Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘DWP’ Category

Benefits Shake up proposed: DWP considers ‘new single benefit’ for Ill and Disabled People.

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DWP looking at single new benefit to take place of Universal Credit, PIP  and ESA - Birmingham Live

New Shake Up.

Yesterday the story about a new single benefit for sick and disabled people came up.

Trev commented,

The proposed merger between UC and PIP seems to be all about preventing people from getting PIP, I reckon that’s what it’s all about.

The story has now developed.

DWP considers ‘new single benefit’ for sick and disabled people. Welfare Weekly, today).

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is exploring the idea of a single benefit for sick and disabled people, it has been reported.

Some 1.4million claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or its replacement Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – paid to help people with the costs of being disabled. Others claim ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), which UC is replacing.

The DWP says keeping all these different benefits and having just one assessment wouldn’t work. A brand new scheme would be a way to make the whole system simpler, it says.

The proposal is included in the DWP’s recent report ‘Shaping Future Support: The Health and Disability Green Paper.’

NOTE; The Green Paper was published on the 20th of July and the consultation ended on the 11th of October.

As the Mirror points out today, “A little-reported Green Paper over the summer said a ‘new single benefit’ could combine payments – with Tory welfare chief Therese Coffey saying ‘everything is on the table'”

The Welfare Weekly article continues,

“Responding to the proposal of creating a new benefit or merging ESA, DLA & PIP with Universal CreditDisability Rights UK (DRUK) said: “We are very suspicious of the Green Paper suggestion that Ministers could create a “new single benefit” so as to simplify the application and assessment process..

“Given the stress, worry, fear and distrust work capability assessments and PIP assessments cause Disabled people, the prospect of only having one assessment and not two is only superficially attractive at best.

“Given the repeated stress the Green Paper gives to “affordability” we believe the DWP is being disingenuous and the actual reason for the single benefit suggestion is likely to be reducing expenditure.”

Gail Ward, from the Hand2Mouth Project, said: “Those on Legacy Benefits will be Migrated to UC in 2023/24 and the merging of ESA,DLA/PIP will be a disaster for claimants and potentially means that PIP will become means tested.

“The form descriptors while having different criteria are already closely aligned and the DWP were calling PIP ‘a functional benefit’ in an evidence session before the Work and Pensions Committee recently.

……

The warning is very clearly when Therese Coffey suggested that severe disability group could be nudged into some type of work or training programme is a loud and clear message to all claimants that they want to cut overall costs and cut claimant numbers.”

Or as the Mirror notes of the DWP Minister,

Ms Coffey also suggested she was concerned by the number of people claiming PIP for mental health difficulties, saying she wanted to “target that even more so to people who really need that support”.

She added: “PIP has certainly grown in a way that was not anticipated when it was introduced.

“To give you an example, three out of four young people who claim PIP have their primary reason being mental ill health.

“That in itself is 189,000 young people who currently receive benefit focused on that. There may be other benefits they receive as well.

This seems, as our contributors have commented, part of a wider strategy to merge all benefits. The problem is, as Universal Credit has already shown, this can create bureaucratic and information technology nightmares. As well as, as he above comment about ‘affordability’ indicates, being an excuse for cutting benefit levels.

This is the Minister in Charge of the Green Paper:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2021 at 11:08 am

Universal Credit: 70% Rise in Severe Rent Arrears.

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Rent arrears for Tenants - How to avoid them - Slater & Brandley

Steep Rise in Arrears Amongst Universal Credit Claimants.

Rough sleeping remains a problem.

A day out with Derby’s rough sleepers and homeless people Derbyshire Live. October the 13th 2021.

Derby’s rough sleepers have complex problems

There are many initiatives to help with this ( How Ipswich is breaking the cycle of homelessness) , though doubtless not enough given the deep rooted causes of homelessness and the years of government neglect and a benefit system not fit to deal with people’s needs.

It looks as if more of those on benefits, are threatened with homelessness (which does not mean we will see all of them on the streets).

The cause is not their “complex problems”.

A few days ago Welfare Weekly carried this story,

Universal Credit: Homelessness fears as figures show a 70% surge in severe rent arrears.

New Government figures published today (Wednesday) reveal a 70% increase over six months in the number of renters on Universal Credit who are struggling with severe rent arrears.

The figures reveal that 190,000 low-income renters on Universal Credit in England are at least two or more months behind on their rent, with a leading homeless charity warning that a growing number of families teetering on the “brink of homelessness”.

This is striking,

Housing Benefit rates (and the housing costs component of Universal Credit) have been frozen since April this year. This means the rents are no longer linked to market rents, at a time when families and individuals up and down the country are struggling to cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Story got coverage:

The Stop Mass Homelessness campaign, led by Big Issue founder Lord Bird, launched in July this year in response to spiralling debts and soaring poverty which threatens to push thousands into homelessness this autumn.

