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Stop and FIX Universal Credit day of action, Saturday 2nd of December.

with 85 comments

Like many people I buy the ‘I’ Newspaper.

This story today gives lots of reasons – if we needed them – why everybody should be protesting against Universal Credit this Saturday.

Evictions, poverty and stress: Life for single parent families on universal credit

Hunger, anxiety, shame: the universal credit ‘catastrophe’ is hitting lone parents hardest of all. Emily Goddard meets mothers facing a grim Christmas. ‘I have to borrow from my child’s paper round money to top up the meter,’ one tells her.

Lily can smell the cigarette smoke from the next room along the corridor seeping through the crack under the door of her Croydon bed-and-breakfast room that she shares with her seven-year-old daughter. They have spent nearly a month here already after becoming homeless when they were evicted from their privately rented home in another part of the town because Lily couldn’t make the rent payments while waiting for her first universal credit payment.

Every day the 39-year-old returns from working her two low-pay, part-time jobs with her daughter to this room, which contains two single beds. The pair uses a potty in the room to go to the toilet because they don’t have a bathroom of their own – nor a shower, kitchen or washing facilities – and all the communal rooms that are shared by the other 40 to 50 residents are filthy.

Sometimes the noise is overwhelming, with doors banging, arguments raging on and “sex sounds”. And, as if the smell of cigarette smoke hanging heavy in the air was not bad enough, there have been people rolling and smoking joints in the kitchen that every resident in this wholly inadequate emergency accommodation has to share.

If you need more reasons the Mirror has them.

Universal Credit claimants face ‘disaster’ as helpline shuts for most of Christmas

MP Frank Field, who leads the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, has written to the Prime Minister as he warned there’ll be further ‘guerilla war’.

Stop and FIX Universal Credit day of action

Saturday 02 December 2017 at 08:00-20:00

Fix universal credit ident

This Christmas will be cancelled for thousands of families claiming the new benefit Universal Credit. Despite knowing Universal Credit causes serious problems for claimants, Theresa May’s Tory government is pressing ahead and rolling it out to thousands of people who will have to wait weeks to receive any money.

Claimants are descending into debt, relying on food banks, getting into rent arrears and in many cases getting evicted from their homes because of in- built problems with Universal Credit.

Take action NOW against Universal Credit

On Saturday 2 December 2017 Unite Community will be staging a national day of action against Universal Credit to send a message to the Tory government that they must STOP & FIX Universal Credit before rolling it out and further or thousands of families face a cold a hungry Christmas and the threat of losing their homes.

Who gets Universal Credit

Universal Credit replaces five benefits – child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and working tax credit.

Seven million households will be affected, including over one million low paid part-time workers. For the first time ever people in work could face being sanctioned (having their benefits stopped) if they don’t prove to the job centre that they’re searching for better paid work or more hours.

What needs fixing

Unite is calling on the government to:

  • Abandon the long waits for claimants to receive money
  • Allow people to apply for Universal Credit in a jobcentre, not just online
  • Provide people with better help when the system fails them
  • Pay landlords directly to stop people getting into rent arrears and losing their homes
  • End benefit sanctions for in-work and out-of-work claimants
  • Stop payments going to one named member of a household
  • Make work pay – Universal Credit takes 63p in every £1 people earn

Tell us your story

Get in touch and tell us about your Universal Credit stories. Send your stories to Liane.groves@unitetheunion.org

Sat 11:00 · The Giles Statue · Ipswich
All welcome, this is an activity for everyone who is concerned about the impact of Universal Credit, not just union members.

Contacts and actions in your area

Contact your local community coordinator and get involved on Saturday 2 December.

