Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘TV Shows on Unemployed’ Category

Life on Benefits and Television Poverty Porn.

with 112 comments

Image result for poverty porn

Like many people here I watch serious documentaries (such as last night’s Channel Four documentary, Undercover: Britain’s Homeless Scandal: Channel 4 Dispatches).

I do not watch the endless series of entertainment programmes about people on the Dole.

Such as this one, The Great British Benefits Handout, described by the Mirror, “Channel 5 is still baiting the unemployed with yet another show about benefits. The show’s ‘experiment’, which gives three jobless families £26,000 to change their lives, is a smokescreen for inviting ridicule and vitriol”.

That is, from “the channel that brought us The Big Benefits Row Live , The Great Big Benefits Wedding Live, My Big Benefits Family, Celebs on Benefits: Fame to Claim, Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole, Benefits: The Millionaire Shoplifter and Benefits: Can’t Work, Won’t Work.”

So whatever goes on during their latest,  BENEFITS BRITAIN: LIFE ON THE DOLE, has passed me by.

Not that it’s only Channel Five.

The British television programme The Hardest Grafter illustrates this as it portrays 25 of Britain’s “poorest workers”, all having the shared ultimate objective of winning £15,000 through the completion of various tasks. In this case, the contestants’ poverty attracts a television audience, which was, before the show even started, contested as various petitions were made in order to stop what was believed to be a “perverted audience and profit making operation”. It is considered to not only be perverted, but also discriminatory as the contestants can only be poor.

BBC Two replied to these accusations by affirming that it would be a “serious social experiment to show just how hard those part of the low-wage economy work” as well as “tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time: why is British productivity low?”.

A spokesman from the show’s production company, Twenty Twenty stated that: “the show will challenge and shatter all sorts of myths surrounding the low-paid and unemployed sector”.

Broome, a reality TV show creator, states that it exposes the hardship of some families and their ability to keep on going through values, love and communication. He assures that he would much prefer create these shows rather than those like Jersey Shore which depicts “a group of strangers from New Jersey as they party throughout six seasons”.

Wikipedia. Poverty Porn. 

I sometimes wonder not just about the effect these gruesome shows have on people with well paid jobs, to bait and hate the poor, but on those on benefits.

In letter to the Guardian Ruth Patrick covers that angle.

Zoe Williams asks – somewhat rhetorically – what might be the impact of the endless growth of “poverty porn” on those who rely on benefits for all or most of their income (TV’s fixation with people on benefits breeds suspicion, 9 February). What my research with out-of-work benefit claimants shows – see policypress.co.uk/for-whose-benefit – is the ways in which the stereotypical, demeaning and one-dimensional characterisations that such shows so often feature contribute to a climate in which claimants feel that their behaviours and actions are being endlessly critiqued and found wanting.

The individuals I spoke to had often internalised negative descriptors – self-describing as a “scrounger” or “a bum” – even where they were hard at work caring for children, looking for employment or adapting to independent life after a childhood in care.

Living with poverty and benefits stigma had detrimental consequences for individuals’ self-esteem, mental health and citizenship status. “Poverty porn” and shows like The Moorside may be successfully recasting poverty as light entertainment, but their impact on those struggling to get by on benefits is anything but.
Dr Ruth Patrick
Postdoctoral researcher, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool

Guardian

This is what Ruth Patrick wrote in 2015.

The realities of living on welfare are significantly different from government and media characterisations

What is often missing from these characterisations is the lived experiences of those who rely on benefits for all or most of their income. Admittedly, the explosion of ‘Poverty Porn’ does purport to provide such firsthand accounts. However, these are mediated by editing processes aimed at generating watchable, controversial content; processes which perhaps do not lend themselves to detailed pictures of the lived realities of ‘getting by’ on benefits during times of welfare reform.

Since 2010, I’ve been conducting small-scale research which has sought to explore these lived realities, with an explicit aim of considering the extent of (mis)match between Government and media rhetoric and lived experiences for those directly affected by welfare reform. By speaking to single parents and young jobseekers affected by the extended welfare conditionality and sanctions regime, as well as disabled people being moved off Incapacity Benefit and onto Employment and Support Allowance, I have been able to explore experiences of both welfare reform and the day-to-day realities of reliance on benefits in Britain today. Over a two year period, I interviewed participants three times, enabling me to explore both the absence and presence of change in people’s accounts as the welfare reforms took effect and individuals negotiated complex relationships with benefits and paid employment.

