Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

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Dole Cut – Universal Credit Reduction Opposed.

with 153 comments

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Bit of history,

“to cut costs, the government introduced the Means Test in 1931. Officials visited families to assess whether they were entitled to help. This involved finding out how much the families earned or possessed.

In order to qualify for dole, a worker had to pass the Means Test, and the sum paid to each family would be based on this test.

The test created many problems for families. Tensions were caused because, if an older child had some work, or a mother had a part-time job, or a grandparent was living in the house without paying rent, the Means Test could result in dole being refused. Heirlooms and items such as pianos had to be sold, and savings spent before the dole was received.

To make matters even worse, the dole was cut by 10 per cent in 1931.

Now…

Johnson under mounting pressure on universal credit as northern Tory MPs’ group warn against cut

Northern Research Group say £20 uplift has been ‘life-saver’ for families, as Labour say they will ‘use every parliamentary mechanism available’ to force vote on issue

Boris Johnson is facing mounting resistance over plans to cut the £20-per-week universal credit uplift, as a group of northern Conservative MPs warned the government it would “hamper” the economic recovery.

Describing the emergency payments as a “life-saver” for people during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Northern Research Group (NRG), representing around 50 MPs, again called on ministers to keep the increase in place.

It comes amid growing Tory unease over the reluctance in No 10 and the Treasury to extend the measure – first introduced at the onset of the pandemic – beyond September, despite the impact of the crisis continuing to reverberate.

….

The NRG spokesperson added: “The effects of coronavirus restrictions have been disproportionately felt by the North. We have been in lockdown longer than any other area of the country. That is why we have seen such a rapid growth rate in new universal credit claims.

“This uplift goes hand-in-hand with the government’s jobs-led recovery by supporting people in the right way. To end it now would only hamper the economic recovery ahead”.

The call from the group representing northern Tory MPs comes after six former Conservative work and pensions secretaries, including Iain Duncan Smith, wrote to the government urging the uplift, introduced by ministers as a temporary measure, to be put on a “permanent footing”.

Speaking to The Independent, Stephen Crabb, one of the former ministers who signed the letter to the chancellor, said the “evidence is pretty clear and overwhelming is that this is a measure that will hurt many, many families”.

At least the Northern Research Group, whose aim is to shore up Tory support in the North and get voters to say, Bless the Squire and his Relations and Keep us in our Proper Station, are consistent. January:

Written by Andrew Coates

July 13, 2021 at 11:52 am

Reports Slams Rising Financial Difficulties for Universal Credit Claimants.

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Peterborough social housing tenants buried in debt by Universal Credit,  investigation reveals | Peterborough Telegraph

This story has appeared in a number of news outlets.

Almost half of Universal Credit claimants ‘behind on bills’ before pandemic struck

Cambridgeshire Live.

Around 46 per cent of people receiving the six-in-one benefit were not up to date with bills by last November, according to analysis by a think tank.

According to a new report by think tank Bright Blue released this week, 46 per cent of Universal Credit claimants were struggling to pay household bills and were still not to up-to-date by November.

As the name suggests this is a Tory think tank, “ the independent think tank for liberal conservatism “a party run by chancers and people who with a less trusted reputation than Trotter Enterprises,

Bright Blue: Almost half of long-term Universal Credit claimants had fallen behind on household bills during the Covid-19 pandemic

The main findings from this analysis are:

