Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘Welfare Reform’ Category

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

Legacy Benefits Case Continues in Court.

MS Society UK on Twitter: "Today, it was announced that the High Court is  to decide whether it was lawful of the Government to refuse the same  financial uplift for nearly two

Case Continues.

Were it not for some of our eagle-eyed contributors this case would be ignored even on this site.

It is an injustice, not just for disabled people but for those on ” Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.”

Those claimants did not get the uplift when people on Universal Credit got the extra £20 a week.

There was an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, (February 2021)

That this House recognises the financial effect that the covid-19 outbreak has had on disabled people; further recognises that research from the Disability Benefits Consortium found that over six in 10 disabled people in the survey had gone without essentials such as food, heating or medication since the pandemic began; is concerned that no uplift was provided to people on legacy benefits such as employment and support allowance, jobseeker’s allowance and income support; calls on the Government to implement a £20 uplift for legacy benefits to reflect the additional costs disabled people have faced; and further calls on the Government to commission research to assess the adequacy of benefits for disabled people.

And a debate in the House of Commons, on the 15h of September 2021 which mentioned this injustice,

Opposition Day Debate: Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits

On Wednesday 15 September there will be an Opposition Day Debate on the motion ‘That this House calls on the Government to cancel its planned cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit which from the end of September 2021 will reduce support for many hardworking families by £1,040 a year.’

This uplift, however, did not apply to any other benefits, such as contributory benefits or extra-costs disability benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP). It also did not extend to means-tested benefits which are being replaced by Universal Credit, but are still being claimed by many low-income families of working age. These are known as ‘legacy’ benefits and include: income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), and Income Support.

There were some protests and a petition protesting against this injustice.

Government responded

This response was given on 11 March 2021

The Government has now confirmed the temporary £20 per week increase to Universal Credit remains in place for a further six months. There are no plans to extend a benefit increase to legacy benefits.

But the only avenue left now seems to be this important court case.

A disabled man from Milton Keynes is to make history with a judicial review in the High Court that could help two million other benefit claimants in the UK win a backdated amount of cash.

Ian Barrow is one of four people nationally to challenge the decision of the government not to give legacy benefit claimants an extra £20 to help them during the Covid pandemic.

All Universal Credit claimants were given the weekly ‘uplift’ but those on legacy benefits received nothing extra.

Legacy benefits are Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

He is in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance and has been assessed as having limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA).

At the beginning of the pandemic the Chancellor announced the £20 per week increase to the standard allowance of Universal Credit, but this increase was never extended to those on legacy benefits, the majority of whom are disabled, sick or carers.

A spokesman for Osbornes said the legal argument is that this action is discriminatory and unjustified. The High Court has agreed it is arguably unlawful and will decide the case later this year. The claimants have asked for the trial to be heard before the end of July 2021.

Claimants return to court for third battle with DWP in fight for universal credit justice

The high court has this week heard the latest stage in a long-running battle to secure justice for thousands of disabled benefit claimants who lost out financially after being forced onto universal credit.

The hearing, due to end today (Thursday), concerns policies that left many claimants worse off when their circumstances changed and they had to move from legacy benefits like employment and support allowance onto universal credit (UC).

Two of the three claimants taking the case – known as TP and AR for legal reasons – have already twice defeated the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the court of appeal in connected cases.

Their first legal case challenged rules that meant they lost out on about £180 a month in the move to UC, because they were no longer receiving severe disability premium (SDP) and enhanced disability premium (EDP).

DWP responded by temporarily stopping other claimants in similar positions from migrating onto UC and introducing payments of about £80 month for those already affected.

TP and AR then had to take another legal case – which they also won – because this payment failed to bridge the gap between what they were now receiving and what they would have been receiving if they were still claiming ESA.

Despite the two victories, they were forced to take a third legal action after DWP announced that the level of compensation for disabled people who had been receiving EDP and SDP and had moved onto UC before 16 January 2019 – when another set of regulations came into force to protect other claimants in similar situations – would be set at a lower rate than the £180 a month they had secured through the second case.

They have been joined in the third case by another disabled claimant, AB, who has a partner and a child, and has lost out by even more.

TP and AR are currently losing out by £60 a month and AB and her partner by nearly £400 a month.

TP said last month: “It has been entirely frustrating and exhausting having to exist on an overall unreasonable cut in financial assistance brought about by a move forced upon me into universal credit, whilst at the same time battling debilitating illness during a most challenging period of increased expenditure during this pandemic.

“The principle of a fair transition into universal credit has already been upheld by the courts on numerous occasions now, yet the government has been dragging its feet for a prolonged period of time to my detriment in abiding by these rulings both in letter and spirit.”

AR added: “Yet again I am having to go to court and fight for what is fair.

