Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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Posts Tagged ‘JSA

Former DWP Chief Stephen Crabb calls to make the £20 addition for Universal Credit permanent and extend it to legacy benefits.

Equal Benefits for Claimants! Raise Legacy Benefits in Line with Universal Credit Rates! | Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Stephen Crabb, “legacy benefits like JSA, ESA and IS should be raised to match the universal credit increase.”

This is the benefits story of the day:

‘allo, ‘allo, what ‘ave we here?

Read the article…..

As a first step, the government should make permanent the additional £20 per week for the universal credit standard allowance that it brought in to strengthen social security during the crisis. Removing it next spring, as currently planned, will amount to a painful cut in income for many people still struggling to come to terms with the loss of their jobs and who have found the transition from furlough to benefits a very hard landing indeed.

In parallel, the personal allowance of so-called legacy benefits like JSA, ESA and IS should be raised to match the universal credit increase. This is particularly important for those with disabilities, and their carers, who make up most of the people remaining on these benefits. It’s just not right that some of the most vulnerable people have not seen equivalent protection.

My Government Must Do More To Help Working Poor Cope With Covid

We should also look at extensions to the furlough scheme, writes Stephen Crabb MP.

Meanwhile this rumbles on.

The Work and Pensions Committee, a Commons Select Committee, is continuing its investigation into Universal Credit.

There next evidence hearing session is on the 2nd of September,

Universal Credit: the wait for a first payment

Inquiry

Universal Credit has a “baked in” wait for the first payment. After completing all of the stages of their application, claimants must then wait for at least five weeks to receive their award. They can ask for an Advance payment if they need money more urgently, which they then pay back out of their future Universal Credit payments.

Many organisations have concluded that the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment must be reduced or eliminated entirely. There is, however, a lack of agreement about how this might be most effectively—and affordably—achieved. Some of the options suggested include:

  • Scrapping the five week wait for all claimants: for example, by making the Advance non-repayable;
  • Offering non-repayable Advances to some claimants: for example, those considered vulnerable;
  • Allowing more flexibility for the start of a claim to be backdated;
  • Extending run on payments to cover all legacy benefits;
  • Substantially reducing the rate at which Advance Payments—the main existing mitigation measure—are paid back, to help claimants better manage their money;
  • Paying UC two-weekly, like many legacy benefits, rather than monthly.

The Committee wants to help the Government to better understand the upsides and downsides of these options, and explore other possible solutions.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 31, 2020 at 3:04 pm

Benefit Sanctions Rate Under Universal Credit Twice The Rate Under Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Image result for benefit sanctions

Benefit Sanctions Rise Under Universal Credit.

People may have thought that benefit sanctions had gone away.

Not only have they not disappeared into a new more liberal system but the numbers have got worse under Universal Credit.

Benefit sanctions may do more harm than good

The ultra-liberal Economist this week says,

Reforms to Britain’s welfare system are not nearly as helpful as their supporters claim

MORE than half Britain’s jobcentres now offer “universal credit”, which merges six working-age benefits into one. Most discussion of universal credit, which will eventually offer payments to one in four households, has been about its botched rollout. Less attention has been paid to its tough sanctions regime. Those who fail to comply with requirements that include spending 35 hours a week job-hunting may see their benefits docked. In America, where there is talk of tightening conditions for receiving food stamps, reformers are looking at the British experiment with interest.

From 2010 the coalition government enforced sanctions more vigorously still. Under universal credit, claimants who have received several sanctions are often made to serve them one after the other, rather than concurrently, as under the old system. Research by David Webster of Glasgow University suggests that the sanction rate for jobless universal-credit claimants is twice the rate for jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), the old unemployment benefit.

….

…the government has published little research on the impact of the tightening since 2010, despite sitting on a mound of data.