  • A significant minority of both existing UC and new UC households reported not being up to date with household bill payments throughout the pandemic. Among existing UC claimants, this rose from 25% in 2018-19 to up to 38% in March 2021, peaking at 46% in November 2020. Similarly, 32% of new UC claimants reported not being up to date with at least some household bills near the start of the pandemic in May 2020, before declining to a low of 17% in March 2021, indicating that new UC claimants were less likely to face this specific financial challenge as the pandemic continued. These compare to just 5% of non-UC respondents in 2018-19, 6% in May 2020 and 4% in March 2021.The difference between existing UC claimants and non-UC respondents reporting not being up to date with at least some household bill payment rose by 14 percentage points between before the pandemic (2018-19) and March 2021.
  • A significant minority of both existing UC and new UC households also reported not being up to date on housing payments, such as rent or mortgage payments, during the pandemic. For existing UC claimants, between 26% reported facing this financial challenge in November 2020, before falling to 18% in March 2021. Similarly, 16% of new UC claimants in May 2020 and 23% in July 2020 report not being up to date with housing payments, falling to 11% in March 2021. In contrast, only 7% of non-UC respondents in 2018-19 reported falling behind on housing payments, with no increase beyond that during the pandemic. 
  • Existing UC claimants were more likely to face a worsening than an improving level of personal debt in the initial part of the pandemic. 30% of existing UC claimants reported increasing the size of their debts compared to 13% decreasing it in July 2020. However, this fell to 12% by March 2021, by which time 21% reported decreasing their debt. Both non-UC respondents and new UC claimants were more likely to be decreasing the size of their debt than increasing it at different points of the pandemic. Aside from this, among all population groups and during all time periods, the majority of people’s debt levels have stayed the same.
  • A significant minority of UC claimants reported finding it ‘quite’ or ‘very’ difficult to manage financially during the pandemic. 34% of existing UC claimants reported this in 2018-19 which declined to 22% in July 2020, before rising back to 34% in November 2020, and falling down to 19% in March 2021. Similarly, 35% of new UC claimants reported this in May 2020, but this largely fell to 18% in July 2020, 19% in November 2020 and 15% in March 2021. Overall, the difference between existing UC claimants and non-UC respondents actually declined by 11 percentage points between 2018-19 and March 2021.
  • Both existing and new UC claimants are much more likely than the rest of the population to think there is a major chance they will have difficulty paying for bills and expenses in the next three months, despite a decline in such fears since the start of the pandemic. There was a decline from 54% to 32% among existing UC claimants worried about their financial future between May 2020 and March 2021 and a decline from 51% to 22% among new UC claimants in the same time period. The difference between the number of existing UC claimants and non-UC respondents reporting this financial anxiety actually declined by 14 percentage points between May 2020 and March 2021 and the difference between new UC claimants and non-UC respondents declined by 21 percentage points in the same period. 
  • Reported life satisfaction of non-UC respondents has remained significantly above that of existing UC claimants throughout the pandemic. The reported gap was biggest between non-UC and new UC claimants at the start of the pandemic in May 2020, with a 30 percentage point difference. The reported gap was biggest between non-UC and existing UC claimants in November 2020, with a 35 percentage point difference. While new UC claimants reported lower life satisfaction than existing UC claimants in May 2020, this reversed by November 2020, before the two largely aligned by March 2021. By the later stage of the pandemic in March 2021, 46% of existing and 48% of new UC claimants reported being satisfied with their life, compared to 67% of the rest of the population.

Anvar Sarygulov, Senior Research Fellow at Bright Blue and analysis author, commented:

“Even with the Government increasing financial support provided through Universal Credit in March 2020, many claimants have continued to face significant financial difficulties as the pandemic progressed. However, the financial situation for existing and new UC claimants has shifted throughout the pandemic, with some evidence for improvement as the pandemic progressed, especially by March 2021.

Fully withdrawing the Universal Credit uplift in September 2021 will put an even greater number of claimants at risk of financial problems at a point when the economic recovery is only gathering pace.” 

Even the hard right Spectator agrees:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 17, 2021 at 3:00 pm

Cut to Universal Credit?

with 140 comments

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Now as people here have, those on legacy Benefits never got the extra £20 a week.

 

But the bonus, or rather a small raise, is important to millions.

Boris Johnson raises fears he’ll cut Universal Credit by £20 a week for millions

Boris Johnson has dropped the strongest hint yet that he may cut millions of families’ Universal Credit by £20 a week in April.

