Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘labour party

Labour needs to develop an alternative to Universal Credit and the Benefit Freeze.

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Image result for universal Credit

The Labyrinth:  Claiming Universal Credit.

Labour has finally spoken about Universal Credit.

But, as quoted,  Debbie Abrahams, shadow Work and Pensions secretary, leaves many things unsaid.

Labour warning amid growing number of working people claiming universal credit

Labour has warned that low pay and insecure work “are endemic in our economy” after new figures showed 210,000 people claiming universal credit are in work.

Some 540,000 are now claiming universal credit, a flagship policy in the Government’s welfare reform programme which is being gradually rolled out across the country.

Around 39% of those are in employment but on low incomes, with the benefit paid to those in employment as well as those out of work.

Ministers say universal credit makes work pay by supplementing incomes and simplifies the benefit system.

Debbie Abrahams, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The Tories’ principle that work will always pay under universal credit has failed.

“The increasing numbers of working people in receipt of universal credit show just how many workers are forced to rely on the social security system to make ends meet.

“Low pay and insecure work are endemic in our economy.”

Comment.

  • What about the Benefits’ Freeze which affects those on Universal Credit?
  • What about the chaos caused by the waiting time to get Universal Credit?
  • What about the misery caused by Housing Benefit delays on Universal Credit?
  • What about the Sanctions Regime for those on Universal Credit, which touches not just the unemployed but also those working?

Finally, amongt other injustices we have the ludicrous obligation of all claimants to pay a percentage of Council Tax.

This scheme was introduced in 2013, “people on the minimum income possible to survive will from April have to use their meager income to pay 10% of their total council tax.”

The immediate result?

“Thousands in court for council tax arrears as benefit cuts hit home” (2014).

“Record numbers of people in council tax arrears, say charities” (2016)

And now, “English Council Tax arrears now top £2.8 billion ”

And…

Benefits were not raised at the time so effectively claimants suffered a cut in their income.

The freeze on welfare payments means they lose out more and more.

What has Labour said on these issues?

Nobody has yet to talk seriously of of getting rid of this scheme, designed to grind the faces of the poor.

In Labour’s Manifesto we had a commitment to “ a redesign and reform of Universal Credit (UC)” .  This apparently applied mostly to the technology involved, as the source (Government Computing) indicates.

What are the details?

And, of far greater importance, what of the issues listed above which have led to poverty level incomes for people on benefits, sanctions, and all the rest….

All we have so far in the public domain (and I am informed there is not much elsewhere, unless there are some hidden Labour Policy Commission types  busy burrowing away on the Work, Pensions and Equality Commission whose work has yet to see the light of day..)  are broad brush ideas on “Tackling poverty and inequality” and “making work pay” .

There is this, (Labour List)

“The benefit cap is something that Labour would look to ending, Debbie Abrahams has said.

The idea, which has not yet been costed, would stop the household cap of £20,000 per household outside of London. The cap in London is £23,000. Parents must work for at least 16 hours a week to avoid the cap.

Getting rid of the benefit cap was not in Labour’s general election manifesto.

The shadow work and pensions secretary brought up the impact on child poverty that the cap has. Last week a judicial review brought by four families said that the cap brought “real misery” for families with young children, in comments reported by the BBC.

The Abrahams statement today adds little to the one she made in 2016.

Universal Credit as it now stands has fatally undermined incentives to work – Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, commenting on the ministerial statement on the roll-out of Universal Credit, said:

“Yet again the Tory Government has been forced to extend the Universal Credit rollout. This is the seventh time that the timetable has been altered since March 2013 and the implementation of Universal Credit is beset by problems. For example, UNISON has made me aware of a worker who has fallen foul of the strict DWP monthly assessment period, meaning she’s losing nearly £700 a year in Universal Credit on a £11,600 salary, purely because her monthly pay date varies.  This simply isn’t acceptable.

“The Government claims to want to support working people but. The new Secretary of State should get a grip of roll-out, look at the myriad problems in implementation and immediately u-turn on the Tories’ cuts to the work allowance.“

Between 2016 and 2017 it’s become clearer that  we need a root-and-branch approach to replace Universal Credit in its present form.

As the story we began with continues:

Universal credit combines benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance and employment and support allowance, as well as housing benefit and tax credits, into a single monthly payment.

A report by charity Citizens Advice last week called for the universal credit rollout to be paused, citing “significant problems” with the system.

 Research by the charity suggested many claimants fell into debt waiting for their first payment, which takes six weeks to process, while Citizens Advice also raised concerns over universal credit’s administration.

The charity believes that by 2022 more than seven million households will receive universal credit, 54% of which will have someone in work.