A new paper in the Cambridge Journal of Economics offers a pessimistic assessment. Focusing on the period from 2001 to 2014, it finds that sanctions under JSA increase the flow of people into work—but only in the short run. It may be that claimants, fearful of having their money cut off, take the first job they find, which turns out not to suit them. This also suggests that they may be taking jobs which do not pay as well as they might. In a speech last year Michael Saunders of the Bank of England drew a link between tough welfare rules and recent low wage growth.

As the evidence builds, the government may at some point have to tweak its approach. A recent study by Rachel Loopstra of King’s College, London, and colleagues, finds some correlation between tougher benefit sanctions and a rise in the use of food banks. A government that tones down sanctions would doubtless be accused of going soft. But it would have the evidence on its side.

This is the source:

BRIEFING 

David Webster (Glasgow University)

Benefit Sanctions Statistics 24 July 2018

Of the 920,000 claimants on Universal Credit at May 2018, two-thirds (67.3%) were subject to conditionality. For the first time, a majority (50.7%) of all unemployed claimants were on UC rather than JSA. UC is now significantly boosting the number of people recorded as claimant unemployed, by making people look for work who would previously not have done.

In the 12 months ended January 2018 there were a total of approximately 355,000 sanctions before challenges on all the four benefits subject to conditionality (UC, JSA, ESA and IS). This compares to 383,000 in the 12 months to October 2017. Of the 355,000 sanctions, approximately 264,000 or almost three-quarters (74.4%) were on UC.

The overall rate of sanction under UC is typically around 5% per month, and the unemployed sanction rate within UC will be considerably higher. Only for relatively short periods in 2010-11 and 2012-14 has the JSA rate ever been as high as 5%.

This is the crucial section of the research:

The rate of sanction under Universal Credit continues to be strikingly high. It is typically around 5% per month, far higher than the rate for JSA. In fact only for relatively short periods in 2010-11 and 2012-14 has the JSA rate ever been as high as this. It also needs to be remembered that this overall UC rate includes sanctions on groups with much lower sanction rates than the unemployed. The unemployed accounted for under three-quarters of the UC claimants subject to conditionality in the three months to January 2018. The unemployed sanction rate within UC will therefore be considerably higher than the overall rate shown in Figure 2.

Thus, “sanctions don’t just ‘appear’ higher in UC; they are higher.”

“Since summer 2017 about 8 % or 1 in 12 of all unemployed UC claimants has been serving a sanction at any one time, this proportion having reached a peak of over 10% in March 2017.  The proportion under sanction for unemployed claimants is now higher than it was when the statistics began in August 2015 – about 8% compared to about 6%, whereas for all other groups it is similar or lower. Evidently the administration of UC has become harsher towards unemployed claimants as the system has bedded in. Moreover it must be remembered that if 8% of claimants are under sanction at any one time, the proportion sanctioned at some point during, say, a year, will be much higher.

The second highest proportion under sanction is found among in-work claimants, running at around 2% except at the time of the backlog drive in early 2017. Rates for the other groups are around 1%.

A striking feature of the figures is that there are people serving sanctions who are in the groups which are not supposed to be subject to conditionality at all: ‘no working requirements’ and ‘working – no requirements’.

At January 2018 there were a total of 1,108 people in this position. This is  because they will have received a sanction when they were in a different group which was subject to conditionality.

One of the many problematic consequences of the ‘simplification’ of benefits by combining them into UC is that sanctions follow claimants into no-conditionality groups even though there is no longer any point to them. Previously the sanctions would have lapsed when people moved to another benefit. The number of people in this position will grow as UC expands.

