen and who are in despair over the expected increases in gas and electricity prices, not to mention the expected increase in Council Tax. The prospect of further increases in the cost of living as a result of a no-deal Brexit do not bear thinking about.

    On the issue of the welfare reforms, Labour have been utterly ineffective.

    John Costello
    Activist for ‘We Are Shadows’

    John Costello

    March 7, 2019 at 9:50 am

    • There is only so much gouging of the consumer that they can do. The less you have the less you spend – even on benefits. They only cut their own throats. News just in: John Lewis profits plunge. Here is some news for John Lewis: The rising cost of living means that we have STOPPED BUYING!

      John Lewis has paid out its lowest bonus to staff since the 1950s as profits plunged last year amid “challenging” trading.

      The retail partnership – which includes Waitrose supermarkets – said staff would receive a 3% bonus, the lowest since 1954 when workers received 4%.

      The annual staff bonus has been reduced every year for the past six years due to difficult trading conditions.

      Profits at the partnership sank last year by more than 45% to £160m.

      The company said the overall retail market continued to be “challenging”.

      John Lewis’ structure is unique. It is owned by its staff, known as partners.

      Typically in profitable years, staff at the 350 Waitrose and 51 John Lewis stores receive a share of the profits. In the very best years, these bonuses can add the equivalent of a few months’ worth of pay.

      Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said the lower bonus would help the company to preserve cash and invest “to cope with the continuing uncertainty facing consumers and the economy”.

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47480250

      “That’s evident in our results, especially in John Lewis & Partners, where we saw near constant discounting across many categories from October onwards in response to the combination of subdued demand, excess retail space and some other retailers’ distress,” it said.

      Hard Up

      March 7, 2019 at 10:13 am

    • “On the issue of the welfare reforms, Labour have been utterly ineffective.” You are being too kind to Labour, John 😀

      Meg

      March 7, 2019 at 10:17 am

      • Very true Meg. Labour believe in a lot of these so-called reforms. They just don’t want to admit it.

        Freddie G.

        March 7, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    • Very very true John.

      When you consider how much we get a week, benefits are a joke.

      Andrew Coates

      March 7, 2019 at 3:56 pm

  11. Labour look set to remain ineffective because only if you are elected to form a government do you have the power to change the law and tackle such problems. Sadly, under Jezza, Labour look about a likely to get elected as Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal is to get majority approval from the House of Commons.

    Jim

    March 7, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    • Jezza is pro-Brexit, doncha know, Jim? Jezza has been spotted in stairwells in the House of Commons having a sly fag and cooking up deals with senior Tories for a ‘soft Brexit’. Jezza will do everything in his power to save Brexit. In any case, it is not like he is ever going to become PM.

      Jemima

      March 7, 2019 at 1:42 pm

      • Yep. I knew that. But then, when all is said and done, Jezza isn’t the sharpest tack in the box. He may have passed the 11 plus and got into a grammar school but only managed to get two A levels at grade-E. Not that I hold stupidity against anyone generally but normally do prefer my country to be led by an individual at least as clever as I am and preferably far more intelligent than me. Even worse are the people hovering around Jezza and whispering into his ear. As things stand Labour have a poor chance of being elected even though Theresa May and the Conservative party are a divided rabble with some really, really nasty right-wingers waiting behind the scenes to take over when May eventually falls.

        Jezza reminds me of Citizen Smith. Perpetually bigging up a revolution that is never going to happen because the great majority of people living in Great Britain don’t want it and would not welcome it, the only difference being that there is nothing to laugh about as far as Jezza is concerned.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_Smith

        It could be decades now before a Labour government wins office.

        James

        March 7, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      • Freedom for Tooting!

        Andrew Coates

        March 7, 2019 at 3:55 pm

  12. Life on the breadline: Centrelink’s ‘mutual obligation’ is a system of humiliation
    Nijole Naujokas

    You might think it’s easy to jump through hoops but the hoops keep growing and moving around and you can still lose your payments


    ▲ ‘I try very hard to hold onto my self-worth in my appointments. Many times, I don’t succeed.’ – Nijole Naujokas in Adelaide. Photograph: Kelly Barnes/The Guardian

    Name: Nijole Naujokas

    Age: 34

    Lives: Adelaide

    Turning point: Not so much a turning point as a slow realisation over many years that I’m unable to work consistently due to ill health

    After housing costs has to live on: $169.03 a week

    Oh, how I have struggled with this article! How do I convey my deep gratitude to you all, for listening to my experiences? How do I push past my melancholy that this will be my last article for Life on the breadline? And most pressing, how do I convey my thoughts coherently on this topic I feel most passionately about – mutual obligation?