We look forward to seeing some detail relevant  to these points in this, though not being a wealthy toff who reads far-right papers like the Times I do not have access to the article.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 13, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Vote Labour, Vote Sandy Martin for Ipswich.

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Image result for Sandy martin for Ipswich

This is not just a general appeal for vote Labour but a specific call to back Sandy Martin in Ipswich.

Sandy worked in the Ipswich Community Resource Centre, affiliated to the TUC Centres for the Unemployed, when it was in Old Foundry Road.

He has been a tireless campaigner for the rights of the unemployed, and for all those on benefits.

Sandy has joined the national days of action against Benefit Sanctions and participated in TUC events for welfare rights.

This is a picture of him in Ipswich, outside the JobCentre in Silent Street.

 

Image result for Protest against ATOSIpswich

Sandy Martin Joins Protest Against ATOS and Benefit Sanctions.

The Labour candidate for Ipswich has backed many other causes, from the campaign against Tory austerity, to the defence of the NHS, which have wide support.

 

Image result for Sandy martin NHS demo riverside view

Demo for the NHS 2017.

This is after his candidacy was announced:

For many people their 60th birthday is time to look forward to new challenges – but for Sandy Martin the challenge is more daunting than most.

Because on the day he celebrated his landmark birthday he was formally chosen as his party’s candidate in the marginal Ipswich seat at the 2017 General Election.

He will be trying to overturn Conservative Ben Gummer’s 3,733 majority from 2015.

Mr Martin is leader of the Labour group on Suffolk County Council – and was also celebrating 20 years as a member of that authority on the same day. May 2 is clearly a significant date for him!

He has lived in Suffolk most of his life and moved to Ipswich from Halesworth in 1993 – and said he felt it was important that someone who really knew the town could represent it in Westminster.

He said: “Ipswich people want to be represented by someone who lives in Ipswich and is able to give all their attention to the issues that affect Ipswich. Partly because of my age I would not go to parliament with an ambition for ministerial office.”

Mr Martin is a regular campaigner with his Labour Party colleagues – and is seen as coming from the party’s mainstream tradition.

From his discussions on the doorsteps he said people in the town were most concerned about the everyday issues that directly affected them – especially health, education and housing.

He said: “The major concerns that people want to talk about have not changed much from last time.”

Mr Martin said the role of an MP was not just to support their party in Westminster – it was also to act as an ambassador for their constituency.

And he felt that Ipswich was in a very strong position: “When you look at the port and the Waterfront and the proximity of the town to London, we are in a very fortunate position.

“And compared with many other places Ipswich is still relatively affordable. It is a great place to live but it needs to be even better.”

He is unconvinced by the arguments for a new large bridge linking the east and west banks of the River Orwell – but backs proposals for new bridges to allow the development of the island site at the Waterfront.

And he feels the best way of easing traffic in the town centre would be to build the long-awaited northern by-pass.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 7, 2017 at 9:04 am

Day of Action Against Benefit Sanctions (30 March) as Scottish Challenges to Tory Social Security Regime Grow.

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New Component

Thursday 30 March 2017  National Day of Action Against Sanctions (UNITE the Union).

JOIN US
More and more people are facing benefit sanctions. Half a million people have had their benefits suddenly stopped by sanctions in the last 12 months.
That’s half a million people, many of whom have been plunged into poverty, unable to heat their homes or even eat. How is this meant to help prepare people for work?

Benefit sanctions must be fought against

Please join an event near you on Thursday 30 March to stop benefit sanctions in your community.

We will continue to add new actions on a regular basis, so please check back.

For further information please email your Unite community coordinator (see here).

 

You often wish that politicians, that is Westminster politicians, took these issues as seriously as they do in Scotland.

Morning Star (today)

SCOTTISH Labour unveiled plans yesterday to “kick the private sector out of our social security system,” branding the treatment of disabled and long term-ill benefit claimants under the Tory welfare regime “inhumane.”

The party will table amendments to the forthcoming Social Security Bill to use the Scottish Parliament’s new powers to rule out the involvement of the private sector and has urged the SNP to support its proposals.

Labour says that thousands of disabled people have experienced punitive assessments for the Tories’ personal independence payments (PIP), adding that the SNP’s decision to delay the devolution of welfare powers will mean that 140,000 Scots will still be assessed under the current system.

Last month, a Scottish government consultation on social security revealed a “strong consensus that services should not be delivered through the private sector or profit-making agencies, with the majority of respondents in agreement that social security should be delivered through existing public-sector or thirdsector organisations.”

