Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘Liberal Tory Coalition’ Category

UK Poor are Worst off in Western Europe, Closer to Poor in Former Eastern Bloc.

Future for the Poor Under Tory Rule.

This story by Danny Dorling deserves wide attention.

The Tories will reduce UK public spending to Estonian levels (Guardian)

In the main parties’ election manifestos published this week, public spending is still public enemy number one. The Conservatives insist that a further £12bn in cuts to the welfare budget must be found over the course of the next parliament. If it isn’t, they warn, then the hordes of so-called skivers who receive unemployment benefit, child support, or disability benefits will keep draining Britain dry.

What is the reality of life for the worse off in the UK?

One case stands out.

The Guardian talks of the “UK’s now punitive benefit sanctions regime and benefits are not simply designed for subsistence or below. “

It’s part of a pattern:

The High Pay Centre says,

Analysis of OECD figures suggests the poorest fifth of the UK population are the poorest in Western Europe

The poorest fifth of the UK population are significantly worse off than the poorest fifth in other Western European countries, according to analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data published by the High Pay Centre think-tank today.

The High Pay Centre examined the ‘OECD Better Life Index’ which estimates the average net disposable household income for the world’s richest economies, as well as the average for the poorest and richest 20% of the population in each country.

In the UK, the poorest fifth of the population have an average income of just $9,530, much lower than the poorest fifth in other North West European countries such as Germany ($13,381), France ($12,653), Denmark ($12, 183) or the Netherlands ($11,274).

In fact, the poorest people in the UK are closer to the poorest in former Eastern bloc countries Slovenia and the Czech Republic than to the poor in Western Europe. This is despite the fact that the OECD estimates average incomes in the UK ($25,828) are similar to Denmark ($25,172) and the Netherlands ($25,697). The UK’s average is inflated by the incomes of the top 20% of the population  – at around $54,000, the third highest in the EU. In Belgium, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries, the top 20% make between $44,000 and $49,000.

High Pay Centre Director Deborah Hargreaves said: These figures suggest we need to be more concerned about inequality and how prosperity is shared, as well as average incomes or aggregate measures like GDP. The fact that the rich are richer in the UK than many other countries hides the fact that the poor are poorer.

Most people think our living standards in the UK are similar to economies like France and Germany, but being poor in the UK is more like being poor in the former Soviet Bloc than in Western Europe.

The High Pay Centre analysis also notes that if the UK’s total income of around £1 trillion was divided in the same way as total incomes in Denmark or the Netherlands, 99% of UK households would be better off by around £2,700 per year.

Dorling concludes,

…the government’s plans to rapidly reduce the proportion of GDP spent on public services to 38% by 2019 mean that after 2015, the UK would leave the second division of European countries by public spending and enter the third division alongside Ireland, Estonia and the Slovak Republic. A UK in this league would become more similar to these countries. It could become a place from which the young try to emigrate and in which the old are not well cared for, in which people on average live shorter, more brutal and less valued lives.

Disabled People Against Cuts: Revenge Tour. Watch Out IDS and Esther McVey!

From Disabled People Against Cuts. (signaled via the Void)

Disabled People Against Cuts have called a Revenge Tour beginning on April 18th and including visits to the constituencies of Esther McVey and Iain Duncan Smith.  Please help spread the word.  From their website:

A fortnight of Fight Back and telling politicians throughout the UK what we think of them and what they MUST do if they want our votes.

Everywhere from April 18th – May3rd. Select your favourite politician or issue to campaign on.

Some funding is available for travel bursaries with priority given to members.

April 23rd (Thursday) National DPAC will be going to Wirral West constituency to visit Esther McVey. Meet noon at the Job Centre, Market Road, Hoylake.

Esther’s constituency is very marginal and at the moment she looks set to lose her seat. We want to help facilitate that.

April 25th (Saturday) National DPAC will be going to Chingford to visit Iain Duncan Smith. Meet 2pm outside Chingford Rail station. Trains from Liverpool Street.

