Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘Suffolk’ Category

New Threats to Claimants and Public Services.

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The reality of the recent cut to benefits – that is for those who got the Top Up, which did not include Legacy Claimants – is sinking in.

One thing that strikes you, and it is a long time since this writer was under 25, is the pitance single young people have to live on: £321.84 a month. You can easily pay £70 a month in gas and electricity alone (Flat). In fact that’s around what I pay. It’s a hefty chunk of any low income. My Bill, like everybody else’s, is set to rise.

Then here is this:

What is now worrying local councils is this:

Budget 2021: Local services face cuts as Sunak’s Spending Review delivers real-terms fall in council funding.

The ‘I’.

Council services such as social carebin collection, sport centres and road repairs are likely to be cut following real-term reductions in funding to councils in Rishi Sunak’s Spending Review, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) will warn.

Analysis by the IFS shows that despite sharp rises in household council tax bills and £4.8bn of new grant funding for local authorities up until 2025, any additional revenue will be wiped out by rising costs, and councils will be forced to slash at least some essential services.

The IFS found that the expected average rise in council tax bills across all councils equates to 2.8 per cent increase each year until 2025. With the average council tax bill currently about £1,428, three consecutive years of rises would mean the average household would pay £39.92 more from next April, and £123.13 more from April 2024 than they paid this year.

These are the kind of things that do not register with people, until they are affected. Things at risk include very visible services libraries and the Citizen’s Advice bureau (in Suffolk a couple of years ago the Health Trust had to step in when the Tory Council Council halved their funding for them, except that kind of thing to happen again).

For all the claims to back public transport a look at the reality shows the reality:

Councils reacted with anger, warning that unless local authorities increase council tax bills by 3 per cent – thereby forcing a referendum in which local residents will vote on the rise – then services are likely to be cut.

Sam Chapman-Allen, chairman of the District Councils Network and Conservative leader of Breckland District Council in Norfolk said: “The Spending Review does not deliver the firm financial foundation district councils need to continue delivering essential frontline services and supporting local economies to grow. 

“We cannot see how the £4.8bn new grant funding announced by the Chancellor will come close to addressing the financial pressures district councils and the rest of local government are under.   

“Councils face a triple whammy of rising inflation, higher wage costs from the lifting of the public sector pay freeze, and continuing pressures from the impact of Covid. This leaves councils with an unpalatable choice between increasing council tax for hard-pressed local residents or cutting services that every local resident and business relies on.”

Don’t forget that people on benefits will begin again to pay Council Tax Relief/Reduction next year, which in some parts of the country is already unfairly high.

Still somebody’s happy:

Halloween Day FINAL.jpg

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2021 at 6:15 pm

Thérèse ‘Karaoke’ Coffey Hits the Headlines.

Thérèse Coffey Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions Celebrating a Few Hours After Universal Credit Cut.

In an unusual move the East Anglian Daily Times (a fine local paper but one which will rarely criticise Suffolk MPs) carries this story about the MP for Suffolk Coastal. This Blog could add that while Coffey is known for a love of a good lunch, fine eating and dining, as well as cigars, her dancing and singing act has yet to be seen – correct me if I am wrong – in Suffolk pubs and restaurants.

Therese Coffey criticised for karaoke video after benefits cut

A Suffolk MP has been criticised for singing a karaoke version of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life as a controversial cut to Universal Credit came into place.

Therese Coffey, the Suffolk Coastal MP and work and pensions secretary, performed a rendition of the power ballad with fellow Tory minister and Colchester MP Will Quince at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has been criticised for singing (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life as she cuts universal credit payments. Ms Coffey belted out a rendition of the power ballad with fellow Tory minister Will Quince at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester in the early hours of Wednesday. Labour called the timing of her karaoke performance of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, as she removes the £20 uplift to universal credit for millions of people, “an insult and a disgrace

Today the paper has this story, one that our contributors know all too well.

I’m being made to feel like I shouldn’t have had a child’: Suffolk residents share impact of Universal Credit cut.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 7, 2021 at 9:33 am

Food Banks Braced for Universal Credit Cut.

Trussell Trust records 'busiest' period across its food banks nationwide |  Salisbury Journal

Food Banks Gear Up for Universal Credit Cut.

The news reports keep rolling out.

On Sunday, as this Blog has already mentioned, every Sunday there is this, just around the corner,

Several churches in the South England Conference are operating as ADRA community hubs during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. They are providing food, provisions and assistance in their area under ADRA’s, I AM Urban initiative.

