Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘Unemployment’ Category

Benefit Sanction Changes.

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Benefit sanctions are largely ineffective and can push people into poverty  and crime finds study - About Manchester

It is hard to tell what this means, and given the far-right paper that publishes it many will be sceptical.

DWP halts benefit sanction plans due to Covid – Universal Credit claimants to be affected

UNIVERSAL credit and other benefit claimants are required to follow certain rules when getting their support and if these rules aren’t followed, sanctions can be issued. These sanctions could reduce or even hold benefit payment amounts and today, the DWP addressed how the sanction system may change going forward.

This could also impact other state benefits and recently, the Government was pushed on potential changes to the sanction system.

Chris Stephens, the Scottish National Party MP for Glasgow South West, recently asked the following question in Parliament: “To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress her Department has made on plans to roll out yellow card warnings in place of immediate benefit sanctions.”

Today, this question was answered by Mims Davies, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the DWP.

She said: “The Department committed to look at processes to give claimants a written warning, instead of a sanction, for a first sanctionable failure to attend a Work-Search Review.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 12, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Benefits Crackdown.

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Universal credit journal update - YouTube

You’ll be contacted via your online journal or a call from your Jobcentre.

This appeared a couple of days ago in the Mirror,

One million Universal Credit claimants told to act now as DWP starts benefit crackdown

Citizens Advice is warning claimants to check their online journals weekly and answer Jobcentre calls to ensure their payments are not terminated.

The Department for Work and Pensions is cracking down on benefit fraud in a move that will see over a million new claims over the past year investigated.

The government body said it has lost £8.4billion in the past 12 months – a figure it estimates is largely down to fraudulent claims and errors in a year when more than six million people joined Universal Credit.

Over that period, identity checks were processed online, for instance, rather than face-to-face and some information was taken on trust, such as the cost of rent.

The overall level of fraud and error across the benefits system increased by almost two-thirds, from 2.4% last year to 3.9%, the highest ever reported rate.

The fraud rate on the main benefit, Universal Credit, was up by more than 50%, it said.

We’ve teamed up with charity Citizens Advice to explain everything you need to know on the DWP’s Trust and Protect scheme, and the steps you should take to ensure you don’t lose out on benefits you’re entitled to.

What is the Trust and Protect scheme?

In the early stages of the pandemic last year, the DWP introduced new measures to make sure people could apply for benefits quickly, without the need to visit a Jobcentre.

This meant that some of the requirements relating to proof of identity, housing costs and household circumstances were eased.

Citizen’s Advice:

Citizens Advice – DWP’s ‘Trust and Protect’ scheme: Your need-to-knows

People who applied for Universal Credit as Covid hit could be subject to a benefits check by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The DWP is now looking at all claims made in the early stages of the pandemic  and asking people for this evidence to support their application. People who claimed New Style JSA and New Style ESA last spring may also be contacted.

How will the DWP contact me?

You’ll be contacted via your online journal or a call from your Jobcentre. This may show up as a withheld number. Make sure your contact details are up to date and try to check your online journal at least once a week for new notifications.

If you’re struggling to manage your online claim for any reason – including lack of access to a computer – you should be able to change to a non-digital claim. Citizens Advice can support you with this.

What happens if I can’t provide the right evidence?

If you can’t provide the right evidence, or you cannot be contacted by officials seeking to verify your claim, your payments could be stopped or changed. 

Universal Credit

This campaign relates to policy or practice in England and Wales.

We’ve helped over 300,000 people with Universal Credit issues since the beginning of the pandemic. Our clients’ evidence helps us play a key role in influencing the Government to ensure the welfare system works for all those needing support.

#KeepTheLifeline Campaign

We welcomed the Government’s decision at the start of pandemic to increase Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits by £20 a week. This uplift has provided a lifeline for millions of families across the UK, during extraordinarily tough times.

The uplift is in place until September 2021. We’re calling for it to be made permanent to provide financial security for millions of people and help support the country’s longer term economic recovery.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 24, 2021 at 5:28 pm

PCS Balloting on Strike Action in Job Centres.

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Consultative ballot over safety in jobcentres

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) is balloting members on potential strike action

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The Department for Work and Pensions says it is “disappointing to hear” that Jobcentre Plus staff are considering industrial action after the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) launched a ballot for members as to whether to strike.

The union launched the ballot this week amid an ongoing dispute over staff being asked to return to working in-person at jobcentres around the country, rather than continuing to work from home during the pandemic.

In response, the DWP told Plymouth Live it was disappointed that the union had “chosen this course of action, as the country re-opens and our jobcentres return to full opening hours”.

The department said it remains “absolutely committed to maintaining all our services to customers, and [to] ensuring our sites remain Covid-secure for colleagues and customers in line with the latest public health and Government guidance”.