“We are literally adding fuel to the fire,” he said in response to soaring energy bills and rising poverty. “We need to keep people in their homes, or face the costly reality of a mass homelessness crisis as people are forced to choose between paying the rent or the bills.”

And, in full circle, we come back to rough sleeping:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2021 at 9:28 am

Food Banks and Benefits.

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Image

Up till the new millenium it was rare – I had never even heard of them – to see Foodbanks in the UK. There were a few night-time soup kitchens in London, famously one run by the Salvation Army near the Embankment Tube station. They were for the homeless, a small number of people, often called “tramps” and “down and outs”.

These were times when you could still get a bath (left over from the time that not everybody had proper washing facilities at home) in a municipal facility (there was one in Ipswich round the corner, still here not that long ago). When the heating on our flat in Kentish Town broke down and working not far away, I used one, near to a hostel for the homeless in Holborn. In the same place, development on what is the Oasis Swimming Pool there, 1983 “Skeletons were found in the workhouse earth basements of the former workhouse inmates, which stopped work for a while”.

There is still a soup kitchen in the area by the Thames, Soup Runs.” St James’s Spanish Place: Operates Tuesday and Friday evenings at Lincoln Inn Fields and Embankment, Central London.”

So how have we got used to Food Banks?

Food banks developed in America where there is no real social security system, and those at the end of their tether are forced to rely on he good will and grace of others – Charity. Instead of rights you get dependence on the minimum needed to survive.

It is not accident that it was during the Regan years, when those who claim to believe that “god helps those who help themselves” grew, “According to a comprehensive government survey completed in 2002, over 90% of food banks were established in the US after 1981.” After initial criticism, “in the decades that followed, food banks have become an accepted part of America’s response to hunger.”

Something similar has happened here with those who would do away with social security and replace it with private insurance if they good in charge of the government since the 1980s, and New Labour unwilling to put benefit payments at a decent level, or to reform the punitive sanction system.

Foodbanks were rarely seen in the UK in the second half of the twentieth century, their use has started to grow, especially in the 2000s, and have since dramatically expanded. The increase in the dependency on food banks has been blamed  on the 2008 recession and the Conservative government’s austerity policies. These policies included cuts to the welfare state and caps on the total amount of welfare support that a family can claim. The OECD found that people answering yes to the question ‘Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?’ decreased from 9.8% in 2007 to 8.1% in 2012, leading some to say that the rise was due to both more awareness of food banks, and Jobcentres referring people to food banks when they were hungry.

Now, with Boris Johnson is charge, a man generously described as a “fabricator and a cheat” whose office as Prime Minister is a “triumph of political lying” (The Assault on Truth. Peter Osborne. 2021), Foodbanks are treated as essential institutuons.

Which they are. As the Trussell Trust has pointed out,

“The rapid growth in the number of charitable food banks had particularly captured public attention, as had the quantity of emergency food parcels they were distributing. Food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network distributed 61,000 emergency food parcels in2010/11, rising to 2.5 million in 2020/21.”

“Rather than acting as a service to ensure people do not face destitution, the evidence suggests that for people on the very lowest incomes … the poor functioning of universal credit can actually push people into a tide of bills, debts and, ultimately, lead them to a food bank. People are falling through the cracks in a system not made to hold them. What little support available is primarily offered by the third sector, whose work is laudable, but cannot be a substitute for a real, nationwide safety net.”

“According to an all-party parliamentary report released in December 2014, key reasons for the increased demand for UK foodbanks are delays in paying benefits, welfare sanctions, and the recent reversal of the post-WWII trend for poor people’s incomes to rise above or in line with increased costs for housing, utility bills and food.”

A strategy for zero hunger in England ,Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom

Just to underline the point and bring it up to date.,

The Trust also says,

It’s time for change – and that will only be possible as we raise our voices together to call for an end to the need for food banks.

We need your help. We’re calling on government at all levels to commit to ending the need for food banks and developing a plan to do so, and we need you to get involved.

Here is what is happening.

A couple of days ago the BBC ran this story.

Food banks struggle for donations as demand rises

A food bank said it is running low on donations as demand is rising due to the pandemic and people’s financial worries.

Worcester food bank said it gave food parcels to 987 people in September, a rise of 46% on the same month in 2020.

Goff O’Dowd, from the charity, said they were running short on 40 items including pasta and tinned fruit.

He said some people were desperate for help with not enough money to pay their energy bills.

The charity estimates they need 50 tonnes of food to get through until Christmas and are currently receiving about eight tonnes a month.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 12, 2021 at 11:11 am

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries,”Nobody” to be Pushed into Poverty by Slashing Universal Credit.

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Universal Credit cut will not drag a single person into poverty.”

With the rise in the cost of gas and the expected increase in food prices most people on low incomes and benefits are worried. Slashing Universal Credit will not help, to say the least.

Hearing about this from people I wondered if this will help everybody, “Support with essential costs. You can contact your local council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund, including food or essential things like clothes. Check your local council on GOV.UK.”

