Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Universal Credit to bring Misery for over 100,000 over Christmas.

with 87 comments

DWP Explains Universal Credit for Dummies.

(What the hell this design means hell knows…)

A friend in Ipswich told me about this story this morning, and WhoKnew has posted about it, but it’s still hard to get to grips with something quite so bad.

Universal credit: Households to miss out on benefits over festive season.

Thousands of people on universal credit may not be paid over the festive season or may get a reduced payment, the BBC Money Box show has highlighted.

Those hit will be some of the 67,000 people who claim the benefit while working and who are paid weekly.

This is because there are five paydays in December, so their monthly income will be too high to get any or some of the benefit. Some will have to reapply.

The government said only a “minority” of claimants would be affected.

The Department for Work and Pensions warns on its website that people who are paid five times in a month may have an income that is too high to qualify for the benefit in that period.

It says people will be notified if this happens and told to reapply for the benefit the following month.

Other people who are paid fives times in a month but do not earn enough for universal credit to end will have their benefit reduced.

Kayley Hignell, from Citizens Advice, said the way universal credit was calculated brought some benefits but also “significant budget challenges”.

She said: “The key thing here is about communication.

“People need to know that if they’re getting extra income in one month… it may stop their universal credit payment, and that they then subsequently need to put in a new claim to make sure that they continue to get those payments.

“If you’ve got extra money in the month, don’t necessarily bank on the fact that your universal credit is going to stay the same, because it could change it either in this month or the next.”

The Independent shares our initial disbelief.

100,000 people on universal credit will not receive a payment at Christmas

‘It sounds like nonsense doesn’t it? A script from a political farce. But no, it’s actually what’s happening’ Rob Merrick

At least 100,000 low-paid people on universal credit will receive no payment at Christmas, in a fresh controversy about the new benefit.

The claimants will be hit because they are paid weekly and their income “will likely go over the universal credit limit”, officials say.

They will be able to reapply in January – but, it is feared, will be left without money over the Christmas and New Year period.

 The same problem will re-occur in other months which, like December, have five paydays, because universal credit is calculated on a monthly basis.

“It sounds like nonsense doesn’t it? A script from a political farce. But no, it’s actually what’s happening,” said one worried claimant on the Mumsnet website.

Here is the Official Cheery Yuletide Message from the DWP,

 If you’re paid weekly

If you’re paid weekly by your employer, you will get either 4 or 5 payments of earnings within a Universal Credit assessment period. Depending on the amount you get paid this may affect your Universal Credit.

When you have 5 weekly earnings payments within an assessment period, your income may be too high to qualify for Universal Credit in that month.

If this happens you will be notified that your income is too high and you will no longer get Universal Credit.

You can re-apply the following month as you should only get 4 wage payments in your assessment period then.

You will need to be prepared for a month when you get 5 wage payments in one assessment period and budget for a potential change in your monthly Universal Credit payments.

Find out what you need to do if you need to start your Universal Credit claim again within 6 months of your previous claim ending. For example, because you’ve received more earnings in an assessment period than usual.

There’s plenty of other side-splitting stuff on the same site:

Guidance

Universal Credit: different earning patterns and your payments (payment cycles).

This is real larf: “Personal Budgeting Support (money advice).”

If you have any complaints do not hesitate to fill this in, it’s at the bottom of the DWP page:

 

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.

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Written by Andrew Coates

November 18, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Government to Cut Universal Credit Wait to…..5 Weeks!

with 98 comments

Image result for universal credit campaign

I Week off the Wait, to meet Universal Credit Crisis.

Our best mate and Mentor, Tutor and Guide,  Google informs us of this,

Government preparing to trim wait for new benefit after Tory backbenchers raised concerns about impact on constituents.

The government is preparing to confirm that it will cut the six-week waiting time for universal credit, caving in to Conservative backbench rebels.

After being promised concessions by ministers, a group of Tory MPs concerned about the impact of the delay on their constituents were persuaded not to vote against the government in a Labour-led debate on universal credit last month.

The six-week wait was the central concern of the group, which includes Heidi Allen and Johnny Mercer, and the government is expected to reduce it, most likely by eliminating the seven-day mandatory waiting time at the start of any new claim.

The move comes as MPs prepare to vote on a cross-party motion to cut the wait for a first payment from 42 days to a month. The backbench business debate in the House of Commons on Thursday will focus on the recommendations of the recent work and pensions committee inquiry report on universal credit.

