Posts Tagged ‘Government’
Osborne’s Help the Rich Punish the Poor Policies Set to Get Worse.
Two stories, two worlds.
Sunday, the Observer.
Wealthy get 80% of rewards from tax and welfare changes introduced by George Osborne that begin to come into effect this week.
The richest will reap 80% of the rewards from the tax and benefit changes that start to come into effect this week, while the poorest will become worse off, according to detailed analysis by the Resolution Foundation.
The independent thinktank’s research shows that the effect of £2bn of income tax cuts and more than £1bn of welfare cuts will add up to a huge transfer of wealth from low- and middle-income households to richer ones.
The reforms, set in train by former chancellor George Osborne, run directly contrary to the political mantra of Theresa May, who has said she wants to govern in the interests of everyone and “not just the privileged few”.
The changes include raising the personal tax allowance from £11,000 to £11,500; lifting the threshold for higher-rate tax from £43,000 to £45,000; freezing all working-age benefits; removing the family element (£545) from tax credits and universal credit for new claims or births; and applying a two-child limit to new claims or births in the tax credit system.
David Finch, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The overall package amounts to a £1bn net giveaway from the public purse. But the skewed nature of this generosity means that better-off households will receive four-fifths of the gains, while the poorest third of households will be worse off overall.”
Finch said that reductions in the generosity of universal credit, which will have the effect of reducing work incentives, would affect relatively few families this year. But as millions more move on to the new system, the effects on the living standards of those on low incomes would become much clearer.
Today, from the BBC,
Changes to benefit rules coming into force this week could push 200,000 more children into poverty, say campaigners.
From Thursday, payments for some benefits will be limited to the first two children in a family.
The Child Poverty Action Group and Institute for Public Policy Research say some families will be almost £3,000 a year worse off under the new rules.
Ministers say they are determined to tackle the root causes of disadvantage and make work pay.
The changes affect families who claim tax credits and Universal Credit – which is in the process of being rolled out and is due to replace tax credits completely by 2022.
The new rules mean that children born after Thursday 6 April into families where there are already two or more children will no longer be counted in benefit payments to their parents, under either tax credits or Universal Credit.
And from autumn 2018, families making new claims under Universal Credit will only receive payments for their first two children even if they were born before Thursday.
However, children already receiving Universal Credit or tax credit payments will not lose them for as long as their family’s existing claim continues.
And Child Benefit, which is separate, will be unaffected.
The latest official figures show that 872,000 families with more than two children were claiming tax credits in 2014-15.
And a similar number of families are likely to lose out under the changes, the researchers suggest.
In 2014-15, two thirds (65%) were working families and 68% had no more than three children, say the researchers.
Based on those figures, the researchers calculate that once the new policy is fully implemented an additional 100,000 adults and 200,000 children could face poverty.
Some days you think: can it get any worse.
yes it can…
Tory cuts leave poverty-stricken children too hungry to learn
Teachers have blasted the Tory Government’s “callous fiscal and social policies”, after a damning survey revealed that an increasing number of poverty-stricken children are arriving at school hungry and unable to concentrate in lessons.
A survey of 3,250 teachers by the NASUWT, the largest teacher’s union in the UK, shows that a growing numbers of teachers and schools are being left to “pick up the pieces” of draconian austerity measures.
Teachers and schools reported having to step in and provide food, equipment and clothing for pupils. While others found themselves having to offer financial advice to parents struggling to cope with Tory cuts.
Almost three-quarters of teachers reported seeing children coming to school hungry, with over a quarter generously giving food to starving pupils. More than half had seen their school do the same.
According to the survey, 41 percent of teachers have given financial advice to parents or have referred them to external advice services.
More than a half said they had seen children whose parents were unable to afford school uniform. 15 percent had even resorted to giving clothing to children, and 59 percent reported seeing their school do the same.
Then there’s this:
PIP cuts have been scrapped but 500,000 will lose nearly a third of their employment and support allowance next year.
George Osborne repeatedly insisted at a Treasury select committee hearing on Thursday that he had no plans for future welfare cuts, but this will have been little consolation for around half a million people who will be affected by major reductions already approved by parliament. Dozens of disability protestersoccupied parliament’s central lobby on Wednesday calling on the government to reverse its other disability cuts – reductions, which they said were making claimants feel suicidal.
