Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘Tories’ Category

Johnson, Corruption and Claimants.

Newspaper headlines: Sleaze rules 'torn up' by 'shameless' Tory MPs - BBC  News

Tory Corruption.

You can’t ignore the events in Parliament over the last few days.

On this Blog we talk about the problems we have as claimants, or (in my case, finally, getting Pension Credit). The stand out fact is that people in that position have not much money – even when working we are not going to get well paid jobs – and all the problems that creates. When looking at the kind of cash some people have it’s hard, if not impossible, to get a grip of the kind of income some get. I would not want a town house in Knightsbridge, private jet and helicopter flights, a country mansion, or wih to eat a gold plated steak (£850 to £1,500.) at Salt Bea’s restaurant. But it’s hard to see why people should get that kind of money when others rely on Food Banks.

It’s hard to see how you get this money through ordinary work.

Then there is the political angle.

This case stands out. The gang running this government seem to have got themselves into trouble over how they enrich themselves.

This was in the ‘I’ (strongly recommended as a daily paper) yesterday.

The Owen Paterson scandal shows how corrupt our political class already is.

Patrick Cockburn.

People in the UK often fail to see the seriousness of this deteriorating situation because mealy-mouthed words and phrases such as “lobbying”, “sleaze” and “egregious cases of paid advocacy” are used. But when these activities come together they create a toxic system in which it is only the companies that invest heavily in acquiring the services of powerful politicians and civil servants who will win the big contracts and plug into government subsidies.

In the wake of the Paterson furore, much of the commentary is about Boris Johnson’s misjudgements, and there is a reinforcement of the feeling that his government is full of dodgy people doing dodgy things. Parallels are drawn with the Tory sleaze scandals of the 1990s or the parliamentary expenses scandal of 2008. But these analogies miss the point, because in both cases the amount of money involved was trivial compared to the vast sums that the politically powerful can now hope to gain.

Paterson’s overall earnings were about £100,000 a year as a consultant to two companies, which may not sound enormous, but Randox Laboratories was paying him £8,333 for 16 hours’ work a month, or about £500 an hour according to the Commons standards committee report. Lynn’s Country Foods, a processor, was paying him £2,000 for just four hours work every other month, which is about the same rate of hourly pay.

….

Honesty and dishonesty are more of a matter of habit than people care to admit. The spread of corruption is turbocharged if the fortunes to be made are large and the risk of punishment low. But the lesson of Russia, Ukraine and a host of other states in the world is that once a political class becomes corrupt, there is no way back because its members will leap to defend their own, in case they should be next in line for detection and punishment. This may not have happened yet in the UK, but, as we saw this week, it is not for lack of trying.

You do not have to look to the former Eastern bloc to see how this can happen. As a French speaker over the years I have seen many affaires involving bent politicians, the most recent involving former President Nicolas Sarkozy: Sarkozy: Former French president sentenced to jail for corruption (May 2021) (he got a suspended sentence).

This is even better known in Spain, “The Gürtel case began with one Madrid mogul. Over the next decade, it grew into the biggest corruption investigation in Spain’s recent history, sweeping up hundreds of corrupt politicians and businessmen – and shattering its political system. (Guardian Sam Edwards 2019). Spanish people got so fed up with this that some (often from the protesters who went on to support the radical left Podemos) called the politicians ‘la casta politica’, the political caste, which ruled, they considered, in its own class interests.

Now we have this: Ex-British PM calls actions of Johnson’s government “politically corrupt”

LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) – Former British Prime Minister John Major on Saturday attacked fellow Conservative Boris Johnson’s handling of a corruption row, saying the government’s behaviour was arrogant, broke the law and was “politically corrupt”.

Johnson was forced to make a U-turn after he abandoned plans pushed through parliament to protect a lawmaker found to have broken lobbying rules.

This:

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This sums up the government’s policies more broadly:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Posted in DWP, Tories

Tagged with ,

ID Issues Hit Universal Credit.

Universal Credit Claimants Locked Out Online Due To 'Consistent' Digital  Verification Failings | HuffPost UK

ID seems an obsession with the crew of chancers who lead this government.