Some other key findings from this survey of UC claimants relevant to issues of conditionality are:

  • Fewer than two-thirds (63%) of claimants thought their Claimant Commitment was achievable, and only 54% and 55% respectively thought that it took account of their personal circumstances and would help them to obtain or increase employment (p.41)
  • Around 40% of claimants found it difficult to complete the hours of work search or preparation required by their Claimant Commitment, and almost half (47%) had completed fewer hours. (p.59)
  • For around one third of those finding it difficult to meet the Claimant Commitment, the main reason was a lack of jobs available in their area. Suitability of the claimant’s skills, childcare responsibilities, and health problems were other common factors. (p.60)
  • Meetings with the Work Coach and the online Journal were generally favourably regarded, with around three-quarters taking a positive view (pp.50-51)
  • long-term health condition (55 per cent). This suggests a serious mismatch between requirements and capabilities. (p.28)
  • Claimants were asked to identify circumstances that could lead to a sanction. The circumstance which was least often correctly identified (by 80% of claimants) was failing to apply for a job when required by the Work Coach. This is serious as this carries the heaviest penalty, a ‘higher level’ sanction of three months for a first ‘failure’. (p.43)
  • Two thirds (64%) of those sanctioned considered their sanction to have been unfair (p.52)
  • 10% of those sanctioned did not know or understand the reason, while 7% believed that the sanction was due to an error made by the Jobcentre (p.52)

Observer May 2018.

Study concludes that punishing claimants triggers profoundly negative outcomes

Benefit sanctions are ineffective at getting jobless people into work and are more likely to reduce those affected to poverty, ill-health or even survival crime, the UK’s most extensive study of welfare conditionality has found.

The five-year exercise tracking hundreds of claimants concludes that the controversial policy of docking benefits as punishment for alleged failures to comply with jobcentre rules has been little short of disastrous.

“Benefit sanctions do little to enhance people’s motivation to prepare for, seek or enter paid work. They routinely trigger profoundly negative personal, financial, health and behavioural outcomes,” the study concludes.

Despite claims by ministers in recent years that rigorously enforced conditionality – including mandatory 35-hour job searches – incentivised claimants to move off benefits into work, the study found the positive impact was negligible.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 10, 2018 at 10:31 am

How the Budget will affect the Unemployed.

Osborne Celebrates at Pushing People into Deeper Poverty.

 

Effects of the Budget on the out-of-work.

SINGLE

Single, no children. Unemployed

2015-16 He receives jobseeker’s allowance of £73.10 a week (£57.90 if aged 16-24). Housing benefit eligibility will depend on his property size and, if he rents, where he lives.

2016-17 Jobseeker’s allowance is frozen for the next four years, so remains at £3,801 a year. Any housing benefit he may receive is also frozen for that period.

Single, one child. Unemployed

2015­-16 Income support is £73.10 a week, child tax credit is £63.98, and child benefit is £20.70. This gives an annual household income of £8,205 disregarding any housing benefit.

2016-­17 Last summer the chancellor announced he was freezing all three of her benefits for the next four years. It leaves her income unchanged, disregarding housing benefit.

Guardian.

Put simply as the cost of living rises – note that this particularly affects rent – the amount of JSA and Income support will not go up.

This will mean that people already in poverty will be pushed further down.

Disabled:

Around 640,000 claimants could lose out as a result of changes to the assessment criteria for PIP, which is designed to help people with extra costs associated with disabilities and long-term illnesses.

Disabled people will be badly affected with an expected 200,000 individuals set to lose almost £3,000 a year according to Labour Party analysis.

Metro.

Summary of 2016 Benefit changes:

The following benefit changes are set to take place in 2016, some may be subject to change or approval.

Benefit and Tax Credit rates frozen

The main rates of working age benefits and tax credits will be frozen in cash terms for 4 years from April 2016. Pensioner benefits are excluded from the benefit freeze and will be protected by the ‘triple lock’.

Disability benefits, the disability-related elements of tax credits and statutory payments including Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (Support Group only), Maternity Allowance, Statutory Maternity/Paternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay, will be uprated in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). The CPI was announced to have fallen in the year to September 2015 so this means that the benefits mentioned above will not be increased from April 2016.