What this research has demonstrated is the very hard ‘work’ which ‘getting by’ on benefits entails, ‘work’ which is not represented in government and media characterisations of claimants as passive and inactive. This ‘work’ includes very tight budgeting practices, frequently having to make tough choices (such as to heat or eat), as well as creative ways of trying to eke out a little extra income, for example by scavenging for scrap in nearby streets. People repeatedly spoke of shopping daily so as to take advantage of the reduced shelves, and going to several shops in order to get the best deals. Parents often went without in order to ensure their children were well looked after. As single parent Chloe explained:

“I go without my meals sometimes.  I have to save meals for me kids. So I’ll have a slice of toast and they’ll have a full meal.”

There was also substantial evidence of participants engaging in other forms of socially valuable contribution such as volunteering and caring.  Adrian, a young Jobseeker, described why he valued the voluntary work he did at the homeless hostel where he used to live:

“I proper love it. You feel satisfaction as well if someone’s coming in really hungry. Give them some food, at least they’ve eaten for the night.”

With the Government’s endless emphasis on paid work as the primary responsibility of the dutiful citizen, these important forms of contribution often go unrecognised and under-valued. Importantly, too, the whole thrust of the Government’s welfare reform approach, like New Labour’s before it, places policy emphasis on moving people from ‘welfare dependency’ into paid employment, which can cause significant problems for those who want to prioritise these other forms of contribution.

The welfare reform policy agenda, with its sustained emphasis on welfare conditions and sanctions also suggests that people need the threat of sanctions to encourage – even compel them – to make the transition from benefits reliance to paid employment. The emphasis is placed firmly on the supply-side of the labour market, on the steps individual claimants need to be compelled to take to become employable, and to move into paid work. Repeatedly, a contrast is drawn between ‘hard working families’ and ‘welfare dependents’, with the latter needing these tough interventions to be ‘responsibilized’ into hard working citizens.

But, this research, like so much of the literature in this field (see, for example, recent articles on this blog) questioned the salience of such static groupings, instead finding participants with strong aspirations to work, where this was a realistic goal. It also found individuals who typically had worked in the past, with several moving in and out of work, during the time of the research, characteristic of the low-pay, no-pay cycle. Those who were not currently in paid employment had often internalised negative characterisations of claimants, with inevitable consequences for their self-confidence, self-esteem, and ironically future job prospects. Sam, a young jobseeker and recent care leaver explained why she wanted a job:

“I need a job; because I’m sick of scrounging. That’s how I think of it anyway, I’m sick of scrounging.”

When asked about the idea of benefits as a lifestyle choice, participants in this study were angry, even disbelieving, of the notion that they would ‘choose’ to rely on out-of-work benefits, instead emphasising the various factors, often linked to impairments, caring responsibilities and demand-side barriers to paid employment, which had led to their current situation. As single parent, Sophie put it:

“People don’t choose to live on benefits – it’s not our choice. It’s just the way that things have happened. We don’t choose to live on benefits, we don’t want to live on benefits.”

Young jobseeker James described why, for him, being on benefits would never be a choice

“[benefits] is enough for you to live off o’, but you haven’t got one bit of luxury left in your life. You’re not living, you’re existing. And that’s how it feels.”

Attending to the lived experiences of welfare reform is critical in helping us to understand the day-to-day realities of ‘getting by’ in contemporary Britain. These realities are significantly different from the government and media characterisations, with inevitable consequences for the likely success of the ongoing programme of welfare reforms. In particular, these realities undermine the logic for a pervasive emphasis on welfare conditionality, while also hinting at the very real financial hardship, and emotional and relational damage caused by welfare reform. If we want to understand more about benefits, and how processes of welfare reform are impacting on people, it is essential that we place far more emphasis on listening to what those directly affected have to say.

Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

February 14, 2017 at 11:15 am

Universal basic income trials in Scotland

with 87 comments

Image result for basic incomes

Universal basic income trials being considered in Scotland.

