Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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Archive for the ‘DWP’ Category

Forever Amber: Amber Rudd Resigns, Thérèse Coffey, (Suffolk Coastal MP) Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions.

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If you had better sense you’d have learned by now that nothing thrives so well as wickedness”
 Forever Amber

This Blog has long been supportive of Amber Rudd.

Posts such, “God Bless you Ma’am”, “You’ve Done a Grand Job!” “Thanks to you Coachie helped me get started as a fully-qualified Mud Urchin on the River Orwell” will be there, for all time, on the Net, to show how highly we looked up to her.

Is this the way to express our feelings?

 

Amber – we feel her pain – shows dignity.

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“Therese Coffey Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal.”

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Biography

Thérèse Coffey was appointed Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions on 8 September 2019.

Thérèse was previously Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs between 25 July 2019 and 8 September 2019.

She was previously Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 17 July 2016 to 25 July 2019. She was elected the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal in May 2010.

Education

Thérèse graduated from University College London (UCL) with a PhD in chemistry.

Political Career

Thérèse Coffey served as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons from May 2015 until July 2016.

Thérèse served on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee until she was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Energy.

Thérèse has campaigned on stopping the A14 toll, improving NHS experience for patients and better broadband.

Wikipedia says,

Coffey’s decision to author a paper for the Free Enterprise Group recommending pensioners should be forced to pay National Insurance provoked a backlash among older constituents, who claimed that in an already tough economic environment, it was wrong to tax pensioners further. However, she said that she had “no regrets writing about National Insurance” and that it was “a policy proposal – it is by no means, at this stage, anymore than that.”[23]

Coffey also faced criticism from Suffolk residents over her support for the Government’s proposal to sell off forestry and woodland in public ownership, in 2011. Protestors argued that “previous experience shows us that when private landowners come in they close car parks and make access as difficult as possible.”[24] Although Coffey voted for the bill,[25] the proposal was afterward dropped by the government.[26]

In October 2016, she was criticised by the then Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron for accepting hospitality worth £890 from Ladbrokes after supporting the gambling industry in parliament as part of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Coffey denied that she had been “influenced in her considerations on matters of related policy by any hospitality received”.

More:

Career outside politics

Thérèse worked for the international company Mars. When Thérèse qualified as a chartered management accountant, she became Finance Director for a UK subsidiary of Mars. She has also worked at the BBC.

Personal life

Thérèse enjoys watching football, gardening and music, especially Muse. She is a CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) member.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Secretary of State has overall responsibility for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They have direct responsibility for departmental expenditure and departmental management.

DWP is responsible for the administration of the State Pension and working age benefits system, providing support to:

  • people of working age
  • employers
  • pensioners
  • families and children
  • disabled people

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

September 8, 2019 at 10:13 am

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.

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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

Government Urged to Publish Secret DWP Analysis of Impact of Brexit on Poverty, Wages and People on Low Incomes.

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DWP Keeps Report on Brexit Impact Secret.

Already poverty is a major problem in the UK.

But we hear from the latest from Welfare Weekly that they are keeping the impact of Brexit on this under wraps.

 

DWP Urged To Publish ‘Secret’ Brexit Impact Analysis

The SNP has called on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to publish secret analysis that reveals the impact of different Brexit outcomes on poverty levels, wages and low-income households in Scotland and the UK.

Neil Gray MP warned that vulnerable people were already suffering under a decade of Tory austerity and that the DWP’s refusal to publish the figures was a “damning indictment” of a Tory government intent on inflicting a damaging policy no matter the cost.

The call for the full publication of the findings comes after the Poverty Alliance used a Freedom of Information request to ask whether or not the DWP had carried out any assessments to look at the impact of different Brexit scenarios on levels of poverty and inequality in the UK, as well as analysis on the impact on low-income households, on wages, employment and costs of living.

The DWP replied to confirm that it does hold some of the analysis but that it would not publish any of the findings as it was not in the public interest to do so.

Economic analysis has already shown that crashing out of the EU without a deal will be devastating for Scotland – costing up to 100,000 jobs and hitting people’s pockets to the tune of £2,300 a year per person.

This is the origin of the story:

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance: “The UK Government’s failure to disclose the analysis they’ve undertaken on Brexit’s impact on poverty is alarming. We’re a society that believes in justice and compassion, and it is clearly in the public interest to know whether Brexit – especially a no-deal Brexit – will inflict harm upon people already struggling to get by.

 

Gordon Brown in Liverpool to warn that city’s most vulnerable will suffer under no deal Brexit

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned life will get harder for Liverpool’s poverty-stricken families under a no deal Brexit.

Speaking in Anfield today, Mr Brown said that leaving the EU without a deal would see the cost of food increase and put pressure on local communities like those in north Liverpool that are already struggling.

The outspoken critic of leaving the EU, said that the consequences of a no deal Brexit on the UK’s food supply are already being felt with suppliers having to raise prices.

He also warned that the reliance on food coming in from the EU via Calais and Dover would see the UK’s food supply seriously disrupted in the event of no deal.

He said: “With a no deal Brexit you have two problems. One the cost of food and second the supply of food.”

“One third of our food comes from continental Europe, particularly fruit and vegetables come in from Dover and Calais.

“If we lose that supply of food, or if it’s interrupted, then prices go up again.”

 

Poverty Alliance join forces with over 85 civil society organisations to express grave concerns about no-deal

August the 29th.

The Poverty Alliance have today joined forces with over 85 organisations in expressing our grave concerns about the impacts a no-deal Brexit will have on civil society.  Together with organisations from across the UK, we have called on the Prime Minister to urgently engage with our concerns about leaving the EU without a deal on the 31st October.

Signatories of the letter have serious concerns about how a no-deal exit will be a direct threat to communities across the country, including the possible regression of rights and standards, the uncertainty of the future, and a lack of adequate engagement and support from the UK Government.

The Poverty Alliance has particular concerns about how a no-deal Brexit could impact people living on low incomes, with the likelihood that the economic impact of such a scenario could lead to significant impacts on employment and the cost of living.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said:

“We’re a society that believes in protecting each other from harm. Yet a no-deal Brexit would represent a failure to protect people living on low incomes.

Communities across the country are already experiencing low pay, the effects of social security cuts, and high living costs. A no-deal Brexit threatens to tighten the grip of poverty further. We simply cannot allow that to happen.”

Not that Forever Amber cares tuppance:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 2, 2019 at 3:57 pm

As Country faces Brexit Chaos “Managed Migration” of Claimants into Universal Credit Mayhem continues.

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Looks Sinister – it is.

The migration of all claimants onto the chaotic and unfair Universal credit system continues.

 

Not that you’d notice that much is happening from Amber Rudd’s latest statements.

 

The social security benefit changes that will force you on to Universal Credit

Birmingham Mail.

Universal Credit edges closer for thousands of people who are unemployed and on low income as managed migration means these existing benefits are phased out.

Key section:

What if you’re receiving one of those old benefits already?

If you’re already on Housing Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or one of the other legacy benefits, then you will eventually end up on Universal Credit.

There are two ways this will happen.

The first way is called natural migration. It means you are moved across to Universal Credit if your circumstances change – such as starting or leaving work, a partner moving in or out of your home after a relationship begins or ends, having a child, or changing address.

When your situation changes, your existing benefits are stopped and you will be put on Universal Credit instead.

The second way is called managed migration. This will switch across the remaining two million people on legacy benefits even though their circumstances have not changed.

It has started to happen with a pilot scheme in Harrogate that began at the end of July 2019. That will see up to 10,000 people – more likely 3,000 to 5,000 people, according to latest estimates – transferred to Universal Credit.

In the case of this managed migration, the DWP is offering transitional protection – this means it will top up the Universal Credit payouts so they aren’t lower than the existing benefits these people already receive.

And this is when the managed migration is expected to be finished – that means everyone on one of the old benefits will instead be receiving Universal Credit by then.

More information:

Benefit Changes Timetable – Benefit Changes Timetable 2019

This guide will provide information on the Benefit Changes Timetable.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 30, 2019 at 10:26 am

Cornwall: Work Coaches to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.

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Work “coaches” to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment

This is controversial.

The  DWP announcement:

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd announces funding for life-changing project.

Hundreds of residents from Bude to Penzance are set to benefit from improved mental health support as Amber Rudd announces £100,000 funding for a life-changing project.

The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.

As a result, people are able to get help early to tackle their condition before it worsens. The support is also designed to help people find their way back into the workplace when they’re ready.

Amber Rudd, Work and Pensions Secretary, said:

We want to reach people before their mental health spirals downwards – and this money will help to do just that.

The pilot proved that work coaches are well placed to make sure people get help quickly and are supported to get their lives back on track so I’m delighted that it can continue.

Importantly it has also shown that people trust their work coach to help them during their toughest times – and I’m very proud of that.

Now a 100,000 pounds is barely enough for a few paragraphs of Boris Johnson’s ramblings in the Telegraph.

But the principle, and above all the potential practice, is worrying.

 

Jobcentre Staff to ‘Assess’ Claimants Mental Health

 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has come under fire after it announced a scheme whereby jobcentre staff assess claimants mental health. The £100,000 scheme being rolled out in Cornwall will see claimants on Universal Credit assessed by the work coach to as “to avoid seeing their GP”.

The DWP have announced a controvertial £100,000 scheme for benefit claimants in Cornwall. The plan is for Universal Credit claimants to have their mental health assessed by their Work Coach to determine if they require extra support. The DWP describe the scheme as;

“The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.”

Now usually, offering claimants extra support would not be an issue. However, the last sentence above shows the DWP have an ulterior motive – “without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.”

While training work coaches how to interact with claimants with mental health conditions is a good step, Having them replace trained health professionals is simply unacceptable.

Claimants with a health condition already have to go through assessments with “Healthcare Professionals” who’ve done a 30 minute seminar on mental health. These leads to, as it did in my own case, the initial assessment being incorrect.

Only a GP or HCP involved in a person’s ongoing care can give a qualified opinion on a patients mental state. Outsourcing it to staff who are already overworked is bound to see more mistakes made.

The Blog Black isle Media rightly comments,

Now they think work coaches can replace a claimants GP. This is yet another way to force vulnerable benefit claimants to seek work before they are ready.

I hope I am wrong, but unfortunately when it comes to the DWP, I like many others, am not.

The story has a background:

DWP slammed by charity for plan to hold mental health assessments in JobCentres

Mirror March 2010.

EXCLUSIVE: Mind told the Mirror Jobcentres are “completely inappropriate” and could throw vulnerable benefit claimants into further distress

New pilot for jobcentres to refer claimants directly to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies

4 APRIL 2019, 01:49 PM

This seems quite dangerous to me.  Surely someone with mental health problems needs referral to a specialist through the NHS by their GP?  If they need a referral to this kind of clinician I have not heard of before – a work psychologist – and are not getting it then we need to be concerned that such a valuable resource is not available on the NHS.  If they don’t need it why is an unqualified jobcentre plus employee allowed to refer them to the wrong specialist, possibly with damaging effects? This seems an outrageous way of bullying people with mental health issues.  Why stop there? Could people with back problems be referred to chiropractors? With Crohn’s disease prescribed probiotics? Ruth

Written by Andrew Coates

August 27, 2019 at 4:02 pm

Universal Credit Staff to Strike.

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DWP Universal Credit staff to strike next week after ‘running out of patience’

The Mirror.

Universal Credit call handlers will stage a two-day strike next week after “running out of patience” with what they say are cuts and overwork.

More than 200 workers are set to stage a walkout at a contact centre in Stockport, Greater Manchester, next Tuesday and Wednesday after approving the action in a strike ballot.

Some 227 Public Commercial Services union (PCS) members at the centre were balloted. 162 voted, of which 148 backed a strike.

It comes after two walkouts at centres in Wolverhampton and Walsall earlier this year over similar issues.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The decision to take strike action has not been taken lightly by our members in Universal Credit. They do their best to help claimants get the support they need.

The Guardian,

Workers at a centre dealing with universal credit are to stage a two-day strike in a row over workloads and staffing levels, the Press Association reports. Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) at the office in Stockport, Greater Manchester, will walk out from August 27. More than 200 UC staff in Stockport will go on strike for two days next Tuesday in a row over workloads and staffing levels. The union said staffing at the centre has been in decline since the flagship benefit was introduced three years ago, but the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP) said it is confident that staffing levels are sufficient, PA reports.

23 Aug 2019

PCS members fighting to improve their Universal Credit service centre are striking for 2 days next week.

In a ballot declared earlier this month, members voted 91.9% in favour of strike action and 95% in favour of action short of strike on a 71.4% turnout. Our members will be taking strike action next week, on Tuesday (27) and Wednesday (28), with a demand for extra staff to be recruited and for working practices to be changed to allow them to process the cases of some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Staffing at the Universal Credit Service Centre, Millennium House in Stockport has been in decline since its introduction in 2016/17. Despite existing staff being switched to UC to support hard-pressed members and further staff from the remaining legacy command incoming in September, PCS members are clear this is not going to tackle the problem of increasing workloads and the demands placed upon staff.

PCS is equally clear that action is needed to make important changes for members and this is reflected in the support in the ballot. Case managers have seen their caseloads increase week by week. The volume of telephone calls has gone up in line with those caseloads and members are now expected to be working on several claims at the same time. Stress-related absences are higher on the UC command compared to the legacy commands.

PCS demands the DWP:

  • Recruits 100 new staff members
  • Limits calls to 30 a week for case managers
  • Increases the one minute time allowed for after-call work
  • Allocates time for case work to be completed
  • Ends the attack on flexi
  • Ends the unnecessary restrictions on breaks and lunches
  • Ends the victimisation of a local PCS representative and a PCS member and the dropping of cases against them.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 23, 2019 at 11:33 am

Food Banks Face New Challenges under no-Deal Brexit

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Why a no-deal Brexit could be calamitous for food banks

RUAIRI CASEY New Statesman.

As our contributors have been discussing the merits of eating US rat droppings and chlorinated orange juice  this prospect looms.

Bad news seems to be accumulating at a record pace. Thanks to the frequent and stark warnings about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, so are stockpiles of food.

Britons have already spent billions amassing private stores of provisions, while big supermarkets like Tesco and Marks and Spencer’s have been filling their warehouses with non-perishables since just after the Christmas rush.

I know people in real life who are already doing just this…

 The modern cross-border food supply chain is a wonder of efficiency and, presently, a ceaseless whirr of containers passes unencumbered through ports like Folkstone and Dover, speeding Italian tomatoes and Spanish heads of lettuce towards our local supermarket shelves, all in the quick and convenient manner to which we’ve become accustomed.

But if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal on 31 October, gridlock caused by radically different customs arrangements will knock the balance of this finely-calibrated operation sharply out of kilter.

What has been less remarked upon regarding these premonitions of calamity is that the UK is already living through a crisis in food security of its own making, caused by nearly a decade of punitive austerity measures, which will likely be significantly worsened in a no-deal scenario.

The number of Britons relying on food banks to meet their needs has been rapidly increasing since 2010. The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest network of food banks, gave out 1.6 million emergency food packages in the year ending this March.

It marked a rise of 19 per cent on 2018, driven by benefit sanctions, in-work poverty and delays tied to the roll-out of Universal Credit. Now, no-deal Brexit could be a perfect storm of disaster for the country’s most vulnerable households.

Disruption to food supply chains will mean less food on the supermarket shelves, and stockpiling by households and businesses means much-needed donations towards food banks will probably decline.

This continues, to the real point of the article,

The Trussell Trust does not have the facilities to centrally stockpile food supplies, and so plans to shift supplies around its network of some 1,200 food banks.

“We’re giving Brexit guidance to food banks – but there’s a limit to how much we can prepare for and mitigate its consequences,” said Garry Lemon, the Trussell Trust’s director of policy, external affairs and research.

“The responsibility to prevent more people being pulled into poverty lies with our Government. We cannot rely on support driven by volunteers and food donations to pick up the pieces, particularly in the event of no-deal.”

INnother words it will be Food Banks, not to mention those, like us, who often rely on the cheapest food, who will suffer.

The Benefit Freeze means we are already living close to the edge.

This will get worse.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2019 at 9:46 am