Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘Cuts’ Category

Universal Credit on World Homeless Day.

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Image result for world homeless day

Yesterday was World Homeless Day.

Anybody walking around our towns can see people begging in the streets.

It’s back to the kind old world of Dickens and Jo the Crossing Sweeper.

Related image

 

Talk to most people and they go on about the astronomical cost of rents, and, when it’s anybody on the dole, how ‘local Housing Allowance’ increasingly does not cover real housing costs.

Now some people try and do something to help street sleepers.

Bus Shelter Ipswich project for the homeless gets £5K boost

July 2019. EADT

Established in November 2017, The Bus Shelter Ipswich is a community interest company that provides free accommodation, advice and support to vulnerable people in and around the Ipswich area via its first converted bus, called ‘Tiffers’, and two outreach vans.

The organisation was appealing for funds to help finalise a second bus, called ‘Cheys’, which will be a mobile drop-in and advice centre. According to the Rough Sleeping in England report, homelessness in Ipswich has increased by over 60% since 2010.

The kind folk at the DWP think of everything!

 

Last year (2018)  this was one of many reports:

Observer investigation finds system in chaos, putting chancellor under pressure to change tack

Government welfare reforms are fuelling a rise in homelessness in towns and cities across the country, an Observer investigation has found.

Interviews with homelessness charities across England reveal a support system in crisis as the rollout of universal credit and freezes to local housing allowance rates put even basic accommodation beyond the means of many. One shelter said universal credit was a factor in a third of its clients ending up in its care.

Now we have this:

1 in 7 people in England directly hit by the housing crisis

More than 8m people in England – around 1 in 7 – are living in an unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable home, according to the first ever ‘state of the nation’ report on the housing crisis, released today by the National Housing Federation.(i)

Benefits freeze pushing low-income families to the brink of homelessness

Welfare Weekly.

94% of properties in the private rented sector are unaffordable for families on benefits.

More than nine in ten properties in the private rental sector are unaffordable for families on benefits and with a chronic shortage in social homes an increasing number of people are struggling to find an affordable home.

This is according to a new report from the National Housing Federation (NHF), which warns that the benefits freeze is “pushing low-income families to the brink”.

The report finds that 94% of private rental properties are unaffordable for families on Housing Benefit, or the equivalent Local Housing Allowance (LHA), and 65% of these are families in work.

The NHS says this is fuelling the rise in homelessness, which is now at record levels, as well as contributing to children living in overcrowded and poor quality accommodation.

LHA was initially designed to cover bottom 50% of market rents in any area. However this was reduced to 30% in 2011. Rates were then divorced from market rents altogether in 2013; and finally frozen in 2016, so they stopped keeping up even with inflation.

This means that in some parts of the country less than 1% of private rented properties are covered by LHA.

The National Housing Federation is calling on the government to end the freeze and increase LHA payments, so that they cover at least the bottom 30% of private rent homes in any local area.

They are also calling for £12.8bn annual investment in building new social housing, so that fewer families are forced to seek more expensive housing in the private rented market.

Channel Four found a really bad case of how this is affecting people.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 11, 2019 at 10:09 am

The longer Universal Credit exists in an area, the higher the need for food banks – Trussell Trust.

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In areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out for at least a year, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network have seen a 30% increase in demand. In  areas with the new system for at least 18 months this jumps to 40%, and increases again to 48% for food banks in areas with Universal Credit for at least two years*

The Trussell Trust is urging the government to end the five week wait** for Universal Credit, as it publishes a new report revealing the longer the new benefits system has been rolled out in an area, the more people are plunged into poverty.

The charity highlights that while the Department for Work and Pensions has attempted to find solutions to issues with Universal Credit, the wait for a first benefit payment, which is often longer than five weeks, is continuing to cause unnecessary hardship. Government loans, which are currently offered during the wait, are also pushing more people into debt, the charity says.

The longer Universal Credit exists in an area, the higher the need for food banks  

This report has received news attention:

The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said:

“Universal Credit should be there to anchor any of us against the tides of poverty.  But the five week wait fatally undermines this principle, pushing people into debt, homelessness and destitution.

“In a society that believes in justice and compassion, this isn’t right. But it is something that can be fixed. Universal Credit was designed to have a wait. Now it’s clear that wait is five weeks too long, and we must change that design.

