Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘employment and support allowance

What the Budget Means for the Unemployed.

Osborne: I don’t Care, My Family’s Doing Quite Nicely Thank You.

Some effects of the Budget on the out of work. (Guardian)

Single, no children. Unemployed

Base income: £3,801 2015-16 Jobseeker’s allowance rose to £73.10 (£57.90 if aged 16-24) in April, an increase of 70p a week or £36.40 a year compared with 2014-15. Housing benefit eligibility will depend on his property size and, if he rents, where he lives.

2016-17 His benefits are frozen, meaning his overall income neither increases nor decreases.

Except that with the price of basics unlikely to stay still until 2017 this means a cut in benefits.

A single person aged 24 with no children. He previously worked but is now receiving sickness benefits. He rents a housing association flat in Manchester for £70 per week

Base income: £8,952 2015-16 He receives £5,312 in employment and support allowance and housing benefit of £3,640. This gives a total income of £8,952.

2016-17 The 1% reduction in social housing rents means he now has to pay rent of £69.30. Housing benefit reduces to cover this amount. Other benefits are frozen meaning that he is no better or worse off.

Couple, both unemployed, three children, renting in Bristol £800pcm

Base income: £26,000 2015-16 They get combined total benefits of £26,000 – made up of jobseeker’s allowance, child tax credit, housing and child benefit. They would get £26,502 but this is over the maximum benefit cap of £26,000. In the case that one child is disabled, they get £32,507 and are unaffected by the cap.

2016-17 Lowering the maximum benefit cap means their benefits are limited to £20,000. Overall they will be £6,000 worse off. Where one of the children is disabled they are neither better or worse off due to the freeze in benefit rates.

18-21-year-olds to lose jobless benefits under ‘earn or learn’ scheme.

This is a real blow to the young unemployed: either do workfare or “learn” .

This does not mean going to college, unless you take out a loan:

University maintenance grants for lower income students in England and Wales are to be scrapped from September 2016, Chancellor George Osborne has said.

In his budget, Mr Osborne said the grants had become “unaffordable”. Mr Osborne also said tuition fees could rise with inflation, above £9,000, for those institutions which offer high-quality teaching from 2017-18. BBC.

As the Guardian says,

The tone of the chancellor’s strict carrot-and-stick approach was established by his planned “youth obligation” for 18 to 21-year-olds on universal credit, which he said would provide them with “an intensive regime of support from day one of their benefit claim”, from April 2017. At the same time, Osborne said housing benefit would no longer be automatically available for 18 to 21-year-olds.

There is also this:

The upmarket wallpaper firm Osborne & Little is claimed to have linked up with a corporation in the British Virgin Islands to turn its former headquarters in an expensive south London district into flats and houses. Once they had received planning permission for the site, Osborne & Little sold the site to its foreigner partner for £6,088,000. The deal was signed by Sir Peter Osborne, the Chancellor’s father. Details of the agreement, which emerged on the eve of the Budget, were disclosed in documents obtained by Channel 4 News. There is no suggestion that the Chancellor, or the family firm, avoided tax as a result of the deal. Independent. 

Employment and Support Allowance Under Threat.

Farewell to a Better Life.

The BBC reports.

Plans to scrap part of the UK’s main sickness benefit are being considered, a leaked Whitehall paper suggests.

It describes the Employment and Support Allowance as a “passive” benefit which does not “incentivise” people to find a job, and proposes abolishing the work-related activity group (WRAG) category.

If scrapped, weekly payments would drop nearly £30 from £102.15, bringing it in line with Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it did not comment on leaks.

The government is seeking to save £12bn from its welfare bill.

It is expected next week’s Budget will unveil only some of its proposed cuts, with others to be announced in the autumn spending review.

How much is Employment and Support Allowance?

Work-related activity group: Up to £102.15 a week

Support group: Up to £109.30 a week

And Jobseeker’s Allowance?

Aged 18 to 24: Up to £57.90 a week

Aged 25 or over: Up to £73.10 a week

Fit for work?

The paper seen by BBC News was written by the Department for Work and Pensions before the general election in May.

It is marked “not government policy”, but the BBC understands the proposals are still under consideration.

About two million people in the UK receive the Employment and Support Allowance, in some form.

It is paid out to disabled or sick people who are unable to work or need help getting back to work.

The Huffington Post adds some further details.

The BBC Today programme has a scoop that ministers are reviving a secret Coalition plan to cut sickness benefits. It has a leaked Whitehall paper describing the Employment and Support Allowance as a “passive” benefit which does not “incentivise” people to find a job, and proposes abolishing the work-related activity group (WRAG) category. If scrapped, weekly payments would drop nearly £30, bringing it in line with Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Charlie Pickles of the think tank Reform says change to ESA is overdue. ‘We are just not seeing people come off the benefit….we are seeing very high numbers just staying on the benefit’.