REGION AREA TIME ADDRESS
North East Yorkshire & Humber Ashington 10.00-11.30 Argos, Wansbeck Square, Station Road, Ashington, NE63 9XL
John Coan Barnsley 12.00-13.30 May Day Green, Outside Barnsley Town Hall, Barnsley, S70 1RH
0113 236 4830 Consett  10.00-12.00 Unit 4, 26 Newmarket Street, Consett, County Durham, DH8 5LQ
07711 375536 Grimsby 10.00  1 DEC Freshney Place Shopping Centre, Grimsby, DN31 1ED
John.coan@unitetheunion.org Huddersfield 14.00-15.00 Huddersfield bus station, Upperhead Row, HD1 2JL
Leeds 11.00-13.00 Outside Debenhams, 121 Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6LX
Middlesbrough 14.00-15.00 Middlesbrough Town Hall, Albert Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 2QJ
Newcastle 11.00-12.30 Sports Direct, 15/21 Northumberland Road, Newcastle NE1 7AL
Redcar 10.00-12.00 Redcar High Street, Redcar, TS10 3BZ
London & Eastern Central London from 14.00 Costa Coffee: Oxford Street and turn left on to Great Portland Street.
Dave Condliffe Barking, Dagenham & Havering 10.00-16.00 Chequer’s Corner to highlight how important Dagenham JobCentre
0208 800 4281 Brent 12.00-14.00 Neasden Parade Kilburn Unemployment WC
07791 113806 Cambridge All day Mill Road Winter Fair
David.condliffe@unitetheunion.org  Clacton-on-Sea 10.30-14.00 Brotherhood Hall
Colchester 16.00-18.00 Town Hall, Colchester High Street
Essex 11.00-14.00 Waltham Abbey
Herts & Beds 13.00- St Mary’ Square, leafleting in Watford High Street
Lambeth 11.00-13.00 Brixton tube station
Norfolk 11.00-14.00 Magdalen Street flyover, Anglia Square
Peterborough 11.45-14.00 Peterborough Bus station within central shopping area
Suffolk 11.00-14.00 Suffolk Unite Office
Tower Hamlets 10.00-13.00 Whitechapel Road by tube
West London TBC
South East Bracknell 12.30-14.30 Princess Square, by the War Memorial
Kelly Tomlinson Crawley 13.00-14.30 Crawley, Queens Square (by old bandstand site)
02392 824 514 Dover 10.00-12.00 Dover Biggin Street
07941 342835 Eastbourne 11.00-13.00 Bankers corner, Terminus Road, Cornfield Road
Kelly.tomlinson@unitetheunion.org Gillingham 11.00-13.00 Outside the Conservative club, 122-124 High Street
Hastings 12.00-14.00 Town centre opposite Lloyds, joint stall with the LP.
Herne Bay 10.00-12.00 Corner of Mortimer Street / Sea Street
Hove 13.00-15.00 Hove town hall, Church Rd/Tilsbury Place corner
Milton Keynes 12.00-14.00 Central MK, outside McDonalds
Oxford 11.00-13.00 Carfax tower, junction of Cornmarket Street, High Street, Queen Street and St. Aldgate’s
Portsmouth 14.00-16.00 Commercial Road, by the Fountain
Sittingbourne 10.00-12.00 High Street entrance to The Forum
Slough 10.30-13.00 Slough Square, outside the cinema
Southampton 12.00-14.00 Meet at The Bargate midday
South West Bath 11.00- Xmas Market, meeting point Bath Spa Station  BA1 1SU
Brett Sparkes Barnstaple TBC
01793 836480 Bridgwater 11.00-13.00 Cornhill, Bridgwater TA6 3BU
07718 666593 Bristol 11.00- Fountains (opposite the Hippodrome) St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol BS1 4UZ
brett.sparkes@unitetheunion.org  Bude 11.00-14.00 The Triangle, Belle Vue EX23 8JJ
Gloucester 11.00- Gloucester Eastgate St. GL1 1PA
Minehead 11.00- Iceland The Avenue, Minehead TA24 5AZ
Truro 11.00-14.00 Lemon Quay TR1 2PU
Yeovil 11.00-14.00 Middle Street, Yeovil, Somerset, BA20 1LS
Ireland Belfast 13.00- DfC HQ, Causway Exchange, Bedford Street, Belfast
Albert Hewitt Derry TBC Derry Foyle Jobs and Benefits office
02890 020418
07711 375537
albert.hewitt2@unitetheunion.org
Scotland TBC
Jamie Caldwell
0845 604 4384
07711 376562
jamie.caldwell@unitetheunion.org
North West  Cumbria TBC TBC
Sheila Coleman Ellesmere Port 11.00-14.00 York Rd, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0DB
0151 203 1907 Lancashire TBC TBC
07711 375538 Liverpool 11.00-14.00 Williamson Square, Liverpool city centre
sheila.coleman@unitetheunion.org Manchester TBC TBC
Wirral 11.00-16.00 Open day for advice on Universal Credit, St Anne Street, Birkenhead, CH41 3SU
Midlands  Chesterfield TBC Chesterfield Unite Community, New Square
Shaun Pender East Staffs 10.00-11.45 Outside Primark in Burton town centre
01332 548400 Northampton 10.00-13.00 The entrance of the Grosvenor Centre Northampton town centre
07885 803449 Nottingham TBC Brian Clough Statue, Junction of Queen & King St, Off Market Sq, Nottingham, NG1 2BL
shaun.pender@unitetheunion.org Stoke/North Staffs 11.00-13.00 The Iron market, Newcastle-under Lyme town centre
Wolverhampton City centre
Wales  Aberystwyth 11.00-13.00 TBC
Ian Swan Cardiff 11.00-13.00 Cardiff central library
02920 394521 Merthyr 11.00-13.00 Merthyr town centre
ian.swan@unitetheunion.org Rhyl 11.00-13.00 TBC
Wrexham 11.00-13.00 Wrexham town centre
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Written by Andrew Coates

November 29, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Where Introducing Universal Credit Will be Delayed, and where it will not – Ipswich for starters (April 2018).

with 111 comments

Image result for David gauke

After a Hard Day’s Work Bringing Universal Credit Joy to the People, David Gauke Relaxes with a Pint. 