“The recent Spending Review was a lost opportunity to protect people on the lowest incomes.  Our Prime Minister must take action to end this wait, and help prevent thousands more of us being swept away by poverty. With the nation at a crossroads, now is the time to loosen the grip of poverty and make sure Universal Credit is able to protect people from needing a food bank, instead of pushing them to one.”

A similar pattern of financial hardship in areas where Universal Credit has rolled out is revealed by new evidence in the report from the Riverside Group, a large provider of social housing and homelessness services.

On average, people claiming Universal Credit at July 2019 had experienced a 42% increase in rent arrears since rollout began in 2015. By stark contrast, those claiming Housing Benefit (the previous ‘legacy’ benefits system) experienced a 20% decrease , analysis shows.

Hugh Owen, Director of Strategy and Public Affairs at Riverside said:

“Riverside is calling on the government to end the five week wait for Universal Credit because increasing numbers of our tenants are experiencing hardship while waiting for their first payment. Our data clearly shows that the wait is causing many of our tenants to get into rent arrears which can take months or even years to clear.

“A recent survey of many of our tenants told us that they are struggling to keep afloat when they move onto Universal Credit; the long wait means that many people are going without food or heating and they are forced to use foodbanks in order to feed their families. We welcome the simplicity that moving to an integrated benefit is intended to bring, but the way Universal Credit is being implemented means that instead of acting as a safety net, it is dragging people into debt.”

The #5WeeksTooLong study also reveals the detrimental impact the wait is having on people’s mental health. Many people reported experiencing high levels of anxiety, especially as they did not know how much they would receive and when. Some even reported feeling suicidal.

Mike had to resign from his work as a support worker to care for his mother who was diagnosed with a long-term disease. During this time he had to claim Universal Credit. He found that he could no longer manage to pay his rent after he took an Advance Payment:

“It’s made me go from being a confident lad who loved working with vulnerable people to ending up needing the support I used to offer others. Now I’m unable to support them or myself.”

The Trussell Trust and Riverside are not alone in issuing this stark warning. Through the #5WeeksTooLong campaign the Trussell Trust is united with 45 other organisations and more than 14,000 individuals, in urging the government to end the five week wait now.

Politics Home: 

 

Ministers criticised as study claims foodbank hikes linked to length of Universal Credit roll-out

 

Research by The Trussell Trust found that where the controversial benefits scheme has been in place for at least a year, foodbanks in its network have seen a 30% increase in demand.

It also showed the figure rose to 40% over 18 months and then to 48% in areas with Universal Credit for at least two years.

The charity called on ministers to end the five-week wait applicants face before receiving their payment from the system – which was designed to combine all legacy benefits into one but is yet to be rolled out in full.

It said the stretch would see more claimants “plunged into poverty”, and said that Government loans as a stopgap were “pushing more people into debt”.

The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said: “Universal Credit should be there to anchor any of us against the tides of poverty. But the five week wait fatally undermines this principle, pushing people into debt, homelessness and destitution.

“In a society that believes in justice and compassion, this isn’t right. But it is something that can be fixed. Universal Credit was designed to have a wait. Now it’s clear that wait is five weeks too long, and we must change that design.

“The recent Spending Review was a lost opportunity to protect people on the lowest incomes.  Our Prime Minister must take action to end this wait, and help prevent thousands more of us being swept away by poverty.

“With the nation at a crossroads, now is the time to loosen the grip of poverty and make sure Universal Credit is able to protect people from needing a food bank, instead of pushing them to one.”

Political response:

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Margaret Greenwood, said: “This latest shocking data from the Trussell Trust clearly shows that Universal Credit is forcing people to turn to food banks to survive, despite ministers’ repeated efforts to explain away any link.

“It is completely wrong for people to be left waiting five weeks or more for a first payment.

“Advances are not the answer; they are loans that have to be paid back, pushing people further into debt and leaving them vulnerable to scams.”

The Mirror adds,

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood said: “This latest shocking data from the Trussell Trust clearly shows that Universal Credit is forcing people to turn to foodbanks to survive, despite ministers’ repeated efforts to explain away any link.

and

Labour will stop the rollout of Universal Credit and ensure that our social security system lifts people out of poverty and supports any one of us in our time of need.”

DWP:

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson hit back at the report, which they said “uses unrepresentative data to reach an entirely unsubstantiated conclusion”.

“It categorically does not prove that Universal Credit is the reason behind increased food bank usage,” they added.

“With Universal Credit people can get paid urgently if they need it and we’ve changed the system so people can receive even more money in the first two weeks than under the old system.”