“Over the last years I should have had much needed support in place to help me get through the challenges I face on a daily basis as a result of my disabilities, but instead I have had to put time and energy into fighting for that support.

“I hope this is the last time we have to fight the secretary of state for support that is so obviously needed.”

Their solicitor, Tessa Gregory, a partner at Leigh Day, said last month that it was “difficult to believe that our clients have been forced to bring a third set of legal proceedings against the government in order to ensure they and thousands of other severely disabled persons are not unlawfully discriminated against following their move on to universal credit”.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 23, 2021 at 6:24 pm

Benefits Shake up proposed: DWP considers ‘new single benefit’ for Ill and Disabled People.

DWP looking at single new benefit to take place of Universal Credit, PIP  and ESA - Birmingham Live

New Shake Up.

Yesterday the story about a new single benefit for sick and disabled people came up.

Trev commented,

The proposed merger between UC and PIP seems to be all about preventing people from getting PIP, I reckon that’s what it’s all about.

The story has now developed.

DWP considers ‘new single benefit’ for sick and disabled people. Welfare Weekly, today).

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is exploring the idea of a single benefit for sick and disabled people, it has been reported.

Some 1.4million claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or its replacement Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – paid to help people with the costs of being disabled. Others claim ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), which UC is replacing.

The DWP says keeping all these different benefits and having just one assessment wouldn’t work. A brand new scheme would be a way to make the whole system simpler, it says.

The proposal is included in the DWP’s recent report ‘Shaping Future Support: The Health and Disability Green Paper.’

NOTE; The Green Paper was published on the 20th of July and the consultation ended on the 11th of October.

As the Mirror points out today, “A little-reported Green Paper over the summer said a ‘new single benefit’ could combine payments – with Tory welfare chief Therese Coffey saying ‘everything is on the table'”

The Welfare Weekly article continues,

“Responding to the proposal of creating a new benefit or merging ESA, DLA & PIP with Universal CreditDisability Rights UK (DRUK) said: “We are very suspicious of the Green Paper suggestion that Ministers could create a “new single benefit” so as to simplify the application and assessment process..

“Given the stress, worry, fear and distrust work capability assessments and PIP assessments cause Disabled people, the prospect of only having one assessment and not two is only superficially attractive at best.

“Given the repeated stress the Green Paper gives to “affordability” we believe the DWP is being disingenuous and the actual reason for the single benefit suggestion is likely to be reducing expenditure.”

Gail Ward, from the Hand2Mouth Project, said: “Those on Legacy Benefits will be Migrated to UC in 2023/24 and the merging of ESA,DLA/PIP will be a disaster for claimants and potentially means that PIP will become means tested.

“The form descriptors while having different criteria are already closely aligned and the DWP were calling PIP ‘a functional benefit’ in an evidence session before the Work and Pensions Committee recently.

……

The warning is very clearly when Therese Coffey suggested that severe disability group could be nudged into some type of work or training programme is a loud and clear message to all claimants that they want to cut overall costs and cut claimant numbers.”

Or as the Mirror notes of the DWP Minister,

Ms Coffey also suggested she was concerned by the number of people claiming PIP for mental health difficulties, saying she wanted to “target that even more so to people who really need that support”.

She added: “PIP has certainly grown in a way that was not anticipated when it was introduced.

“To give you an example, three out of four young people who claim PIP have their primary reason being mental ill health.

“That in itself is 189,000 young people who currently receive benefit focused on that. There may be other benefits they receive as well.

This seems, as our contributors have commented, part of a wider strategy to merge all benefits. The problem is, as Universal Credit has already shown, this can create bureaucratic and information technology nightmares. As well as, as he above comment about ‘affordability’ indicates, being an excuse for cutting benefit levels.

This is the Minister in Charge of the Green Paper:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2021 at 11:08 am

Food Banks and Benefits.

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Up till the new millenium it was rare – I had never even heard of them – to see Foodbanks in the UK. There were a few night-time soup kitchens in London, famously one run by the Salvation Army near the Embankment Tube station. They were for the homeless, a small number of people, often called “tramps” and “down and outs”.

These were times when you could still get a bath (left over from the time that not everybody had proper washing facilities at home) in a municipal facility (there was one in Ipswich round the corner, still here not that long ago). When the heating on our flat in Kentish Town broke down and working not far away, I used one, near to a hostel for the homeless in Holborn. In the same place, development on what is the Oasis Swimming Pool there, 1983 “Skeletons were found in the workhouse earth basements of the former workhouse inmates, which stopped work for a while”.

There is still a soup kitchen in the area by the Thames, Soup Runs.” St James’s Spanish Place: Operates Tuesday and Friday evenings at Lincoln Inn Fields and Embankment, Central London.”

So how have we got used to Food Banks?

Food banks developed in America where there is no real social security system, and those at the end of their tether are forced to rely on he good will and grace of others – Charity. Instead of rights you get dependence on the minimum needed to survive.