Food for the homeless (packed lunch).

Available for collection every Sunday 12pm – 1pm.

(Seventh Day Adventist Church).

There is always a small crowd.

Now there is this news.

Ipswich food banks reopen and struggle to get supplies before benefit cut and furlough end.

Ipswich Star.

Ipswich food banks have reopened a shop and are struggling to get supplies ahead of the cut to Universal Credit and the end of furlough in October. 

In addition to these “big” changes, Gareth Brenland from foodbank and homelessness charity the Bus Shelter Ipswich says at the end of next month families will have children at home without free school meals. 

Mr Brenland said: “I’m concerned. 

“That cut to Universal Credit affects me and is £80 a month. It will have a big impact on me. 

“Last month we did 49 food parcels but I’m expecting 100s. 

Graham Denny, founder and administrator of the BASIC Life Charity, who runs Ipswich and Felixstowe charity stores where you can get all your shopping for £2, is preparing for the big change. 

“We’ve taken lots of provisions from Suffolk County Council,” Mr Denny said. “We’re quite aware of the challenges that are coming and how difficult that is going to be and I think we’re ready for that.”

Our Hard Right Tory MP, who spends most of his time railing against ‘Woke’ and ‘Cultural Marxism’ said this (the first time he has expressed on opinion on these fringe issues).

Mr Hunt said he did tell Mr Sunak he thinks the uplift should be permanent but pointed out the chancellor will have to make “difficult” decisions in light of the over £400 billion borrowed during the pandemic. 

Around 5,790 people in Ipswich were on out-of-work benefits as of mid-July, down 145 from 5,935 in mid-June.

He added he sympathises with his constituents who are facing these challenges but said he knows from talking to Ipswich business they need staff and have lots of vacancies.  

Here is the MP for the Constituency next to Ipswich,

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2021 at 7:28 am

Local Impact of £20 a Week Universal Credit Cut: Ipswich Onwards…

No Cuts To Universal Credit | Megaphone UK

Yesterday East Anglia Bylines carried this story:

Universal Credit cuts threaten Tory MPs in the East

Stephen McNair

Extracts.

The government’s planned cuts to Universal Credit will hit one family in five in East Anglia. Will the region’s Conservative MPs dare to back the Chancellor’s plan?

What about East Anglia?

In East Anglia 320,000 families receive Universal Credit, more than half of them with children. Forty percent of these claimants are in work, but not earning enough to meet the minimum needs for basic living. In every constituency more than 10% of families are on Universal Credit, and that percentage rises to over 25% in five of them (see table below). So the blow is going to be felt right across the region.

Will our region’s Conservative MP’s back the cut?

Thirty nine of the region’s 41 MPs are Conservatives, and the Party has traditionally been opposed to generous welfare benefits of any kind. However twelve of the region’s Conservative MPs have majorities smaller than the number of Credit claimants.  At the extreme, in Peterborough Paul Bristow MP has a majority of only 2,580, but 18,360 voters on Universal Credit.

So the Universal Credit cut is a real threat to at least ten of the region’s MPs, especially in Peterborough, Ipswich and Norwich North, where the Conservatives hold the seat with narrow majorities.  

Note, one would hope so, but people in working class Peterborough have already voted for those opposed to their own interests.

In Waveney, Peter Aldous has already written to the Prime Minister calling for the cut to be cancelled.  It will be interesting to see how large a rebellion there will be on the government benches when the issue comes to Parliament. Will our MPs be prepared to inflict cuts on such a large proportion of their own constituents, or will they swallow their traditional principles, and vote to block this cut?

Note, it is to be very much doubted that (many?) others will follow, though some might. The hard right Ipswich Tory MP Tom Hunt is more obsessed with fighting ‘cultural Marxism’ than standing up for constituents on Universal Credit.

One can hardly avoid mentioning that the MP for Suffolk Coastal, which adjoins Ipswich is this figure is the DWP Minister carrying out the brutal cuts…

Where will the cuts bite hardest?

The constituencies most affected are listed here. All are held by Conservatives (we highlight one..)

ConstituencyCountyMP2019 MajorityFamilies on universal credit or working tax creditsPercentage of families on universal credit or working tax credits
IpswichSuffolkTom Hunt5,47912,20024.3%

Yesterday the Ipswich Star published this:

‘Massive impact’ as 58,000 people to lose £20 a week in benefits

Citizens Advice has found itself helping many more younger people during the pandemic, with Mrs Harrison saying the “jobs they were in are no longer there”.