Just guessing, but apart from those in dire straits and, above all, families, it is hard to see that applying to our contributors.

I imagine this may well offer something, judging from the queue of homeless people outside the nearby 7th Day Adventist Church on a Sunday waiting for food distribution:

Food bank vouchers. If you can’t afford the food you can ask for a referral from Citizens Advice or an organisation that’s already supporting you – for example, a charity, school or children’s centre – for a food bank voucher.

The Government itself says that everybody will be helped by getting work, with some push up from various schemes, like the “life-time skills guarantee.”

One Minister who could do with skills training in how to communicate with ordinary people has had her say on the Universal Credit cut.

Tory Nadine Dorries claims Universal Credit cut won’t push ANYONE into poverty.

Mirror.

 Tory minister has been accused of not living in the real world after she claimed the Universal Credit cut will not drag a single person into poverty.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries boasted “nobody” will be driven below the poverty line when a £20-a-week Covid uplift in place since March 2020 is withdrawn from this week.

That is despite think tanks putting the worst-case estimate at around 500,000 to 800,000 people.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has said the cut risks moving 500,000 people including 200,000 children below the poverty line.

While the Legatum Institute think tank, led by Tory UC architect Baroness Stroud, says the change will hit 840,000 Brits who are currently just above the poverty line – including 290,000 children.

But ministers have no official figure for how many people will be thrown into poverty because they’ve refused to do a formal impact assessment.

And questioned by left-wing journalist Owen Jones at the Tory conference, Ms Dorries said: “Nobody. Nobody is.

Because what we’re doing, what we’re doing is giving people a step out.

“By lifetime skills guarantee, by all the money being invested in the…” – she then walked away with an aide.

****

Some people think that Nadine Dorries is one of Boris Johnson’s famously unfunny jokes and probably only exists as a hologram borrowed from GB News…

But the scheme is a very real.

Bootcamps for Skills:

“An estimated 11 million adults now have the opportunity to gain a new qualification for free, designed to help them to gain in-demand skills and secure great jobs.

Almost 400 qualifications are available to take from today (1 April) – backed by £95 million in government funding in 2021/22 – as part of the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

The qualifications on offer range from engineering to social care to conservation and are available to any adult who has not already achieved a qualification at Level 3 (equivalent to A-levels).

The roll out marks a major milestone in the delivery of the landmark Lifetime Skills Guarantee – announced by the Prime Minister in September 2020. The Guarantee aims to transform the skills system so everyone, no matter where they live or their background, can gain the skills they need to progress in work at any stage of their lives. It will also ensure employers have access to the skilled workforce they need, and more people are trained for the skills gaps that exist now, and in the future.

Adults who take up the free courses have the potential to boost career prospects, wages and help fill skills gaps, while supporting the economy and building back better.

For example, with a Diploma in Engineering Technology adults can progress to roles in Maintenance or Manufacturing Engineering. A Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation or a qualification in Adult Care can also provide a gateway to sectors offering rewarding careers and where there are multiple job opportunities.

So more unemployed people can take full advantage of these courses, the government will pilot an extension to the length of time they can receive Universal Credit while undertaking work-focused study.

They will now be able to train full time for up to 12 weeks, or up to 16 weeks on a full time skills bootcamp in England, while receiving Universal Credit to support their living costs This will allow access to more training options and provide a better chance of finding work, while continuing to receive the support they need.”

Let us know if you have experience of this “bootcamp”.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2021 at 9:35 am

Thérèse ‘Karaoke’ Coffey Hits the Headlines.

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Thérèse Coffey Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions Celebrating a Few Hours After Universal Credit Cut.

In an unusual move the East Anglian Daily Times (a fine local paper but one which will rarely criticise Suffolk MPs) carries this story about the MP for Suffolk Coastal. This Blog could add that while Coffey is known for a love of a good lunch, fine eating and dining, as well as cigars, her dancing and singing act has yet to be seen – correct me if I am wrong – in Suffolk pubs and restaurants.

Therese Coffey criticised for karaoke video after benefits cut

A Suffolk MP has been criticised for singing a karaoke version of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life as a controversial cut to Universal Credit came into place.

Therese Coffey, the Suffolk Coastal MP and work and pensions secretary, performed a rendition of the power ballad with fellow Tory minister and Colchester MP Will Quince at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has been criticised for singing (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life as she cuts universal credit payments. Ms Coffey belted out a rendition of the power ballad with fellow Tory minister Will Quince at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester in the early hours of Wednesday. Labour called the timing of her karaoke performance of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, as she removes the £20 uplift to universal credit for millions of people, “an insult and a disgrace

Today the paper has this story, one that our contributors know all too well.

I’m being made to feel like I shouldn’t have had a child’: Suffolk residents share impact of Universal Credit cut.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 7, 2021 at 9:33 am