Comment: I am not convinced of this.

We had a debate in France back in the 1980s on the idea, promoted by amongst others, the journalist and theorist André  Gorz.

Carried on the by New Economics Foundation in the UK.

We then posed some simple arguments  against it:

  • If universal basic income is available to all then why restrict it to nationals of one country?
  • How exactly will it cover things like the rent, electricity bills and the gas charges?
  • Will it actually pay the bills?

Labour’s key economist,  the ‘sovereigntist’  economist and pro-Brexit  James Meadway (former chief economist at the New Economics Foundation) comes from this Basic Income supporting background.

Anyway this is the story:

Two councils, Fife and Glasgow, are investigating idea of offering everyone a fixed income regardless of earnings.

Scotland looks set to be the first part of the UK to pilot a basic income for every citizen, as councils in Fife and Glasgow investigate trial schemes in 2017.

The councillor Matt Kerr has been championing the idea through the ornate halls of Glasgow City Chambers, and is frank about the challenges it poses.

“Like a lot of people, I was interested in the idea but never completely convinced,” he said. But working as Labour’s anti-poverty lead on the council, Kerr says that he “kept coming back to the basic income”.

Kerr sees the basic income as a way of simplifying the UK’s byzantine welfare system. “But it is also about solidarity: it says that everyone is valued and the government will support you. It changes the relationship between the individual and the state.”

The concept of a universal basic income revolves around the idea of offering every individual, regardless of existing welfare benefits or earned income, a non-conditional flat-rate payment, with any income earned above that taxed progressively. The intention is to provide a basic economic platform on which people can build their lives, whether they choose to earn, learn, care or set up a business.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has suggested that it is likely to appear in his party’s next manifesto, while there has been a groundswell of interest among anti-poverty groups who see it as a means of changing not only the relationship between people and the state, but between workers and increasingly insecure employment in the gig economy.

Scotland was recently added to the list of “places to watch” for basic income activity by the Basic Income Earth Network, founded by the radical economist Guy Standing, whose hugely influential book The Precariat identified an emerging social class suffering the worst of job insecurity and most likely to be attracted to rightwing populism.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 6, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Posted in DWP, Suffolk, Tories, TV Shows on Unemployed

Tagged with

Workers and Shirkers: Jesus, okay, Iain Duncan Smith Wept.

with 50 comments

Bringing the discussion into the here and now … Workers Or Shirkers? Ian Hislop’s Victorian Benefits.

Ipswich Unemployed Action is in two minds about watching this documentary tonight: Workers and Shirkers.

Thursday 7 April. 8.00pm-9.00pm. BBC TWO

Ian Hislop’s entertaining and provocative look at Victorian attitudes to the poor sheds a sharp light on today: controversial benefits cuts, anxieties about scroungers, sensational newspaper reports, arguments about who does and doesn’t deserve welfare – it’s all there!

Ian explores the views of five colourful individuals whose Victorian attitudes remain incredibly resonant. Pioneer of the workhouse Edwin Chadwick feared that hand-outs would lead to scrounging and sought to make sure that workers were always better-off than the unemployed. That sounds fair – but was his solution simply too unkind?

James Greenwood, Britain’s first undercover reporter, made poverty a cause célèbre – but is that kind of journalism voyeuristic?

Helen Bosanquet, an early social worker, believed that poverty was caused by ‘bad character’ – that some people simply more deserving than others. Bosanquet came to blows with Beatrice Webb, who took a more economic view of the causes of poverty, leading her to argue for the first foundations of the welfare state.

Finally, even if we want to be generous, are there limits on how much we can afford to help? That dilemma faced Margaret Bondfield, Britain’s first female cabinet minister who, despite her impeccable Labour credentials, advocated controversial welfare cuts in the 1930s, a time of national austerity.

Wrestling with these questions with his customary mix of light touch and big ideas, Ian also has revealing conversations with Iain Duncan Smith (former Secretary of State of Work and Pensions), Deirdre Kelly (also known as ‘White Dee’, famous for featuring in Benefits Street), Owen Jones and Tristram Hunt MP.