The Prime Minister is facing desperate pleas not to remove almost a fifth of 5.7million people’s basic allowance.

But today he said he would “rather see a focus on jobs and a growth in wages than focusing on welfare”.

He added “the best thing is to get people into employment” – despite the fact 39% of the 5.7million people on Universal Credit in October already had a job.

Universal Credit was raised by £1,040 for the 2020/21 financial year to help with the impact of coronavirus.

This is the crucial bit,

Mr Johnson stressed any final rate was still under review – but refused calls to end the agony for families now.

He said: “I take your point. I think what we want to see is jobs. We want to see people in employment, we want to see the economy bouncing back.

“I think most people in this country would rather see a focus on jobs and a growth in wages than focusing on welfare.

“But clearly we have to keep all these things under review.”

 

Responses:

 

Here our contributors concerns are raised:

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 14, 2021 at 3:34 pm

Long Term Unemployment Crisis Looms for Older Workers.

with 271 comments

Emily Andrews (@Emilyishness) | Twitter

Putting it Mildly: Quarter of a million over-50s ‘will never work again’.

Our contributors have been discussing plans to recruit an extra 13,500 Work Coaches.

Whether or not they are needed to sign claimants on, “coaching” people back into work is not going to be the major problem, Coachey!

It’s going to be a lot more than that.

Quarter of a million over-50s ‘will never work again’ after coronavirus

Telegraph.

You cannot read any more unless you wish to pay the keeper at the gate of the Telegraph’s pay-wall.
If the Torygraph thought that was going to stop our Crack Reporting Team you can sod off….
The same story appears here,

A quarter of a million over 50 ‘will never work again’ after coronavirus

A major problem for older job seekers is that training and apprenticeship programmes tend to be geared towards younger people, the Centre for Ageing Better said.Andy Briggs, government czar of older workers and managing director of Phoenix Group, an insurer, said: “It’s also up to employers to crack down on unconscious bias. If a senior reveals their age on a resume, they are much less likely to get the job. ”

Older women, in particular, find it difficult to keep their jobs because many have to adapt their jobs to family responsibilities, he added. One in four women over 50 provides informal care for a loved one, compared to one in eight men the same age, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Women are likely to be the hardest hit. Nearly 40,000 women aged 50 to 64 have left the labour market since the start of the pandemic, as shown by the analysis of ONS data by job site Rest Less. At the same time, economic activity has increased in all other age groups of working-age women. For men aged 50 to 64, it increased by 3%.

Stuart Lewis of Rest Less said: “In the last recession, women could retire at age 60. Today he is 66 years old. Losing their jobs will force them to retire early, which many cannot afford.

Diving into savings and pensions will eat up funds quickly, especially when stock markets are down.

Since March, the number of women over 50 claiming universal credit has jumped 95%, compared to 92% among men in the same age group.

Which leads to some crafty leg work and,…….!

The new report from the Centre for Ageing Better and Learning and Work Institute shows that the number of older workers on unemployment related benefits has nearly doubled as a result of the pandemic – increasing from 304,000 in March to 588,000 in June.

There is a risk of a ‘second wave’ of job losses for older workers as the furlough scheme comes to an end in October. One in four older workers – 2.5 million in total – have been furloughed, and hundreds of thousands of these workers may be unable to return to their previous jobs as some sectors struggle to recover.

The report finds that older workers who lose their jobs are far more likely to slip into long-term worklessness. Just one in three (35%) over 50s who lose their job return to work quickly, compared to two in three (63%) workers aged 25-34. Over 50s who are unemployed are twice as likely to have been out of work for over a year than those aged 18 to 24.

A mid-life employment crisis: how COVID-19 will affect the job prospects of older people

Over 50s have been poorly served by previous employment support programmes. The Work Programme – which was introduced following the last recession – failed older claimants; just one in five (19%) adults in their late 50s found a lasting job, compared to two in five (38%) young people aged 18-24.

