Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Suffolk

Universal Credit Misery Comes to Suffolk.

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Universal Credit Full Service is expected to be introduced at Ipswich Jobcentre on the 25th of April 2018.

Already people are talking about what this will mean for them.

One group seriously affected are the self-employed and others reliant on tax credits.

Friends who work for a number of jobs over the year are particularly worried as they reckon they will lose up to a couple of thousand pounds annually.

They have been good girls and boys, getting into the “gig economy” (that is, the only employment on offer for many),  doing jobs like taxi driving,  a host of other things which are now down by the ‘self-employed’ , short-term posts for particularly events.

Now they face losing cash in a big way.

Not to mention the way it will bear down on them in other ways as pictured above.

There are plenty of reports on how this will attack them in the pocket.

The TUC goes into some detail.

The complexity and hardship with which Universal Credit (UC) threatens to engulf self-employed workers is one of the underreported stories of the design of UC.

In UC, they will face in-work benefit cuts if they do not meet the ‘Minimum Income Floor’ (MIF), which requires them to earn the equivalent of 35 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage. There is no such requirement for employees.  In addition, the monthly income assessments in UC are expected to be problematic for the self-employed, as they are more likely to have unpredictable and fluctuating earnings.

The new self-employed

Self-employment has grown significantly since the recession. There are now almost an extra million self-employed workers, increasing the self–employed workforce to just under five million and 15 per cent of the total workforce.  Part time self-employment has seen the biggest expansion, rising by 55 per cent to reach around 1.5 million people.

Earnings data for the self-employed indicate that they are more likely to be on lower earnings compared to employees. The Family Resources Survey shows that median earnings for the self-employed are around 60 per cent of those of employees. The Social Market Foundation (SMF) estimates that in 2016 there were 1.7 million self-employed workers paid below the National Living Wage. This group accounts for 45 per cent of the self-employed in the UK.

The SMF also estimates that around a fifth (19 per cent) of families with an individual whose main job is self-employment are claiming in-work benefits such as tax credits and housing benefit that will be replaced by Universal Credit.

This makes the results clear.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT WILL BE A DISASTER FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED. WHO IS LISTENING?

As the table below shows, two people can earn the same amount over the course of the year yet end up with very different UC payments because one has lumpier income patterns than the other. The MIF may also be triggered when claimants have a large expense in one month, such as an investment in tools or a hefty energy bill.

And there is this:

40,000 Universal Credit claimants will see 40% of their benefits clawed back. Mirror. 8th of April.

As the Department of Work and Pensions says it has a ‘duty’ to recover outstanding overpayments, Labour claims the move will force some into debt

Thousands of Universal Credit claimants are having 40% of their benefits deducted to claw back outstanding cash owed.

Labour MP Ruth George said the move “will see more people with no option but to go into debt”.

The Department for Work and Pensions can directly collect debts from Universal Credit including for previous benefit and tax credits overpayments.

Remember!

Help is at hand from Ipswich Citizens Advice as Universal Credit roll out continues

Ipswich Citizens Advice is encouraging people to turn to them for help if they have questions about Universal Credit and how it affects them, as new government figures reveal 50 people across Ipswich are now on the benefit and with all single, non-home owning people claiming an out of work benefit being moved on to this benefit, the numbers will grow exponentially.

Since its introduction in Ipswich in November 2015, Ipswich Citizens Advice has helped people with 17 issues relating to Universal Credit. This represents almost a third of claimants.

Most enquiries to Ipswich Citizens Advice are about who is eligible for the benefit and requests for help with the application process. ‘We are keen to help people through this new benefits roadmap and particularly to help them understand the major changes that claiming this benefit will mean for them in terms of payment periods and the necessary budgeting and money management that will be needed to avoid debts building up or threatening tenancies,’ says Nelleke van Helfteren, Deputy Manager at Ipswich Citizens Advice.

Data released by the Department for Work and Pensions on 17 February shows that nearly 200,000 people are now on Universal Credit.