IDS was on robust form yesterday as he unveiled changes to child poverty, denying Stephen Timm’s charge that he’d read the obituary for ‘compassionate Conservativism’. Alan Milburn and Frank Field provided helpful cover. IDS had a trickier time over PA’s exclusive that he was among MPs to have their expenses cards suspended.

On the last point we learn, (BBC)

The Commons watchdog has admitted it made an error after temporarily blocking Iain Duncan Smith’s credit card, used to pay some of his expenses.

He was among 19 MPs subject to action by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority over cards used to pay for travel and accommodation.

The Press Association reported that the work and pension secretary had run up more than £1,000 in expenses debts.

But IPSA said Mr Duncan Smith’s card had been de-activated by mistake.

A spokesman for the cabinet minister said: “Iain has not had his card suspended. Ipsa have confirmed twice in writing that this issue was an error on their part. To be clear no money is owed”.

A spokeswoman for Ipsa said: “I can confirm that the payment card in the name of Mr Duncan Smith is currently active. It was temporarily suspended in error and has since been reactivated.”

Those on benefits can only dream that DWP ‘mistakes’ were rectified so quickly. 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2015 at 9:50 am

Cuts to Employment and Support Allowance: More Cruelty from Coalition.

More cruelty from the Liberal-Conservative coalition.

The BBC says,

Ministers are considering drastically cutting the main Employment and Support Allowance sickness benefit, internal documents seen by the BBC suggest.

New claimants, judged to be capable of work with appropriate support, could be given just 50p more per week than people on job seekers allowance.

Current recipients get almost £30 per week more.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the ESA proposals were not government policy.

The papers reveal that the government has also been forced to hire extra staff to clear the backlog on the benefit.

Some 100 healthcare professionals are being hired to carry out fitness-for-work tests. The staff, who will be employed through the Pertemps agency, will help to reduce a backlog of more than 600,000 cases.

They will be in addition to any extra staff brought in when a new contractor is announced shortly to replace ATOS. The BBC understands that the American firm, Maximus, has been selected.

Leaked documents this summer showed that ministers considered ESA – formerly known as incapacity benefit – to be “one of the largest fiscal risks currently facing the government”.

They also revealed concerns about claimants moving off jobseekers allowance onto ESA.

Giving consideration to cutting the differential paid to ESA recipients in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – individuals who have to prepare for employment – is a reflection of that concern.

They currently get £28.75 more per week but the documents show plans are being discussed to cut that to just 50p more than jobseekers allowance. People receiving JSA, who are aged 25 or over, currently get £72.40 per week.

Employment and Support Allowance is paid to approximately two million people. Claimants have to undergo a work capability assessment to determine whether they are eligible and at what level.

Labour MP Dame Anne Begg, who chairs the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, said she would support overhauling the delivery of ESA but “did not envisage” any reduction in the value of the benefit.

“That’s not reform, that is just saving money. I hope that is not something the government is going to come forward with.”

The Guardian reports.

Government ‘considered cuts to employment and support allowance’

Internal documents seen by BBC suggest officials considered cutting ESA by as much as £30 so it is effectively worth the same as jobseeker’s allowance.
The government is considering cutting the value of the main employment and support allowance (ESA) sickness benefit by as much as £30 so that it is effectively worth the same as jobseeker’s allowance, internal documents seen by the BBC suggest.

New claimants, judged to be capable of work with appropriate support, could be given just 50p more per week than people on jobseeker’s allowance (JSA).

The Department for Work and Pensions said the ESA proposals were not government policy, but that they reflected ministers’ search for a solution to the backlog of claims for ESA and its higher than forecast cost. George Osborne, the chancellor, has said he is seeking a £12bn cut in the welfare bill, and has so far identified a quarter of these cuts mainly through freezing the value of most benefits for two years.

The DWP has been struggling with ESA ever since it replaced incapacity benefit. The main contractor, Atos, quit the contract assessing claimants after a massive backlog built up and criticism grew of the way in which the medical assessments were made. The backlog is currently running at more than 600,000. It is thought an American firm, Maximus, has been selected to replace Atos.

Government officials will be looking at cutting the value of ESA, partly because of concern that JSA claimants are moving off JSA to claim the higher value ESA.

The government will be focusing on the differential paid to ESA recipients in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – individuals who have to prepare for employment.

Those in the WRAG group currently get £28.75 more per week than people receiving JSA, who are aged 25 or over, who currently get £72.40 per week.

The ESA is paid to approximately 2 million people. Claimants have to undergo a work capability assessment to determine whether they are eligible and at what level.

It never ends does it?

Can they go any lower?

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2014 at 11:22 am

Welfare Cuts: What They Mean.

The Guardian today carries this excellent investigation,

What the welfare cuts mean for us.

“The government is three years into a savage programmme of welfare cuts. Coalition ministers say they aim to save billions on benefits and help ‘hard-working people’ while ending a culture of dependency. But what does this mean for people who need support?”

People contributing to Ipswich Unemployed Action have their own stories, but these are worth looking at (extracts).