Yet,

However the Trussell Trust later condemned the Government’s response, by insisting that its “food bank referral data is trusted and the best available data on food bank use in the UK”.

It added: “It is very disappointing to see the Department for Work & Pensions’ response to this research. The experiences of people on Universal Credit cannot be denied.

“While the system may work well for many, it’s clear from the evidence of food banks and countless organisations there are also many people being failed.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Spending Plans – End the Benefits Freeze!

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Amongst all the spending plans by the Johnson Junta there is no mention of ending the Benefit Freeze.

Now it is true that Benefits are a matter of the Budget, not the spending review.

 

It’s a Care Bears Government that we have now – Cor Bless You Squire, You’re a Scholar and a Gentleman  Mr Cummings.

Image result for Dominic cummings johnson advisor drunk

Look at this natty nattering by our very own Boss.

 

You’d have thought they could have used the occasion to pop a promise of a few bob for the down-on-their-luck.

More than a third of people affected by the Conservative government’s freeze on benefits have less than £100 a month to live on after they have paid rent and bills for food, council tax and gas and electricity, according to the Citizens Advice service.

Universal credit claimants were especially badly affected, with more than half reporting that they had gone without essentials such as food and toiletries. Nearly the same proportion said they had lost sleep over their dire finances, the charity reported.

Disabled people and those with children were most likely to have gone without essentials, with nearly half of both groups reporting that this had happened to them at least once in the past 12 months.

Citizens Advice said it was ‘totally unacceptable that our benefits system is not providing the financial safety net that people need’

End the Benefits Freeze!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 6, 2019 at 10:32 am

Sanctions Regime: The Story of Danielle John.

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Beginning of a Spiral of Sanctions.

DWP cuts woman’s Universal Credit ‘for missing appointments after miscarriage’

Mirror.

Danielle John from Cardiff saw her life spiral out of control following the sanctions imposed by the Department for Work and Pensions

A woman says she was driven to shoplifting and drug abuse after having thousands of pounds from her Universal Credit payments cut after missing an appointment the day after suffering a miscarriage .

Danielle John forgot to inform her work coaches about the miscarriage and later received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions telling her that she would be sanctioned as a result.

The letter said: “You didn’t come to a meeting with us […] because of this, you’ll lose some or all of your universal credit payment for a time.

“We call this being sanctioned.”

The letter explained she would lose £10.40 every day for 229 days, a total of £2,381.6

The system lifted me from poverty. Today, Danielle John is not so lucky

Last week, a woman’s sanction letter from the Department for Work and Pensions went viral on Twitter. Danielle John, from Cardiff, simply wrote: “Was told to put this up on Twitter… this was because I had a miscarriage and missed appointment.”

These stories are fairly common now. We are used to seeing reports about people being sanctioned because of attending a funeral/cancer treatment/their child being in hospital. But this one struck me in particular because the language was so coldly efficient. Brief to the point of cruelty. I didn’t know it was possible, even in a business letter, to say: “We’re about to ruin your whole life” without a shred of empathy.

The letter, written in February 2017, starts in large font: “You’ll lose some of your payment… This reduction will last 229 days.” Two hundred and 29 days for a single missed appointment. That’s almost 32 weeks of punishment. Or, if you prefer, February until August, with no money at all. When you consider that the harsher punishments for domestic violence introduced in 2018 suggest a sentence towards the upper limit of “a fine to up to 26 weeks’ custody” for common assault, you have to wonder what fantastical, sadistic metric the DWP has used to calculate sanctions.

The letter goes on to say that for her missed appointment – I just want to pause to remind you here that Danielle John was having a miscarriage at the time of missing this appointment – she would be sanctioned £10.40 for each of those days. So, a total of £2,381.60.

Because of this Daneille John got attacked,

Contributors to this Blog are familiar with sanctions.

In February 2019, 66% the UC caseload were in the conditionality groups that could be subject to sanction, compared to 81% in August 2015. service decisions resulted in a sanction. This is up 5 percentage points from August 2018 to October 2018. migration to Universal Credit.14 May 2019

A few months ago this was the story,

Tories ditch ‘ineffective’ three-year benefit sanctions

Punishment, criticised for being pointlessly cruel, doesn’t work, admits Amber Rudd

The government is to abolish “counterproductive” three-year benefit sanctions, in an official acknowledgement that depriving jobless people of social security income for long periods undermines their attempts to move into work.