Those who follow politics know that the Tories want everybody who wishes to vote to present photo ID for elections. The fact that a few million people do not have Driving Licences or Passports is a bonus for the Conservatives. It will exclude many of the poor and marginalised from the ballot box, and make local councils (a majority in Labour areas) fork out to pay for some special scheme to allow us to have the privilege to vote. Lots of people will not bother and just give up.

It has crept down to the DWP.

There was this in October,

People are being forced to submit photos of themselves holding a local daily paper outside their home in order to claim universal credit.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) verification process contains a detailed list of bizarre requests potential claimants must follow. It also includes requiring people to send in a photo taken by someone else of them holding their street sign in their right hand.

The instructions were posted in at least one person’s universal credit journal – the online platform used to manage benefit claims – by a DWP employee, according to the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC). 

The Mirror reports,

Universal Credit claimants told to pay back thousands in Covid support due to ID issues

Benefit claimants who received Covid support at the height of the pandemic are being told to repay every penny back – with some claimants describing the emergency support as a ‘loan’ not a ‘benefit’.

The Mirror has spoken to dozens of people who have received sudden bills from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the past six months, asking for all the Covid support they received back.

It follows our investigation into dad Gary Blake who had been sent a bill for an overpayment because of missing ID.

In the vast majority of cases we spoke to, claimants were told to submit ID – despite already sharing it, while others were told to repay their Covid benefits because they did not have a tenancy agreement. In many cases, shortly after providing these documents, the claimants were sent a shock bill.

The Mirror continues with first hand stories, beginning with this one:

Mirror reader Sheila Richards said she received an unexpected bill for £6,000 earlier this year after receiving help during the pandemic.

The DWP allegedly told the claimant it was because she had not submitted a photo of herself.

“I had provided photo ID at my local Job Centre Plus on the many occasions that I had been asked to visit, so I didn’t consider it to be that crucial,” Sheila, who is self-employed, told The Mirror.

She is now disputing the charges with the DWP. Sheila wrote to her constituent MP but never heard back.

Still, somebody is happy at the way things are going:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 5, 2021 at 9:03 am

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

The Budget and Claimants.

Unite Community campaign for a fairer social security system for all

The Budget was yesterday.

How does it affect claimants?

Here is the Official View:

Here is the Resolution Foundation’s view.

“The reduction in the taper rate in Universal Credit will bring an additional 400,000 families into the benefits system next year. Around 75 per cent of the 4.4 million households on Universal Credit will be worse off as a result of decisions to take away the £20 per week uplift despite the Chancellor’s new Universal Credit measures in the Budget.”

The Boris Budget (from the Summary)

Resolution Foundation analysis of Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021

From the full report: The Boris Budget

For some, this change will be significant: a family with two adults in work (one working full-time with earnings at the 25th wage percentile and one working part-time on the National Living Wage for 20 hours a week), who have two children, will gain £42 a week from these Budget day changes, more than offsetting the £20 per week reduction made to the benefit earlier this month. But, overall, these changes will be overshadowed by last month’s £6 billion cut to entitlement: three-quarters of families on UC will lose more from he £20 cut than they gain from the Budget changes. Even if we also take into account the impact of the faster-than-average-earnings increase to the National Living Wage, the fifth of households will still be an average of £280 a year worse off overall.

Here is the real Tory view of claimants:

Then there is this:

It seems equally obvious to mention that if gas and other prices are going up what about increasing benefit levels from their present misery rates?

Next year we will begin paying Council Tax, which even at the reduced rate of Council Tax Relief can be an extra burden, and far from minimal in many areas.

Our contributors remain concerned about the way ‘schemes’ for the unemployed, outlined in ‘Plan for Jobs’ operate. Here is one Restart. Plan for Jobs: skills, employment and support programmes for jobseekers

At the 2020 Spending Review, the chancellor allocated £2.9 billion for the new Restart Scheme, which will give Universal Credit claimants who have been out of work for between 12 to 18 months enhanced support to find jobs. The Restart Scheme will break down employment barriers that could be holding them back from finding work. Providers will work with employers, local government and other partners to deliver tailored support for individuals.

Referrals will be made over a 3-year period and the Restart Scheme will benefit more than 1 million Universal Credit claimants who are expected to look for and be available for work but have no sustained earnings. The scheme will provide up to 12 months of tailored support for each participant. Early access can be considered on a case by case basis where conversations with a work coach suggest this is the most appropriate route for the individual.