Universal Credit rolls six working-age benefits into one single monthly payment, supporting people who are on a low income or out of work. It is being introduced in stages across the country, in the first instance to single people who are making new  claims. It will eventually be rolled out to couples, families and people who are sick or disabled.

As new Universal Credit figures are released, Ipswich Citizens Advice is sharing its five key things you need to know about Universal Credit:

  1. Universal Credit is a new benefit for people in and out of work, which will eventually merge six benefits into one: Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. Currently you can still apply for ESA separately from Universal Credit.
  2. Universal Credit does not include Council Tax Support – you will still need to apply for this locally.
  3. You apply for Universal Credit via a single application; you’re usually expected to do this online, but you can apply over the phone or in person if you need to.
  4. Universal Credit payments are made on a monthly basis, rather than weekly or fortnightly like previous benefit.
  5. You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you’re waiting for your first payment. This is called a ‘short term advance’.

Just to help the thieving Tories who run Suffolk County Council have cut CAB funding.

Citizens Advice charities are facing a £20,000 funding cut from Suffolk County Council for 2018-19 – an average of just over £2,000 for each of the nine charities in Suffolk.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 11, 2018 at 10:20 am

Homeless Levels to Double.

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The camp set up on Ipswich Waterfront by a group of rough sleepers. Pictures taken by Gregg Brown in January 2017.

Rough Sleeper Camp in Ipswich (January 2017). 

Enigma is the latest of our contributors to point out that this is a growing issue.

The Mirror.

Twice as many people are sleeping rough in Tory Britain as we thought, alarming new study reveals

Analysis by Heriot-Watt University found 9,100 people are currently sleeping on the streets across Britain – the previous estimate was 4,100

 

In January this was published,  Rough sleeping rockets across Suffolk: “It’s a sign that a lot of people are struggling”

 

Welfare Weekly reports,

The number of people forced into homelessness is expected to more than double to half a million by 2041 unless the government takes immediate action, a homelessness charity has warned.

Analysis by Heriot-Watt University for Crisis has found that the number of homeless people in Britain will reach 575,000, up from 236,000 in 2016. The number of people sleeping rough will more than quadruple from 9,100 in 2016 to 40,100 over the same period, the research found.

The forecast, released to mark the 50th anniversary of Crisis, comes as the number of homeless households has jumped by a third in the past five years. The majority of those affected are “sofa surfers”, with 68,300 people sleeping on other people’s couches.

The biggest rise will be for those placed by a council in unsuitable accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts, with the total expected to rise from 19,300 to 117,500.

Crisis has urged the government to build more affordable housing and launch a concerted effort to tackle rough sleeping.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “With the right support at the right time, it doesn’t need to be inevitable … Together we can find the answers and make sure those in power listen to them.”

Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, said that homelessness had become the bulk of her workload. “The government needs to wake up … The system is broken. Without more social housing, a flood of good temporary accommodation and investment in homelessness support the problem will get worse.”

This will help increase the numbers of homeless as well:

The Tory government has quietly axed a free benefit claimed by 124,000 people – here’s how it could hit you.   Mirror. 

The government will be transferring existing claimants onto the new loan system from 5 April 2018.

There will be a transition period where some people can continue claiming SMI as a free benefit for a while.

But this is simply to stop people falling through the cracks if there are “delays” to moving them onto the new scheme.

Outsourcing giant Serco is taking responsibility for telling people about the new system in the coming months through letters and a phone call.

….

A spokesman for welfare rights charity Turn2us added: “Support for Mortgage Interest has been an important source of help for those with a mortgage who have had an income shock.

“It has helped many stay in their homes.

“The increase in the waiting period to 39 weeks has already affected that.

“Now, turning Support for Mortgage Interest from a benefit into a loan adds to the pressure on homeowners who are already struggling.”