It is not accident that it was during the Regan years, when those who claim to believe that “god helps those who help themselves” grew, “According to a comprehensive government survey completed in 2002, over 90% of food banks were established in the US after 1981.” After initial criticism, “in the decades that followed, food banks have become an accepted part of America’s response to hunger.”

Something similar has happened here with those who would do away with social security and replace it with private insurance if they good in charge of the government since the 1980s, and New Labour unwilling to put benefit payments at a decent level, or to reform the punitive sanction system.

Foodbanks were rarely seen in the UK in the second half of the twentieth century, their use has started to grow, especially in the 2000s, and have since dramatically expanded. The increase in the dependency on food banks has been blamed  on the 2008 recession and the Conservative government’s austerity policies. These policies included cuts to the welfare state and caps on the total amount of welfare support that a family can claim. The OECD found that people answering yes to the question ‘Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?’ decreased from 9.8% in 2007 to 8.1% in 2012, leading some to say that the rise was due to both more awareness of food banks, and Jobcentres referring people to food banks when they were hungry.

Now, with Boris Johnson is charge, a man generously described as a “fabricator and a cheat” whose office as Prime Minister is a “triumph of political lying” (The Assault on Truth. Peter Osborne. 2021), Foodbanks are treated as essential institutuons.

Which they are. As the Trussell Trust has pointed out,

“The rapid growth in the number of charitable food banks had particularly captured public attention, as had the quantity of emergency food parcels they were distributing. Food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network distributed 61,000 emergency food parcels in2010/11, rising to 2.5 million in 2020/21.”

“Rather than acting as a service to ensure people do not face destitution, the evidence suggests that for people on the very lowest incomes … the poor functioning of universal credit can actually push people into a tide of bills, debts and, ultimately, lead them to a food bank. People are falling through the cracks in a system not made to hold them. What little support available is primarily offered by the third sector, whose work is laudable, but cannot be a substitute for a real, nationwide safety net.”

“According to an all-party parliamentary report released in December 2014, key reasons for the increased demand for UK foodbanks are delays in paying benefits, welfare sanctions, and the recent reversal of the post-WWII trend for poor people’s incomes to rise above or in line with increased costs for housing, utility bills and food.”

A strategy for zero hunger in England ,Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom

Just to underline the point and bring it up to date.,

The Trust also says,

It’s time for change – and that will only be possible as we raise our voices together to call for an end to the need for food banks.

We need your help. We’re calling on government at all levels to commit to ending the need for food banks and developing a plan to do so, and we need you to get involved.

Here is what is happening.

A couple of days ago the BBC ran this story.

Food banks struggle for donations as demand rises

A food bank said it is running low on donations as demand is rising due to the pandemic and people’s financial worries.

Worcester food bank said it gave food parcels to 987 people in September, a rise of 46% on the same month in 2020.

Goff O’Dowd, from the charity, said they were running short on 40 items including pasta and tinned fruit.

He said some people were desperate for help with not enough money to pay their energy bills.

The charity estimates they need 50 tonnes of food to get through until Christmas and are currently receiving about eight tonnes a month.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 12, 2021 at 11:11 am

Cut in Universal Credit Dominates Benefits News.

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Our contributors raise issues about benefits sanctions, work ‘coaches’, the Work and Health Programme and Training Services, which got money from the European Social Fund, Restart, the risks of opening Job Centres, Internet Access, and the State Pension and Pension Credit (well worth applying for if you have little money and, obviously, no private pension).

When this Blog was first set up we exchanged a lot of experience on back-to-work ‘schemes’, including placements in variety of companies and public services. Many had serious difficulties with them, probably most with the ‘courses’ given by enterprises like SEETEC. They now seem to be have got set up again.

But the news on Benefits remains overshadowed by the coming cut in Universal Credit.

‘We keep on struggling’: Families on Universal Credit prepare for life without the £20 uplift

Some people, on Legacy Benefits, never got that “uplift”.

Sky.

It’s just under a month to go until the £20 Universal Credit uplift, put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, comes to an end.

It’s being called the biggest overnight social security cut since World War Two.

This autumn, as the government seeks to claw back some of the unprecedented emergency spending undertaken since COVID-19 hit the UK, familiar security blankets like the £20 uplift to Universal Credit are set to be removed.

It won’t be without its consequences.

Doctors, charities and even some Conservative MPs are calling on the government to rethink its decision to end the uplift.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) says that most parts of England, Scotland and Wales will see more than one in three families and their children affected as a result of the £1,040-a-year .

The Trussell Trust estimates that nearly a quarter of a million parents on Universal Credit fear not being able to sufficiently put dinner on the table for their children when the £20 cut comes into force from October.

Benefits Boss Coffey has been on a jolly in Japan.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2021 at 5:41 pm