The announcement, made by the work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, during a speech on employment on Thursday morning, was welcomed by campaigners and MPs, who encouraged her to make further changes to the controversial policy.

But

Mentally ill universal credit claimant receives less than £6 for month after £312 deducted for sanctions

‘This poverty has no prejudice. This is the kind of thing that drives people to homelessness, and to suicide’

May Bulman 

Amber Rudd has yet to comment on the latest case.

End the Sanctions Regime! 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 12, 2019 at 11:40 am

Universal Credit Faces New Legal Challenge.

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Merseyside Job Centre has been covered in graffiti protesting against the government’s controversial Universal Credit benefit policy (August 2019)

A lot of social security legislation and the bodies administering it  seem to end up in legal cases.

From the private chancers running parts of the welfare state there is Capita.

Capita seeks to reverse ‘reputational damage’ after death of claimant

BBC.

Benefit-assessment company Capita is going to court to try to reverse the “reputational damage” it says it suffered after a claimant died.

Victoria Smith died months after her personal independence payments were stopped following a Capita assessment.

The outsourcing company was ordered to pay £10,000 in damages over its handling of her disability claim.

It was found to have made incorrect statements but wants the county court verdict set aside and the case reheard.

The company conducts health assessments for personal independence payments (PIP), the main disability benefit, on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

While the decision over whether someone receives the benefit is made by a DWP official, Capita’s assessment of how a person’s disability affects their life is a crucial part of the process.

Now there is this:

Universal Credit bosses face new legal battle over ‘unfair’ payments in ‘flawed and illogical policy’

Claimants threaten legal proceedings because they are being short-changed.

Birmingham Live.

Universal Credit bosses are facing another legal battle over the amount some claimants are paid.

The Government is being taken to court for a third time over the way disabled people are treated when moved on to the new benefit.

Those who previously received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP) say they’ve lost out since being forced to go on to Universal Credit instead.

Two men, who are only identified as TP and AR, have already won two legal challenges against the DWP over the issue.

The High Court ruled the way claimants were treated was unlawful discrimination on both occasions.

The pair have now written again to Amber Rudd, Secretary of State of Work and Pensions, after she said the level of payments for severely disabled individuals who have moved onto UC will be set at £120 for single claimants.

They say this is unfair and does not reflect the money they have actually lost, which is about £180 per month.

TP and AR argue that “the Universal Credit migration arrangements announced on 22 July 2019 are still unlawful as they short-change individuals who previously received the Severe Disability Premium and Enhanced Disability Premium and moved onto Universal Credit before 16 January 2019 when the SDP Gateway Regulations came into force.”

The regulations meant that anyone on Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Housing Benefit will not be forced on to Universal Credit if they also get the Severe Disability Premium.

But now TP and AR say those who moved across before those rules came into effect will receive £50 less a month than those who no longer face being moved on the new benefit.

TP and AR have asked the DWP how the £120 figure was reached and argue that the full £180 per month shortfall should be given, otherwise the regulations will still be unlawful discrimination.

They also ask why the new regulations provide discretionary hardship payments for individuals who are subject to “managed migration” onto UC but not for those who have already had to move onto the benefit because their circumstances changed.

They argue that this is a further difference in treatment between the two groups.

The Government has been given a deadline of August 15, 2019, to reply to the letter, or the men say they will launch further legal proceedings.

Of course the law gets involved for simpler reasons:

Woman ‘unable to survive’ on £44 a month Universal Credit shoplifts from Primark

Mirror.

Universal Credit claimant Lisa Payne draped £117 worth of jeans over her arm and walked out of the Primark in Grimsby.

A woman left with just £44 a month on Universal Credit was caught stealing nine pairs of jeans from Primark, a court heard.

Lisa Payne “simply couldn’t survive with £44” over an entire month, her solicitor claimed.

The court heard Payne stole £117 worth of jeans from a Primark at the Freshney Place shopping centre in Grimsby, Lincolnshire.

The 46-year-old draped the pairs of jeans – costing £13 each – over her arm and walked out of the shop, but she failed to elude security officers, GrimsbyLive reported.

A guard followed her out of the store and the jeans were recovered during the theft on May 23.

Amber Rudd is hot on the job of making things better:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 7, 2019 at 9:46 am

After Day of Protest on Universal Credit: What is the Labour Party Doing?

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SALFORD JOINS STOP UNIVERSAL CREDIT DAY OF ACTION 

Unite the Union, above all Unite Community held a day of action on August the 1st (there will be a street stall in Ipswich soon).

