Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘New Deal’ Category

Cut in Universal Credit Dominates Benefits News.

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Our contributors raise issues about benefits sanctions, work ‘coaches’, the Work and Health Programme and Training Services, which got money from the European Social Fund, Restart, the risks of opening Job Centres, Internet Access, and the State Pension and Pension Credit (well worth applying for if you have little money and, obviously, no private pension).

When this Blog was first set up we exchanged a lot of experience on back-to-work ‘schemes’, including placements in variety of companies and public services. Many had serious difficulties with them, probably most with the ‘courses’ given by enterprises like SEETEC. They now seem to be have got set up again.

But the news on Benefits remains overshadowed by the coming cut in Universal Credit.

‘We keep on struggling’: Families on Universal Credit prepare for life without the £20 uplift

Some people, on Legacy Benefits, never got that “uplift”.

Sky.

It’s just under a month to go until the £20 Universal Credit uplift, put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, comes to an end.

It’s being called the biggest overnight social security cut since World War Two.

This autumn, as the government seeks to claw back some of the unprecedented emergency spending undertaken since COVID-19 hit the UK, familiar security blankets like the £20 uplift to Universal Credit are set to be removed.

It won’t be without its consequences.

Doctors, charities and even some Conservative MPs are calling on the government to rethink its decision to end the uplift.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) says that most parts of England, Scotland and Wales will see more than one in three families and their children affected as a result of the £1,040-a-year .

The Trussell Trust estimates that nearly a quarter of a million parents on Universal Credit fear not being able to sufficiently put dinner on the table for their children when the £20 cut comes into force from October.

Benefits Boss Coffey has been on a jolly in Japan.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2021 at 5:41 pm

Food Bank Britain Faces Bleak Winter.

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Food banks report huge surge in demand for food parcels amid Covid pandemic

This is no surprise.

Most things like this you can see if you care to look, right bang in your area (obviously not in IDS’s manor).

As this Blog has mentioned there is a queue of people outside the Seventh Day Adventist Church in  this area waiting for food on a Sunday.

This is outside of the main local Food Bank network. FIND foodbank

It is just a lot more visible to anybody in the centre of the town.

Trussell Trust reports that it has already helped more than a million people affected by the Covid pandemic.

More than a million food parcels have been handed out families and individuals in crisis since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, according to new figures from the UK’s largest food bank network.

The Trussell Trust, who operate more than 1,200 food bank centres, says it has helped to support over 1.2 million households who have been negatively affected by the economic fallout, caused by the outbreak.

It includes 470,000 food parcels given to parents to feed their children, a 52% rise on last year, and is equivalent to 2,600 food parcels for children being given out every day since the start of the pandemic.

There is also an article by James Bloodworth which is really really worth reading:

Why the poor eat poorly

The Government has U-turned on free school meals. But moralising about people’s diets won’t help

BY 

 

When I was researching a book on low-wage Britain, I stumbled across an article in the Daily Mail about a woman who managed to survive on £1 a day. “Frugal Kath Kelly, 51, ate at free buffets, shopped at church jumble sales and scrounged leftovers from grocery stores and restaurants,” ran the story. “She even collected a staggering £117 in loose change dropped in the street.”

The story was written in admiring tones — Kath Kelly was presented as a sagacious and resourceful example to the poor. The underlying message was that the lower orders were feckless and stupid. Instead of sourcing and preparing healthy ingredients, they chose to plonk themselves in front of a television set and inhale pot noodles and multipacks of crisps.

 

…..

For those on low wages or benefits, poverty is the thief of time. Being poor invariably consists of countless hours spent waiting around for public transport, bosses, landlords or public sector bureaucrats. And that’s before one adds up the additional time it takes to care for a family. Even if it can be done relatively cheaply, preparing a healthy meal invariably takes longer than putting a pizza in the oven.

….

