Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘sanctions

Benefits Sanctions Return.

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A survival guide to benefit sanctions | Advicenow

This story appeared recently.

the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), who count a number of Jobcentre workers among their members, fears that this could also lead to a rise in the number of benefit claimants who are subjected to sanctions.

Requirements placed on benefit claimaints prior to the pandemic meant that vulnerable people could see their benefit payments for failing to adhere to strict and often unreasonable criteria.

This includes people who saw their benefits stopped or reduced for being a few minutes late for an appointment, due to travel issues, or missing a meeting due to being in hospital.

These sometimes draconian rules were temporary suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, but are now being slowly reintroduced as the country gradually recovers from the pandemic.

Today we learn:

Thousands of people’s benefits cut by DWP sanctions in Birmingham and Black Country

Birmingham Live.

The financial penalties are imposed on those claiming Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance and Income Support.

Thousands of people across the West Midlands have seen their benefits cut by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Sanctions have been imposed on claimants in the Black Country boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Sandwell, and Walsall as well as in neighbouring Birmingham and Solihull.

These are penalties when the DWP says someone has failed to stick to the rules of a benefit claim such as by missing a work coach appointment, training course or job interview. Others are for reasons such as being late to sign on for Jobseeker’s Allowance.


But there have been cases where claimants said it was not their fault. A former Birmingham bus driver was sanctioned after he missed the DWP’s online notifications of appointments because he could no longer afford his home internet service when he lost his job.

Between April 2019 and October 2020, statistics show that 4,899 UC recipients were sanctioned in Sandwell, 4,172 in Wolverhampton, 4,039 in Dudley and 3,796 in Walsall.

By far the most Universal Credit sanctions were in Birmingham where 22,632 claimants had money docked as a punishment.


A further 2,241 UC recipients were penalised in Solihull borough.

See: A survival guide to benefit sanctions

This guide will help you to plan ahead to avoid a benefit sanction where possible, and if not, will help you to work out what to do about it. This guide is for you if you want to avoid getting sanctioned, work out what to do about a benefits sanction, or understand more about how the benefit sanctions system works.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 4, 2021 at 3:18 pm

The Full Return of Job Centres and Benefit Sanctions.

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Benefit Sanctions were reintroduced in July,

The return of benefit sanctions is a risky, painful and dangerous bet by the government

New Statesman.

Against a potential backdrop of mass layoffs, the cruelty of the old system is going to feel a lot sharper.

Benefit sanctions will return to the United Kingdom from 1 July, the government has confirmed. The requirement that people claiming Universal Credit demonstrate they are actively seeking work was suspended during the lockdown, but will resume on Wednesday, when Job Centres reopen and in-person meetings there return.

DWP docked 35,000 people’s benefits at height of coronavirus despite ending sanctions

The Mirror reported on the 20th of August.

More than 35,000 people were losing money to benefit sanctions at the height of coronavirus – despite them being halted.

Thousands were still having their payments docked long after new sanctions were suspended for three months due to the pandemic.

Now the DWP has plans to fully-open Jobs Centres the process looks set to begin against in earnest.

05 Sep 2020

PCS has reiterated that the safety of members is our priority as we oppose government plans to get 80% of civil servants in England to attend their usual workplace each week by the end of September.

We have been informed that permanent secretaries have been told to greatly increase the number of staff in workplaces. The government claims sending tens of thousands of civil servants back to their buildings by the end of the month would be “hugely beneficial”.

As we understand it, departments which have not staffed offices up to the so-called Covid safe limits must now seek to do so. This must be done in a supposedly Covid-secure way, taking advantage of the return to schools this month and increased public transport availability.

Moreover departments are being strongly encouraged to use staff rota systems to get more staff into the workplace over the week, for example 20% for five days, 30% for three days and 30% for two days.

Departments have been set a target of 80% of staff in England to attend their usual workplace each week by the end of September. Staff elsewhere in the UK are expected to follow local guidance and continue working from home.