These are the demands:

Unite is campaigning to #STOPUniversalCredit. The government must:

  • Abandon the long waits for claimants to receive money
  • Allow people to apply for Universal Credit in a jobcentre, not just online
  • Provide people with better help when the system fails them
  • Pay landlords directly to stop people getting into rent arrears and losing their homes
  • End benefit sanctions for all claimants.

Here are the reasons for the protests:

10 reasons why Universal Credit should be stopped

  1. Unbearably long waits for claimants to receive money
  2. People can only apply for Universal Credit online making it inaccessible for many
  3. Not enough help for claimants when the system fails them
  4. Rent paid directly to claimants instead of Landlords causing people to get into arrears and even to lose their homes
  5. Letting agents are already refusing to rent to anyone claiming Universal Credit
  6. Cruel sanctions for both in-work and out-of-work claimants
  7. Payments only go to one named member of a household
  8. Universal Credit takes 63p in every £1 people earn
  9. Universal Credit leaves many working families much worse off than the old system
  10. People in part-time work could be forced to give up work that suits their disability or family life in order to take up worse paid full-time work or risk sanctions.

There is a long list of events that took place:

#StopUniversalCredit
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION – 1 August 2019
List of events across the country.

 

This is the most recent story that I can find on Labour’s policy:

Confusion – again – after Labour backtracks on Corbyn pledge to scrap universal credit

Labour’s policy on universal credit has again become mired in confusion after its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, promised to scrap the government’s “catastrophic” and “iniquitous” benefit system if his party wins the next general election.

Such a move would be seen as a significant victory for disabled activists and allies who have pushed the party to promise to scrap universal credit, instead of pledging only to halt the rollout of the system and fix its many flaws.

Interviewed after the party’s success in last week’s Peterborough by-election, Corbyn told Channel 4 News (pictured): “We are ready for a general election, and that general election will deliver a Labour government.”

He added: “If you voted Remain in 2016, and you’re on universal credit, if you voted Leave in 2016 on universal credit, you actually want to get rid of universal credit. That’s what Labour offers.”

Despite Corbyn’s comments, what seemed to be a significant change in policy appeared not to have been noticed by any mainstream media.

And the party’s press office today (Thursday) issued a statement that conflicted with what Corbyn said, merely stating again that a Labour government would pause the rollout of UC and try to make it fit for purpose.

A party spokesperson said: “Universal credit isn’t working and cannot continue in its current form.

“Labour will stop the roll-out, and ensure our social security system genuinely protects people from poverty.”

Disabled activists, particularly Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), have campaigned for the government – and any future Labour government – to “stop and scrap” universal credit (UC).

Only last week, DPAC released new research which detailed media articles on UC published between January and May this year, which it said was “a damning record of UC systemic and catastrophic failures”.

It said that UC had reached a point where it was “unable to adapt to claimants’ complex circumstances, and is forcing people with the least resources into further poverty, homelessness, and hunger”.

DPAC said it was calling for UC to be scrapped because it had become a social security system “which not only does not offer security, but actively undermined people’s ability to cope with the hazards of life”.

A DPAC spokesperson said last night (Wednesday), in response to Corbyn’s comments, but before the party had released its statement: “We welcome it as it’s the only credible position that Labour or any other party can take given UC’s well-evidenced fundamental failings, enormous waste and terrible harm but we remain unsure of Labour’s position until there is a firm public commitment.”

It is not the first time that Labour has appeared to call for UC to be scrapped and then retreated from that position.

This – there is no recent reference to Universal Credit – has been retweeted by the Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, Margaret Greenwood.

She is, rightly, concerned about this:

Labour seems more interested in this scheme, which looks unlikely to solve the immediate problems of Universal Credit.

Critics point to three major flaws in Universal Basic Income

  • It is not redistributive: the Tories and their business friends can continue to trouser as much money as they wish.
  • It does not cover the real costs of living, nobody could pay their rent (housing benefit),  and cover all the costs of a decent life on this ‘basic’ unless it were set at a much higher rate than is feasible to pay out to everybody in the county.
  • It does not cover special needs, the money needed by disabled people to begin with.

In this vein,

DPAC warns Labour to rethink support for universal basic income

The DPAC report warns that too little attention has been paid to the implications of UBI for disabled people.

The report warns that it is likely that housing benefit and disability benefits would remain outside a UBI system.

This would mean the need for continuing disability assessments, and the risk that the high cost of running a UBI system would mean further cuts to benefits and services relied on by disabled people, such as social care support.

