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Archive for the ‘Thérèse Coffey’ Category

Parliament Debates Universal Credit Cut: Tories Abstain and Vow to Ignore Defeat.

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The Universal Credit cut has been raised in Parliament today

The debate was not well attended, and only a handful of Tories (seen on BBC Parliament, yup I watched it..) sat in the Chamber.

One who was there.

In the afternoon debate Beth Winter (Labour, Cynon Valley) called not just to cancel the cut but to extend the £20 uplift to those on Legacy Benefits.

Mired in a the scandal over her recent statements, – “removing the £20 uplift would only mean “two hours’ extra work every week” for claimants – Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey, did not have the courage to address the House of Commons.

Minion Will Quince Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions and MP for Colchester (not that far from Coffey’s Felixstowe homeland), said this was not a ‘cut’. It has been a “time-limited measure’ (what time limit?). To maintain the uplift would cosy (plucks figure from air) 6 Billion, if not more. The ‘safety net’ of benefits should not “trap people on welfare”. Now the government was concentrating its efforts on getting people into work.

The Labour motion was carried, 253 to Zero. All the Tories abstained. The resolution has no binding effect at all.

The motion will simply be ignored., Angela Eagle (Labour) called the Conservatives behaviour “despicable”, We ae now waiting for the (Procedurally necessary) government to respond within 12 weeks.

As the Mirror put it earlier today,

A Commons vote on axing the Universal Credit cut for six million Brits looks set to PASS today as Tory MPs are told to sit it out.

Yet Boris Johnson intends to completely ignore the result – because the vote has no legal force.

Downing Street said he will push ahead with the £20-a-week slashing next month anyway – despite today’s vote “calling on the Government to cancel its planned cut to Universal Credit andWorking Tax Credit.”

Today’s decision prompted furious recriminations from Labour, who tabled the desperate plea to stop the cut in a Commons debate and said its wishes should be carried out.

A Labour spokeswoman said: “This is a major cut that will affect millions of families across the country.

“We have given Tory MPs the chance to do the right thing. We would expect them to vote on a motion that will have a major impact on people’s lives.

Some updates from Twitter:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2021 at 4:08 pm

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

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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

Johnson – Universal Credit Claimants Should Rely On Their Own ‘Efforts’ Not Welfare.

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There’s been a flurry of stories about the Universal Credit cut today:

But this stands out.

Boris Johnson Says Universal Credit Claimants Should Rely On Their Own ‘Efforts’ Not Welfare.

“Boris Johnson has defended planned cuts to Universal Credit by suggesting claimants should rely on their own “efforts” rather than accept “welfare”.

The prime minister shrugged off a growing Tory rebellion over the removal of the £1,000-a-year top-up to the benefit, which was introduced to cushion the impact of the Covid pandemic on low-income families.

Everyone on Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit will see the uplift axed on October 6 and a new report warned that households in more than 50 Tory marginals won in 2019 would be among those hardest hit.”

The man who looks like adopting the Bertie Wooster strategy before the Beak of ‘sout denial’ continues

But Johnson made a robust defence of the benefit cut plans, declaring that it was better for people to get more money by working harder than by relying on income that came from other taxpayers.

“My strong preference is for people to see their wages rise through their efforts rather than through taxation of other people put into their pay packets, rather than welfare,” he said.

He added: “The key focus for this government is on making sure that we come out of Covid strongly, with a jobs-led recovery, and I’m very pleased to see the way the unemployment numbers, the unemployment rate has been falling, employment has been rising, but also wages have been rising.”

However, critics point out that many of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit are actually in work, but are on low wages.

Meanwhile our all-heart Minister is here:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2021 at 5:09 pm

Universal Credit claimants get text message about the £20 uplift ending in September.

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Universal Credit claimants have received a text message to tell them that their payments will be slashed from next month.

Berkshire Live.

A £20-a-week uplift was introduced in April 2020 to help alleviate the financial burden of the pandemic, but 17 months later the money is set to be cut.

Charities, opposition parties and Conservative MPs are calling for the UK Government to rethink the decision to end the payments in September, the Daily Record reports.

“You couldn’t make this stuff up. I phoned the DWP and they confirmed similar messages had been sent to millions of people.

“We have backbench Tory MPs campaigning for the £20 a week uplift to stay, yet the UK Government is ploughing on regardless and telling us via text message.

“This will create a perfect storm of poverty and social distress across Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

Veteran anti-poverty campaigner Sean Clerkin told the Daily Record that the cuts will create ‘the perfect storm of poverty’, saying: “The message told me I had been receiving an extra £86.67p since April 2020, which was a temporary increase because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

“It added the increase will end soon and my payment on September 17 would be the last time I received this amount.