The one mind says, Hislop is bound to say something interesting, as are most of his interviewees, and it would be pleasant to see Iain Duncan SMith put on a snivel.

The other points out that the war of the United Federation of Planets against the Dominion and those bastard Cardassians is at a crucial point. Sisko is about to undertake a dangerous mission to  take back Deep Space Nine and keep the minefield in the wormhole (CBS Action).

Hard choices have to be made.

At the moment it looks as if the cause of the Deep Space Nine Resistance looks like winning.

In which case we will rely on the Newshounds who comment on the Blog to report back from the Workers and Shirkers front.

Ian Hislop says former work and pensions secretary broke down during filming of new Workers or Shirkers documentary.

Iain Duncan Smith broke down and wept about the plight of a single mother during a television interview months before he quit as work and pensions minister.

The Private Eye editor Ian Hislop said Duncan Smith started to cry during an interview last December for a documentary on Victorian attitudes to poverty. “It was a curious thing,” he told the Radio Times. “IDS actually broke down. He wept in front of me. It was a very extraordinary moment.”

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Channel Five and the Empire of Poverty Porn.

with 48 comments

https://i1.wp.com/cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/20/590x/GBBHO-642660.jpg

Channel Five: Bless!

Channel 5 on Monday has the X-Files, and Gotham: two programmes worth watching, even if the supply of White Cider and Special Brew is running low.

Tuesday: The Great British Benefits Handout

I don’t watch this show, and have no intention of watching it.

But we have our grasses who tell us what happened last week.

So someone gives you a ­briefcase stuffed with loadsamoney… what do you do? (Mirror)

I know what you’re thinking. You’d go straight out and buy a raccoon for a mere 460 quid. Who wouldn’t?

Incredibly, that’s exactly what 31-year-old Scott did after Channel 5’s hilarious The Great British Benefits Handout made him instantly richer to the tune of £26,000. Happy days.

Sadly, Scouser Scott’s idea of using his unexpected financial windfall wisely was to turn his back garden into a zoo.

While his long-suffering wife Leanne looked on with an increasing sense of horror, Scott went animal crackers and embarked on a bizarre spending spree.

“I could do with some giant millipedes,” he began.

“Maybe some giant snails and some giant Madagascan cockroaches. Some 12-foot snakes, six-foot lizards and a nice iguana.”

As you do.

Now if somebody handed me that load of dosh I’d fuck off abroad, to a remote fortress,  surrounded by rocky defences, possibly, say a Cathar Castle (Pictured)  where Channel Five crews could be flung down the abyss, and would spend my time drinking Château Margaux while writing my masterpiece.

My Benefit Handout Home.

It’s all great fun, innit?

The Mirror really sums this telly channel up:

Channel 5 is still baiting the unemployed with yet another show about benefits

Opening line on Channel 5’s ­latest hatchet job on the ­unemployed : “Benefits. Britain is obsessed.”

An inopportune moment, then, to have taken a slurp of coffee, which went a-spluttering.

This from the channel that brought us The Big Benefits Row Live , The Great Big Benefits Wedding Live, My Big Benefits Family, Celebs on Benefits: Fame to Claim, Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole, Benefits: The Millionaire Shoplifter and Benefits: Can’t Work, Won’t Work.

To name but a few. Yes, C5. Clearly WE’RE the ones obsessed.

In other words, the channel has not just one show, but a whole bleeding Empire of Poverty Porn.

 Some people, can’t tell why, take umbrage.

As they say: it’s not hard to tell the difference between a ray of sunshine and Scots folk with a grievance.

Daily Record. 5th February.

Channel 5 bosses have ditched plans to turn Stevenston into the next ‘poverty porn’ TV town.

In December we told how TV bosses were keen to shine a light on the town and highlight the lives of those living on benefits.

It was confirmed at the time that a team were researching the area, with flyers posted in the town asking locals about life on benefits.

Labour councillors Joe Cullinane and Jim Montgomerie were quick to react to the plans and sent an unequivocal letter to Channel 5 to say that producers would not be welcomed to the town.

In the letter, they were keen to champion the community spirit that exists in Stevenston and said they would refuse to stand by and allow the town to be exploited.