The Minister at the Helm of the DWP is a busy chap.

He Tweets,

He goes on telly:

David Gauke: ‘Universal Credit is about transforming lives’ – Channel Four.

He even deigns to speak to Parliament,

With permission, Mr Speaker, following the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor in his Budget speech yesterday, I shall make a statement on universal credit.

Universal credit represents the biggest modernisation of the welfare state in a generation. It supports those who can work and cares for those who cannot. Under universal credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the previous system. Once it is fully rolled out it will boost employment by about 250,000, which is equivalent to about 400 extra jobs for every constituency. It was introduced to replace the complex and failed benefit system run by the last Government, which created cliff edges, discouraging people from working more than 16 hours a week and trapping 1.5 million on out-of-work benefits for nearly a decade. Members on both sides of the House have voiced their support for the principles underpinning universal credit. It is a modern welfare system which—through one simple monthly payment—ensures that work always pays, mirrors the world of work, and helps people to earn their way out of financial insecurity and welfare dependency.

As we introduce universal credit, we are constantly improving the way in which the system works. We recently introduced changes to ensure that everyone who needs advance payments has access to them, and we are making our telephone lines Freephone numbers. I have consistently made it clear that we will continue to introduce universal credit gradually. Of the total number of households that will eventually move on to it, 9% are currently receiving it, and the number will increase to 12% by February. That will enable us to make improvements over time.

Colleagues have had concerns about the waiting time for the first payment, and I am grateful to my parliamentary colleagues for their constructive engagement on this issue. There have been several debates here and in the other place. This statement responds to them and fulfils the commitment made on behalf of the Government by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House in relation to the resolution of the House on 18 October 2017. We are now offering a balanced package of improvements that puts more money into claimants’ hands earlier, ensuring extra support for those who most need it.

Rest via link.

Probably he even bleeding sings for his supper.

But we are bored with him already.

Meanwhile. 

The Mirror reports,

After months of protests, the Tories finally announced a £1.5billion lifeline for people on Universal Credit at this week’s Budget.

The waiting time for first payments under the controversial benefit will be shortened from six weeks to five from February.

They mean Universal Credit’s rollout has been delayed – for arguably the EIGHTH time in its chaotic history.

It will now be introduced to just a thin trickle of Jobcentres in February, March and April, instead of the torrent that was planned.

The paper lists the places where it’s delayed.

And the others…

The full list of that ‘thin’ trickle where the disaster that is Universal Credit is coming  is here.

It includes:

April 2018 Universal Credit Transition Rollout Schedule
Local Authority Jobcentre area
Denbighshire County Council Rhyl JCP
Ipswich Borough Council Ipswich JCP
North Lanarkshire Council Airdrie JCP
Bellshill JCP
Cumbernauld JCP

Motherwell JCP
Slough Borough Council Slough JCP*
(*Also serves South Bucks District Council)
South Bucks District Council Slough JCP*
(*Also serves Slough Borough Council)
Wigan Council Ashton in Makerfield JCP
Leigh JCP
Wigan JCP

Note,

Are you already claiming benefits?

Existing benefits and tax credits claimants who do not have a change of circumstance (see below) will not be asked to claim Universal Credit until July 2019 at the earliest. The government expects to finish moving existing benefit and tax credit claimants onto Universal Credit by March 2022.

What counts as a change of circumstance?

There’s no published list of what counts as a change of circumstance to trigger a move from one of the existing benefits to Universal Credit but below is a guide of the changes likely to be included:

  • If your entitlement to the current benefit ends prompting a need to claim a new one, for example if you stop being entitled to Working Tax Credit because you lose your job (or regularly reduce your hours below the minimum number of hours you must work) or you stop being entitled to income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance because you start working more than 16 hours a week.
  • If you become entitled to a different or extra benefit, for example you are claiming income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and have a child so you would have become eligible for Child Tax Credit, or you separate from a partner and would have become eligible for help with your rent through Housing Benefit.
  • If you have a change in your relationship, for example if you move in with somebody already claiming Universal Credit you will claim Universal Credit together.

It is not currently clear if moving house counts as a change of circumstances but it may be the case that moving within the same local authority doesn’t count as a change but moving to a new authority does. We will update this guide when this has been confirmed.