We no longer dictate the food those on unemployment benefits must consume (though the argument that we ought to is a frequent saloon-bar trope). But a peculiar moral tone to our conversations about food persists. This is not confined to one political tribe. Nowadays liberals too are often heard laying down pious strictures as to what the poor should eat and drink. Sugar taxes have been introduced and junk food advertising is set to be banned before the 9pm watershed. Newspapers such as The Guardian have called for the government to go even further in terms of regulating what people eat.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2020 at 11:03 am

Austerity Agenda Continues as Damian Green Takes Hold of DWP.

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Shifty Looking Damian Green Sidles into the DWP.

On Monday the Guardian published this article:

The austerity agenda isn’t over. More people will sink further into poverty

There will be “no new search for cuts in individual welfare benefits” the secretary of state for work and pensions, Damian Green, has pledged. Not much news there, then. Green’s predecessor, Stephen Crabb, made the same promise in March, as a jittery Treasury sought to placate the Tory backbench revolt over cuts to disability benefits. The former chancellor George Osborne may be gone, but his welfare spending strategy remains largely intact for now.

During his Andrew Marr Show interview at the weekend Green made it sound like his “no more benefit raids” pledge was a sign that the austerity agenda was over. But it is not. Green confirmed that inherited current and planned cuts, amounting to billions of pounds by the end of the decade, would go ahead.

The language of welfare may well be less abrasive under Green, and his compassionate conservative presentation of welfare reform may aspire to be softer, but without material change, the net effect of the cuts will be the same as it would have been had Osborne still been in post: the living standards of millions of “just managing” low-income working households will continue to suffer, and the very poorest and most vulnerable will become poorer.

Butler concluded,

There is plenty that can be done to make universal credit more operationally humane: Green could make a start on this by scrapping the notorious six-week wait for a first universal credit payment, a rule dubbed “a recruiting sergeant for food banks” by Frank Field MP for its unerring ability to pitch low-income claimants into avoidable debt, rent arrears and food poverty. Green may also want to look again at the potentially explosive plans, currently being trialled, to introduce conditionality for low-paid workers on universal credit. Fining a claimant for not turning up to a jobcentre interview because they were at work is not a convincing advert for “making work pay”.

Green and May will have to accept that the social security system is, as the Fabian Society recently pointed out, rapidly becoming unfit for purpose. There are huge imbalances in who benefits: between working age recipients (who have shouldered the austerity burden) and pensioners (relatively unscathed); and between those on low incomes (who took the biggest hit), and the wealthy (who, according to the Fabians will by 2020 receive more financial support from the state in the form of personal tax allowances than poorer families will on benefits).

Two days ago the Independent noted,

There is a major squeeze on public spending and welfare payments still to come over the next five years as a result of government decisions already taken – including the filleting of almost £9bn from the tax credit and working age benefits bill.

These will assuredly diminish the living standards of the less well-off. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has projected that those in the poorest tenth of the population will lose £800 a year by 2020 relative to those in the second poorest tenth at £1,500 a year and the third poorest tenth at £1,200 a year.

What is Damien Green’s background?

Damian Green was born in Barry, Wales. He grew up in Reading, Berkshire and was educated at Reading School and then at Balliol College, Oxford where he was awarded a BA degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in 1977, followed by a MA degree. He was President of the Oxford Union in 1977 and was the vice-chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students (now known as Conservative Future) from 1980 until 1982.

Not, we suspect, the kind of education (Grammar school, Oxford) and politics – including at the top of the hard-right free-market Thatcher worshiping Federation of Conservative Students – that would signal out somebody for compassionate, or even moderate positions on social security and the welfare state.

in 1998 Green was – rightly – very critical of the New Deal for the Unemployed. He called it a waste of taxpayers’ money, unable to train people in a  way that made people attractive to employers, or, as he put it “providing suitable recruits. (The Four Failures of the New Deal, by Damian Green, 1998, Centre for Policy Studies.) Essentially this was cost-benefit analysis, which paid little attention to the needs of the out-of-work.

How will he stand on the use of private companies, known in academic circles as bands of thieves living off public money, by the DWP, for training the unemployed, for Universal credit, and so on?

We note this: “As Police Minister in the Coalition Government, Green called for increased partnerships between the police and the private sector.” from here).

As for austerity we also observe read this (Telegraph)

Damian Green, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, has indicated pensioner benefits may be cut after 2020 as he pledged to tackle “intergenerational fairness”.

In his first major interview since taking up the job, Mr Green defended the government’s current support for pensioners and heralded the fall in poverty among the elderly.

However he also said it was “absolutely” necessary to consider “over time” whether different generations are getting a fair share of the proceeds of economic growth.

It follows criticism of David Cameron’s decision to ring-fence pensioners from austerity cuts, introducing a “triple lock” on pensions and sticking with a promise of free bus passes and TV licenses.

Cutting benefits for pensioners will not mean better benefits for anybody else.

Just equality in misery, as he might have said as a Conservative Student.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Is Seetec the new A4e?

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Seetec (South East Essex TEchnology Centre) is a relatively local “training” organisation that has become a significant workfare player in recent years. Their wikipedia page states their success of seeking 4,417 benefit sanctions to “Work Programme conscripts” in just a single week. They use the Provider Direct sanction hotline more than any other provider. Read the rest of this entry »

End of welfare to work?

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A4e Work Programme dismal results 

It appears all that is needed for A4e is the final nail in the coffin, not only have A4e selected where to rest, the type of coffin and jumped in.. it has even put the lid on! They might have even planned and paid for the funeral.

What has once been a few fraud allegations and four arrests has been growing due to A4e stupidity. This began back in 2010 just before David Cameron appointed her. Emma Harrison CBE, got cocky – some would say too cocky – after the big relationship with the Government landed her an role paid in kind by opening doors for more contracts. A sort of gentleman’s agreement. Yes, Emma is a woman although a tom boy type – only female using chairman instead of chairperson. She plays a lot on it ffs Emma, there is women in business too!!

A4e, despite a large turnover, and nice profits, is a very poorly run enterprise. Criticised for every aspect of delivery (or lack of). Most popular in 2010 was failing to file business accounts (so did YMCA Training), losing peoples personal information, another fraud enquiry hotting up and if that wasn’t enough Emma Harrison CBE opened her big mouth saying cuts are fantastic!

A4e got fined a record £60,000 for the data security breach. Emma Harrison got appointed to work for the Government for free (in kind for contracts for A4e aka corruption). She upset a few people with her comments before trying to claim she never said the words or knew the person who did. Something along the lines of the person who wrote the story didn’t know her and never met her – the same can be said for me, I have never met her – doesn’t change the facts being reported here.

So at this point it wasn’t looking too good for A4e: fraud, fines, bad publicity, and doubt. They got away with it for another year or two… or so they thought. Previously been investigated and found guilty of fraud – they thought it would again be swept under the carpet so no one would notice. Indeed one wouldn’t, except it was clearly visible under the carpet… line a big hill or mountain.

They in effect created a time bomb, the problems didn’t go away, although the criticism died down for a while. It just got more intense waiting for the shit to hit the fan! In 2010, people had patience with A4e, it seems its growing thin now even with politicians.

What else went wrong? Emma Harrison CBE was greedy… she decided to pay herself (and other shareholders) a bumped dividend. All fair and well, (from a private company perspective, not performance/taxpayer perspective) but was at the wrong time. She couldn’t have any control over timing, so its fate. Appears her luck has run out forcing her to step down from A4e.

We will get to the Work Programme figures in a little while!!

Then what could get worse? A4e deploying PHA Media, a PR agency not solicitor, trying to censorship the internet and silence people it sees as a threat. Emma Harrison CBE threatening to sue everyone who stands in A4e’s way. Paying money into 2 companies and a pension fund for hiring out her home for meetings – which might be money laundering and tax evasion. And as recently, publishing statistics against DWP’s wishes, and hundreds of other documents; some of which are entitled “PRIVATE” in the filename without any other form of protection/security.

A4e cannot be trusted with taxpayer money, its own data OR jobseekers personal information!
Read the rest of this entry »