Can I take the time to flag up this article by one of the best activists in Britain, 

The first sentence is relevant to the above, “Outsourcing giant Serco”

Outsourcing is killing local democracy in Britain. Here’s how we can stop that

Residents at Grenfell Tower describe how, as the local council outsourced contracts to private companies to work on their estate, essential elements of local democracy became unavailable to them. Their voices weren’t heard, information they requested wasn’t granted, outcomes they were promised did not transpire, complaints they made were not answered. The outcome at Grenfell was unique in its scale but the background is a common enough story. Wherever regeneration of social housing has been outsourced to private developers, responsiveness, transparency, oversight and scrutiny – key elements of healthy democracy – are lessened for those most directly affected.

Outsourcing of public services began in the 1980s, a central feature of the drive to roll back what neoliberalism casts as a bureaucratic, inefficient state. Its proponents claimed the involvement of private providers would increase cost-savings and efficiency, and improve responsiveness to the “consumers” of public services. Thirty years later, the value of these contracts is enormous – more than £120bn worth of government business was awarded to private companies between 2011 and 2016, and their number is increasing rapidly. At least 30% of all public outsourcing contracts are with local authorities.

 

In Ipswich the Labour Borough Council does not outsource. – sadly this is not the case for many Labour authorities.

 

Cuts mean it’s hard to deal with problems like homelessness.

But the gang of Tories from the backwoods and chocolate box villages who run Suffolk County Council have hived off everything they possibly can and helped make things that but worse.

Result?

Read Pilgrim’s article.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 11, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Suffolk Libraries – a Key Resource for the Unemployed – Face Cuts.

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Image result for libraries under threat protests

Libraries are a key resource for the unemployed.

We use them to do our Jobsearch (part of the 35 hours we have to carry out as part of our ‘Jobseekers Agreement’.

We use their Internet services (where they are available) to write CVs, to upload CVs, apply for jobs and look around the web for posts.

We use them for books on how to do this, and for help from staff about the best way to do it.

This resource is under threat.

Libraries lose a quarter of staff as hundreds close. BBC.

Almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries have disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total, an investigation by the BBC has revealed.

Over the same period, some 15,500 volunteers have been recruited and 343 libraries have closed, leading to fears over the future of the profession.

Children’s author Alan Gibbons said the public library service faced the “greatest crisis in its history”.

The government said it funded the roll-out of wi-fi to help libraries adapt.

The BBC has compiled data from 207 authorities responsible for running libraries through the Freedom of Information Act. Our analysis shows:

  • Some 343 libraries closed. Of those, 132 were mobile services, while 207 were based in buildings (and there were four others, such as home delivery services)
  • The number of closures in England is higher than the government’s official estimate of 110 buildings shut
  • A further 111 closures are planned this year
  • The number of paid staff in libraries fell from 31,977 in 2010 to 24,044 now, a drop of 7,933 (25%) for the 182 library authorities that provided comparable data
  • A further 174 libraries have been transferred to community groups, while 50 have been handed to external organisations to run. In some areas, such as Lincolnshire and Surrey, the move has led to legal challenges and protests from residents.

Now we have this in Suffolk.

Suffolk Libraries face £230,000 budget cut as bosses call for more public support to save all 44 branches

Anybody who uses Ipswich central Library knows the strain they are already under.

To say the least there are ‘problems’ about the Net service.

How people who rely on smaller libraries manage is hard to tell, it must be hard.

Tory-run Suffolk County Council seems determined to make our lives worse:

Suffolk County Council’s Scrutiny Committee will be discussing the council’s budget proposals on 30 November.

These proposals include a further reduction to the Suffolk Libraries budget of £230,000 for 2017-18. This follows a cut of £350,000 for the current year (2016-2017) which Suffolk Libraries accepted with reluctance.

Alison Wheeler, Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “We recognise that public-sector funding is decreasing, and in response Suffolk Libraries has since 2011, with stringencies and economies, saved more than 30% of the original library budget without affecting local services.”

“In terms of relative cost – for every £1 spent by the Council, less than 1 penny is spent on the library service. The library service actively contributes to several of the county’s key priorities which include support for vulnerable people, raising educational attainment, supporting small businesses and empowering communities.”

“Suffolk Libraries is now in its fifth year of operation and each year it has lived within its means and saved increasing amounts of council tax. This has only been done with the sustained hard work of library staff, help from community groups, local volunteers and support from library customers.”