There are also a few changes that are unlikely to count as a change of circumstance, which will generally be changes to benefits you are already claiming. For example, you are already getting Child Tax Credit and you have another child, you are already getting Working Tax Credit and you change jobs (as long as you still meet the hours rules) or you are already getting Housing Benefit and your rent increases.

In many cases you are obliged to report a change of circumstances. If you are in any doubt as to whether a change in your circumstances means you will have to claim Universal Credit see if a local advice agency is able to help you or contact the relevant benefits team to ask.

And then there is this:

A standoff between banks and the government means that loan applicants could be rejected if they receive the new payment.

Thousands – perhaps even millions – of people could have trouble obtaining a mortgage because of problems with the way the government’s universal credit system and banks and building societies “talk” to each other.

A Guardian Money investigation into the difficulties experienced by a homebuyer living in one of the areas chosen to test the new benefit has revealed that some recipients could be at risk of being turned down for a mortgage. Some lenders are saying they will not accept universal credit at all when calculating how much they will lend, while others have apparently not amended their IT systems to deal with it – leading to problems and delays. On its published list of acceptable income types, Halifax’s website simply gives a blunt “no”.

Many lenders do accept it in some situations, but a key problem is that the most up-to-date version of universal credit is fully online and paperwork-free. Many banks and building societies, however, still insist on an official “hard copy” letter detailing how much benefit someone is getting. In essence, it’s an “old tech v new tech” clash.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Universal Credit is Working – DWP.

with 66 comments

Image result for universal credit cartoon david Gauke

Look Upon My Works Ye Mighty, and Tremble!

Latest on the sorry saga of Universal Credit.

Full extent of Universal Credit pain in East Lothian is revealed in shocking new reports.

East Lothian Courier,

THE full impact of Universal Credit in East Lothian has been laid bare in two new reports.

A survey carried out by East Lothian Council’s revenues and welfare support service shows the significant level of negative impact that Universal Credit (UC) is having on county recipients.

While new research carried out by the Citizens Advice Bureau in Musselburgh and Haddington has highlighted how the scheme is having a severe impact on residents.

A total of 209 people responded to the council’s survey, which showed only one quarter managed financially while waiting for their first payment.

Waiting time for that first payment was about six to eight weeks for 82 per cent of respondents, with a further 18 per cent having to hold on for longer than that.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, East Lothian Council deputy leader, said: “This research provides a shocking insight into the impact of Universal Credit on people in East Lothian. It shows that UC affects many people with ill health and disability and that almost half of all claimants need to be referred for money or debt advice.

“East Lothian Council continues to work with its partners to mitigate the impact of Universal Credit on local people and at the same time continue to campaign for improvements and changes with the Scottish and Westminster Governments.”

The survey also found that 53 per cent of respondents required a loan from their families to tide them over; 28 per cent had to get benefit advance; 10 per cent had to apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund and 14 per cent went to the foodbank.

Then there’s this:

Anyone who’s ever worked with the benefit system knows that the principle of amalgamating our overly bureaucratic social security system (where Housing Benefit is administered by your local council, tax credits by HMRC and Job Seekers Allowance by the DWP) is a good thing. Universal Credit – where benefits are combined – therefore sounds like a great idea.

But at Gingerbread, we’re seeing first-hand, through the calls to our helpline and our research, that Universal Credit is too ‘universal’ in practice. It is ignoring the needs of single parents bringing up children on their own. In the last few months I have travelled across England to interview single parents about their experience of Universal Credit and the impact it is having on them and their children.

According to the most recent DWP statistics, there are currently over 65,000 single parents receiving Universal Credit. This system is simply not ready to take on the complexity of their situations.

….

And this from the Guardian.

‘In a year, not one payment correct’: a council tenant on the misery of universal credit

The government has been warned by councils, charities and now even its own backbenchers that universal credit is a social policy disaster. But how does it feel to be on the receiving end of this controversial benefits overhaul?

In the video, visually impaired council tenant Jo King, who lives on Newcastle’s Newbiggin Hall Estate, talks about dealing with delays and miscalculations ever since she was moved on to universal credit over a year ago. She explains how she has twice been left without any benefits at all. In order to survive, she was forced to stop paying her carer and request emergency food parcels.

Let’s not forget this, if you have a problem: Phone them!

Contact Universal Credit

  1. It’s easiest to use your online journal.
  2. Or, you can call 0345 600 4272 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (closed on bank holidays).

Cost of calls

Calls to 03 numbers may be included in your contract. If not, calls cost up to 45p a minute from mobiles and up to 12p a minute from landlines. If you’re unsure, check with your provider.

If that’s too pricey adapt and update this top-tip from the reputable advisers of Viz.

Image result for Viz Top tip save money phone calls

If you have connection problems try this:

Image result for Viz Top tip save money phone calls

Meanwhile the Chronicle has the scoop of the year.