Benefit cap reduced

There is currently a benefit cap in place in England, Scotland and Wales restricting the amount in certain benefits that a working age household can receive. Any household receiving more than the cap has their Housing Benefit reduced to bring them back within the limit. The benefit cap is to be introduced in Northern Ireland from 31 May.

The cap which is currently £26,000 per year is to be reduced to £23,000 for households living in London and to £20,000 for those outside London from Autumn 2016, when exactly you will be affected will depend on where you live. For further details see our Benefit cap reduction Autumn 2016 help page.

Housing Benefit changes

Unlike other reforms the Chancellor announced directly affecting child related payments, withdrawal of the family premium in Housing Benefit (£17.45 when a claimant has one or more dependant children) will take effect from 1 May 2016, a year earlier than the reductions for children within Child Tax Credit. Removal of the family premium will affect both new claims and new births from 1 May 2016. For further details see our Family premium abolished May 2016 help page.

Housing Benefit backdating will be reduced so that new claims from working age claimants will be backdated for a maximum of one month. Currently, if you are working age, your Housing Benefit claim can be backdated for up to six months if you can show good cause for making a late claim and you would have qualified for the benefit sooner.

Tax credit allowance and taper cut

On 25th November 2015 during the Chancellor’s combined Autumn Statement and Spending Review, he announced that the widely unpopular planned tax credit changes (reduced income threshold and increased taper rate), which would have meant that any working household receiving tax credits with an annual income of more than £3,850 a year would be worse off, would in fact not be going ahead.

Tax credit income disregard cut

At the moment, if your household income increases by up to £5,000 during the tax year this increase is ignored when calculating your entitlement for that year. From April 2016 this will be reduced so that any increase in income of more than £2,500 will be taken into account. According to the Treasury, it is estimated that 800,000 people will see their entitlement to tax credits reduced by an average of £200-£300 per year due to this cut which brings the ‘income rise disregard’ back to the same level it was when tax credits were first introduced.

New State Pension

For those reaching pension age from 6 April 2016 a new State Pension is being introduced to replace the basic State Pension and State Second Pension. This affects all women born on or after 6 April 1953 and all men born on or after 6 April 1951. The new pension is designed to be much simpler than the current system and will consist of a single amount to be awarded in full if you have 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions. If you don’t have the contributions required for the full pension, as long as you have a minimum number of qualifying years (between 7 and 10) you will receive a pro rata amount. If you don’t have the minimum number of qualifying years you will not qualify for the single tier pension. Any contributions made under the current pension system can be used toward the new State Pension.

If you qualify for the full amount you will receive £155.65 a week. For those who do gain in state pension income, for some this will be offset by reductions in means-tested benefit entitlements and if you fall under the new single tier pension system you will not be able to claim the Pension Credit savings credit. To find out more see Age UK’s ‘what the new pension reforms mean for you’

Universal Credit changes

The work allowance in Universal Credit, the amount you can earn without your benefit being affected, will be reduced from April 2016. For disabled people and people with children it will be reduced to £192 per month if you have housing costs and £397 per month if you don’t have housing costs. The work allowance will be abolished altogether from April 2016 for non-disabled, childless claimants meaning your benefit is reduced as soon as you start earning.

The Childcare Costs element of Universal Credit currently pays for 70% of your registered childcare costs up to a monthly limit of £532 for one child or £912 for two or more children. From 11 April 2016, this will increase so that you will be able to claim back up to 85% of your paid out childcare costs up to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children.

Other changes

National Minimum Wage increased

The National Minimum Wage will be ‘rebranded’ as the National Living Wage and will be increased to £7.20 per hour for those 25 or over from April 2016. It will reach £9.00 per hour by 2020.

Personal tax allowance increased

The Personal Tax Allowance, the amount you can earn before paying income tax, will be increased from £10,600 to £11,000 from April 2016. It will be further increased to £12,500 by 2020 and thereafter it will automatically be set at the same level as 30 times the National Living Wage (National Minimum Wage).