“Forcing people to work when they can’t work is not going to cure their illness,” Bell says. “You can’t just pull out a spare set of lungs from your back pocket. I will struggle to pay my bills. I really don’t know how I will cope.”
From April 2017, there will be a £30 cut for claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA), if they are placed in the work-related activity group (Wrag) – equivalent to around a third of their weekly income.
At the moment people who are deemed to be too unwell to work by the government’s work capability assessment, are put into two groups – those judged permanently unable to work are moved into the “support group” and paid £109; those judged to be too ill or disabled to work immediately (but theoretically capable of work at some point in the future) are put in the work-related activity group, and currently receive about £102 a week.
Stephen Crabb, the work and pensions secretary, has been urged to conduct a “root and branch” review of universal credit by Labour amid claims the flagship welfare reform has been “salami sliced” to the point that it now represents a financial hit for millions of low-paid workers.
The shadow work and pensions secretary, Owen Smith, has written to his opposite number warning that the policy – the brainchild of Iain Duncan Smith, who dramatically resigned from cabinet earlier this month – bears “scant resemblance to its original form”.
Smith said its original aim to incentivise people into work had been fatally undermined by George Osborne, who he accused of using the welfare budget as a “cash cow”.
He said: “Single mothers working full time and at the national minimum wage see their work allowances fall from £8,800 to £4,400 for example, diminishing their net earnings by as much as £3,000, and destroying the worthy intention to make work pay for low earners.”
Labour pointed to figures from the independent Office of Budget Responsibility, which reveal how the chancellor’s U-turn over controversial cuts to tax creditswere not a complete reversal of the policy but a delay, as they were maintained under universal credit.
There is no point in arguing with the government.
They have to be fought.
I’ve had Enough! I’m off to Play with My Soldiers.
This morning Iain Duncan Smith’s many friends amongst the unemployed and benefit claimants were shocked to hear this rumour,
POSTED ON JULY 11, 2014
There is a rumour going round this morning that David Cameron is planning a reshuffle next week and that Iain Duncan Smith will be removed as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and replaced with Esther McVey. Is it true? Who knows. It seems to have come from an overheard conversation on a train, so could be bollocks, but I guess we’ll find out next week…
Now the BBC reports,
David Cameron is preparing to carry out a far wider reshuffle of his government than had previously been thought.
Several sources in Whitehall have told me to expect substantial changes when the prime minister reshapes the team that he will lead in to the election.
There is even some talk of the welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith doing a job swap with the defence secretary Philip Hammond.
They many achievements of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions are too numerous to list in full.
But this is amongst the most recent,
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is continuing to block publication of reports set to reveal the failure of the Universal Credit scheme, despite a series of rulings insisting they should be released.
The department submitted a further appeal to the upper tier information tribunal, yesterday afternoon.
The scheme described as the biggest reform to welfare since Beveridge, was meant to begin last autumn, but has been beset by huge problems and delays since it was first conceived by Iain Duncan Smith.
A damning report by the National Audit Office last year found “the programme suffered from weak management, ineffective control and poor governance,” and “has not achieved value for money.”
And only this week (Wednesday 9th of July) this unkind article appeared in a national newspaper,
There is suspicion in parliament about the progress of UC after the National Audit Office claimed, in a damaging report, that ministers had not been sufficiently open about the technology problems that has beset the programme.
Duncan Smith and David Cameron have brushed aside claims that MPs were still being misled about UC’s progress after the head of the civil service on Monday said the business case for universal credit had not been signed off by the Treasury.
Duncan Smith told MPs that UC was being expanded in a controlled way starting with the single unemployed, expanded to couples in the summer of 2014 and then expanded to families later this year. He said: “This careful roll-out is allowing us to learn as we go along”.
With this proud legacy we can only looked forward to Iain Duncan Smith running Britain’s military defence.
People may have noticed Culture Minister Maria Miller and her 31 second ‘apology’ for snaffling oddles of dosh for herself.
This is the case (BBC),
The commissioner had found that she over-claimed by £45,000 for expenses towards mortgage interest payments and council tax.
But the committee, which comprises five Conservative MPs, four Labour MPs, one Lib Dem MP and three members of the public, decided that she needed to pay back just £5,800.
She had inadvertently allowed her claims to remain the same when her tracker mortgage fell with interest rates in 2008, Mrs Miller said.
Both the explanation and the figure were accepted by the committee.
This was the result,
Miller’s apology to Parliament.