She has argued that a “delay would be ideal – especially to try to get over the winter period”.

Waveney (Note, this includes Lowestoft which has a large working class and some very poor areas) MP Peter Aldous is one of those calling for the £20 a week uplift to be made permanent.

Today, local press is doing its job.

‘Forced to live off £8.30 a day’ – man’s fear at impending benefit cut.

The princely sum of £8.30 might buy you a cinema ticket, a meal for one at a restaurant or a couple of ready meals from the supermarket.

But one Universal Credit claimant from Suffolk is facing up to the harsh reality of a life where that will be his daily budget – as he braces himself for a £20 a week cut to his benefits.

The claimant, a young autistic adult with chronic fatigue syndrome, was an electrician before the pandemic and lost his job in a kitchen as the Covid crisis started.

Since then, the man – who has asked us not to use his name – said he has been “struggling on the benefit system”.

This is a familiar story to our readers,

He says this is “barely enough as it is” – but with the government set to remove the uplift on October 6, the claimant is now asking: “How do they expect everyone to survive?”

“It will cause devastation to so many families across the UK,” said the man, who is one of 58,069 people in the county claiming Universal Credit.

“I can barely afford the things I need with the £20 uplift.

The details makes it worse.

When it gets reduced, people will be forced to live off of £8.30 a day, roughly. This is disgusting and cannot be allowed to happen.”

The claimant also argues the the DWP’s removal of the uplift contradicts letters he has had from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), which warn of the continuing dangers of Covid-19.

“How on one side can the DWP cut off financial support to the most vulnerable people in our society, with the excuse of ‘this was only a temporary increase because of the coronavirus pandemic’, and then on the same day the DHSC can send me a letter saying that Covid-19 remains a threat?.

“So the DWP is saying we don’t need to provide you extra financial support, but the DHSC is saying that the virus remains a threat? It is so ignorantly stupid and a contradiction.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is very much still happening. Those who are vulnerable and disabled in our society still do not feel safe to return to normal.

“The DWP cannot be allowed to get away with this.”

Hats off to the Ipswich Star and the East Anglian Daily Times for the report.

This story can be reproduced across the country, and it is not hard to imagine our contributors having worse experiences of living on existing benefits. Not hard because many have written about it.

There are of course those on Legacy Benefits who never got the uplift.

UK Government urged to scrap plans to axe £20 Universal Credit increase.

ITV.

Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have called on the UK Government to scrap plans to axe the £20 increase to Universal Credit and instead make the higher rate of payment permanent.

In a letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, they branded the change, which is due to come into effect in September, as the “biggest overnight reduction to a basic rate of social security since the modern welfare state began, more than 70 years ago.”

Ministers from Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont raised concerns about the impact the reduction would have on poverty.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 30, 2021 at 5:29 pm

Government Slash Emergency Fund for UC Claimants and Refuse to stop Benefit Cut because it will “cost Billions”.

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Thérèse Coffey Enjoys a Celebratory Feed on the 17th of May.

The Mirror,

Tories refuse to stop Universal Credit cut because it would cost ‘billions on benefits

Tory ministers have refused to stop a £20-a-week Universal Credit cut this Autumn – because it would cost “billions more on benefits”.

DWP minister Will Quince today attacked Labour for asking for the lifeline for six million people to be extended beyond September 30.

He claimed “I certainly don’t recognise” that 4million children in poverty are “going to bed at night with no food in their tummy”.

And despite 37% of people on Universal Credit having a job, Mr Quince said the DWP would instead “shift its focus to supporting people back into work”.

Universal Credit is due to be slashed back by £20 a week from October after it was raised for 18 months due to the pandemic.

Emergency fund for hard-up Brits on Universal Credit slashed by £3million in a year

A POT of emergency cash for struggling Brits on Universal Credit has been slashed by £3million in a year.

A freedom of information request by The Sun found that the Flexible Support Fund (FSF) shrunk from £40.7million in the 2018/19 tax year to £37.8million the following year.

In four years, the lifeline for millions of families in poverty has been cut by £13.9million.

The FSF is used to pay grants to help those on Universal Credit with the cost of getting back into work.

The grants are issued on top of other benefits and can be used to cover the costs of things like childcare, uniforms or work tools as long as they help you get a job.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decides how much is set aside for the fund each year.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 19, 2021 at 10:57 am