Labour social security spokesman Mark Griffin said his party will seek to “use the new social security powers of the Scottish Parliament to kick the private sector out of our social security system.”

He laid into “these cruel and inhumane [PIP] assessments that have piled misery on vulnerable Scots.”

“Nicola Sturgeon failed to mention poverty once in her speech to the SNP conference. That tells you everything you need to know about her priorities,” he said.

He urged the First Minister to “work with Labour to use the new powers of our parliament” and abandon her preoccupation with Scottish independence.

Welfare Weekly (March the 17th) reports,

SNP Conference: Calls to scrap ‘draconian’ benefit sanctions regime

“The SNP does not believe we should be attacking the most disadvantaged in our society and completely rejects this benefits sanctions regime.

“The Tories need to realise this is the devastating consequences that removing the only source of income available has on real people and their families.

“It is extremely concerning that the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society, including those at risk of homelessness, those with caring responsibilities and those with mental ill health issues, are the most likely to be punished by the draconian regime.

“The UK government must urgently scrap this punitive sanctions regime. The shocking findings of the National Audit Office illustrate the sheer unfairness and ineffectiveness of sanctions.

“The SNP has consistently done everything it can to mitigate the worst impacts of Tory welfare cuts spending £100m on protecting people – money we would rather invest in pulling people out of poverty.

“Our Government in Scotland continue to fight against the regime, for instance the Scottish Government have already secured agreement from the UK Government that the Scottish employment programme will not facilitate their benefits sanctions system.

“Scottish Ministers have been crystal clear that our services in Scotland must be seen as an opportunity, not a threat.”

The full text of the resolution reads:

“Conference rejects the punitive Tory benefit sanction regime; commends the creators of I, Daniel Blake for bringing the public’s attention to the cruel and callous reality facing tens of thousands of disadvantaged people across the UK; further notes with the concern the shocking findings of the National Audit Office of the scale and ineffectiveness of the sanctions regime; is concerned that the most vulnerable including those at risk of homelessness, those with caring responsibilities and those with mental ill health are the most likely to be punished by the draconian regime, welcomes the decision of the Scottish Government to make sure that the new Employment Programme, effective from April 2017, does not facilitate the UK Government’s sanctions system, and calls for the UKG to move urgently to scrap the unfair sanctions regime.”


This in an official press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Written by Andrew Coates

March 21, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Labour and Welfare: Plans to Make Iain Duncan Smith’s “not worth living”

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The Charter Labour Needs.

Ipswich Unemployed Action will be taking a keen interest in Labour’s policies on welfare.

As the Conference begins we hear this:

Newly appointed shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith says he plans to make welfare boss Iain Duncan Smith’s life “not worth living” as he harries him.

The Mirror reports.

Labour will challenge the Tories “at every turn” in a fresh assault over Bedroom Tax .

And new shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith threatens he will make welfare boss Iain Duncan Smith’s life “not worth living”.

He said: “I will harry him at every turn so he won’t know which way he’s facing. We shall keep campaigning, and we will keep pressing for changes.”

We remain open-minded about Owen Smith.

He has made less encouraging statements such as this:

Owen Smith, Shadow Welfare Secretary, has called for a debate within the Labour party over benefits cap.

The Government is planning to reduce the benefits back from £26,000 to £23,000 – a plan that Labour oppose. In an interview on Newsnight, Smith said that Labour’s current policy is to oppose the cuts to the individual benefits cap.

But he noted that Labour need to review their position “right across the whole debate”.

He went on to say that the party is “”in favour of an overall reduction in the amount of money we spend on benefits in this country and in favour of limits on what individual families can draw down”. However he said that there needs to be a review of the party’s position to the cap in general.

Labour List.

There is also this report (BBC September the 15th),

Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to oppose the benefits cap have been undermined by members of his own shadow cabinet, as he prepares to face David Cameron in prime minister’s questions for the first time.

Speaking to the Trades Union Congress conference in Brighton on Tuesday, Corbyn said the benefits cap introduced by the coalition created “social cleansing” and that the party would oppose it all together.

But speaking hours later on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, the shadow work and pensions secretary, Owen Smith, said the party was only opposing government plans to reduce the cap.

The shadow equalities minister, Kate Green, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, said the Labour party’s present policy position was to support the principle of the benefit cap and that there was some evidence it had helped people into work.

She argued that policy was created collectively by the party, implying that Corbyn could not change Labour’s position unilaterally.

In the last parliament, the coalition introduced a cap of £26,000 on the amount of state benefits a family can receive. The Conservative government has pledged to cut the cap to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside London.