The committee chair, Frank Field, warned that a government defeat would send a clear message to ministers that the long wait had to go: “Universal credit’s design and implementation have been beset with difficulties that knock claimants into hunger, debt and homelessness, but the most glaring of these in the first instance is the six-week wait for payment.

“I doubt many households in this country could get by for six weeks, and for many, much longer, with no income, never mind those striving close to the breadline. The baked-in wait for payment is cruel and unrealistic and government has not been able to offer any proper justification for it.”

But wait, hark, what is this we hear?

The massive concession turns out to be a lonely 5 week wait.

Government backs down on Universal Credit wait.

Sky News understands the concession will be made in the coming days as Theresa May tries to see off a Tory rebellion.

The Government is to cut the controversial six-week wait for Universal Credit payments in the comings days in a bid to see off a Conservative rebellion.

A Government source familiar with the plans told Sky News there would be “some movement [on the wait time] in the early part of next week” after intensive behind-the-scenes discussions with a group of up to two dozen rebel MPs.

The source said ministers were working on plans to cut the wait to five weeks or less in a significant concession to backbench MPs.

And Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke is also said to be looking to do more on advance payments for claimants as the roll-out of Universal Credit is expanded from five to 50 job centres a month.

Universal Credit combines six benefits into one single benefit and is designed to simplify the welfare system and to “make work pay”.

It was the flagship welfare reform of David Cameron’s coalition government, but has been plagued with delays since its inception and by criticism over its design.

One flaw is the six-week wait time which has been criticised across the political divide amid concerns it is pushing claimants into arrears on rent and council tax, and forcing some to use food banks.

The 5 week wait and “more” to get people into debt with advance payments is miserable, miserable, penny-pinching, Scrooge’s idea of a Christmas present.

As Julia Rampen says in the New Statesman says,

The government is set to cut the six week initial waiting time for Universal Credit, Sky News reports. If this retreat on welfare is true, it’s welcome. The expectation that people forced to rely on this country’s meagre safety net would somehow have the cash to tide themselves over for six weeks was always fantasy.

As increasingly panicked reports from the areas where the new “streamlined” benefit is being rolled out attest, six weeks is a long time when you have no money in your pocket, and rent and bills to pay. Claimants can get an advance payment, but this can easily turn into yet another debt to pay. Evictions are mounting, and stories from frontline workers are harrowing – such as the one from a foodbank manager, who met a young boy picking through the bins while his mother waited for her first Universal Credit payment.

All the same, there is not much to celebrate. Commuting the waiting time from six weeks to five, as the report suggests will happen, still means a very long wait for access to food or heating, or the resources to pay your rent and other bills. It suggests that Universal Credit will still be structured around a monthly payment, and allocated based on monthly income – even though Resolution Foundation research found the majority of claimants had previously been paid weekly or fortnightly, and many in-work recipients have different hours from month to month. Nor does there seem to be any movement on the fact that Universal Credit is paid to only one member of the household – a structure ripe for abuse. And then there’s the whole question of whether the benefit designed to “make work pay” is actually penalising workers, since any increases in payment under the new system are minimal.

Most worryingly, though, a climbdown on the waiting period does nothing to address the cause of much Universal Credit misery – the glitches. As an anonymous Universal Credit manager wrote for the New Statesman, benefits case managers are overwhelmed, with 300 cases on the go at once. A rigid, automised priority list means that many claims with fall through the cracks. With Jobcentres closing, claimants are set to be even more reliant on communicating with these overworked staff through online messaging or crowded phonelines.

CAN YOU CREDIT IT?

 

Brits spend £6.5million ringing Universal Credit helpline between April and September

 

Shocking figures reveal there were 4.2million calls to the helpline over the five months with an average landline fee of up to 12p

Pile it on against the bastards!

More from Sky just now,

The Prime Minister has been warned thousands of families are being put through the “trauma” of fearing eviction over Christmas due to flagship benefit changes.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tackled Theresa May over the roll-out of Universal Credit, as he revealed a letting agency’s warning to tenants that they could be asked to leave their properties.

In a letter from Lincolnshire-based GAP Property, tenants are told the company cannot sustain arrears “at the potential levels Universal Credit could create” when the new benefits system is introduced in the area next month.

Highlighting a six-week wait claimants will face for their first benefit payments under Universal Credit, the agency adds: “IF YOU DO NOT PAY YOUR RENT WE WILL HAVE NO OPTION BUT TO LEAVE AND RECOVER LOSSES FROM YOUR GUARANTOR”.

GAP Property insists to tenants the letter is “not intended to cause you alarm, rather to inform you of the problems that could very well occur during the roll-out of Universal Credit”.