Use your vote in the PCS DWP safety ballot

07 May 2021

PCS is asking DWP members to share their views in a consultation ballot about the safety risks caused by the extension of services in jobcentres and rushed plans for video calling

Are you worried about being forced back into a jobcentre when your work can be done from home? Then you need to vote yes in our safety ballot.

This ballot, which ends on 21 May, is not just about work coaches and face-to-face work. It is equally about the safety of all staff in jobcentres.

  1. Are you concerned about your safety?
  2. Are you an AO band B being forced back into a jobcentre when you don’t really do face-to-face work and your job could just as easily still be done more safely from home?
  3. Are you an HEO being forced back into a jobcentre when your job could just as easily still be done more safely from home.
  4. Are you concerned about the safety risks from management’s rushed plans for video calling?

PCS is opposed to AOs and HEOs being forced into offices and put at risk. We say the DWP is rushing too many people back too soon. They are putting you, security guards, cleaners and the public at risk.

Video calling is another ill conceived, rushed idea that endangers staff. There is no guaranteed protection against your identity being shared publicly, or your video call being recorded and shared. And DWP isn’t prepared to pay the money it will take to safeguard you against these risks.

If you vote yes in the PCS safety ballot it will mean your union has more strength in negotiations to stop AOs and HEOs being forced into jobcentres and to stop video calling being forced on our members.

If you are angry and concerned about these thing vote yes.

This is an electronic online ballot for members who have registered a personal email with PCS and postal for those that haven’t. 

Non-members who join by noon on 12 May can vote.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 9, 2021 at 3:57 pm

Jobcentre staff may go on strike

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This story came up a few days ago, which our contributors noted:

Covid: Strike ‘possible’ over longer job centre opening

The return to normal opening hours for job centres is putting users and staff “in harm’s way”, a union has warned.

The PCS said it would not rule out strike action, arguing the extension should instead put back until Covid vaccines were “fully rolled out”.

Job centres went back to their pre-lockdown hours on Monday, having previously been cut to 10am to 2pm.

Today we hear:

Universal Credit fears as Jobcentre staff could go on strike

Wales on Line reports.

A union says staff do not feel safe during the pandemic

Most Jobcentre workers do not feel safe going into offices after they fully reopened last week, a union has said as it warned of industrial action over the issue.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said a survey of more than 1,000 of its members found around three in five feel unsafe, while another one in five are unsure about their safety because of continuing fears about the virus.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These results reflect the anger and frustration our members feel every day. Thousands of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff have been providing support to claimants safely from home throughout the pandemic.

“The only logical reason they would insist on fully reopening is because management’s obsession with sanctioning vulnerable claimants.

“These stats show how staff feel and should send a strong signal to ministers that they need to urgently meet with the union to avoid potential industrial action.”

Then there is this story:

Written by Andrew Coates

April 19, 2021 at 5:31 pm

Half a million Universal Credit claimants hit by tax debt deduction.

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Universal credit: how to claim, and how much you will receive | Consumer  affairs | The Guardian

Half a Million of Them Hit by New Deductions.

But all is far from going well in Universal Credit land, and here’s a further reminder that the system does not just replace JSA and other benefits, but also includes that who used to receive Tax Credits. That is, people in work.

Half a million Universal Credit claimants shocked by sudden tax debt deduction

Carers and frontline workers among those targeted with many people unaware they even owed the money

Birmingham Live reports:

Around half a million people claiming Universal Credit or other benefits have been hit by a sudden tax deduction this year.

They have been targeted as the Government claws back tax credit overpayments from as far back as 17 years ago.

In response to a freedom of information request, the DWP revealed they had been docking payments to Universal Credit claimants because of tax credit overpayments at a rate of 47,000 cases per week this year – effectively wiping out the £20 a week boost given to Universal Credit recipients.

Cuts started on January 18 for people who had newly started claiming Universal Credit for the first time during the pandemic.

Many of the debts being chased are for thousands of pounds. The total amount owed in overpayment of tax credits is estimated to be £6 billion.

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For those still receiving tax credits, the money is taken out of that with 10 per cent to 50 per cent of a person’s payment cut to claw it back, depending on earnings.

For those only on the family element of Child Tax Credits, payments are slashed by 100 per cent, meaning income is stopped completely until the overpayments are cleared.

And for those no longer on tax credits but now on Universal Credit or other state benefits, the debt is taken from those payments. The Department for Work and Pensions can impose deductions on Universal Credit and other benefits to recover third-party debts to HMRC and other organisations.

Only 1 per cent of tax credit overpayments are a result of fraud or negligence by the recipient. In the majority of cases, it’s said to be due to system errors by the HMRC.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 15, 2021 at 3:43 pm