They also warned Channel 5 bosses that unless assurances were made that they wouldn’t come to Stevenston, they would be launching a campaign to prevent filming in the area.

But just hours after the councillors launched their campaign, producers confirmed that they would not be pursuing plans to use Stevenston for filming.

Speaking this week, Councillor Cullinane voiced his frustration at the initial lack of communication from Channel 5 and insisted he and Councillor Montgomerie were ready to ensure Stevenston avoided the same stigma that befell Birmingham’s James Turner Street in the TV show Benefits Street.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 16, 2016 at 4:18 pm

John Bird, Big Issue, ‘Entrepreneur’, Foe of the Idle Poor, Enters the House of Lords.

with 33 comments

WhyDrawingCoverv2digi

His Birdship’s Latest Book.

John Bird, the founder of the Big Issue, is to join the House of Lords as one of four new non-party-political peers. The homelessness campaigner was among those selected by the House of Lords Appointments Commission to sit crossbench.

Bird, who set up the street magazine in 1991 as a way for the homeless to earn money, said he hoped to inject some new ideas into policy making.

“Mine will be a voice in the legislative process for the thousands of people the Big Issue has helped over the past 24 years and continues to help today through our philosophy of social entrepreneurialism based on self-help,” he said.

“I believe that one of the complexities of modern policy is that sometimes the best thinkers, like the Big Issue, are left outside the box. Yet if we are to have social opportunity and social justice for all, the thinking within the box needs to change.”

Guardian

Here are some of the new ideas Lord Birdship – as we will have to get used to calling him –  has promoted in recent years:

2009.

In December 2007, Bird agreed with Westminster Council who declared that they were opposed to the presence of soup kitchens on the streets of London. He said:

“We have to stop supplying people with the means of being emergency refugees on the streets… no one has ever got off the streets simply because they’ve been fed a good bowl of soup.”

Wikipedia. 

Then this:

Big Issue founder Bird under fire for proposing benefit cuts 2010.

An outspoken social campaigner who founded a magazine sold by homeless people has called on the Prime Minister to cut state benefits.

John Bird, founder of homeless charity The Big Issue, urged David Cameron to reform Britain’s benefits system which he believes traps the worst-off in poverty while fuelling addictions.

Bird believes that before they receive benefits the unemployed should be involved in community work, and that this would help them back into work

However his idea that people must work before they can receive benefits was condemned by Citizens Advice Scotland, the umbrella body supporting Scottish citizens advice bureaux, as “beset with flaws.”

And the Poverty Alliance, the anti-poverty network in Scotland which unites, among others, charities and community groups, said the assumption that people living on low incomes did not want to work was “simply discrimination” .

Bird maintained society had made it possible for too many to live on benefits without helping themselves gain the experience and confidence needed to find work

‘”That’s not only damaging to individuals, it’s damaging to society.”

He added: “The drug crime industry would be lost without the support of the welfare state.

”The drinks industry and fast food outlets such as Macdonalds would be hard hit without the government pounds being placed in their tills by benefit claimants.”

As would “existing government structures that misguidedly make life easier for the poor entrench poverty, exclusion and hopelessness.”

And this,

People who are unemployed are to be allowed to sell the Big Issue on the streets alongside the homeless for the first time.

As public sector cuts and the economic downturn fuel job losses, the co-founder of the magazine, John Bird, told Society Guardian he wanted those who find themselves out of work, and the long-term unemployed, to have the chance to earn an income rather than get stuck on benefits.

He predicted “the most unlikely people”, including well-paid professionals would become potential Big Issue sellers in the coming years.

Guardian 2011.

On the programme Benefits Street. February 2014.

Benefits Street has rocked the benefits boat. More than any single TV programme I can remember, it shows a dark, dirty and destructive underside of benefit.

….

It’s a free system, given freely, replacing people’s need to look after their own means of making a living. The state, using our money, buys the time of benefit recipients, and then stands back and watches as some go down the tube.

The benefit system needs to change. It cannot be an endless alternative to work. It has to come with strings attached. People on benefit must help people in the community who need our help – the old, the disabled and the needy.