We understand the prime minister has asked to see departmental return to the workplace figures on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 7, 2020 at 10:25 am

Job Search Proof Returns as Mass Unemployment Predicted.

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Quote reads: "Well, they say 35 hours. That’s what you’d sign the disclaimer for. But if you job searched for 35 hours, and you’re not getting a job, I’d guarantee within a month you’re going to have depression."

Job Search Returns.

Contributors have been talking about signing-on and sanctions.

Job Search, and the proof, by UC Diary, print outs, or  completed form,  is at the centre of the Sanctions Regime:

Here is the research link:

 

Meanwhile:

UK unemployment rate could hit 15 per cent with second Covid wave, says OECD

The UK unemployment rate could soar to 15 per cent if there is a second wave of coronavirus infections, the OECD has said.

Even without a second wave, the global economic organisation reckons unemployment could hit 11.7 per cent, a level not seen since the 1980s.

It comes as the UK gradually reopens its economies after lengthy coronavirus lockdowns. As it does so, the government plans to gradually wind down its support for the economy.

The OECD today added to fears that the removal of support will lead to a surge in unemployment when it published a report into jobs markets around the world.

By the end of the year, the UK unemployment rate will have jumped to 11.7 per cent from the current level of 3.9 per cent, it said.

The labour market will take time to recover, the report predicted, with unemployment only dropping to 7.2 per cent in 2021.

However, the OECD said that a second wave of infections and the subsequent lockdown could send unemployment soaring to 14.8 per cent as millions lose their jobs. That would be well above anything seen in recent memory.

Our Boss is gearing up!

Written by Andrew Coates

July 7, 2020 at 10:31 am

DWP Minister, “no doubt that Universal Credit has contributed to the increased use of food banks”.

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Image result for food banks universal credit

DWP to Recognise Facts?

DWP minister says there’s ‘no doubt’ Universal Credit has driven people to foodbanks

The Mirror.

This is worth noting just in its own right.

How long ago (29th of January 2020) this seems!

The Tory Minister made the controversial comment replying to a question from Labour MP Zarah Sultana.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has described food banks as the “perfect way” to help the poor.

Now….

Tory minister Baroness Stedman-Scott, who led a youth unemployment charity, said the six-in-one benefit has “contributed” to a rise in people seeking help

There is “no doubt” Universal Credit has driven people to food banks, a DWP minister said today.

Tory minister Baroness Stedman-Scott admitted the six-in-one benefit “has contributed” to the soaring numbers of people turning to charities for help.

The peer, who worked for 30 years at a youth unemployment charity, stressed the benefit was “not everything” and people were not sanctioned without reason.

She told the House of Lords: “I’ve got no doubt, and I’ve agreed with this before, that Universal Credit has contributed to the increased use in food banks. But it’s not everything.

“However, I would say to you that claimants will only ever be sanctioned where without good reason they’ve failed to meet the reasonable requirements agreed in their claimant commitment.”

She was asked: “Does the minister understand the correlation between new attendants at foodbanks and sanctions of Universal Credit?

“And what is the government going to do about that, because almost all new signups to food banks are due to delays? Not only is it bad for your health, but it’s bad for your mental health.”

n earlier exchanges the Tory minister also said she would be “really upset” if people are sanctioned for missing appointments due to Coronavirus.

The Trussell Trust charity handed out a record 823,145 three-day emergency food parcels in the six months to September – a 23% rise on the previous year.

Low income was the primary reason for 36% of referrals followed by benefit delays (18%), benefit changes (16%) and debt (9%).

Here is the exchange between the Noble Lordships in Hansard.

 

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the debt levels, (2) the mental health, and (3) the ability to work, of people in receipt of Universal Credit.