All of the above is Fake News!

A further Hat-tip to those douty chaps and chapettes in the DWP!

Universal Credit is working and, despite calls for the controversial policy to be put on hold, it’s roll out is to continue.

That’s according to the Department for Work and Pensions in response to questions we put to it as increasing criticism of it leading 12 Conservative MPs to call for it to be put on hold.

The Tory flagship reform of the benefits system, rolling together six benefits (including unemployment benefit, tax credits and housing benefit) into one, online-only system, has been piloted in Newcastle .

However, due to late payments it has seen recipients needing to take out loans to feed themselves and also caused rent arrears.

Here is the DWP’s response to our questions in full.

1. Universal Credit has been characterised in many quarters as a failure so far. Do you think that’s fair?

A DWP spokesman said: “Universal Credit lies at the heart of our commitment to help people improve their lives and raise their incomes. It provides additional, tailored support to help people move into work and stop claiming benefits altogether.

“And it’s working. With Universal Credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system.

“Universal Credit is already in every Jobcentre for single claimants, and we are rolling it out to a wider range of people in a safe and controlled way.”

2. The biggest issue is the delay in the first payment which is often six weeks while 10 and 12 week delays are not uncommon. What is being done about this?

The DWP spokesperson said that if someone cannot wait for a first payment because they are in financial need, we want to make sure they can claim an advance payment as quickly as possible. Once we know they are entitled to an advance it is paid within three working days. If someone is in urgent need a payment can be made on the same day.

3. And what about problems of late payments in general?

The DWP spokesperson said its latest research shows that around 80% of all new claims were paid in full and on time. In June 2017, 92% of all claimants received their full payment on time and the trend is improving.

The DWP said that when new claims are not paid on time, it is estimated that two-thirds have an outstanding verification issue, such as providing bank statements, evidence of childcare costs, or proof of rent. Other times it’s because a claimant has not signed their claimant commitment.

4. In Newcastle it has been reported that 80% of council tenants on Universal Credit are in arrears? Do you accept that figure. If not, what is your figure?

The DWP said it could not speak about specific centres.

However the spokesperson said Universal Credit gives people control over their finances, and paying their own rent is an important part of this – just like someone in work would do.

5. There were calls among even a number of Conservative MPs for the roll out to be delayed. Why is the roll out going ahead anyway?

The DWP spokesperson said this was a political question which it couldn’t address and referred us to the speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

At it Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke said he recognised concerns over prolonged waiting periods. He said people in hardship will now be able to have their payments ‘fast tracked’ – meaning they’d get a payment within five days – or on the same day in emergency cases.

But he said the system’s roll-out would go ahead as planned, despite calls for a delay until all issues – including problems with the Universal Credit helpline are addressed.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2017 at 10:37 am

Universal Credit Introduction to Continue as Gaucke Eyes Chancellor’s Jobs.

with 163 comments

Image result for david gauke caricature

From Springboard of  Universal Credit to Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Yesterday:

David Gauke Reveals He Wants To Be Chancellor Of The Exchequer

The Huffington Post continues:

But Tory cabinet minister plays down idea he could become prime minister.

It was expected that he is as deaf as doorpost to all the misery he’s left in his wake, so no surprise to see this:

Today:

Universal credit rollout will go ahead despite Tory MPs’ call for delay

Reports  the Guardian.

Work and pensions secretary David Gauke confirms introduction of controversial benefit will continue as planned.

The government is to press ahead with its rollout of universal credit, the work and pensions secretary has confirmed, despite a last-minute appeal from Tory backbenchers for a delay.

More than a dozen Conservative MPs had raised concerns with David Gauke’s department that claimants were being forced to use food banks because of the mandatory six-week wait to receive money.

On Monday, the MP who led the plea, Heidi Allen, appealed directly to Theresa May to intervene.

But in his speech to the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Gauke praised the controversial system, which is being gradually introduced around the country.

“Universal credit is working,” he said. “So I can confirm that the rollout will continue, and to the planned timetable.

“We’re not going to rush things; it is more important to get this right than to do this quickly, and this won’t be completed until 2022. But across the country, we will continue to transform our welfare system to further support those who aspire to work.”

Gauke said the government would be “refreshing the guidance” to staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over the possibility of giving advance payments to claimants in difficulty.

“Claimants who want an advance payment will not have to wait six weeks, they will receive this advance within five working days,” Gauke said. “And if someone is in immediate need, then we fast-track the payment, meaning they will receive it on the same day.”

Debbie Abrahams, the shadow work and pensions secretary, condemned the confirmation of the rollout, saying Gauke “should immediately end the misery caused by the six-week wait for payment of universal credit”.