Challenging Mrs May over the letter at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Corbyn asked: “Will the Prime Minister pause Universal Credit so it can be fixed or does she think it is right to put thousands of families through Christmas in the trauma of knowing they’re about to be evicted because they’re in rent arrears because of Universal Credit?”

In response, Mrs May acknowledged concerns about people managing their budgets to pay rent during the Universal Credit roll-out, but added: “What we see is after four months the number of people on Universal Credit in arrears has fallen by a third.”

The Labour leader told the Prime Minister he suspects “it’s not the only letting agency that’s sending out that kind of letter” and highlighted increased food bank usage and child poverty fears as he demanded the Government pause the roll-out of Universal Credit.

Mrs May countered the new benefits system “is ensuring that we are seeing more people in work and able to keep what they earn”.

And,

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams repeated Labour’s demand for a pause to Universal Credit while “these issues are fixed”.

She said: “The Government is reportedly planning to reduce the six week wait for Universal Credit payments.

“I hope they have now listened to Labour’s repeated calls to significantly reduce the waiting time, which has driven many into debt, arrears and evictions.

“Much more needs to be done.

“The Government must confirm that alternative payment arrangements will be offered to all recipients, including fortnightly payments, and bring forward plans to restore the principle that work always pays under the programme.”

Before I forget (and after seeing the rise in Food Prices today): End the Benefits Freeze!

Written by Andrew Coates

November 15, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Stop the Roll Out of Universal Credit! Protests on December the 2nd.

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Image may contain: one or more people and text

Stop the rollout of Universal Credit

 

Organising  has  begun.

 Unite Community Day of Action for Universal Credit on December 2nd.

Contact: community@unitetheunion.org to find out where your local action is or to offer your help.

Please do your bit and share the articles to your networks. Get the word out so we can maintain the pressure on this Tory Govt.

Solidarity comrades.

Latest news stories, BBC.

The Scottish government is calling on the chancellor to stop the rollout of Universal Credit to enable “fundamental flaws” to be fixed.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has written to Philip Hammond asking for improvements to be made to the payments system in his autumn Budget.

He said a delay in payments had caused hardship to families across Scotland.

The UK government said the vast majority of people were paid their Universal Credit in full and on time.

The controversial measure, which is being rolled out across the UK, brings six existing benefit payments into one – but critics have claimed the six-week wait some people have for their first payment is contributing to a rise in debt, rent arrears and evictions.

In his letter to the chancellor, Mr Mackay said the announcement by the work and pensions secretary to offer Universal Credit advances upfront would “do nothing to fix the fundamental design flaws with Universal Credit”.

He said: “The Universal Credit system is fundamentally flawed and causing unnecessary hardship and suffering to families across Scotland.

“It is vital that the UK government addresses these failings and that the roll-out is halted until the problems are fixed.

“I strongly urge the chancellor to use the autumn Budget to pause the roll-out, reduce the first payment wait time to a maximum of four weeks, move to a twice-monthly payment system and reverse cuts to work allowances.

“These measures would help ease financial pressures and stop pushing more families into poverty.”

Telegraph,

Theresa May faces revolt over Universal Credit as MPs prepare to vote on reducing wait times

Theresa May is facing a second revolt over the roll-out of one of the Government’s key welfare reforms after ordering her MPs to abstain on an earlier vote.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that more than a dozen Conservative MPs are intending to back a cross-party motion this week demanding that ministers reduce the waiting period for Universal Credit payments.

The Democratic Unionist Party, whose MPs are propping up Mrs May’s Government, is also believed to be considering supporting the motion.

The vote is likely to cause embarrassment to the Prime Minister in a week when she is attempting to reassert authority over her party after losing two Cabinet ministers in the space of a week.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Universal Credit and Elaine Morrall who “Died Cold and Alone”.

with 109 comments

 

Mum-of-four dies cold and alone after missing Universal Credit meeting

Elaine “Died Cold and Alone”. “How many people have got to die before this government realises they are killing vulnerable people?’

 

This story makes everything else look small.

A mum-of-four died cold and alone after her benefits were cut because she was too ill to attend a Universal Credit meeting. Elaine Morrall was found dead in her home wearing a coat and scarf, her family claimed. Metro.

The 38-year-old had her benefits stopped because she failed to attend a meeting about Universal Credit while she was in a hospital intensive care unit, they said.