    Mutual obligation. The phrase conjures up cosy scenes of neighbours putting your bin out, and you watering their plants while they are on holidays. It speaks of you walking their dog and them baking you some biscuits in return, a quid pro quo that is fairly equal and expected. It seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Something benign and harmless, and the government uses this term to describe the “activities” and reporting requirements you must engage in to get social security payments. It’s only fair to do something when you are on the dole, right? We all need to “do our bit” and not be a drain, it’s a responsibility and should be expected … right?

    You might have a slight inkling that I vehemently disagree.

    I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve spoken to people – good, well-meaning people – who have no idea what “mutual obligation” actually means in terms of Centrelink. It is not cosy; or equal; or reasonable. The term “mutual obligation” is very deliberately used by the government to cover a multitude of sins and indignities that are inflicted upon Centrelink recipients such as myself. Essentially, it’s the hoops you must keep jumping through to not be cut off your payment: reporting your income, applying for jobs and dealing with all the activities your Job Network or Disability Employment Service demands of you.
    Life on the breadline: ‘I want my kids to know it isn’t wrong to ask for help in life’ | Tara Rose
    Read more

    You might think, “Just do as you’re asked, how hard can it be?!” The problem is that this list of things, this series of hoops just keeps on growing and moving around. You jump, and it’s moved at the last minute. You can fulfil all your requirements and still be cut off your payments.

    You start with being categorised to determine what your “mutual obligations” are: how many jobs you must apply for, how many hours you must devote to looking for work or training, how many Job Network meetings you must go to. To take myself as an example, my illnesses put me in the Job Network category that is called the Disability Employment Service (DES). A few years ago, I was assured by a Centrelink worker that a DES would be more accommodating, more understanding of my health issues. She assured me the issues with my previous Job Network would disappear.

    How wrong she was.

    I can honestly say some of the worst experiences I’ve ever had regarding Centrelink have been with DES providers. These are not specially trained workers as you may think: educated in health issues or social barriers, empathetic and eager to support. Most of the time I have had case workers with far less education than me, with little life experience and no clue as to the reality of my medical conditions. I try very hard to hold on to my self-worth in these appointments. Many times, I don’t succeed. But I must attend, or risk having my payments suspended.

    I am forced to repeat my history over and over again to multiple case workers, even though my notes are in my file. I had one DES worker press me for specific, intimate details of one medical condition I have. I replied that I was not comfortable with revealing that, and wasn’t it enough that he knew what my condition was? He would not let it go, arguing that he “needed to know” for my benefit, despite him having no legal right to those details. He kept pushing, interrogating me to the point where I blurted it out, holding back tears.

    I ended up leaving that appointment, holding it together until I got to the elevator, and then started to cry. It is a special kind of shame when you realise how powerless you are in a room where the other person can remove your only source of money. I wanted the appointment to be over and I wanted to eat, so I relented. I was horrified. This man forced details out of me I have not told close friends and moreover saw nothing wrong with it.

    Telling people to “do training” is a whole other kettle of fish. “Earning or learning” was a favourite phrase of the previous minister Joe Hockey when talking about people on Centrelink payments. But there comes a point where “learning” things you are already capable of becomes insulting and demoralising.

    I recently went with a friend to his Job Network meeting for moral support. This is an intelligent young man, with a university degree and previous retail and warehouse experience. He had already been forced into two supposedly “voluntary” Path programs by his Job Network; both unaccredited and not nationally recognised. These were incredibly dubious courses that, if the wider public knew about, would be horrified taxpayer money is being spent on. Courses like the “Theory of Coffee Making” course, where not a single student touched a coffee machine.

    The other Path course he was forced into was a “business” course in the loosest sense of the word, run by someone who bullied the students. All students were from the Job Network. Instead of letting her class go home early one afternoon when the work was finished, she forced them all to do a scavenger hunt where, I kid you not, activities like “counting the car parks” and “taking a selfie with the security guard” were listed. My friend was gobsmacked.