 

The noble Baroness’s Question recognises issues experienced by many people in our society. The department has made no official assessment of universal credit’s effect in these three specific areas. We often find that people experience debt and mental health issues that existed prior to claiming universal credit. We think that attempting to make an accurate assessment could be difficult—but not impossible.
I thank the Minister for her Answer. She is very straightforward, and I know she will want to get this right. I know too that the majority of people in this House agree that individuals are better in work—better for themselves, their families and the broader society—and benefits need to be simplified. However, we are spending billions of pounds of public money here. Theory is one thing, but practice is another. I ask the Minister to attempt again to persuade the Government to conduct an assessment, so that we can see whether there are any unintended consequences for mental health well-being, work mobility and indebtedness, and that we can properly debate this issue and recommend any changes and improvements where needed.
I am so glad that we agree on the principle that people should be, and in the majority of cases are, better off in work. I like the noble Baroness’s idea, and I am touched that she thinks my powers of persuasion are so good. In order that I can deploy them to the maximum, let us meet prior to me going back to work the magic. I would like to go with the best case possible to see if we can do this, to get the information that helps us help people more.
Are the Government aware that a number of the people sleeping rough on our streets at the moment have fallen through the universal credit net? Would the Minister like to comment on that?
Like all noble Lords in the House, I am only too well aware of the size of the problem of homelessness and people sleeping on the streets. I normally agree with the noble Lord, and I do agree that universal credit may have added to some people’s anxiety and their issues. Many of them have had issues for a long time that we have not done what we should have done to deal with—but I do not think they are 100% attributable to universal credit.
My Lords, is the Minister aware that a large body of evidence supports the case that benefits sanctions have a devastating effect on claimants’ mental health and could even result in suicides? In the light of last week’s report in the Lancet, when will the Government conduct a comprehensive assessment of the impact of benefits sanctions on claimants, as the DWP pledged to do in 2013?
My Lords, could the Minister update the House on what the Government are doing to support those with mental health issues in accessing universal credit seamlessly, so that those issues are not exacerbated, and to help them get into work, which, as we all know, can sometimes help with mental health and well-being?
I thank my noble friend for that question. Mental health is a major issue for people on universal credit, and in other walks of life. At present, we are introducing health model offices in 11 jobcentres. These focus on claimants with health conditions. Blackburn jobcentre has agreed a new initiative, “advance to ausome”, for people with autism. Another jobcentre, in north London, is running quiet sessions for people who cannot cope with coming in.This is what I would like noble Lords to go away with today. A young man came to the jobcentre who was working full-time, had mental health issues and did not know how he was going to keep his job. He was in a bad way. Our work coaches worked with him and, through the Access to Work mental health support programme, he is now back at work and working towards a promotion. None of that would have been possible without that support. We are doing everything we can—and there is more to be done—to help people with these issues.

My Lords, may I ask the Minister something quite specific? What plans does DWP have to deal with the outbreak of coronavirus? For example, can people on zero-hours contracts who cannot go to work get universal credit to support them if they have to isolate themselves at home and are unable to work? In a similar vein, can she guarantee that those on universal credit will not be sanctioned if they cannot go to a job interview, to the jobcentre or fulfil their commitments because they are isolating themselves at home? Will the Government suspend sanctions and advertise universal credit for those affected by isolation patterns?

I was not prepared for that one, that is for sure. I know that the Permanent Secretary has a plan to make sure that people get paid and get the help they need. However, I will be really upset if people are sanctioned because of this. I will go back to the department and write to the noble Baroness, to make sure that the issue is understood.
Does the Minister understand the correlation between new attendants at food banks and universal credit sanctions? What are the Government going to do about that? Almost all new sign-ups to food banks are caused by delays. Not only is that bad for your health, it is bad for your mental health.
The issue of food bank usage and the reasons for it came up during a Question I took recently. I have no doubt that, as I have agreed before, universal credit has contributed to the increased use of food banks, but that is not everything. However, claimants will only ever be sanctioned where, without good reason, they fail to meet the reasonable requirements agreed in their claimant commitment.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 3, 2020 at 10:22 am

Universal Credit, Not Fit For Purpose, New UNITE Community Report.

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New Report Slams Universal Credit.

 

Here

 

‘Bombshell’ report lays bare the misery of Universal Credit chaos

UNITE the Union.