Elaine, who suffered from an eating disorder and mental health problems, was found dead earlier this month in Runcorn, Cheshire. Her family claims she wouldn’t put her heating on until her kids got home from school because of the cost. Her grieving mother Linda Morrall blamed the Department of Work and Pensions for her untimely death.

In an open letter on Facebook, she wrote: ‘How many people have got to die before this government realises they are killing vulnerable people?’ ‘My daughter lived in Boston ave. She died on the afternoon of 2 November 2017 at home on her own. She was 38yrs. ‘In the cold with her coat & scarf on. Because she wouldn’t put her heating on until her kids came home from school. Why?? Because she couldn’t afford it. ‘Because she was severely depressed. Suffered from eating disorder & many other problems for many years. ‘Mainly due to authoritarians of 1 form or another. I can give you details. Was in & out of hospital in recent months in intensive care. ‘But was deemed not ill enough for ESA. Had her benefits stopped numerous times, which in turn stopped her housing benefit. ‘No income but expected to be able to pay full rent. Was told being in intensive care was not sufficient reason for failing to attend a universal credit interview. ‘I went to the job centre to inform them that she couldn’t attend. But benefits stopped again. ‘Uncaring housing taking her to court. She’s due to go to court on monday. Is being dead now enough reason. Is that what’s had to happen to prove she was ill?? ‘How many people have got to die before this government realises they are killing vulnerable people?? ‘What are you and your fellow councillors going to do to protect your constituents??’

Background to the growing crisis.

Demand for Suffolk and Essex food banks continues to grow.

Ipswich Star. 7th of November. 

Changes in the benefit system and the rising cost of living are among the issues driving a surge in demand on Suffolk and Essex food banks, it has been claimed.

Ipswich charity Families in Need (FIND) has given out around 3,400 food parcels so far in 2017, and founder Maureen Reynel said more people were using the service every year.

Food bank bosses say the roll out of Universal Credit, which is replacing most means-tested benefits, is leaving local people struggling because new applicants have to wait around six weeks after a successful assessment to receive the cash.

Mrs Reynel said: “It means people are waiting for money, even though it’s back dated they have to eat in the meantime so any change in benefits, doesn’t matter what label they put on it, has an adverse affect on people using those benefit systems.

“It’s just a mess really. We just have to keep trying to plug a gaping hole to see these people through until something else good happens for them.”

Demand on FIND is “non-stop”, Mrs Reynel said, with the number of food parcels handed out hitting double figures most days.

The same evening there was a report on the effect of Universal Credit on people, driving them into utter poverty, on the BBC Look East.

Trussell Trust foodbanks report record surge in demand amid Universal Credit rollout

The statistics lay bare the link between the welfare reform and rising need for emergency handouts.

The controversial rollout of the Tories’ flagship welfare reform has triggered a 30% surge in hungry families, shock figures reveal today.

Foodbanks handed out 586,907 emergency rations between the start of April and end of September – a 13% rise on the same period last year, according to the Trussell Trust.

With each parcel having enough food for three meals a day for three days, volunteers handed out the equivalent of almost 5.3 million meals.

And foodbanks in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out for six months or more have seen an average 30% spike in the first six months after its launch compared to a year before.

Charity leaders fear the crisis will deepen in the run-up to Christmas when the number of foodbanks in areas of full Universal Credit service will triple, and when demand for food traditionally rises.

Trussell Trust chief executive Mark Ward said: “We’re seeing soaring demand at foodbanks across the UK.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Work and Health Programme: After Universal Credit another Opportunity for Government Cock-up.

with 123 comments

 Image result for work and health programme

Work and Health Programme?

Providers announced for the Work and Health Programme (Thanks to contributors for flagging this up)

The Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Penny Mordaunt, has announced the 6 providers for the new Work and Health Programme.

Area Successful provider
Central England Shaw Trust
North East Reed In Partnership
North West Ingeus
Southern Pluss
Home Counties Shaw Trust
Wales Remploy

Local government partners in London and Greater Manchester have been given funding under devolution deals and are selecting their own providers.

In Scotland, funding for employment programmes for unemployed and disabled people was devolved in line with the Scotland Act.

The Work and Health Programme is not available in Northern Ireland.

As this Ipswich Unemployed Action I will concentrate on the Shaw Trust – which will provide services in ‘Home Counties’ East Anglia.

Past criticisms:

To be put on a 2 year Work Course is Compulsory, you have no choice, other words! My CV is sent, without my permission or any discussion with myself, to any Employers, whether I can do the job or not! Sometimes I will only get a few hours notice that an interview has been arranged for me! Plus I never get told what the hours are or the hourly rate, so I’m going into the interview ‘blind’. As I have a hernia, I was told not to tell the Employer.I had to lie just so I could get the job?
I will not lie, give false information that may be to my detriment, just so they can get rid of me! Despicable and underhand treatment of a human being!