Speaking to the TUC conference in his first major speech as leader of the opposition, Corbyn said: “As I’m concerned the amendments we’re putting forward are to remove the whole idea of the benefit cap altogether. We’ll bring down the welfare bill in Britain by controlling rents and boosting wages, not by impoverishing families and the most vulnerable people.”

He added: “We oppose the benefit cap. We oppose social cleansing.”

What we are interested in is this:

The Welfare Charter.

We should have…

1. A political commitment to full employment achieved with decent jobs
People are entitled to decent, stable and secure jobs that provide regular, guaranteed hours that allows them to also meet any caring responsibilities; not zero hours contracts in precarious jobs.

2. A wage you can live on for all and a social security system that works to end poverty
We need a National Living Wage that people can live on, not just survive on, that applies to all.

3. No work conscription – keep volunteering voluntary
Forcing people to work for free on pain of losing benefits is simply providing free labour to organisations that should be paying workers proper wages.

4. Representation for unemployed workers
Everyone should have access to an advocate to help them navigate the social security system and appeal adverse decisions.

5. Appoint an Ombudsman for claimants
A Claimants Ombudsman should be appointed to arbitrate on unresolved complaints, to ensure claimants are treated with respect and dignity.

6. Equality in the labour market and workplace; equality in access to benefits.
We need a labour market where structural inequalities are overturned and a benefit system that is accessible to people.

7. An end to the sanctions regime and current Work Capability Assessment – full maintenance for the unemployed and underemployed.
We need a non-means tested, non-discriminatory benefit payable to all, with housing costs met. This must be allied with the wide provision of low cost housing.

8. State provision of high quality information, advice and guidance on employment, training and careers
There must be a supportive and independent careers and job-broking service, not linked to conditionality or benefits, offering face to face advice.

Download here: 710X_WelfareCharter_A5_3

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 27, 2015 at 10:57 am

John McDonnell: we have a True Friend in the New Shadow Chancellor.

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McDonnell: A Working Class Hero is something he is.

Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled what he called a “unifying” new shadow cabinet, naming his left-wing ally John McDonnell as shadow chancellor.

A short while ago….

John McDonnell speech: MP says he would ‘swim through vomit’ to oppose ‘sickening’ welfare bill.

Comrade McDonnell is simply the best.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Labour Pledge to Stop ‘Trivial’ Benefit Sanctions.

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Pledge on benefits sanctions ahead of election (22nd April).

LABOUR has pledged to stop people being stripped of benefits for “trivial” reasons, blaming the practice for the surging numbers at food banks.

The Opposition said it would abolish targets allegedly introduced at jobcentres for the number of sanctions – claiming that was leading to unfair punishments.

And it promised clear guidance to ensure vulnerable people – carers, pregnant women, the mentally-ill and people at risk of domestic violence – do not lose benefits.

The latest figures show almost 19,000 sanctions were imposed in Bradford in just two years, since the rules were toughened, normally for four weeks for a first offence.

Ministers say the punishments target people who dodge jobcentre appointments or avoid finding a job, to tackle a “something for nothing” culture.

But MPs have highlighted examples of claimants who have been docked money after missing appointments because they were bereaved, sick, or looking after children.

Interviewed by the Telegraph & Argus, Rachel Reeves, Labour’s work and pensions spokesman, said: “When staff have pressure to sanction people, to reach their numbers, then you end up with sanctions for trivial reasons.

“That’s why we will get rid of targets and we will also give jobcentres guidance about vulnerable people.

“So, if it is a pregnant woman, or a mum with young kids, or someone with mental health problems, those people should not be sanctioned.”

Ministers have denied there are targets for sanctions, but do record the number imposed in each jobcentre district – with a “direction of travel” column, comparing to the previous month.

A Conservative spokesman defended sanctions, arguing the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies had found tighter conditions for benefit claimants had had “some success” in encouraging work.

But the Liberal Democrat manifesto also promises changes, saying: “We will ensure there are no league tables or targets for sanctions issued by jobcentres and introduce a ‘yellow card’ warning, so people are only sanctioned if they deliberately and repeatedly break the rules.”

This does not go far enough.

We need an end to the whole Sanctions Regime.

Stop Workfare!

Get rid of the Unemployment Business!

But it’s a start……

David Ellesmere, Labour Candidate for Ipswich, backing March anti-Sanctions Picket at Ipswich Jobcentre.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 23, 2015 at 11:26 am

Labour Promise to Review Universal Credit, New Programme for the Dole, and Job ‘Guarantees’.

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Labour has launched its Manifesto, Britain Can Be Better.

Relevant points for the Unemployed.