Benefit needs to be of benefit to the beneficiary. It must help them get prepared for an independent life. Training, job preparation and volunteering are keys to changing people’s lives so they can get out.

More on his Birdship’s ennoblement in the Big Issue.

 

John Bird said: “Mine will be a voice in the legislative process for the thousands of people The Big Issue has helped over the past 24 years and continues to help today through our philosophy of social entrepreneurialism based on self-help.

“I believe that one of the complexities of modern policy is that sometimes the best thinkers, like The Big Issue, are left outside the box. Yet if we are to have social opportunity and social justice for all, the thinking within the box needs to change.”

John Bird founded The Big Issue in 1991 as a street magazine to be sold by the homeless with half the proceeds of every sale going to the vendors, thus giving them the opportunity of earning money through their own efforts rather than depending on handouts.

Since then the magazine has put over £100 million directly into the pockets of homeless individuals, sold almost 200 million copies and has helped thousands of homeless people move themselves away from poverty.

In 1995 John Bird launched the Big Issue Foundation, a charity that supports Big Issue vendors in dealing with the issues that have caused their homelessness or have developed as a result of their living on the street.

He continues to serve on the Board of Directors for The Big Issue. In 2001, with The Big Issue chairman Nigel Kershaw, he launched Big Issue Invest the social investment arm of the Big Issue which provides finance to help develop social enterprises and charities.

John Bird continues to serve on the Board of Directors *for The Big Issue and is a global speaker on motivational and social issues.

Baroness Morris of Yardley, who along with Baron Alton of Liverpool, nominated John Bird, said: “I’m delighted that John Bird has been appointed as a cross-bench member of the House of Lords. His work with members of our community who face considerable challenges and his successful track record in helping people to overcome them means that he will bring great experience and knowledge to the Lords.

“More than that, he has the determination and the tenacity to argue for what he believes to be the right way forward in key areas of social policy.”

Bird was a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party.

But, “Bird revealed in 2010 “My guilty secret is that I’m really a working class Tory. There, I’ve said it. I’d love to be a liberal because they’re the nice people but it’s really hard work – I can’t swallow their gullibility and I think their ideas are stupid. I’d love to be someone who wanders around in a kind of Utopian paradise seeing only the good in everybody but I just can’t. I support capital punishment for a start. I know this will destroy my reputation among middle-class liberals but I’m 64 now and I should be able to breathe a bit. Wearing the corsetry of liberalism means that every now and then you have to take it off.”

Wikipedia

* It would be interesting to know for what trifling emolument he graces the Big Issue Board,  and what his Birdship earns from his toil as an “entrepreneur”, hard at the coalface of after-dinner speaking, blessing the poor and admonishing others less entrepreneurial than his self. 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 13, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Cameron’s Plans Mean Poverty Assaults More People.

with 35 comments

10915154_10153686901421563_5927275434443779938_n

David Cameron has vowed to devote much of his time in office to “an all-out assault on poverty”, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference.

The prime minister, who will stand down before the next election, said he wanted to tackle “deep social problems” and boost social mobility.

He also announced “dramatic” planning reforms to increase home ownership.

Reports the BBC. 

David Cameron’s assault on poverty doesn’t extend to the homeless.

13,850 households were accepted as homeless between April and June of this year.

Ryan Maynes.

It should be no surprise to anyone that the escalating issue of homelessness was barely mentioned during four days of rhetoric and self-congratulation at the Conservative party conference.

With the Tories having overseen the most savage cuts to the poorest in society in a generation, it was inevitable that homelessness would indeed be on the rise in Britain, and off the agenda of the Conservative Conference 2015.

….

The number of people sleeping rough in Britain has risen 55 per cent since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, with London seeing the highest increase.

….

Factor in the cuts to housing benefits for 18 to 21-year-olds, and the lack of a plan to tackle this crisis, and it may be a foregone conclusion that this increase is going to continue. Many more people will be sleeping rough in the capital and elsewhere over the course of this parliament.

Homelessness is clearly not high on the Conservative party’s agenda, and their attacks on welfare and housing have only confirmed this. Yesterday David Cameron promised an, ‘all out assault on poverty’, but his track record so far suggests that homelessness does not come under this remit.