More criticisms here

Example: May 2017

Terrible charity to work for bullying , harassment, under mining rife by management . Take my words of warning DO NOT WORK FOR THIS ORGANISATION YOU WOULD HAVE A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.

Advice to Management

Stop the bullying and harassing culture that is rife in the organisation, absolutely disgusting that’s why I left….. . if DWP only knew how they treat their staff and how it would impact on the customers we support that they are paying us to do using taxpayers money. Get rid of the existing management team and directors and start again worst place I have worked in my entire LIFE!

(which to their credit the Shaw Trust registers and replies to).

Accounts up to 31st of March 2017,

The accounts reveal that the number of staff at the Wiltshire-based trust increased from 1,597 to 1,814 and the number of employees earning more than £60,000 increased from 46 to 56. The document says this “is substantially due to the conversion of three new schools into Shaw Education Trust during 2016-17”.

The highest salary paid during the year was in the £170,000 to £180,000 pay band. The recipient of this money is not identified in the accounts. 

Aspects of the new Programme:

Groups targeted:

Who is the eligible group for the Programme? (1)
It is expected that the Programme will support individuals from the following
participant groups:
• A person with a disability, as defined in the Equality Act 2010 can volunteer
to join the programme at any time including additional places for eligible and
suitable WRAG claimants
• Long Term Unemployed (LTU) – these will be claimants in the intensive work
search regime in Universal Credit or JSA claimants – who have not moved into
employment within 24 months of their claim

 

Programme participation
Participants will remain on the programme for up to 15 months of job finding
support
• If in that period they find a job they will stay on the programme until they
achieve a sustained Job Outcome
• If after 15 months support they do not find a job they return to the JCP offer
• Following a job start, the provider will be required to provide light touch inwork
support, for the participant if the provider and claimant agree it is
necessary in order for the claimant to remain in work.
• In-work support will continue until a sustained Job Outcome is achieved (not
indefinitely) and arrangements for continuation of support are in place if
necessary before the provider support ceases.
• The details and type of support will be set out by providers in their bids and
should complement other in work support.

Comment: One of the greatest concerns is shown by the head image.

Will this programme involve putting unemployed people into ‘therapy’?

More information on this programme welcome.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 4, 2017 at 10:49 am

Tory U-Turn on Universal Credit?

with 114 comments

 

Image result for universal credit

Conservatives ‘planning Budget U-turn’ over rollout of Universal Credit regime

The Independent says,

It was reported that Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to make an announcement at the autumn Budget – scheduled for 22 November.

Ministers are reportedly preparing for a major U-turn on the rollout of Universal Credit in the Budget by reducing the controversial six-week wait to four for the first payment to claimants.

It comes after weeks of sustained pressure on Downing Street from Conservative backbenchers, the Labour party and charities warning the Government’s flagship welfare programme – due to be accelerated this month – is pushing recipients into poverty, arrears and a reliance on food banks.

The main anxiety among MPs and charities focuses on the six-week wait claimants are forced to endure before receiving their first payment under the new regime after transferring from the legacy benefits system.

Meanwhile :

Call for Merseyside to have new powers to stop Universal Credit “misery”

A new system could mean struggling families are not left waiting for four weeks for payments

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Even Tories Want End to Universal Credit Madness.

with 112 comments

 

Image result for Ian duncan smith cartoon

Even IDS now regrets his past.

 

Some of us lot think this is a Poll Tax Moment.

Hat-tip to whoknew.

The Independent reports,

Tory voters want universal credit waiting time cut, finds poll

 

Three-quarters of the British public – including the majority of Conservative voters – want government action now to cut the time vulnerable people are waiting before receiving universal credit benefit payments, a poll has revealed.

The exclusive survey by BMG Research for The Independent showed 74 per cent of people think the average six-week wait facing most new claimants before they get a first full payment is too long.

There is growing pressure to use the Budget next month to tackle the issue, with a group of Tory MPs and even the benefit’s architect Iain Duncan Smith saying the waiting time should be shorter.

Can I also signal this article by somebody many of us consider one of the best activists in the UK.

She would blush at this, but Pilgrim  came to Ipswich and we talked for quite a while.

We were  impressed.

Universal credit has poleaxed the jobless. Now for low-income workers

Guardian.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 25, 2017 at 12:52 pm