Just before Christmas two years ago McPhillips received a letter that declared in angry red block capitals: “Your benefits are being cut.” Two days later he took an overdose and would have died if his brother hadn’t discovered him in time, and rushed him to hospital.

McPhillips, 59, has serious mental-health problems, which forced him, several years ago, to leave the job as an industrial saw sharpener he had held for 25 years. He depends on a handful of benefit payments – disability living allowance (DLA), employment and support allowance, and housing benefit. News of the looming wholesale benefit changes unsettled him so profoundly that he has since tried three times to take his life.

Antonia McKnight’s experience demonstrates the massive disconnect between the picture painted by the government of benefits claimants and the reality experienced by some of those who are seeing their payments cut.

No one could suggest that she is living in luxury or enjoying a lifestyle that could inspire envy in others. The small flat where she lives with her four-year-old daughter has views on to brick walls, the wiring has gone, so there is no light in the bathroom or her bedroom, and the furniture is secondhand and broken. The rent is £500 a week.

Since August, McKnight, 38, has seen her benefits capped at £500 a week, under the coalition’s new £26,000 benefit cap – introduced with the aim of bringing “fairness into the benefits system”. Since her weekly rent is exactly equal in size to her benefits, she is already in serious financial trouble.

Whether McKnight’s flat represents a dream is questionable, but it is clearly very expensive. For anyone unfamiliar with the extraordinary, unfaltering rise of the London property market, a rent of £500 a week will seem unthinkable, but soaring rents are the reason that the housing benefit bill has become so huge. Council accommodation would be far cheaper, but there is a huge shortage of it in central London, and McKnight is still waiting.

If you look at her flat you will see just how exploitative landlords are today.

This story relates to a lot of us.

In the past few years, Tony Marcola, 46, has experienced the dual pressures of the downturn and welfare reform. Having worked all his life, he lost his job as a van driver for a fruit-and-vegetable wholesale firm in 2008, when fuel prices went up, and the company’s owner decided he could no longer afford to offer a delivery service. Not long after, companies started closing offices in Burnley.

“First the jobcentre was empty and then suddenly it was packed full. People were losing jobs left, right and centre,” he says.

He attended courses, learned how to use a computer and write a CV, and continued to apply for jobs but without success. “Burnley was going down a black hole. At the time I was expected to get a job, there were a lot of places shutting down,” he says.

DWP figures show that there was a 24% increase in the number of sanctions from July 2012 to July 2013. Although the principle of getting people to show that they are seriously looking for work in order to qualify for benefits payments is one that Citizens Advice supports, they are concerned that very harsh sanctions are being applied; the charity has seen a 46% increase in problems related to sanctions in the past year, and Guy says problems such as those experienced by Marcola are “systemic”. “The system is all stick and no carrot.”

As part of the government’s drive to reform the system, much harsher conditions have been introduced to ensure that those who are receiving jobseekers’ allowance are seeking work. The use of sanctions – periods when benefits are stopped as punishment – has increased dramatically.

In July, Marcola was told that there would be new conditions attached to the benefits he received, and he was told that he had to prove that he was applying for 20 jobs a week. “I said: ‘Well, I’ll do my best.’ It jumped from four jobs a week to 20, it’s a quite a leap,” he says. He began by meeting that target, even if it meant applying for jobs that he was not qualified for, and stood little chance of being selected for, but one week in July he only managed to apply for 15 positions. He was struggling financially anyway, with increased gas and electricity costs, and a new £20 bedroom tax charge for the spare room in the house where he’d brought up a child, who was no longer living at home. After bills, he was left with about £13 a week for food. Applying for jobs involved finding places with free internet, because he couldn’t afford to have internet access, let alone a computer, at home.

There is more – you can see it through the link above.

The article ends with this,

An online campaign group, the WOW petition, which organises resistance to the “war on welfare”, has gathered over 100,000 signatures, calling for an end to the work capability assessment and a cumulative impact assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick and disabled people.

Already Food Banks are being touted as way to meet the needs of those in dire poverty, often caused the failure of the welfare system.

The situation will get a lot worse next April when Workfare, run by greedy private companies and ‘charities’ is introduced.

We need a complete change of policies:

  • A Party that’s committed to end the war on welfare and create a just system for claimants.
  • An end to the punitive  sanctions regime.
  • Get rid of the welfare-to-work parasites running the Work Programme and replace them with real training and real paid jobs.
  • The Living Wage for all: so that when we are in work we do not have to rely on benefits.
  • A solution to the housing crisis: build council homes, and introduce rent controls.

73% of employers admit to discriminating against the disabled and older ages during recruitment

A survey for the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) undertaken by “YouGovStone” returned the devastating verdict that almost three quarters of employers would not give people on Incapacity Benefit (now Employment and Support Allowance) and older people, the opportunity to return to employment. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Universal Jobmatch

June 15, 2009 at 8:59 am