“With this extraordinary support, we have together ensured that all Suffolk libraries are still open, local library opening hours have been sustained and the services people enjoy, and which we know make a difference to people’s lives, have continued to flourish.”

Tony Brown, Chair of Suffolk Libraries Board added “Over the past year we have made it clear that it would be impossible to make further cuts without having an effect on services. We pledged to work constructively with the council on the longer-term future of the county’s library service and offered them a plan in June in which we suggested ways we could save money over a longer period, and which would allow us to keep library opening hours intact.”

“Five months later, it’s disappointing to see that the council’s budget proposals do not reflect the alternative plans we presented. The larger sums required will almost certainly mean we can’t carry on providing the library service in the same way.”

“However, we are still in discussion about the final sum. People will be consulted on any changes and we will strive to minimise the impact on customers, and ensure that people will still have access to the same wide range of services and activities in their community.”

“Suffolk Libraries’ Board is committed to keeping libraries open and for local services to flourish. The Suffolk community has shown a huge amount of support for local libraries over the past few years, and this has never been more needed, or valued.”

Want to show your support for your library service? Email us at help@suffolklibraries.co.uk, tweet @suffolklibrary or comment on our Facebook page. You can also contact Suffolk County Council.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 23, 2016 at 11:44 am

TUC Demo: People’s Assembly Against Workfare.

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The TUC is holding a march on Saturday.

Supporters of Ipswich Unemployed Action, and DPAC, will be on coaches from our county, to back the demonstration.

Many of us will be there be as part of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity – Suffolk People’s Assembly.

National TUC Demonstration | 18 October 2014

 

Assemble: 11 am, Victoria Embankment, London
March to Hyde Park

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity will be mobilising in support of this mass demonstration called by the TUC. This will be the third demonstration this summer, following our No More Austerity demo on 21 June, which saw 50,000 people take to the streets, and the co-ordinated strike action on July 10, with over 1 million public sector workers on strike (watch the footage from Trafalgar Square here).

Some key reasons for getting involved:

  • Poverty Pay – 1 in 5 people in Britain now earn less than the living wage, and for the first time ever we have more people in work below the poverty line than the number of people unemployed!
  • The Cost of Living Crisis – We are told that we have recovered from the cost of living crisis, but ordinary people are still £40 a week worse off on average than they were 5 years ago. Furthermore, if bankers hadn’t crashed the economy and wages growth had stayed on track, workers would have £100 a week more in their pay packets!
  • Rising Inequality – In 1998, Chief Executives received 45 times the average pay. Now they receive 185 times the average pay. Put in other terms, they make more in a day and a half than what most people earn in 12 months!

There has been controversy over the TUC’s stand on workfare.

This is the People’s Assembly policy (which I moved) on Workfare, passed at the PA National meeting on March the 15th 2014.

  • Conference notes the continuing use of compulsory unpaid work (“Workfare”) and the plans to extend them by use of Community Work Placements from April 2014.Conference believes that Workfare:-
  • Does not address the underlying causes of unemployment.
  • It does not reduce unemployment.
  • It enables employers to take advantage of unpaid labour while cutting pay and employment opportunities for others.
  • Penalises and stigmatises unemployed people and Should not exist. A
  • ll workers be paid the going rate and on the same terms and conditions as other workers.

Conference resolves that: All public bodies, contractors to public bodies, voluntary organisations and charities, as well as all private employers should refuse to accept Workfare placements arranged by Jobcentre Plus or the Work Programme providers.

  • All supporters of the People’s Assembly should take steps to establish whether or not Workfare placements are being used by organisations they are involved in and take steps to end such placements.
  • There should be an independent investigation into the Welfare-to-Work industry.Benefit claimants should receive a decent level of benefits, proper training and the best opportunities, without compulsion, to look for paid employment.
  • The People’s Assembly should campaign against Workfare.”

Passed unanimously.

Name and Shame Workfare Exploiters!