    This kind of insanity sounds almost unbelievable doesn’t it? Taxpayer dollars being used to force university graduates to count car parks, so their meagre dole is not cut. There is no refusal of these pointless activities. Refuse these humiliating tasks and your payment is suspended by the Job Network. In theory, the “mutual obligation” you enter into should be suited to the person and fair. But in reality, this is rarely the case. My friend did not want to do another Path course; from my descriptions of them I’m sure you can understand why. Under the legislation, the Job Network had the power to exempt him from it. They refused to do so, eventually admitting they could do so, but wouldn’t as “their policy” was to enrol job seekers in courses. They demanded he re-enrol into a resume course he had completed three months earlier.

    Bear in mind that Job Networks gain extra government payments for “outcomes” like placing job seekers in training. There is a perverse financial incentive to enrol their clients into any course, no matter how pointless or inappropriate it is for the job seeker. My friend found out later that every time they put a client into the resume course, the company got $300 from the government for this “outcome”. Not one of the courses he was forced into led to him gaining employment.

    With the new demerit point system, the right to stand up for yourself as a job seeker is being decimated. In theory, you can negotiate a suitable mutual obligation job plan. But in practice, not signing a plan they suggest can result in demerit points you can’t appeal, and being bullied and harassed. There is no “mutual” – there are no negotiations. The negotiations are as fair as having a gun to your head and agreeing to hand over your wallet.

    The system we are forced to use is not a mutual obligation, but a system of relentless bowing and humiliation – being forced into pointless busy work like unrecognised courses to feed this government’s insatiable need to make the unemployed “do something”. Feeding the idea that us “lazy slobs”, as they like to paint us, need beating into submission. And all this mutual obligation is overseen by Job Networks and DES providers who profit off punishing us for the tiniest infractions. They profit from bullying their clients and using taxpayer money to fund these activities, all in the name of making us “lea[r]ners” remember our place.

    The next time you hear “mutual obligations” are being increased for certain Centrelink recipients, ask yourself: is a scavenger hunt on an unaccredited business course really the best way to spend taxpayer dollars?

    Life on the breadline: Centrelink’s ‘mutual obligation’ is a system of humiliation

    The Guardian

    March 7, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    • Editor’s note: $169.03 AUD = £90.57 GBP

      The Guardian

      March 7, 2019 at 3:58 pm

      • New EU employment law to be reviewed by Parliament post-Brexit

        Theresa May will today unveil how the UK government will handle emerging EU laws concerning workers’ rights after Brexit.

        The Prime Minister will say: “After Brexit it should be for Parliament to decide what rules are most appropriate, rather than automatically accepting EU changes.

        “When it comes to workers’ rights, this Parliament has set world-leading standards and will continue to do so in the future

        https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/post-brexit-eu-employment-law/

        ken

        March 7, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    • Editor’s note: $169.03 AUD = £90.57 GBP.

      The Guardian

      March 7, 2019 at 3:59 pm

  13. Universal Credit: Mum left with £8.98 wins permission to fight DWP in High Court

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/universal-credit-mum-left-898-14100705

    superted

    March 7, 2019 at 5:40 pm

  14. DWP apologises, but no word on preventing future deaths

    The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has apologised for a series of failings made in the weeks leading to the death of a disabled mother-of-nine, but it has failed to explain how it will prevent further tragedies in the future.

    https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/disabled-dwp-employee-attempted-suicide-over-culture-of-workplace-bullying/

    Disabled DWP employee ‘attempted suicide over culture of workplace bullying’

    A disabled employee of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says he attempted to take his own life and experienced life-threatening physical health complications because of a culture of workplace bullying and discrimination.

    https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/disabled-dwp-employee-attempted-suicide-over-culture-of-workplace-bullying/

    Something of making you pay.

    ken

    March 7, 2019 at 5:41 pm

  15. This stream of Hard up Homeless reports have got me thinking, Is this not very often a “Lifestyle Choice” ?
    I have come to the Conclusion that Homelessness is a “Lifestyle Choice”.OK at the start of sorting out First Benefit payments there is a bit of a Delay, But DWP offers Financial Help, Its then down to Budget Planning, RENT Comes first, and is mostly covered by Housing Benefits. If People stopped spending Rent money on Sky TV, big tellies, Drugs, Fags & Booze there would not be this Homeless Crises. Also many Homeless refuse Help or wont access Hostel accommodation that is offered to them.