Charities and campaign groups also expressed concern. Child Poverty Action Group said it welcomed the government being more proactive on advance payments, but its chief executive, Alison Garnham, said: “Given the serious and wide-ranging concerns about nearly every aspect of universal credit, we had hoped for more on how the government plans to address the funding, policy design and administrative problems plaguing universal credit before it is rolled out to families.”

Meanwhile: Theresa May asked about woman who has 4p to her name due to Universal Credit.

Department for Work and Pensions data shows that 42 per cent of families in arrears under Universal Credit said it was due to the waiting time to receive payment, support being delayed or stopped, or administrative errors in the system.

From the Independent.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 2, 2017 at 3:18 pm

David Gauke Keeps on Boosting Universal Credit as Misery extended to Northern Ireland.

with 84 comments

Image result for david gauke

Gauke, a rare picture of him in Ipswich, Boost, Boost, Boost!

David Gauke, the man at present responsible for the train wreck that is Universal Credit, is a happy kind of chap.

He does not let even the carping of the Eastbourne MP (a place our spies tell us is not the Red Heartland one might assume, although it appears the man in the video below is a member of something called the Liberal Democrats), saying this,

Eastbourne’s MP has called Universal Credit a ‘train wreck’ and has said Christmas will be ‘bitterly hard’ for the town’s families unless it is paused. Stephen Lloyd, the Work and Pensions spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, criticised the policy in a speech at the party’s conference yesterday.

A defiant Gaucky spends his days  boosting the success of the Tories’ madcap plans 24/7.   “The work and pensions secretary has signalled that the government will press ahead with controversial welfare changes, insisting the system of universal credit is “making work pay and transforming lives”.

Yet, in the rare moments he finds time to relax, he, or his minions tweet, addressing the masses on important occasions like this one.

Or sticking to his job at this event,

 

But there is a method in the Gauke.

We learnt today that Northern Ireland is his latest target.

Universal Credit will be introduced on a phased basis in Northern Ireland from next week. Replacing six existing benefits with one, Universal Credit is for people aged 18 to State Pension age. It aims to remove many of the barriers to work which exist in the current welfare system. It will be introduced gradually across Northern Ireland, starting on Wednesday, September 27 until September 2018. New claimants from the Limavady area will be the first to receive Universal Credit. People already claiming the existing benefits will not be affected until 2019, unless their entitlement changes.

Now I am just guessing on this one, but the potential for people getting into rent arrears in Northern Ireland, and the risk of rows about this turning nasty, very nasty, looks pretty big from the outside. Not to mention those wandering around without money for the infamous 6 week waiting period.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 21, 2017 at 3:28 pm

When will Universal Credit Fall off a Cliff?

with 90 comments

Image result for falling off a cliff

Warning: Universal Credit Ahead!

Sometimes you wonder when or where  it will all end.

Or Collapse, as the image above suggests.

Ken already notes on the comments that people are racking up debts because of Universal Credit,

Newcastle tenants on Universal Credit rack up £1.1 million in rent arrears

Housing managers say a new benefits system is leading people into debt and forcing some to use food banks.

Ken adds this to boot,

An automated system is leeching cash away from essentials like clothes and food to cover costs elsewhere

StepChange Debt Charity said the use of direct deductions from people’s benefits, by utility companies, housing providers, councils and others, to cover arrears payments is making it harder for families to pay for essentials forcing many to use credit to keep on top of bills.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/third-party-deductions-dwp-policy-11164892

That’s just a a sample of our contributors’ news from the media, their own experience and comments.

Is the Government worried?

Do they take account of the stream of criticism that’s levelled at the madcap scheme that’s causing widespread misery?

They and the DWP are in denial.

The Ghost of Iain Duncan Smith, in a rage at the fate of his love child,  speaks through one of his minions,

THIS BLOG IS A DISGRACE!! IT EXISTS ONLY TO DISCOVER LOOPHOLES IN DWP RULES AND REGULATIONS, AND TO FIND WAYS AND MEANS FOR SHYSTERS TO AVOID DWP JUSTICE. ITS OWNER – ANDREW COATES – WHO LIKES TO PRETEND HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING ON HIS OWN BLOG AND ALL THE OTHERS WHO SOUGHT TO BRING ABOUT THIS PERVERSE DECISION WHICH ALLOWED A GUILTY MAN TO EVADE DWP JUSTICE SHOULD BE PROSECUTED FOR CONSPIRACY TO PERVERT THE COURSE OF JUSTICE AND CONSPIRACY TO DEFEAT THE ENDS OF JUSTICE. FUMING!

This is the news today, from the Independent,

Universal Credit delays leave claimants to ‘drop off a cliff’ in rent arrears, hear MPs

It comes after Citizens Advice warned the accelerated roll-out of the new regime was a ‘disaster waiting to happen’.