They begin,

“An inclusive wealth-creating economy works when there is a shared sense of responsibility, so we will be a government that is both pro-business and pro-worker. We value all our businesses as organisations of innovation and wealth production, and we will work strategically with them to create wealth. We value our trade unions as an essential force for a decent society and as guarantors of skills and fair wages.”

“Britain’s route to prosperity and higher living standards is through more secure and better paid jobs. But Conservative policies are causing whole sectors of the economy to be dragged into a race to the bottom on wages and skills.

The Government has weakened employment rights and promoted a hire-and-fire culture. Labour believes our economy can only succeed in a race to the top – competing in the world with better work, better pay and better skills.Too many people do a hard day’s work but remain dependent on benefits.

We will raise the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 an hour by October 2019, bringing it closer to average earnings. We will give local authorities a role in strengthening enforcement against those paying less than the legal amount. And we will support employers to pay more by using government procurement to promote the Living Wage, alongside wider social impact considerations. Our Make Work Pay contracts will give tax rebates to businesses who sign up to paying the Living Wage in the first year of a Labour Government. Publicly listed companies will be required to report on whether or not they pay the Living Wage.”

And,

It is hard for Britain to succeed when employees feel insecure and employers are undercut by those using exploitative working practices. Labour will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts.

Those who work regular hours for more than12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract. We will abolish the loophole that allows firms to undercut permanent staff by using agency workers on lower pay.

The Conservatives have introduced fees of up to £1,200 for employment tribunal claimants, creating a significant barrier to workplace justice. We will abolish the Government’s employment tribunal fee system as part of wider reforms to make sure that affordability is not a barrier to workers having proper access to justice,employers get a quicker resolution, and the costs to the tax payer do not rise.

This raises a lot of questions,

 We will introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, paid for by a bank bonus tax. It will provide a paid starter job for every young person unemployed for over a year, a job which they will have to take or lose benefits.

This also raises a lot of questions,
Labour believes in rewarding work and in restoring contribution to the heart of our system. So we will not cut tax credits. We want everyone who can to have the chance to contribute through paid work, so we will create a more tailored back-to-work system that helps people secure and keep jobs.
We will do more to help unemployed people get the skills they need for work, testing jobseekers’ Maths, English and IT skills within six weeks of them claiming benefits. They will be required to take up training where this will improve their chances of getting a job. We support the principle behind Universal Credit – that there should be a smooth transition into work – but it must be affordable and fit for purpose,so we will pause and review the programme.
There will be a guaranteed, paid job for all young people who have been out of work for one year, and for all those over 25 years old and out of work for two years. It will be a job that they have to take, or lose their benefits.
And we will commission a replacement for the Work Programme at a more local level, working with local authorities to join up support for the long-term unemployed. We will introduce a higher rate of Job Seekers Allowance for those who have contributed over years. It will be funded by extending the length of time people need to have worked to qualify.

Then this,

Alongside strong and responsive public services, the social security system plays an important role in supporting many disabled people to live independently,and must always treat sick and disabled people with dignity.
Half a million families have been hit by the Bedroom Tax, and two thirds of those affected are disabled, or have a disabled family member. It is cruel, and we will abolish it.
We will reform the Work Capability Assessment and focus it on the support disabled people need to get into work. We will give an independent scrutiny group of disabled people a central role in monitoring it. And we will introduce a specialist support programme to ensure that disabled people who can work get more tailored help.
Let’s bear in the mind that the Tories want the unemployed out cleaning the streets with toothbrushes and begging for their supper in Food Banks.
But what with Labour will the unemployment have?
  • No Bedroom Tax.
  • A Promise to ‘review’ Universal Credit.
  • Yet another scheme to ‘replace’ the Work programme. This time with lots of fluffy words about being ‘tailored’ and  involving local councils and the rest of the ‘local’ crew (aka, the Unemployment Bizniz under new names) no doubt eager to jump in as well.
  • Monitoring/Review of the back to work process for the disabled.
  • A wholly ill-thought ‘guaranteed job’ promise.

We will examine this job guarantee in more detail later but for the moment we ask:

  1. What choice will we have about the work we take up?
  2. Will it be at the Living Wage?
  3. What happens if we lose this job?

What we do not have:

  • Abolition of the sanctions regime.
  • An end to the  ‘unemployment industry’ doing little but fill their own pockets,
  • A raise in benefits to the ‘Living Benefit’ level that Ipswich Unemployment Action will set.
  • Stop to to claimants paying Council Tax.
  • Independent Medical Experts involved in assessing the disabled.
  • Clear Abolition of  ALL FORMS OF  WORKFARE.

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