A ‘bombshell’ report and survey of nearly 1,200 Universal Credit claimants by the community section of the UK and Ireland’s largest union, Unite, lays bare the misery of the scheme’s failed introduction with evidence of people becoming suicidal, going without food, being forced into debt and unable to pay bills.

The survey of 1,173 Universal Credit claimants published today (Monday 23 September) found that 70 per cent had skipped meals and 42 per cent had been forced to use a food bank as result of claiming Universal Credit.

Just under two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents said they could not afford bills such as heating, electricity, and water, while over three-quarters (78 per cent) said they relied on friends and family to make ends meet. 48 per cent said they had been pushed into debt because of Universal Credit, with nearly a fifth (19 per cent) saying they had been forced to turn to payday loan companies and 8 per cent to loan sharks, to make ends meet.

The survey also points to kids losing out at school because of Universal Credit, with 27 per cent of respondents saying they had been unable to buy school uniforms or school equipment for their children, while just over a quarter (26 per cent) said they could not afford school trips.

Elsewhere, the report and survey called Universal Credit: Not fit for Purpose, powerfully captures the catastrophic toll of Universal Credit on people’s lives and families with respondents’ comments, including:

“Since we were forced onto Universal Credit I’ve tried to commit suicide three times, me and my eight year old have had to spend a month living off crackers and tins or frozen veg in bowl.” Claimant one

“I can’t afford a new uniform for my youngest daughter. My middle daughter has had to skip meals at college and is behind on her A-levels because I can’t afford the textbooks she needs for her courses.” Claimant two

“The five weeks wait left me in rent arrears and my landlord served me with an eviction notice because of this.” Claimant three

Unite is calling for the government to stop and scrap Universal Credit. The report and survey, Universal Credit: Not Fit for Purpose is being launched at a fringe meeting at Labour party conference in Brighton today at 12:30 in The Grand Hotel. It can be downloaded here.

 

Universal Credit Not Fit For Purpose has these Key findings.

• The experience of Universal Credit claimants is overwhelmingly bad, and many claimants believe they are not getting the money they are entitled to.
• Sanctions in particular are cruel and unfair and make the impact of Universal Credit worse.
• Universal Credit is causing food poverty and driving the use of food banks. In some cases it has forced claimants into prostitution and illegal activity such as theft in order to survive.
• Universal Credit is pushing claimants into debt, including into the arms of pay day loan companies and loan sharks.
• Universal Credit is having a detrimental impact on claimants’ mental health which is increasing the risk of suicide.
• The application process is unfair, complicated and difficult to access. It is also rigid and unresponsive, for example most respondents would prefer to be paid fortnightly.
• Universal Credit is causing serious problems with housing, including rent arrears and homelessness.
• Universal credit is discriminatory, disproportionately impacting on disabled people, carers and parents.
• Parents struggle to pay for school trips, school uniforms and feeding their kids, particularly during school holidays, birthdays and Christmas.
• Families and friends having to fill the State’s role in providing a social safety net.
• Legacy benefit claimants overwhelmingly fear being moved onto Universal Credit.
• Universal Credit is an industrial issue that impacts on working people. It is particularly unfair to part-time, low-paid, zero hours and agency workers as well as the self-employed.

The Press Statement  continues.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary with responsibility for Unite Community, Steve Turner said: “Universal Credit is causing untold misery and heartache for people across the country. Its failed introduction is leading to people becoming suicidal and going without food, or being forced into debt and unable to pay the bills.

“Universal Credit is not just an issue that affects people out of work. At the beginning of the year over 530,000 employed people were receiving Universal Credit in a ‘corporate welfare’ cash grab to top up poverty wages.

“The government needs to immediately scrap the five-week wait for Universal Credit which is pushing people into debt and benefit sanctions that are plunging people into the depths of despair.

“Ultimately, this cruel and flawed system which penalises families who are trying to make ends meet and keep a roof above their head must be scrapped and replaced with a humane system based on social solidarity and support that treats people with dignity.”

Meanwhile out Boss Tweets: