Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘Food Banks’ Category

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

with 30 comments

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

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

with 62 comments

Image

Image

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.

Image

 

“Therese Coffey Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal.”

Image result for Amber Rudd

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!

with 48 comments

Image

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

Food Banks Face New Challenges under no-Deal Brexit

with 168 comments

Image result for food banks universal credit

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

Sanctions Regime: The Story of Danielle John.

with 77 comments

Image

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

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

with 226 comments

 

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

Amber Rudd Pleads for a Job as New Report Slams Universal Credit – Again.

with 37 comments

Job Hungry Amber Pulls the Other One, Bells and All!

The Currant Bun reported.

Boris was asked about who he wanted to win ITV’s Love Island.

He joked that the Work and Pensions secretary Amber Rudd should go home with £50k after audience members clamoured for ‘Amber’ to win.

When asked if he had been watching the show, he said: “I have been watching it very dimly.

“Seems to involve these people with very few clothes on.”

He then asked the audience who they think should win – with dozens of onlookers shouting ‘Amber’ in reply.

He replied: “Amber? Amber is in Love Island!”

But leadership rival Jeremy Hunt said: “I don’t know, I don’t watch it.”

For the moment Amber is Pleading, Gizza Job! I can do that!

Back to Universal Credit:

Universal Credit ‘lobster pot’ leaving claimants out of pocket without warning, MPs warn

Politics Home.

In a new report, the cross-party Work and Pensions Committee found confusion among DWP advisers over when claimants should move over to the new benefit, with some recipients facing a steep drop in income if they make the switchover.

Universal Credit aims to roll six existing working-age benefits into one payment, a move the Government says will simplify the welfare system and cut costs.

..

The DWP has pursued a policy of “managed migration” for those making the switch to the new system, with the policy aiming to ensure that claimants moving off of the older benefits get transitional payments so that they do not take an immediate financial hit.

But the MPs warned that there are no similar protections in place for those whose circumstances have changed and so are deemed to have undergone “natural migration” by the department.

And they said: “Understanding when existing benefit claimants will need to naturally migrate to UC is so complex, it baffles even experienced benefit advisers.”

The committee warned that claimants could end up out of pocket because of changes that do “not seem significant”, including moving house to a different local authority area or even suffering a bereavement.

“Losing a partner is classed as a change in circumstance — which means that claimants who have just lost their partner must immediately claim UC at a time of considerable grief and distress,” they said.

“We urge the Department instead to allow people who have lost their partner to remain on legacy benefits for a grace period of one year.”

The situation could also have “drastic consequences” for disabled claimants, the committee warned, with disabled adults and children among the groups “most likely to see their income fall when they move to UC via natural migration”.

They accused the DWP of failing to give “clear or comprehensive information” to its own staff on when exactly somebody might need to move to Universal Credit and how it would affect their income.

That meant claimants were left “at risk of moving to UC either inadvertently, not realising that they will lose out, or because they are given the wrong advice by DWP staff or other organisations”, they committee said.

From the Report Universal Credit: natural migration

27th Report from the Committee…. 

The Government has said repeatedly that once the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) is complete, it will be more generous than the system it replaces. But it is not more generous for everyone. While some people are entitled to more money under UC than they would have received in the previous benefits system, many will be entitled to less.

Some of the Department’s plans for moving people to UC recognise that some claimants will be worse off. For instance, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP/the Department) plans to take a cautious approach to what it calls “managed migration”—the process of moving claimants on existing benefits to UC. It plans to provide claimants who move to UC in this way with transitional protection—payments to ensure they do not lose income overnight—and other support to minimise any stress or adverse effects of the move. This is, of course, welcome.

But the majority of claimants on existing benefits will move, or have already moved, to UC through a process known as “natural migration”, which usually happens when their circumstances change. For these claimants, there is no transitional protection. People naturally migrate to UC when they have a change in their lives which would require a new claim for a legacy benefit. There are a vast number of changes which can lead to natural migration. By contrast, there are very few which can end transitional protection under managed migration. This is because the Department deliberately selected the few circumstances in which to end transitional protection, whereas the natural migration process, by its own admission, was based on its own administrative needs. The Department has moved staff away from legacy benefits to Universal Credit and other roles, and says that the only way it can administer a change of circumstances is through the claimant making a new claim to Universal Credit.

The Department argues that it is fair that claimants who experience a “significant” change in their circumstances should not receive transitional protection, on the grounds that it has always been the case that new claims for legacy benefits would be assessed on a claimant’s new circumstances. It is difficult to reconcile this explanation, however, with the fact that the design of UC—which, unlike the legacy system, now represents all, or the majority, of a claimant’s income—means that any change in a claimant’s circumstances exposes them to all aspects of UC, which may be less generous than the legacy system and which may not be related to their specific change. For example, a disabled claimant who moves home could lose their disability premiums, even though their disability remains the same. What is more, the disparity between the changes that can lead to natural migration and those that can end transitional protection mean that some claimants will lose out simply because of when their circumstances change. Therefore, when managed migration begins, households with the same circumstances will be receiving different amounts of Universal Credit—not because their needs are different, but because of the route by which they moved to Universal Credit. This cannot be fair.

For claimants, some of the changes that can trigger this move will not seem significant. For example, moving house within the same local authority area does not trigger migration to Universal Credit—but moving to a different local authority does. That means in practice that someone who moves to a different local authority area loses their entitlement to transitional protection. The DWP justifies this purely by reference to its own administrative processes, with no mention of a claimant’s needs. The Government should commit to providing ongoing payments to meet the shortfall in income for all claimants who move or have moved to UC simply because they moved home outside of their local authority.

https://twitter.com/AmberRuddHR/status/1153368833744363520?s=20