Rent changes for social tenants

From April 2016 social housing rents will be reduced by 1%, or in some exceptions frozen, for four years.

The Void also asks:Does The End of Social Security Lie Behind Osborne’s Savings Hand Out?

The use of personal savings accounts as a replacement fot the social security system has long been an ambition of free-market extremists desperate to eradicate any form of social spending.  As the Think Tank Review website reminded us last year, the Adam Smith Institute proposed Fortune Accounts way back in 1995.  The suggestion was that individuals should pay into a pot of money to fund any future periods of sickness or unemployment.  More recently the right-wing Policy Exhange called for the establishment of MyFund accounts in an astonishing report that did not just call for these savings pots to replace unemployment benefits but also suggested that the money could pay for “access to private sector employment support services”.  They want us to pay for our own workfare.

Government ministers are already thinking along the lines of some sort of savings or insurance based social security system.  A public sector consultant recently blogged about a meeting – sponsored by health insurers BUPA just by the way – with comedy toff Lord Fraud held at the Reform think tank.   According to the report the Minister for Welfare Reform raised the question of “why do employers insure against sickness absence and why don’t individuals?” .

More on the Void.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 17, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Impact of Benefit Cuts Leaves Mothers £13bn worse off.

Osborne Smirks at Thought of more Welfare Cuts. 

As the Budget on the 16th of March gets nearer here are some things to think about.

In February we saw this:

Government freeze on tax credits and jobseekers’ allowance could cost families 12% of their benefits, says report.

A report by the Children’s Society, published on Tuesday, says families could lose up to 12% from the real value of their benefits over the next four years as a result of government plans to freeze child tax credits, working tax credits and jobseekers’ allowance from April.

Guardian. 23rd of February.

Note: this was introduced last year:

A freeze in working age benefits for four years (including tax credits and Local Housing Allowance, and excluding maternity pay and disability benefits – PIP, DLA and ESA Support Group).

These are some of the changes that will hit people here from April 2016 (more details here).

  • The level of earnings at which a household’s Universal Credit award starts to be withdrawn for every extra pound earned (Income threshold reduction) will be reduced from £6,420 to £3,850. SeeSummer Budget 2015 page
  • Universal Credit work allowances will be reduced to £4,764 for those without housing costs, £2,304 for those with housing costs, and removed altogether for non-disabled claimants without children. See SI 2015/1649 and Summer Budget 2015 page.
  • The amount by which a tax credit claimant’s income can increase in-year compared to their previous year’s income before their award is adjusted (the income rise disregard) will be reduced to £2,500. See Spending Review 2015 page

From April 2017.

  • New ESA claimants who are placed in the Work-Related Activity Group will receive the same rate of benefit as those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, alongside additional support to help them take steps back to work. See Summer Budget 2015 page
  • Those aged 18 to 21 who are on Universal Credit (UC) will have to apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship, gain work-based skills, or go on a work placement 6 months after the start of their claim. Apart from certain exceptions (those considered vulnerable) they will not be allowed to claim Housing Benefit/UC housing costs element. See Summer Budget 2015 page

Now the results are being analysed:

Benefit cuts ‘will leave mothers £13bn worse off over course of current Parliament’. Independent March the 6th 2016.

Mothers will be £13bn worse off under the current Government as a result of policies announced over the past year, according to a new analysis.

Labour described the figures – produced by the House of Commons Library – as a “disgrace”, saying mothers played a key role in society but had been hit with a “stonking great bill”.

The research looked at the effects on women with dependent children of a number of changes announced by Chancellor George Osborne, since last year’s general election.

It found that cuts to universal credit, the four-year freeze on child benefit and other welfare payments, reductions in housing benefit and other policies outweighed increases to the personal income tax allowance and extra money for childcare.

The overall impact meant mothers will be £13bn worse off over the course of the current parliament, from last year until 2020. The Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who commissioned the research, said: “These figures are a disgrace. On Mother’s Day, the whole country celebrates just how much mums do to hold families together, communities together and even hold our economy together too.