    Pauline - UB40

    March 8, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    • I have come to the Conclusion that Homelessness is a “Lifestyle Choice”.

      I would find it hard to believe that living in an underpass on old settee cushions and soild blankets are a choice,the concern is the increasing numbers of people who are living in those conditions,theres no hygiene or let alone plug in the flat screen Tv or watch sky,it can happen to anyone.The country is taking the US path,people don’t matter.

      Wonder how many people have taken on more debt they cannot afford by being expected to have smartphones/computers internet access/tablets for the “journal”,of course companies such as Bright House are there to accommodate How many people have have been intimidated by them and their collection methods? Many people cannot afford to live in todays world let alone expected to match up to it.

      Once someone’s been in the Jobcentre for a few years’ life’s an entirely different ball game.

      Upstairs Signing

      March 8, 2019 at 3:06 pm

  16. This is horrific:

    Andrew Coates

    March 8, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    • It is by design. The system is designed deliberately to tip you over the edge. No doubt designed by some evil shrinks like that Ewan Cameron bastard or the ones who develop ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ for Gitmo Bay.. If they were being honest EVERYONE who has every suffered at the hands of the DWP/Jobcentre or the ‘providers’ would admit to having suicidal thoughts at at least some point. And the only reason they are still there is that it is a unpleasant task to contemplate; their is no ON/OFF switch. The saving grace with benefits being so low is that claimants can’t afford to run cars; so they can’t whack into a tree on purpose which is becoming an increasingly popular method of suicide. Don’t give the bastards what the want. Stay strong, don’t let the bastards grind you down and most important of all, say alive.

      The Bee Gees

      March 8, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      • The roaches abuse you & treat you like a criminal, they project onto you what they fooking are, a gang of murderous, threatening, blackmailing criminal bastards!

        Violet

        March 8, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    • Universal Credit is working exactly as it’s intended to. Terrorising the most vulnerable. And if we dare point out that this is monstrous, Amber yells “online abuse”.

      Chiller II

      March 8, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      • …….As we say making work pay.

        Upstairs Signing

        March 8, 2019 at 8:45 pm

  17. It is worth involving your MP.

    Universal Credit stress a major factor behind England’s mental health crisis
    98 per cent of NHS mental health care bosses blamed widespread poverty for the pressure being put on struggling services

    https://www.bigissue.com/latest/universal-credit-stress-a-major-factor-behind-englands-mental-health-crisis/

    Upstairs Signing

    March 8, 2019 at 9:24 pm

  18. Andrew Coates

    March 9, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    • only 2 ur not trying hard enough i have had everyone over 3 floors try it on with me over the years 😉

      superted

      March 9, 2019 at 4:58 pm

  19. A National Claimants Strike, that’s what we need.
    All the unemployed just refuse to sign-on.
    Refuse to be transferred to Universal Cruelty.
    Let’s see how the DWP like it then !
    Work Coaches looking at rows of empty seats.
    The Jobcentres silent and abandoned.
    Day after day, and week after week.
    No sanctions, no phone calls, no customers.

    Fred Varley

    March 10, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    • ALL OUT!! It wouldn’t be long before the roaches were begging claimants to get back to their signing-on pads!

      Freda Hargreaves

      March 10, 2019 at 2:19 pm

  20. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again!
    We need to organise a National Strike, shut the country down for a few days until these Tory bastards learn that we, the people, are in charge, that we deserve respect and deserve to be treated compassionately and fairly in every regard when dealing with HMGovernment.

    A6er

    March 11, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    • That should have happended during the miners strike back in 1984,People didn’t stick togeter back them and the situation has become steadily worse over the years’.We have been asset stripped,housing sold off,the workforce cheapened,lost skills the quality,job losses.Everything that has been undone hasn’t been replaced the country is now under foreign ownership.Hate crime,envy and intolerance has taken hold and sections of the population have been at receiving end.

      Everyones’ been posting on here for some time and all its been is doom and gloom but that’s the mood under the conservatives.

      ken

      March 11, 2019 at 11:48 pm


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