Please get in touch with us at mail@dpac.uk.net to let us know if you want to go to one or more of these events or would like help with travel costs.

Please also arrange your own events and send us details.

Join and share the facebok page.

Embedded image permalink

DPAC Protest in Ipswich with Suffolk People’s Assembly.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 11, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Council Tax Benefit Scrapped: Half a Million More Face Courts.

After the scandal of Pension Pots, comes the legacy of the Man who ate all the Pies, Eric PicklesSecretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Grinding the Faces of the Poor into Mincemeat.

Pickles (pictured above) removed Council Tax Benefit with these aims in mind:

  • To make life more difficult for anybody on benefit.
  • To give a shot in the arm to pawn shops, loan sharks (legal and illegal).
  • Lengthen Food Bank queues.
  • To attack the finances of local authorities under Labour control – where unemployment and benefit claimants are most numerous – worse.
  • To make everybody suitable for work and increase employment opportunities (okay I made that last one up).

He did this by the simple means of making your Council responsible for deciding whether to make claimants pay Council Tax, and at what rate they should pay it.

All funding for this is now their responsibility.

No surprises for learning that under many Tory councils (though unfortunately not exclusively) claimants pay massive Council Tax Bills.

The result?

Read and gnarl. 

Half a million more people were summoned to court last year over unpaid council tax, after benefits protecting low-income families from paying it were scrapped.

Almost three million people in England were taken to court by local authorities in 2013-14 because they had not paid council tax. This was an increase of more than 25 per cent on the previous tax year, according to the figures obtained via Freedom of Information by False Economy, which is brought to you by local campaigners about the cuts and their effects.

The Coalition abolished council tax benefit in 2013, replacing it with a new support scheme administered locally with a 10 per cent smaller budget. The old benefit used to mean that unemployed people or those on very low incomes did not pay council tax, but now most local authorities charge everyone.

Reports the Independent.

It continues,

Chaminda Jayanetti, a researcher at False Economy, said: “Council tax support cuts have caused chaos for households, and for councils. They are leaving people out of pocket and in debt, which is also bad for local firms depending on them as customers.

“Councils are now pursuing people through the courts for money they do not have. It is a shambles made by a cabinet of millionaires in a government that has been completely out of touch with reality.”

For those eligible for council tax support, many of whom would before have had nothing to pay at all, the annual increase in court summons was more than 400 per cent.

Councils have to decide whether to charge their lowest-income households or not – but since their budget to cover the tax for the poorest has been slashed by £490m, most do. Of 326 local authorities in England, 244 introduced minimum payments that even the jobless have to pay.

Kris Hopkins, minister for local government, said: “Council tax bills doubled under Labour, and … council tax benefit soared. Welfare reform has been vital to tackle Labour’s budget deficit.

“Our reforms to localise council tax support now give councils stronger incentives to support local firms, cut fraud, promote local enterprise and get people into work.”

Local Government carries the same story,

Half a million more people have been summoned to court over unpaid council tax in the past year, figures reveal.

Freedom of Information requests from group False Economy show three million people were taken to court by England’s town halls over 2013/14 because they had not paid council tax, a 25% increase on the previous tax year – the Independent reports.

Campaigners blamed the rise on the abolition of council tax benefits, which previously protected the poor or unemployed from paying the levy. Local authorities saw the national system replaced with locally devised council tax support (CTS) two years ago, as funding was devolved and cut by 10%.

The data came as a report from the New Policy Institute found council tax discounts being offered to poorer households were being cut by local authorities for the third year running. Over two million of the lowest earning families are now thought to be paying £167 more every year in council tax than they were in 2010.

I paid my Council Tax installment last week.

It rankled.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2015 at 2:59 pm

No Mandatory Requirement for a Claimant to sign on electronically.

Not Mandatory to Sign.

Hat-Tip: Obi Wan Kenobi.