“Yet what thanks do mums get from George Osborne and David Cameron? Only a stonking great £13bn bill.”

Last month the Children’s Society urged the Government to reconsider the benefits freeze if ministers were “genuinely concerned about child poverty”.

The charity calculated that a 23-year-old single mother, who works as a primary school teacher and rents her home, would be more than £2,800 a year worse off as a result of the changes. And a nurse and her partner, living in a rented house in London with three children, would be £5,100 a year worse off.

In a report, the society found that seven million children in low-income families would be affected by the four-year benefits freeze, while others would be pushed into poverty as a result.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury did not respond to a request for comment.

Responding to the Children’s Society report last month, the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We are bringing welfare spending under control, while – crucially – helping people into work, and through universal credit helping them to earn more.”

Still it’s not all bad news: Pensions: George Osborne drops plans to cut tax relief

And the big winners of this non-announcement will be wealthy people. At the moment not only do they earn more, they also get a proportionately bigger tax top-up from the government when they save for their retirement.

If the chancellor had scrapped the tax relief entirely on pensions savings and created instead a new pensions Isa, that would have cost the better off (40p and 45p taxpayers) billions of pounds collectively.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 6, 2016 at 11:30 am

Sanctioned Jobless with Mental Health Problems not “Vulnerable” says DWP.

https://i0.wp.com/antibedroomtax.org.uk/images/sanctions.jpg

Sanctioned Jobseekers with mental health problems are not classed as ‘vulnerable’ unless they have an accompanying physical health problem, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Reports Welfare Weekly.

Use of the controversial sanctions regime, which sees claimants money cut or stopped for up to three years, has rocketed since stricter rules were introduced by the government.

In 2013-14 record numbers of sanctions were imposed, with nearly one in six jobseekers affected, and many fear those with mental health problems are often the hardest hit.

When a claimant has their Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) reduced or stopped they can apply for a hardship payment – up to 60% of their JSA. This can go some way to cover the cost of food and bills while they have no other means of support. Those classed as ‘vulnerable’ can normally claim this vital support immediately, but others may have to wait at least two weeks.

However, those JSA claimants with even the most serious mental health illnesses are not considered vulnerable by DWP; they have to instead wait and go through what could become a lengthy application process.

DWP guidance on hardship payments states: “Requests for hardship payments may be made by people who say they have a mental condition. A person will only be a member of a vulnerable group if the condition causes limitation in functional capacity because of a physical impairment.”

It continues: “It is extremely rare for a mental condition to produce a physical impairment that limits or restricts functional capacity but it can happen.”

For decision makers in any doubt, the guidance goes on to clarify all mental illnesses “without physical impairment”:

  • Affective disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Affective disorder
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Depression
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Nervous Debility
  • Neurasthenia
  • Neurosis
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Phobias
  • Phobic anxiety
  • Psychoneurosis
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia

Welfare Weekly cites statistics showing that 23% of JSA claimants have a mental health condition.

“While those suffering from the most severe mental illnesses are likely to receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), it is estimated that 23% of JSA claimants have a mental health condition.”

This should be put in full context: the same statistical source estimates that 16% of the General Population has a mental health condition (Page 3. Mental Health and Employment.)

It is also important to look at the rise in sanctions.

These are the figures available in January this year: (ITV News)

https://i0.wp.com/news.images.itv.com/image/file/573834/stream_img.jpg

And this: Claimants with mental health issues are being ‘punished’ for being late and missing appointments while claiming benefits.

There has been no sudden rise in the numbers of people with these difficulties.

We can conclude that people with these problems are particularly hit.

In other words, the effect of sanctions regime is to punish the vulnerable.

The benefit sanctions regime should be scrapped !

Written by Andrew Coates

August 7, 2015 at 4:21 pm