She was ordered to apologise after a committee found her “attitude” to an inquiry into her expenses had breached the parliamentary code of conduct.
Labour said her 32-second statement, in which she accepted the committee’s findings and apologised unreservedly, was “contemptuous” in its brevity.
But Mr Cameron said she had been cleared of the main charge against her.
“I think we should leave it there,” he said.
What is not often mentioned (except in the Morning Star) is that this free-loader was Minister for making life hell for disabled people at the DWP, and grinding the faces of the poor, from 2010 – 2012.
Now we learn,
A Labour MP has written to Scotland Yard asking that they investigate Maria Miller over her parliamentary expenses.
Thomas Docherty, the MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, wrote to the Met’s Assistant Commissioner, Mark Rowley, after the Culture Secretary escaped serious censure when a committee of MPs overruled an official inquiry into her expenses.
The letter comes as David Cameron told critics of Maria Miller should “leave it” after the Culture Secretary was forced to apologise to the House of Commons over her expenses.
Mr Docherty has now asked that Scotland Yard investiagate the “serious allegations” made against Mrs Miller and also claims that she did not cooperate fully with the inquiry into her conduct.
In his letter Mr Docherty wrote: “Given the widely differing conclusions of the Commission and the Committee regarding the serious allegations made about Mrs Miller and the fact that both the Commission and Committee feel that Mrs Miller did not cooperate with the inquiry, I believe this matter warrants further investigation and I believe the Metropolitan Police are the appropriate body to carry out such an investigation.”
The Metropolitan Police are yet to confirm receipt of the letter.
The inquiry into Mrs Miller’s expenses began in December 2012 following disclosures in The Telegraph that she had claimed more than £90,000 in mortgage interest and other housing costs over four years for her “second” home.
The house, in Wimbledon, was also home to her parents, in apparent contravention of expenses rules which stated that second homes must be “exclusively” for the use of MPs and that housing parents was “specifically prohibited”. Telegraph.
The Crown Prosecution Service announces,
Sue Patten, Head of Fraud at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Following an investigation by the Thames Valley Police Economic Crime Unit, the CPS has authorised charges against six women and three men in connection with alleged fraudulent activity at Action 4 Employment (A4E), a social purpose company contracted by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to deliver the ‘Inspire to Aspire’ employment and training scheme.
“It is alleged that between February 2009 and February 2013 nine A4E employees including one contract manager, seven recruiters and an administrator, employed across three A4E offices in the South East of England, committed numerous offences of fraud. It is alleged that they forged documentation to support fraudulent claims to the DWP for reward payments which, under the terms of the contract, were paid out when the scheme successfully placed individuals in employment. It is alleged that many of the reward payments related either to people who never attended A4E or to clients whom A4E had not successfully placed in employment. The contract was to deliver motivation and training and to assist people to find employment.
“The nine individuals are charged with a total of 60 offences, including conspiracy to defraud, multiple counts of forgery, and making and possessing articles for use in fraud.
“This decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.
“All individuals will appear before Slough Magistrates’ Court on 14 October 2013.
“All individuals are now the subject of criminal proceedings and have the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
When will they get round to Emma? we ask.
Meanwhile the Work Programme is disarray.
The government has put a brave face on its failures by saying,
More than 168,000 jobseekers have escaped long-term unemployment and found lasting work – normally at least 6 months – through the Work Programme, an increase of 37,000 in three months, new figures show.
Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said: “Previous schemes didn’t provide the right support for the long-term unemployed and offered poor value for money for the taxpayer. We launched the Work Programme to tackle this so people got the help they needed to find a job and, crucially, given support to stay in work.”
Johnny Void says,
Statistics released by the DWP today show that the performance of the Work Programme – which was already achieving less than doing nothing at all – is steadily getting worse.
By June 2013 a lower percentage of people who had been on the scheme for one full year had found a job which lasted at least 6 months – known as a sustained job outcome – than in the previous two months. In April 2013 14% of claimants who had been on the scheme for one year had found sustained jobs, by June this had dropped to 13%.
Following intervention by the UK Statistics Agency, the latest Work Programme figures now focus on the numbers of people finding work after spending one year on the scheme. This change has been introduced to reflect that the longer someone has been on the two year Work Programme, the more likely they are to find a job. This means that the number of job outcome payments, paid to welfare-to-work companies when someone has been in work for six months (or 3 months for the ‘hardest to help’), will rise over time. This has nothing to do with the Work Programme becoming more successful – it simply means that as more people are referred onto the programme, and more people have been on the scheme longer, then there will be more job outcomes.