Claimants “drop off a cliff” and “remain in freefall” in rent arrears due to delays in receiving payments under the new Universal Credit regime, MPs have heard.

It comes as the Government plans to accelerate the delayed roll-out of Universal Credit – devised by the former welfare chief Iain Duncan Smith – to 50 new areas in the autumn despite warnings that it is a “disaster waiting to happen”.

Speaking to MPs on the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee in Westminster, council leaders, food banks and charities from across the country raised concerns about the system which intends to merge six existing benefits into one single monthly payment from claimants.

One councillor from the London council of Southwark – where Universal Credit is already up and running – said an additional £1.3m of rent arrears was attributable to the new regime since its introduction by the council two years ago.

Southwark Councillor Fiona Colley told the committee, chaired by the former Labour minister Frank Field, that the roll-out had a range of impacts on the council and its residents due to typical 12-13 weeks to administer the first payment.

“The most significant for us that I want to tell you about is how it has impacted rent arrears and on payment of rent,” she said. “That has very much dominated our experience.

“What we are particularly concerned about is the speed at which rent arrears are increasing after people claim Universal Credit. We see them drop off a cliff once the claim goes in and remain in free-fall for about three months thereafter until people start getting into payment.”

Pressed on whether the system had got any better in the two years the council had been administering Universal Credit, she replied: “I don’t think so.”

“We’re looking to make this work – we can’t afford for it not to.”

Not to mention this:

Universal Credit roll-out a ‘ticking timebomb’, say private landlords

Welfare Weekly.

The Government’s flagship Universal Credit (UC) system is pushing a growing number of private sector tenants into rent arrears, with the number falling behind on payments rising by 10% over the last year.

A survey of almost 3,000 landlords by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), who represent landlords in the private sector across England and Wales, found that 38% of tenants in receipt of UC experienced rent arrears in the last year – up from 27% in February 2016.

The average amount of rent arrears owed by private tenants to their landlords is now £1,150, with the RLA blaming the long wait before UC claimants receive their first payment.

Then there was this:  Homelessness rise ‘likely to have been driven by welfare reforms’

The number of homeless families in the UK has risen by more than 60% and is “likely to have been driven” by the government’s welfare reforms, the public spending watchdog has said.

Homelessness of all kinds has increased “significantly” over the last six years, said the National Audit Office.

It accused the government of having a “light touch approach” to tackling the problem.

The government said it was investing £550m by 2020 to address the issue.

There has been a 60% rise in households living in temporary accommodation – which includes 120,540 children – since 2010/11, the NAO said.

A snapshot overnight count last autumn found there were 4,134 rough sleepers – an increase of 134% since the Conservatives came into government, it added.

A report by the watchdog found rents in England have risen at the same time as households have seen a cut to some benefits.

Homelessness cost more than £1bn a year to deal with, it said.

Reforms to the local housing allowance are “likely to have contributed” to making it more expensive for claimants to rent privately and “are an element of the increase in homelessness,” the report added.

Homelessness rise

England, 2010-2017

134% rise in rough sleepers

60% rise in households living in temporary accommodation

  • 77,000 families in temporary accommodation, March 2017, including…
  • 120,000 children
  • £1.15bn council spending on homelessness 2015-16

Welfare reforms announced by the government in 2015 included a four-year freeze to housing benefit – which was implemented in April 2016.

Auditor General Sir Amyas Morse said the Department for Work and Pensions had failed to evaluate the impact of the benefit changes on homelessness.

“It is difficult to understand why the department persisted with its light touch approach in the face of such a visibly growing problem.

“Its recent performance in reducing homelessness therefore cannot be considered value for money.”

The ending of private sector tenancies – rather than a change in personal circumstances – has become the main cause of homelessness in England, with numbers tripling since 2010/11, said the NAO.

Its analysis found private sector rents in England have gone up by three times as much as wages since 2010 – apart from in the north and East Midlands.

While in London, costs have risen by 24% – eight times the average wage increase.

I saw people sleeping in doorways in Ipswich last night.

Not at all unusual.

Anywhere.

Update: still somebody’s happy:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2017 at 11:14 am

Millions Face Income Cut with Welfare Reform.

with 121 comments

Tories Welfare ‘Reform’. 

I thought a lot about this yesterday.

First of all, let’s not forget that the Benefits Freeze means we are no longer able to keep up with every rising prices in the shops, utility charges and higher Community Charge.

Next, the report highlights the fact that many people on Local Housing Benefit,  are no longer getting their rents fully paid.

FInally you can guess the DWP’s response without even reading the article.

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “This report assumes that people won’t make any attempt to change and to improve their lives. But our welfare reforms incentivise work and, for the first time, universal credit helps working people progress and earn more, so they can eventually stop claiming benefits altogether.