Instead, Cameron launched his proposal to build 200,000 new starter homes, intended to ease the housing crisis. While this will help – insofar as there will be more homes in the country – it will have no impact on those in poverty.

The homelessness charity Shelter has suggested that only those households earning over £50,000, or £70,000 in London, will stand a chance of buying these houses. And of those on the new living wage in poorer areas? Only 2 per cent will find these new homes affordable.

Walking around Ipswich many people are struck by the number of people begging, saying they are homeless.

It is the same in many cities and towns, though I doubt if it’s the case in Cameron’s Constituency, Witney, Oxfordshire:

Tory conference: Cameron’s ‘assault on poverty’ pledge belied by new figures.

David Cameron’s promise during his address to the Conservative party conference that “an all-out assault on poverty” would be at the centre of his second term is undermined by a report that reveals planned welfare cuts will lead to an increase of 200,000 working households living in poverty by 2020.

The findings, published on Thursday by the Resolution Foundation, appear to contradict the prime minister’s vow to devote the second five years of his premiership to creating a “Greater Britain” marked by social reform, real equality and less racial discrimination.

In a speech that was clearly designed to respond to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, Cameron sought to position his party as the dominant force on the centre ground of politics. The prime minister argued the best way to tackle the deep roots of poverty lay in getting people into better paid work.

The Conservatives, Cameron said, must live up to their great traditions of social reform and be the right party “for those who work hard, want to get on and want more money at the end of the month”. Insisting Britain was on the brink of something special, he claimed “hope is returning and we are moving into the light”, allowing the Conservatives to be seen as the “party of the fair chance, the party of the equal shot”.

But the new research by the Resolution Foundation – now chaired by former Conservative minister David Willetts – suggests the government’s welfare cuts introduced in the budget in a bid to cut the deficit will drive at least 200,000 working households into poverty under a definition that the government is abolishing.

These are the key points:

A further 200,000 children (predominantly from working households) will fall into poverty in 2016 simply as a result of the tax and benefit measures announced at the summer budget, including the increases in the national minimum wage.

The total number of working households in poverty will have reached 2 million in 2020.

The summer budget measures will lead to income falls of more than 4% in the bottom fifth of earners, contrasting with income rises of 4% for the top third.

The number of children in poverty in working and non-working households is estimated to reach up to 3.9 million by 2020. This is 1.2 million higher than the 2016-17 baseline and 600,000 higher than was projected for 2020 prior to the budget.

As the writer indicates:

Cameron made no direct mention of George Osborne’s controversial plans to cut tax credits, which will mean a loss of £1,000 for 3 million of the lowest-paid workers.

As for Iain Duncan Smith’s plans to get the disabled into work this is in the news today……

Too fat to work’ man has ‘collapsed with mini-stroke’ weeks after starting first job in four years.

Mirror. 

A man who claimed he was ‘too fat to work’ has collapsed just weeks after starting his first job in years, it has been claimed

Stephen Beer, who has high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, has suffered a mini stroke and is in hospital, according to The Sun.

Wife Michelle, 43, said he was “not well, but improving”.

 

Universal Credit Scandals Exposed by Benefits Britain.

with 72 comments

Not Much has changed since the Above.

Ipswich Unemployed Action was going to give a detailed account of last night’s Channel Four’s Benefit Britain on Universal Credit.

It was excellent and there’s no need to give our own notes, except to say that the programme gave an indication of the personal suffering the new system is causing.

The job has been done, by the Daily Mirror.

Universal Credit ‘adviser’ told not to tell claimants about cash fund for clothes and bus fares

A reporter posing as a Universal Credit adviser trainee was told not to tell claimants about a vital cash fund for clothes, bus fares or other expenses to help them into work.

The undercover journalist spent seven weeks working at the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Bolton Universal Credit contact centre.

He was told by trainers not to bring up same-day advance payments for those struggling to make ends meet while they wait five weeks for the their first Universal Credit payment. These are among a number of extra changes benefits claimants can ask for – find out the full range here.

The reporter, working for Channel 4 Dispatches programme, was also told not to tell claimants about the Flexible Support Fund unless they specifically asked about it.