The Morning Star points out that this is no success,
Employment Minister Mark Hoban can manipulate his figures for as long as he wants to portray his Work Programme as a glowing success, but he’s wasting his and our time.
A programme that delivers a proper job to a measly 4 per cent of participants after a year on the scheme is a failure and does not merit ministerial praise as “significantly improving.”
The Work Programme has in year two of the scheme found sustained employment for just 17 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds even though the Department for Work and Pensions estimated that, left to their own devices, 30 per cent would be able to do so.
Similar negative results apply for workers aged 25 and over, those coming off employment support allowance and, worst of all, disabled workers.
The cruel, short-sighted policy of shutting down Remploy factories – imposed by both Con-Dem and new Labour governments – has prevented growing numbers of disabled people from earning their own living.
Further, the disproportionate effect of the bedroom tax on the disabled exposes the bogus claims made during last year’s successful Paralympic games in London.
By any standards, the government’s flagship employment policy is a failure in terms of finding people proper jobs.
In the meantime people coming off the Work Programme are beginning to be shunted onto yet more ‘schemes’ run by the usual ‘providers’.
A little birdie tells us that a “big shake up” in planned for us at the start of December.
This does not sound promising.
Another day, another loony-bins right-wing idea about the unemployed.
Unemployed people should be made to commute for up to 90 minutes – just to sign on, according to David Cameron’s favourite think tank.
The Policy Exchange, which has close links with the Conservative Party, said the controversial proposal, aimed at people without children, would “boost their confidence of commuting”.
The idea comes in a report, Cultures of Dependency: Fact, fiction, solutions.
The bright young chap who wrote it has never done a proper job in his life,
Matthew Tinsley joined Policy Exchange as a Research Fellow in the Economic and Social Policy Unit in September 2011. He has researched on a range of economic issues, focussing on UK labour market and social policy issues. Prior to joining Policy Exchange Matthew gained a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Bristol with a focus on the labour market, policy analysis and econometrics.
We note with concern that Mr MA in loony-bins says this, “The author would also like to thank Jobcentre Plus and, in particular, Stuart Bennett and offices in Hounslow, Leicester and Stockport. Without their help the surveying of benefit claimants that underpins much of our work would not have been possible. “
His basic idea is that “Individual cities rather than central government should be in charge of helping local people into work.”
This is the recommendation that made the headlines,
Commute to Sign: Currently, jobseekers tend to be assigned to JCP offices near where they live. In areas of relatively few job opportunities, this could reinforce beliefs around the lack of work. To give some single childless claimants a broader knowledge of potential opportunities in a wider area, break down perceived barriers around commuting and boost confidence with navigating public transport, some claimants should be required to sign-on in JCP offices which are located in areas where more opportunities exist (e.g. town centres). This should be within the accepted travel to work time (legislation stipulates that jobseekers should be prepared to travel for up to 90 minutes for work) and JCP would be required to pay associated travel costs until the individual found work (for instance through the flexible support fund).
There is also this,
Family signing: Given the influence that families exert on individuals, both in terms of attitudes and opinions and directly in terms of barriers to work like childcare and caring arrangements, when barriers to work are seen to be driven by family circumstances JCP should pilot family signing. Where appropriate,105 this would involve all members of a family claiming benefits coming in to sign-on and engage with employment support together.
Discussions could involve guidance and support for how childcare is managed across the family and sign-posting to existing family-based support.
Work Groups: Once Universal Credit is rolled out, it is likely that some employed groups will be required to attend JCP to sign-on.106 We believe that these individuals could provide a positive influence on jobseekers by
extending their networks and giving them access to potential opportunities with employers. They could also break down any norms around a lack of employment opportunities or worries about work. For this reason, JCP
should pilot group employment support activities which bring together jobseekers and those in-work laimants required to sign-on.
Tinsley, Candidate Phd in Advanced Nutterism says (wisely),
Each of these areas of flexibility would likely only apply to a relatively small number of benefit claimants
I say wisely, because this is highly unlikely to happen: it would cost money and involve a lot of futile effort.
There is one major concern however.
This, “The government should go further to devolve control over employment support and skills funding, as well as sharing the rewards of any benefit reduction that they cause. This can create innovation, join up the different branches of support more effectively and reward the most successful programmes.”
Does this mean people will get unequal treatment across the country?
Is it a step towards “decentralising” benefits – that it, cutting money for those in some areas?
Universal Credit, “Slight Delay” as Report Dams “Weak Management, Ineffective Control and Poor Governance.”
On the BBC this morning this was a major story.
“Universal credit: Flagship welfare reform ‘poor value’ says watchdog.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith, dismissed this report.
He bravely admitted that he had “taken the right decision” and put the programme on track for its “Autumn Roll-out”.
Any problems had been fixed.
There would, however, be a “slight delay” in introducing Universal Credit nationwide.
The National Audit Office says,
The National Audit Office has concluded that the Department for Work and Pensions has not achieved value for money in its early implementation of Universal Credit. The Department is not yet able to assess the value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop and has been forced to delay the national roll-out of the programme to claimants.
Today’s report concludes that the Department was overly ambitious in both the timetable and scope of the programme. The Department took risks to try to meet the short timescale and used a new project management approach which it had never before used on a programme of this size and complexity. It was unable to explain how it originally decided on its ambitious plans or evaluated their feasibility.
Given the tight timescale, unfamiliar project management approach and lack of a detailed plan, it was critical that the Department should have good progress information and effective controls. In practice the Department did not have any adequate measures of progress.
The spending watchdog found that the Department took some action at the end of 2012 to resolve problems, but was unable to address the underlying issues effectively. The source of many problems has been the absence of a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work. In addition, poor control and decision-making undermined confidence in the programme and contributed to a lack of progress. The Department has particularly lacked IT expertise and senior leadership, with frequent changes in senior management.
Key points from the official summary of the Report to begin with,
12. The Department started a limited pilot scheme (a ‘pathﬁnder’) in April 2013.
By the end of July, the Department had expanded the pathﬁnder to four sites and had
taken around 1,000 new claims. The scope of the pathﬁnder is narrower than originally
planned, covers only the simplest new claims and includes limited IT functionality. Some
processes require intervention by staff, limiting the scalability of the pathﬁnder model
without further IT investment. The Department believes that the pathﬁnder is testing
claimant behaviour. Early indications suggest that over 90 per cent of new claims are
started on-line (paragraphs 2.7 to 2.9 and 2.16)
13 The Department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit nationally. The
Department will not introduce Universal Credit for all new out-of-work claims nationally
from October 2013 as planned. Instead it will add a further six pathﬁnder sites from
October 2013. It will also apply the claimant commitment to all Jobseeker’s Allowance
claimants by April 2014 but this will not depend on introducing Universal Credit
payments. The Department is now reconsidering the timing of full roll-out. To keep to
the 2017 completion date, the Department would have to migrate a large volume of
claimants within a short time frame (paragraphs 2.11 to 2.14).
14 The Department does not yet know to what extent its new IT systems will
support national roll-out. Universal Credit pathﬁnder systems have limited function
and do not allow claimants to change details of their circumstances online as originally
intended. The Department does not yet have an agreed plan for national roll-out and
has been unclear about how far it will build on pathﬁnder systems or replace them.
In May 2013, the Department identiﬁed the need to write off £34 million (17 per cent) of
its new IT assets. The Department will undertake a further impairment review when it
has conﬁrmed its plans for the future of the programme. The current senior responsible
owner took over in May 2013 and is revising plans (paragraphs 2.16 to 2.20).
15 The Department will have to scale back its original delivery ambition and is
reassessing what it must do to roll-out Universal Credit to claimants. The current
programme team is developing new plans for Universal Credit. Our experience of major
programmes supported by IT suggests that the Department will need to revise the
programme’s timing and scope, particularly around online transactions and automation.
It is unlikely that Universal Credit will be as simple or cheap to administer as originally
intended. Delays to roll-out.
23 At this early stage of the Universal Credit programme the Department has not
achieved value for money. The Department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit to
claimants, has had weak control of the programme, and has been unable to assess the
value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop. These problems represent a
signiﬁcant setback to Universal Credit and raise wider concerns about the Department’s
ability to deal with weak programme management, over-optimistic time-scales, and a
lack of openness about progress.
This ends with recommendations which will have to examined in detail.
They involve some substantial changes.
Like the military man that he is Ian Duncan Smith is still prepared to send his troops over the trench tops, regardless…