“Under universal credit people are finding a job faster and staying in it longer than under the old system, and since the benefit cap was introduced, 34,000 households have moved off the cap and into work.”

In other words, ‘improve your lives” by getting out of the claws of the DWP and its so-called Universal Credit.

As Gauke would say, “I have made myself perfectly clear.”

Two million UK families face £50-a-week cut in income

Guardian.

Households with children make up more than 80% of those set to lose out as pressure grows for end to austerity

In a bleak assessment of the plight of the poorest families in Britain, the study commissioned by the Local Government Association found that more than 84% of those set to lose £50 a week or more are households with children, either lone parents or couples. Almost two-thirds of them are working households, despite claims from ministers that they wish to create a welfare system that encourages work.

The analysis, by the Policy in Practice consultancy, also undermines claims from ministers that moves to cut taxes and increase the wages of the poorest are compensating them for years of austerity and the rising cost of living.

While some of the seven million low-income households in Britain will be better off by 2020, the group as a whole faces an average loss of £40.62 a week by 2020 compared with the end of last year, once benefit and tax changes, wages, housing costs and inflation are all taken into account.

….

The study finds that the introduction of the government’s flagship policy of universal credit, which combines a series of benefits into a single payment, will lead to an average income loss of £11.18 per week. It coincides with new warnings from Citizens Advice that the rollout of the system should be halted, amid claims that some of those already receiving it have found themselves in serious debt.

With charities and councils warning of rising homelessness, increasing housing costs are identified as a main cause of falling income. More than 2 million low-paid private renters face an average real-terms loss of £38.49 a week by 2020.

For low-income private renters with three or more children, the average income loss that they face by 2020 in real terms is £67.21 a week. This compares with £30.67 for private renters without children.

The authors also say rents are rising faster in some areas than others, with housing benefit not rising to match it. The study found rents are set to rise by 20.7% in the south-west by 2020, but by just 3.5% in the north-east. The report warns that there is now a looming “affordability crisis” because cuts to housing benefit, known as local housing allowance (LHA) for private renters, mean it is no longer linked to real rents, pushing people into poverty or even homelessness.

This is the Report:

The Cumulative Impact of Welfare Reform: A National Picture

Extracts,

The combined effects of the major reforms implemented before 2017, namely the underoccupation charge (NOTE by Ipswich Unemployment Action, the Bedroom Tax) , the localisation of CTRS, the LHA shortfall and both benefit caps, result in an average nominal income loss of just over £23 per week for each working-age household.

The transition to Universal Credit will lead to a further average income loss of £11.18 per week.

This is largely due to cuts in work allowances which will hit households, often with children and previously in receipt of tax credits, particularly hard. The introduction of the National Living Wage and increases to the personal tax allowance will generate almost £3.2 billion for working, low-income households, reducing the average nominal income loss by 2020 to £7.62 per week.

However, these mitigating measures will only benefit 2.5 million of the 7.1 million affected working-age households, half of whom are not affected by welfare reform to begin with. Critically, the continued impact of reforms implemented before 2017 will increase the cumulative loss from welfare reform to an average of £40.62 per week by 2020. This is a consequence of expected inflation and private rent growth, combined with the freezing of benefits rates for working-age people through to 2020 and means that many households see
falls in real income. Private renters will be particularly hit because the link between the Local Housing Allowance rate and market prices has been broken.

The growing disconnect between rents and LHA rates means that the gap between housing support and housing costs will increase disproportionately for private sector renters. Nominally, private renters will be £2.75 per week better off by 2020, as they are more likely to be in work and so benefit from the increase in the National Living Wage and Personal Tax Allowance. However, once expected inflation and private rent growth is factored in, private renters will face average real terms losses of £38.49 per week, with higher losses for larger families.

Squeeze on living standards is down to welfare cuts, not the fall in the pound

Guardian

..for millions of low- and middle-income Britons, living standards looked under threat even when Brexit was nothing more than a twinkle in Boris Johnson’s eye. The key moment came when, fresh from the Conservatives’ 2015 general election victory, the chancellor George Osborne delivered a budget that promised to “reward work and back aspiration”.

True to his word, he presented some very good news by introducing the national living wage – a sizeable and welcome supplement to the minimum wage for employees aged 25 and over. But the good news was eclipsed by the bad. The estimated £4bn boost from the national living wage was dwarfed by savings of £14bn from cuts to working-age welfare. What’s more, the welfare cuts are concentrated among poorer households. In the coming years, Britain faces the prospect of the first significant rise in inequality in three decades.

There is plenty to add: as people have already noted they’ve found the cash for the Police and the Prison Officers.

End the Benefit Freeze!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2017 at 10:36 am