DPAC’s Ellen Clifford, author of the new report, said: “While we would be in favour of tax rises to fund welfare provision – particularly corporation tax and a progressive rise in the higher rate of income tax – the use of this for a UBI rather than more traditional forms of disability and unemployment support would mean much of the benefit flowing back to employers rather than those in most need.”

Two other grassroots organisations of disabled people, Black Triangle and WinVisible, have this week added their voices to the concerns raised by DPAC about UBI.

Clifford’s report concludes that implementing UBI “risks detracting attention and resources from the urgent task required to overhaul the disability benefits system and make it fit for purpose”.

It adds: “Given the history of disabled people’s exclusion and the marginalisation of our issues it is reasonable for disabled people to fear that attention and resources dedicated to the task of implementing a UBI will be at the expense of affecting the level of change needed to ensure disabled people receive adequate support.”

There are also concerns, says the report, that a more flexible employment market ushered in by UBI, with greater job insecurity and the likelihood of poorer working conditions and lower wages for lower-paid workers, would further disadvantage disabled workers.

They also say that right-wing versions of UBI are seen as a way of saving money by avoiding spending on a decent living wage and social protection.

And the report says that pushing for UBI risks deferring demands for full reasonable adjustments at work for disabled workers, and “full and unconditional support” for those unable to work, while “ending up with a system that is more of a helping hand for employers than for disabled people”.

The report says DPAC’s concerns are born out by the results of pilot UBI schemes that have been run across the world, including one in Finland that has just ended, but has not yet been assessed officially, which critics say has forced unemployed workers into bad jobs while undermining unions, wage equality, and the welfare state.

And it says concerns have been raised about the proposed pilot schemes in Scotland, including the cost and potential negative impacts on disabled people, including likely cuts to other social protection schemes.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 3, 2019 at 10:02 am

Universal Credit Claimants punished for not having Mobile Phones.

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Unite day of action against Universal Credit, Thursday 1st August

(Details of Actions, including in Ipswich, on the Saturday, to follow).

In the meantime somebody is happy:

While Amber Rudd basks in her success, and we await copies of the Boris Johnson Guide, Protect and Survive a No-Deal Brexit,  the mess that is Universal Credit continues to pile up.

Our newshounds have often posted about the “all digital” “on-line” problem-creating side of the madcap scheme to make everybody poorer.

Even the Boris Backing Currant Bun has admitted that,

PORTAL PROBLEMS 

Universal Credit’s online system ‘requires huge amounts of mobile data and doesn’t alert claimants’

A proper journalist for Third Force News reported only this year,

The shocking digital divide that punishes Universal Credit claimants

As many as one in three people seeking help with Universal Credit (UC) in Scotland don’t have access to the internet to make their claim.

Research carries out by the country’s network of citizen’s advice bureaux (CABs) point to a shocking digital divide impacting the most vulnerable.

The introduction of UC has caused myriad problems for claimants, plunging many into misery – not least because it is an online only system.

One side of this has just come up, from today’s Daily Record.

People without mobile phones facing delays on lifeline Universal Credit payments

Dedicated staff at Renfrewshire CAB say they are finding some of the most vulnerable people who do not have a phone are at risk of facing delays in their applications.

Having a mobile phone is something most of us take for granted.

But, for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, being without a mobile phone could mean lifeline cash that keeps a roof over their head and food in their fridge, simply slips out of their hands.

Staff at Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau, in Paisley, have laid bare the issues faced by Universal Credit applicants who don’t have access to a mobile phone.

The most pressing concern is that claimants can’t find out how their application is progressing and what steps they need to take next.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) uses a call back system, which means that, without a mobile phone, some people who are in dire need can face their application being delayed as there are no means of contacting them.

Bureau manager Kay Taylor, who has worked at the Renfrewshire branch for eight years, insists the system makes the application process much more difficult for many.

She said: “Some of the clients who come here have complex issues and are dealing with chaotic lifestyles.

“And although, quite rightly, the DWP has this call-back in place, it can be problematic for people with complex issues as they may have no means for the DWP of getting in touch with them and it can stall their claims.

“If they don’t have a mobile phone, they can’t get the notifications about their applications telling them what next steps they need to take.

“They can come here to have the DWP call them back on a landline at a specific time, but sometimes that can be difficult or is not possible.”

Amber is still wafting away in the happy clouds of forgetfulness.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 30, 2019 at 10:36 am