When the reporter questioned this, a trainer replied: “If we did, everybody would want one, yeah, and it’s a very small budget, so we don’t talk about it.

“It’s a bit like Fight Club – we don’t discuss what happens in Fight Club. So you don’t talk about flexible support fund either… so the work coaches usually bring this up…”

Universal Credit is a wide-ranging shake up of the benefits system. It has been criticised by domestic abuse charities for paying funds to couples, rather than individuals. It is feared this could lead to financial abuse in the relationship.

But the reporter was told not to draw attention to hardship fund payments, which are available for claimants to apply for once they have been sanctioned.

A trainer said: “You don’t offer it unless you think they’re in dire straits…. Again… the whole idea is the punishment, that’s what you’ve got to suffer but if you can’t manage, we’ll consider doing something for you.

“So they’ve got to say, ‘well I can’t manage without my standard allowance, so I need some help’ and you go ‘right, there is a hardship possibility’.

“You don’t advertise it but if they say, ‘I can’t manage’, they don’t have to say, ‘I need a hardship payment’, they say ‘I can’t manage’ and you say, ‘well I can’.”

There were also problems with IT systems during the reporter’s spell at the centre.

For 20 days, he was in rooms connected to the office loudspeaker and on nine of those days he saw computer programmes crashing and heard messages broadcast warning staff that computer programmes had gone down – once for the whole day.

On training, a DWP spokesman said: “The overall feedback from staff is their training is effective and more importantly they feel supported and confident in delivering this major welfare reform.

“This was the first induction course run for new external recruits in Bolton service centre and the first time the trainer had run this new training package.”

On same-day advance payments, the spokesman said: “Service centre workers are there to provide administrative support over the phone, not to build the close relationship with the claimant that our work coaches in Jobcentres do.

“At a new claim interview our work coaches inform claimants that budgeting advances are available “

On the Flexible Support Fund, he added: “Work coaches can identify if the locally-administered flexible support fund can help someone overcome barriers to work – not service centre workers.”

In respect of the hardship fund, the spokesman said conversations about availability take place in Jobcentres, not the service centre.

He also said that every letter sent out to claimants informing them that they have a sanction tells them about the fund and how to apply.

On IT, the spokesman said none of the examples of issues given to the department related specifically to Universal Credit.

He also said that at the beginning of last month, a planned upgrade impacted the service for three days but has since had no issues and resulted in an improved performance.

Defending the policy as a whole, the spokesman said: “Universal Credit replaces the complex myriad of means-tested benefits to simplify the system and make work pay.

“It is already transforming lives with claimants on Universal Credit moving into work faster and earning more.

“When fully rolled out it will make three million people better off with a £7 billion boost to the economy every year.”

The Government has reportedly spent £700 million on Universal Credit, one of its flagship reforms, but the roll-out is behind its original schedule and critics say the IT system is not fit for purpose.

You can find out when your local Jobcentre switches over here.

Then there is this, (Express and Star),

Universal Credit in disarray: union

Universal Credit, one of the Government’s flagship policies, is in “disarray”, suffering from a lack of staff, poor training and inadequate IT, according to a study.

A survey of around 400 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union showed that 90% believed expensive IT systems dealing with the benefit were less than adequate

Almost three quarters said working conditions were worse than in their previous role and four in five said the training was less than adequate to prepare them for working on the scheme.

Almost four out of five did not feel there were enough staff and two thirds said they were frequently asked to work overtime, said the union.

More than half said they did not think Universal Credit was an improvement for claimants.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “No one can trust Iain Duncan Smith (Work and Pensions Secretary) to tell the truth about Universal Credit so it falls to the staff to expose this wasteful and politically motivated shambles for what it is.

“It has long been obvious that staff are under-resourced and under-trained and that universal credit is at risk of collapse. The DWP cannot keep burying its head in the sand and hope these problems go away because they are only going to get worse if nothing is done.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The PCS survey comprises of only 13% of our 2,700 staff working on Universal Credit. They chose to ignore staff in our Jobcentres when conducting this research providing a skewed unrepresentative sample of union members.

“The reality is Universal Credit is already transforming lives and our staff are passionate about the work they do.”

Written by Andrew Coates

March 10, 2015 at 10:19 am