Given the wave of obligations claimants are now shouldering this is intresting:

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) 
Central Freedom of Information Team 

[DWP request email]

Our reference: VTR 1201
Date: 2 April 2015

Dear P Baker 
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request received on 26 March
2015. You asked:

Digital signature pads have been installed nationwide in Jobcentres & records
biometric information such as rhythm, speed, pressure, acceleration &
movement. The BBC & the manufacturer of the product SIGNificant ColorPad
6 available from xyzmod.com or Icon UK Limited advertises this product as an
equivalent to comparing fingerprints where more than just the signature is
extracted from its use.

Is there any information about a mandatory requirement for claimants to sign
using the digital signature pad which records personal biometrics comparable
to a fingerprint?

What information do you have on what gives JCP or DWP the authority to
terminate a claim or cease payment if a claimant refuses to sign using the
digital signature pad but the claimant is willing to sign in ink?

What information explains or authorises the use of these digital signature
pads without requesting a claimants consent?

You are correct in that the biometric software we use captures not just what
the signature looks like but also how it has been written, including the angle of
the stylus used, the pressure on the signing pad and the speed at which it is
written.  However, we don’t compare it to a fingerprint or use it as such – we
just check that the signature captured when a claimant signs on the pad is
validated by the system.  There are a number of benefits to this, including
reducing the scope for fraud.

There is no mandatory requirement for a claimant to sign electronically,
although we would encourage them to do so.  We do reassure anyone who is
not sure of why we are now using the signing pads and what it means for
them, but if they refuse, we do not insist.  A claim would not be terminated or
payment stopped if a claimant refused to sign electronically.

Providing signatures for both enrolment on the system and regularly signing
the electronic version of the declaration that they are actively seeking
employment is treated as their consent to using the system.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the
reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team


Written by Andrew Coates

April 4, 2015 at 9:22 am

Ben Gummer, Ipswich Tory Candidate, Backs Sanctions Regime for Claimants.

Gummer LetterGum









 Gummer Raises a Pint to Punishing the Poor.


Gummer Backs Sanctions Regime.

In reply to a recent letter (23rd of March – above) protesting at the sanctions regime for Benefit claimants Mr Ben Gummer, Ipswich MP and now parliamentary candidate for Ipswich (Conservative) says this:

“I must be honest with you from the outset, however, I support the changes the current government has made to welfare, including sanctioning those who break the conditions for Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA).”

Gummer talks of how the “sanctions regime has been made as fair as possible.” He asserts that, “it is not designed to catch people out or to make life unreasonably difficult.” It will, apparently, “ encourage behaviour that is ultimately in the claimant’s interest”. Why? It “will help the get a job – by discouraging behaviour unhelpful to their prospects”.

There is, he continues, an equitable punishment system in place. People get one level of reprimand for being late for an appointment, another for not turning up the Mandatory Activity Scheme.

Gummer sugars the pill: “small mistakes are therefore relatively lightly dealt with”, and that “all decisions are based on impartial facts”, by a decision-makers high above the Work Coaches.

DWP judges, no doubt schooled in the tradition of King Solomon, and Tribonian (I add the latter as Gummer is both a gentleman and a classical scholar), are in charge of the process.

There is an “appeals” system to boot. The fact that “about 40% “ of the sanctions decision are “revoked” demonstrates how fair the initial decision-making process is.

Gummer believes that the sanctions regime’s aim is to “get people into work by encouraging the kind of behaviour that will make an employer wants them”. He asks, “Why should working people in Ipswich keep funding someone who has the chance to get a job but who simply decides not to work?”

Indeed: not only are the DWP the wisest of lords of the law, but they also have the ability to see that when somebody turns up late for an appointment it’s because they have decided “not to work”. Perhaps they look a certain way, shifty, out to get funding from ‘hard working families’.

Punishment works. Honestly. Among with other (unspecified) “measures” “are succeeding in getting people into employment”. They save people from a “life of unemployment” and let them “fulfil their potential”.

Ipswich Food Banks are full of people fulfilling their potential…..

Ben Gummer’s Direct Link to the DWP: