Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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Archive for the ‘Sanctions’ Category

The 35 Hours a Week ‘Job-Search’: 2.3 million claimants for 90,939 Jobs.

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35 Hours a Week!

The hard right Express takes a brief break today from whinging about Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory.

Universal Credit UK: DWP warns payments will stop or reduce if you fail to do this

When claiming Universal Credit, a person will need to make an agreement with their work coach which is called a “Claimant Commitment”.

The requirements of things they need to do will depend on the individual person’s situation.

It may be that it includes activities such as writing a CV, looking and applying for jobs, or going on training courses.

The Express continues mentioning things like a change of circumstance, and everything else you have tell the DWP.

But it does not go into the detail of the “looking and applying for jobs.”

This is in interesting post which chimes with what people on this site have been saying for some time.

Absurd as 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants required to chase “90,939 Jobs” on DWP Jobsite (findajob.dwp.gov.uk)

It is absurd to require 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants to search for work up to 35 hours per week, or face severe financial penalties (benefit sanctions), when the DWP itself is only able to get UK employers to advertise just 90,939 jobs on it’s own website.

All UC claimants are required to accept a Claimant Commitment (CC) and this will include sanction based obligations to search for and prepare for work. It is highly probable that nearly all of the 2.3 million claimants will have a CC requirement to evidence creating a DWP ‘Find A Job’ (FAJ), uploading their CV to it and then using it to search and apply for work through FAJ.

 

And, as our contributors have already noted,

Followed by:

Enforcing the rule about jobsearch has always been a sore point.

If you are on one of these ‘courses’ it is not unknown to be stuck in front of a computer every day ‘doing’ jobsearch.

Or was, because nobody can exactly see these ‘courses’ operating at the moment.

Or making sure that everybody has access to the Web.

As katrehman says,

How do they expect claimants with no WiFi, landlines or even maybe no credit/Internet left on their PAYG mobile if they have a mobile, to search for jobs or spending an hour or two ringing employers? I have a PAY phone for a tenner per month I have 4GB Internet, fine as WiFi is included in my rent, plus unlimited minutes and texts, I work and top up on payday, but for those on 74 a week or even 94 this is A LOT of money! So I guess there’s still jobclubs and mandatory JCP job search sessions?

But the DWP is here to help!

 

The Minister is spreading joy:

All is going well.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 25, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Basic Income Trials: Solution to Benefit Poverty or Mirage?

A Universal Basic Income Is Essential and Will Work - Global Research

Solution or Mirage?

 

Support is said to be growing for Basic Income. Some of our contributors have shown interest and have noticed that this experiment is underway:

Germany to give people £1,000 a month, no questions asked, in universal basic income experiment

The Independent article says,

Researchers in Germany will give a group of people just over £1,000 a month, no strings attached, as part of an experiment to assess the potential benefits of introducing a wider universal basic income (UBI).

The radical idea has attracted a growing amount of interest around the world as a way of potentially supporting people during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Advocates claim a small, regular income from the state to all citizens would help tackle poverty, encourage more flexible working practices, and allow some people to spend more time caring for older family members.

The German pilot study will initially see 120 people handed the monthly sum of 1,200 Euros (£1,085) to monitor how it changes their work patterns and leisure time.

Researcher Jurgen Schupp – who is leading the ‘My Basic Income’ project at the Berlin-based German Institute for Economic Research – said he wanted to discover how a “reliable, unconditional flow of money affects people’s attitudes and behaviour”.

The present trial follows this one in 2019.

Germany’s ‘money for nothing’ experiment raises basic income questions

250 randomly-selected recipients of Hartz IV, the bottom rate “safety net” German welfare payment, have begun to receive their monthly €416 without any conditions attached.

Hartz IV recipients have certain obligations to meet, for example, the need to keep appointments at the job center or to show evidence of looking for work. Failure to meet the conditions might see their benefits cut via “sanctions.”

For the next three years, the activist organization Sanktionsfrei (“Sanctions-Free”) will automatically reimburse any sanctions imposed on the 250 test recipients. Effectively, they will be guaranteed a basic income of €416 every month.

The participants will fill out regular questionnaires, documenting the effects of their new status. An additional 250 Hartz IV recipients will act as the control group, filling out the same form while still being subject to the usual conditions.

Strictly speaking, this endeavour, labeled “HartzPlus” is not a Universal Basic Income (UBI) experiment. For starters, it is backed by a private organization and is not supported by the German government.

…..

some observers of HartzPlus have pointed out that it is not a UBI as it is not paid if the person finds a job which pays more than the welfare claim.

The present experiment is just that, an Experiment.

Germany is set to trial a Universal Basic Income scheme

  • Starting this week, 120 Germans will receive a form of universal basic income every month for three years.
  • The volunteers will get monthly payments of €1,200, or about $1,400, as part of a study testing a universal basic income.
  • The study will compare the experiences of the 120 volunteers with 1,380 people who do not receive the payments.
  • Supporters say it would reduce inequality and improve well-being, while opponents argue it would be too expensive and discourage work.

The study, conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research, has been funded by 140,000 private donations.

Interest in Basic Income continues.

There is interest in the USA.

This was reported in July.

Twitter boss donates $3m to basic universal income project

BBC.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has become the first investor in a radical plan to give people a basic income, regardless of job status.

He has donated $3m (£2.4m) to the scheme, which is being piloted by the mayors of 16 US cities.

He said it was “one tool to close the wealth and income gap”.

The idea of governments paying a basic income to citizens has gained momentum in response to the threat to jobs from artificial intelligence

There are three basic problems with applying  experiments in Basic Income  to a whole country.

  • Unlike social security payments they do not redistribute money by taxation from those who make extra cash out of other people, business and the wealthy, and give some of this surplus to those who have less money. Everybody gets the same basic income.
  • Despite claims that Basic Income schemes would give everybody “enough to live on” no proposed system can allow for the variable and extra costs that payments under social security systems (in Europe at least) cover, Housing Benefit (local Housing Allowance), or the extra cash needed by ill or disabled people (PIP and so on). The German plans, for example, would mean that somebody who is unemployed and paying rent would still have to rely on getting welfare payments to cover housing costs that go beyond the sum given.
  • Apart from not fully covering people’s needs, they do not answer a problem that unemployment brings for those who wish to work: to use our abilities as we can.

There would have to be criteria to get Basic Income – they could not be open to anybody from anywhere to come and claim.

A large proportion of public spending would go on any variety of the scheme. We would have the absurd position in which those with large private incomes would get an extra “top up” every month.

Would pensioners get the money? If this is the case we would see a huge increase in spending on the retired alone.

As Anna Coote says (Guardian. 2019.  Universal basic income doesn’t work. Let’s boost the public realm instead)

The cost of a sufficient UBI scheme would be extremely high according to the International Labour Office, which estimates average costs equivalent to 20-30% of GDP in most countries. Costs can be reduced – and have been in most trials – by paying smaller amounts to fewer individuals. But there is no evidence to suggest that a partial or conditional UBI scheme could do anything to mitigate, let alone reverse, current trends towards worsening poverty, inequality and labour insecurity. Costs may be offset by raising taxes or shifting expenditure from other kinds of public expenditure, but either way there are huge and risky trade-offs.

Money spent on cash payments cannot be invested elsewhere. The more generous the payments, the wider the range of recipients, the longer the scheme continues, the less money will be left to build the structures and systems that are needed to realise UBI’s progressive goals.

The report Coote cites, Universal Basic Income. A Union Perspective, says,

At the heart of the critique of UBIs contained in this brief is the failure of the most basic principle of progressive tax and expenditure, which can be summarised as “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”.

Whereas universal benefits such as healthcare or unemployment payments are provided to all who need it, UBI is provided to all regardless of need. Inevitably it is not enough to help those in severe need but is a generous gift to the wealthy who don’t need it. It is the expenditure equivalent of a flat tax and as such is regressive. But the consequences are more than a question of principle.

The estimates of funds required to provide a UBI at anything other than token levels are well in excess of the entire welfare budget of most countries. If we were able to build the political movement required to raise the massive extra funds would we chose to return so much of it to the wealthiest, or would it be better spent on targeted measures to reduce inequality and help the neediest?

What’s more such schemes require the total current public welfare budget to be used. Do we really want to stop all existing targeted programmes such as public housing, public subsidies to childcare, public transport and public health to redistribute these funds equally to billionaires.

UBI would erode the basis for the welfare state.

And this raises other practical political issues. With a UBI in place many have argued that the states obligations to welfare will have been met. That people would then be free to use the money as they best need – free from government interference. With such a large increase in public spending required to fund a UBI it would certainly prompt those who prefer market solutions to public provision with powerful arguments to cut what targeted welfare spending might remain.

Arguments put by proponents of UBI to counter these questions usually involve targeting of payments, or combination with other needs-based welfare entitlements. However, as this report notes, models of UBI that are universal and sufficient are not affordable, and models that are affordable are not universal. The modifications inevitably required amount to arguments for more investment, and further reform, of the welfare state – valuable contributions to public debate but well short of the claims of UBI.

It is a mirage solution.

It is one of the unfortunate mirages of UBI, as clear from the evidence and trials outlined in this report, that UBI can mean all things to all people. But the closer you get to it the more it seems to recede. A further, and significant point for trade unionists, is the assumptions UBI proponents make about technological change and the effect on workers. The argument that technology will inevitably lead to less work, more precarious forms and rising inequality is deeply based on the assumption that technology is not within human control. In fact, technology is owned by people and can be regulated
by government if we chose.

Work is not disappearing – there are shortages of paid carers and health care workers, amongst others, across the globe. And precarious work can be ended at any time with appropriate laws. What is missing is the political will to control technology, and work, for the benefit of the population. In this regard UBI is a capitulation to deregulation and exploitation, not a solution to it.

If, in a sense, with the Pandemic work is disappearing. Is a massive transfer of spending from the welfare state to everybody through UBI, instead of targeted schemes that focus on maintaining employment, the answer?

The German scheme, DW noted back in 2019, has this difficulty,

The most persistent criticism that advocates of a universal basic income face is the question of cost. For example, to take a crude measurement, if the close to 70 million adults in Germany were all to receive an unconditional, universal basic income payment of €416 per month (the current Hartz IV rate), the annual cost to the German government would be around €350 billion. In a savings-obsessed country, that might prove a hard sell.

All the problems outlined above indicate that Universal Basic Income is not a solution but a mirage.

The neoliberals of the Adam Smith Institute  think differently.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 23, 2020 at 9:42 am

Mass Unemployment Coming, Calls for “Permanent Increase in Universal Credit.”

FInally there is the poverty created by low benefit levels  – even with the ‘top up’ for those on UC, which those on Job Seekers Allowance and other ‘Legacy Benefits’ are refused.

Everybody knows – I only have to go out of the front door and walk to the town centre and look at the state of the shops, and see the small numbers of passengers on the buses  – that there have been mass job losses.

The Government is recruiting Work Coaches to meet the rise in claims.

It is said that their role models are going to be saintly folk in a certain Yorkshire Jobcentre, always ready to help claimants and deal with the occasional scamp.

Totals of the out-of-work are set to rise further.

Today we hear more confirmation of the arrival of mass unemployment, suggesting that we are on the verge of a ” Great Depression”.

Readers will note that because this is going to affect more than the usual ne’er do wells Tories are calling for a rise in Universal Credit rates.

End of UK furlough scheme ‘means needless loss of 2m jobs’

Two million viable jobs will be needlessly lost under the government’s plan to end its flagship jobs support scheme, Boris Johnson is being warned on Sunday, amid cross-party demands for further emergency help.

After confirmation that Britain has entered the deepest recession since records began, new analysis seen by the Observer finds that as many as 3 million jobs will still be reliant on the government’s furlough scheme by the time it is closed at the end of October.

While 1 million jobs will be lost permanently as a result of the pandemic’s impact and changing demand, it finds that the remainder could be saved in the long run by adopting a successor to the furlough scheme focused on viable jobs in the hospitality, entertainment and construction sectors.

The new research, drawn up by the Institute for permanent increase in universal credit warns that simply withdrawing the furlough scheme with nothing in its place will cause unemployment at levels “not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s”. It also calls for major increases in universal credit to help those who are out of a job – an idea that is gaining support among Tory MPs.

You read it right,

Meanwhile, support is growing on the Tory benches for a permanent increase in universal credit to help those out of work. Stephen McPartland, a Tory MP who led a successful rebellion against tax credit cuts in 2015, said: “We have to support those who will be losing their jobs and universal credit needs to change if it is going to provide that support. It is clear what needs to be done, but the political will to find the funds has just not been there.”

Pressure is building outside parliament. Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We’re already supporting one person every two minutes on a redundancy issue. As the furlough scheme ends, that number could snowball. Failure to act now risks long-term social and economic scarring that could take decades to recover from. It’s crucial the government takes further steps to prevent redundancies and strengthen the safety net for people who’ve struggled as a result of this crisis.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, warned that the number of over-50s who were made redundant and then completely fell out of employment was already rising sharply. “We fear that unless the government intervenes to help, unemployment among older shielded workers is set to soar,” she said.

Read the calls again….

…to help those out of work. Stephen McPartland, a Tory MP who led a successful rebellion against tax credit cuts in 2015, said: “We have to support those who will be losing their jobs and universal credit needs to change if it is going to provide that support. It is clear what needs to be done, but the political will to find the funds has just not been there.”

Pressure is building outside parliament. Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We’re already supporting one person every two minutes on a redundancy issue. As the furlough scheme ends, that number could snowball. Failure to act now risks long-term social and economic scarring that could take decades to recover from. It’s crucial the government takes further steps to prevent redundancies and strengthen the safety net for people who’ve struggled as a result of this crisis.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, warned that the number of over-50s who were made redundant and then completely fell out of employment was already rising sharply. “We fear that unless the government intervenes to help, unemployment among older shielded workers is set to soar,” she said.

Here is the IPPR report and recommendations:

 

Universal Credit Is Not Working – House of Lords Report.

 

After having posted about mass unemployment looming people have been speaking more and more about redundancies and the prospect of being out of work. You don’t have to have family or friends who are affected, just look on the Web, and here (one of our contributors excepted).

It is seriously worrying when secure jobs are under threat.

These things tend to work out in ever-expanding rings.

Now people face the prospect of joining the inner circle of hell, the dole, and specifically Universal Credit.

Their Lordships have produced this report which is making a splash.

The reason is obvious, as this Sky headline underlines,

Universal credit ‘harms the most vulnerable’, says major report amid surge in claims

Some 3.2 million people made new Universal Credit claims between the start of the lockdown in March and mid-June.

The BBC covers the story

Universal Credit ‘failing millions of people’, say peers

Universal Credit is “failing millions of people”, especially the vulnerable, according to a new report from peers.

The Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee said it agreed with the government’s aim for the scheme – to bring together multiple benefits into one payment.

But it criticised its design, blaming Universal Credit for “soaring rent arrears and the use of food banks”.

Welfare delivery minister Will Quince said the government was “committed to supporting the most vulnerable”.

But he said the scheme had “defied its critics in unprecedented and unforeseeable circumstances” during the coronavirus pandemic, adding: “The case for Universal Credit has never been stronger.”

Reactions are beginning to tumble in.

One poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said the report “reinforced the scale and urgency of reforms needed”.

And Labour said the system was “simply not working”, instead “pushing people further into poverty and debt”.

Note well this bit.

The Lords’ report said cuts to social security budgets over the last 10 years had caused “widespread poverty and hardship”.

As a result, the committee said Universal Credit needed “urgent investment just to catch up and provide claimants with adequate income”.

The peers called on the government to make the rise in payments due to the coronavirus crisis permanent.

They also called for a non-repayable two-week grant to be introduced to cut the current five-week wait for a claimant’s first payment.

The government said urgent payments were already available, but peers said the standard five weeks “entrenches debt, increases extreme poverty and harms vulnerable groups disproportionately”.

So, Universal Credit is a problem.

Let’s begin with the beginning, with the money you have to live on.

Coming up to my Pension I notice that even the increased UC payment is far below Pension Credit.

It would also perhaps be better if this report came from other people  than those who Daily Allowance (£150) alone (excluding their other revenues, paid in guineas or  gold sovereigns)  is nearly the JSA rate for a fortnight.

This is what their Lordlyships say,

Lords Select Committee.

 

The Economic Affairs Committee publishes its report ‘Universal Credit isn’t working: proposals for reform’, which calls on the Government to make substantial changes to universal credit in order to protect the most vulnerable.

“Most people, including our Committee, broadly agree with the original aims and objectives of Universal Credit. However, in its current form it fails to provide a dependable safety net. It has led to an unprecedented number of people relying on foodbanks and not being able to pay their rent.

“The mechanics of Universal Credit do not reflect the reality of people’s lives. It is designed around an idealised claimant and rigid, inflexible features of the system are harming a range of claimant groups, including women, disabled people and the vulnerable.

“Universal Credit needs more money to catch up after 10 years of cuts to the social security budget. It requires substantial reform to its design and implementation, the adequacy of its awards, and how it supports claimants to navigate the system and find work.

“The five-week wait for a first payment must be replaced by a non-repayable two-week grant to all claimants. The monthly payment calculations which can result in big fluctuations to claimants’ incomes should be fixed for three months. Historical tax credit debt needs to be written off.

“The punitive nature of Universal Credit has not worked. It punishes the poorest by taking away their sole source of income for minor infractions. It needs rebalancing, with more carrot and less stick, particularly as large numbers of claimants will have ended up on it because of events completely out of their control.”

Other findings

The Committee’s other key findings and recommendations include:

  • The Government must prioritise helping people into work, particularly with the increase in unemployment that the Covid-19 pandemic is causing. All claimants should have a work allowance, at a higher rate than now, to allow them to keep more of their award as they move into work.
  • The Government should consider reducing the taper rate to ensure that the poorest in society do not pay higher marginal effective tax rates compared to the richest in society.
  • The conditionality requirements on claimants who can look for, or prepare for work, has been increased significantly over recent years. Less emphasis should be placed on obligations and sanctions. Instead, there should be more support to help coach and train claimants to find jobs or to progress in their current roles. Conditionality should be adapted to accommodate changing labour market conditions, including at the local level, particularly in the light of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The UK has some of the most punitive sanctions in the world, but there is limited evidence that they have a positive effect. Removing people’s main source of support for extended periods risks pushing them further into poverty, indebtedness and reliance on food banks. There is a substantial body of evidence which shows that sanctions harm people’s mental health. The Government should evaluate the current length and level of sanctions. It should also expedite its work on introducing a written warning system before the application of a sanction. Sanctions must be a last resort.
  • The Government is doubling the number of work coaches in response to potential levels of high unemployment. This may not be enough to support people to find work in a stagnant labour market with high levels of competition for jobs. A cap should be introduced on the number of cases for which each work coach can be responsible.
  • Paying awards on a monthly basis does not reflect the way many claimants live. It causes unnecessary budget and cash flow problems. All claimants should be able to choose whether to have Universal Credit paid monthly or twice monthly.
  • Including childcare support in Universal Credit was a mistake. Paying costs in arrears has been a barrier to in-work progression and in some cases, it has been a disincentive to work. The Government should remove childcare support from Universal Credit and be made into a new standalone benefit paid in advance.

ITN carried this story a couple of days ago,

Food banks report ‘unprecedented demand’ during Covid crisis as unemployment predicted to rise to 10% by the end of 2020

Food banks experienced their “busiest month ever” during the coronavirus crisis as families faced a loss of income due to job losses or furlough schemes, the Trussell Trust has said.

The food bank network saw an 89% increase in demand for emergency food parcels in April compared to the same period in 2019.

The figures included a 107% increase in food parcels sent to children with the number of families seeking help almost doubling since last year.

The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) reported similar increases reporting 175% more emergency food parcels given out in the UK during April 2020 compared to last year.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 31, 2020 at 6:54 am

Job Search Proof Returns as Mass Unemployment Predicted.

Quote reads: "Well, they say 35 hours. That’s what you’d sign the disclaimer for. But if you job searched for 35 hours, and you’re not getting a job, I’d guarantee within a month you’re going to have depression."

Job Search Returns.

Contributors have been talking about signing-on and sanctions.

Job Search, and the proof, by UC Diary, print outs, or  completed form,  is at the centre of the Sanctions Regime:

Here is the research link:

 

Meanwhile:

UK unemployment rate could hit 15 per cent with second Covid wave, says OECD

The UK unemployment rate could soar to 15 per cent if there is a second wave of coronavirus infections, the OECD has said.

Even without a second wave, the global economic organisation reckons unemployment could hit 11.7 per cent, a level not seen since the 1980s.

It comes as the UK gradually reopens its economies after lengthy coronavirus lockdowns. As it does so, the government plans to gradually wind down its support for the economy.

The OECD today added to fears that the removal of support will lead to a surge in unemployment when it published a report into jobs markets around the world.

By the end of the year, the UK unemployment rate will have jumped to 11.7 per cent from the current level of 3.9 per cent, it said.

The labour market will take time to recover, the report predicted, with unemployment only dropping to 7.2 per cent in 2021.

However, the OECD said that a second wave of infections and the subsequent lockdown could send unemployment soaring to 14.8 per cent as millions lose their jobs. That would be well above anything seen in recent memory.

Our Boss is gearing up!

Written by Andrew Coates

July 7, 2020 at 10:31 am