Not everyone has a mobile, or is on-line at home, and given the only recently ended Lockdown will not have had access to the Internet. Until last year I did not, I used the public library. The basic reason: money. I have a land-line and people I have known for years use that. And as it happens, it proved essential to get a BT Internet service. An extra bill for a smart phone, no thanks.

There are many others reasons for what is called ‘digital exclusion.”

What causes digital exclusion?

Although the number of UK adults getting online is increasing, there are still plenty who don’t access the internet.

It’s estimated there are 9 million people in the UK who are unable to use the internet and associated devices by themselves, accounting for 16% of adults in the UK.

Digital exclusion is a major problem for older people and the disabled, as well as those on low incomes who lack the financial power to get online.

Promoting digital inclusion could have numerous benefits for internet non-users, but there are a significant number of people who just aren’t interested

Growing problem of ‘digital exclusion’

  • A significant proportion of the population is digitally excluded because they lack internet access and/or have low levels of digital literacy.
  • The main determinant of digital exclusion is age but other significant factors – often combined with low income – include disability, learning difficulties, ethnic origin, location, culture and language.
  • As the government moves services to self-serve channels, significant numbers of people who are unable to move online, or who are not computer-literate, might miss out on government services.
  • People who are digitally excluded are likely to be disproportionately heavy users of government services. Nearly half of those seeking help on tax and tax credit issues do not have access to a computer.
  • The depth of digital exclusion for people with disabilities is generally much greater than for the wider population.
  • Motivation seems to be the biggest barrier to digital inclusion to overcome, especially for low-income groups.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2021 at 4:30 pm

Universal Credit Cut of £20 to go ahead in the autumn.

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We are questioning Dr Thérèse Coffey MP
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Watch live on Wednesday 7 July at 9.30am

“Ahead of October we will start communicating with current claimants who receive £20 to make them aware that will be being phased out and they will start to see an adjustment in their payments”.

The result of the meeting?

Covid: Universal credit £20 top up to be phased out

BBC

The £20-a-week increase to universal credit will be “phased out” in the autumn, the government has confirmed.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told MPs the boost – introduced in April last year to help deal with the economic effects of Covid – would face an “adjustment”.

Six former work and pensions secretaries have urged ministers not to end the uplift.

Ms Coffey said the change had been a “collective decision” by ministers.

Universal credit is claimed by more than 5.5 million households in the UK.

The top up was extended by six months in March and Labour has called for it to continue beyond the autumn.

……

Campaigners say the extra money – which is worth around £1,000 a year – has made the difference for some families between getting by and falling further into poverty.

Ms Coffey told the Commons Work and Pensions Committee that it would change this autumn alongside other measures put in place to help those affected by the pandemic.

“Ahead of October we will start communicating with the current claimants… to make them aware that will be being phased out and they will start to see an adjustment in their payments,” she said.

“We will be recognising that this was brought in with the temporary measures to support [people] during the pandemic.”

The ‘I’ carries the same story:

Universal Credit: Emergency £20 payment will be withdrawn in September, Therese Coffey confirms

Speaking at the Work and Payments Committee, she said: “Ahead of October we will start communicating with current claimants who receive £20 to make them aware that will be being phased out and they will start to see an adjustment in their payments.

“I think it will largely start to kick in during October but it will be September for some people.

“The current proposal is that we will be recognising this was brought in in line with temporary measures to support people during the pandemic. It’s being phased out in line with all the other temporary measures.”

Tory MP for Amber Valley, Nigel Mills, pressed the Secretary of State on whether she had lobbied Chancellor Rishi Sunak for the top up to be kept but she said the decision to end it had been collective.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic the Government announced it would be increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits by £20 a week to support households.

Universal Credit is currently claimed by more than 5 million households in the country and the uplift if estimated to be worth around £1000 a year.

Campaigners have argued that the extra money has been the difference between falling into poverty for some families.

And there are concerns that coinciding the end of the payment at the same time as the furlough scheme comes to an end would hit households in need hard.

But the Secretary of State argued that there would be no need for the £20 uplift because more people will be able to enter the workforce after lockdown is lifted.

Ms Coffey said her focus was on jobs and “all the things we can do to help people work more hours”, she added.

Mr Mills argued that the Department did not yet have data to prove that families would no longer need the top-up payment, accusing the Government of basing the decision on “dates not data”

Written by Andrew Coates

July 7, 2021 at 12:03 pm