Many older workers interviewed as part of the new research explained how the crisis had left them pessimistic about their future employment prospects, uncertain about their next steps, and concerned about employers’ perceptions of older workers.

‘When you read that there’s 9 million people that have been furloughed and they’re saying that 1 million people are going to be made redundant. It is going to be very hard and you’re competing with younger people who understand the IT stuff a bit better. So, it’s not easy at my age anyhow.’

On the cusp of retirement, and soon to change this Blog, I can agree with the last sentence 100%.

This is what her NIbs is thinking:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 9, 2020 at 3:36 pm

Huge rise in claims for “unfit for purpose” Universal Credit.

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Universal Credit: Thérèse Coffey confident in system during ...

Thérèse Coffey: Defends Universal Credit by Crook and by Hook.

“Heaps of entangled weeds that slowly float….”

Ancient prophecy foretelling Universal Credit.

Peter Grimes. George Crabbe – national poet of Suffolk Coastal, Therese Coffey’s constituency.

Yesterday, if you watched the BBC, television heard the radio, or glanced at other media outlets,  you could hardly avoid the Work and Pensions Secretary.

Therese Coffey talked about the glories of Universal Credit and how well the benefit system is dealing with the avalanche of new claims.

And a lot more.

She made this gaff,

Thérèse Coffey has suggested “wrong” scientific advice could have led to blunders in the Government’s response to the pandemic.

The Suffolk Coastal MP did not get an easy ride from Piers Morgan on GMB on the assertions about her mates’ response to the pandemic.

The  TV presenter, ungentlemanly, said she had come our with a “pack of lies”.

 

 

Her ‘it’s everybody’s fault but ours” burbling was quickly repudiated by the government.

No 10 distances itself from Therese Coffey after she suggested any Govt mistakes down to ‘wrong’ scientific advice

But what of the Suffolk Coastal MP’s tangled weed, Universal Credit?

This is what this Blog is concerned about – after all!

The New Statesman publishes an excellent article on the sea wrack dragging many people down below water.

Coronavirus is introducing the pitfalls of Universal Credit to many new claimants

 

Universal Credit is a reformed benefits system introduced under the coalition government, designed to mimic salaried employment via monthly payments into one household bank account, with the stated aim to “make work pay”.

This design jars with a period of rising unemployment, when it is even harder to transition back into work after a brief stint on benefits during a blip in your working life. The jobs and hours just aren’t there. In the last two weeks of March, the total number of weekly hours worked saw the largest drop in a decade, and a quarter fewer hours were worked in the last week of that month than in any other weeks in the same quarter.

Plus, the new welfare system is already beset with problems. A five-week wait for the first payment is built into the system – a design that has caused rising foodbank use, and now leaves people for over a month

There’s another point.

Coffey talked, on one of her many, many, respectful interviews, of an extra £20 for Universal Credit claimants.

This is what she was referring to:

The Government has introduced another increase in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced more people to apply for Universal Credit. From April, for 12 months, the Universal Credit standard allowance is increasing by £20 a week.

The ‘I’.

 

Some Benefit Claimants (UC) get the extra money; others don’t.

Legacy Benefits (such as JSA) remain at this kind of rate: JSA, single person basic rate:  £74.35 a week

UC single person basic rate:  £ 409.89 a month.

Do the maths…

We assume that JSA and other non-UC claimants don’t need the money and are happy as they are…

Or not, as a top IUA contributor , Sire Sedley, says:

Hath not a Legacy JSA Claimant hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Universal Credit claimant is ? If you prick us, do we not bleed ? If you tickle us, do we not laugh ?

Therefore Mistress Coffey I prithee, renounce this cruel delay and make haste to right the great wrong that hath been performed unto the legacy claimants. Revoke this intemperate withdrawal of twenty English pounds and give it in all justice to claimants, each alike unto another.

These demands should be pushed and pushed!

Written by Andrew Coates

May 20, 2020 at 5:40 am