It has been quite some time since the media was interested in what is happening on these ‘schemes’ but our contributors are already reporting serious difficulties with them.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2021 at 8:46 am

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries,”Nobody” to be Pushed into Poverty by Slashing Universal Credit.

Universal Credit cut will not drag a single person into poverty.”

With the rise in the cost of gas and the expected increase in food prices most people on low incomes and benefits are worried. Slashing Universal Credit will not help, to say the least.

Hearing about this from people I wondered if this will help everybody, “Support with essential costs. You can contact your local council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund, including food or essential things like clothes. Check your local council on GOV.UK.”

Just guessing, but apart from those in dire straits and, above all, families, it is hard to see that applying to our contributors.

I imagine this may well offer something, judging from the queue of homeless people outside the nearby 7th Day Adventist Church on a Sunday waiting for food distribution:

Food bank vouchers. If you can’t afford the food you can ask for a referral from Citizens Advice or an organisation that’s already supporting you – for example, a charity, school or children’s centre – for a food bank voucher.

The Government itself says that everybody will be helped by getting work, with some push up from various schemes, like the “life-time skills guarantee.”

One Minister who could do with skills training in how to communicate with ordinary people has had her say on the Universal Credit cut.

Tory Nadine Dorries claims Universal Credit cut won’t push ANYONE into poverty.

Mirror.

 Tory minister has been accused of not living in the real world after she claimed the Universal Credit cut will not drag a single person into poverty.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries boasted “nobody” will be driven below the poverty line when a £20-a-week Covid uplift in place since March 2020 is withdrawn from this week.

That is despite think tanks putting the worst-case estimate at around 500,000 to 800,000 people.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has said the cut risks moving 500,000 people including 200,000 children below the poverty line.

While the Legatum Institute think tank, led by Tory UC architect Baroness Stroud, says the change will hit 840,000 Brits who are currently just above the poverty line – including 290,000 children.

But ministers have no official figure for how many people will be thrown into poverty because they’ve refused to do a formal impact assessment.

And questioned by left-wing journalist Owen Jones at the Tory conference, Ms Dorries said: “Nobody. Nobody is.

Because what we’re doing, what we’re doing is giving people a step out.

“By lifetime skills guarantee, by all the money being invested in the…” – she then walked away with an aide.

****

Some people think that Nadine Dorries is one of Boris Johnson’s famously unfunny jokes and probably only exists as a hologram borrowed from GB News…

But the scheme is a very real.

Bootcamps for Skills:

“An estimated 11 million adults now have the opportunity to gain a new qualification for free, designed to help them to gain in-demand skills and secure great jobs.

Almost 400 qualifications are available to take from today (1 April) – backed by £95 million in government funding in 2021/22 – as part of the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

The qualifications on offer range from engineering to social care to conservation and are available to any adult who has not already achieved a qualification at Level 3 (equivalent to A-levels).

The roll out marks a major milestone in the delivery of the landmark Lifetime Skills Guarantee – announced by the Prime Minister in September 2020. The Guarantee aims to transform the skills system so everyone, no matter where they live or their background, can gain the skills they need to progress in work at any stage of their lives. It will also ensure employers have access to the skilled workforce they need, and more people are trained for the skills gaps that exist now, and in the future.

Adults who take up the free courses have the potential to boost career prospects, wages and help fill skills gaps, while supporting the economy and building back better.

For example, with a Diploma in Engineering Technology adults can progress to roles in Maintenance or Manufacturing Engineering. A Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation or a qualification in Adult Care can also provide a gateway to sectors offering rewarding careers and where there are multiple job opportunities.

So more unemployed people can take full advantage of these courses, the government will pilot an extension to the length of time they can receive Universal Credit while undertaking work-focused study.

They will now be able to train full time for up to 12 weeks, or up to 16 weeks on a full time skills bootcamp in England, while receiving Universal Credit to support their living costs This will allow access to more training options and provide a better chance of finding work, while continuing to receive the support they need.”

Let us know if you have experience of this “bootcamp”.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2021 at 9:35 am