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Refuted carried this information yesterday,

Court orders DWP to name and shame workfare exploiters

View full decision: “The DECISION of the Upper Tribunal is to dismiss the [DWP] appeals” https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bwd25z9g2tFPNzZfbVdQSFRZM3JwZzVwX1hDS01Kc0R0V05z/edit?pli=1 (download as a PDF) and the full history of one of the FOI request’s of 25 January 2012, concerning the names of Mandatory Work Activity placement hosts. This tribunal decision concerned DWP appeals against three ICO decision notices (FS50438037,FS50438502 and FS50441818) all requiring the DWP to name workfare placement hosts.

Above via https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/successful_bidders

On the 15th of July we carried this on the notorious SEETEC (which ‘delivers’ workfare in the Eastern Region, including Ipswich).

We are interested in approaches from all organisations which feel may be able to offer project or placement opportunities. We have expert supervisors in place to manage and run projects but we are also happy to discuss existing projects which have supervisors already in place.

Of particular interest are opportunities which exist within Local councils and Housing Providers to increase numbers on existing projects or to create new projects of benefit to their residents and the local area they serve.

Examples of such projects include estate maintenance and local renovation, groundswork, horticulture, recycling as well as administration, customer service and sales, warehousing, distribution and cleaning services. The list of potential projects is almost endless.
If you are interested in working with Seetec to develop innovative and engaging ideas for the delivery of CWP please e-mail in the first instance to: bizdev@seeetec.co.uk or call Peter Walkerley, Business Development and Partnership Manager on: 01702 201070 Ext. 8262.

Alternatively, if you would like to offer support in the form of venues, projects or placements please call Seetec on freephone: 0800 65 25 414.

Who are the exploiters SEETEC operates with?

We want to know!

Update.

Meanwhile Boycott Workfare has its own list of workfare exploiters here.

Food Banks: Ipswich.

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A food bank charity says it has handed out 913,000 food parcels in the last year, up from 347,000 the year before.

The Trussell Trust said a third were given to repeat visitors but that there was a “shocking” 51% rise in clients to established food banks. It said benefit payment delays were the main cause.

In a letter to ministers, more than 500 clergy say the increase is “terrible”.

The government said there was no evidence of a link between welfare reforms and the use of food banks.

However, the Trussell Trust, the largest food bank provider in the UK, said benefits payments had been a particular problem since welfare changes were introduced just over a year ago.

Some 83% of food banks reported that benefits sanctions – when payments are temporarily stopped – had resulted in more people being referred for emergency food.

The second biggest reason, given by 20% of food bank users, was low income.

“In the last year, we’ve seen things get worse, rather than better, for many people on low incomes,” said Chris Mould, chairman of the Trussell Trust.

This is the Ipswich Foodbank.

Families in need

FIND is a Christian-based registered charity that was founded in 1990 to provide emergency assistance to families or individuals affected by poverty or dispossession. FIND befriends without judging and gives support to those in need. The charity started over 20 years ago by Maureen Reynel MBE has grown to be an essential support mechanism in the local community.

Food Bank

Our food bank fund targets work to establish and distribute food to people in need. This is a key part of the work of FI…

Readers of Ipswich Unemployed Action may be interested to know what this group’s approach is to fighting the cuts which lie behind the rise in Food bank users.

Here it is:

 

FIND Quiz 2014 Flyerda

 

Bless!

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 19, 2014 at 10:15 am

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer (Con): Easter Message on the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

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https://i2.wp.com/www.bengummer.com/cms/uploads/1956a99ea61572c18ef5b1e9d49b1107-cropped-0-56-260-388.jpg/_CG08850.jpg

There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. John 14.2 (New International Version).

“I am grateful to Ipswich Unemployed Action for the opportunity, on this special day, to write a guest post.

There has been much talk of the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

In reality this is a much needed structural adjustment allocation relocation of spare space subsidy measure.

As I said to the East Anglian Daily Times, on March the 20th,

The government is right to insist that local councils sort our benefits for local council taxes.

Suffolk County Council has taken the opportunity to improve the benefits it provides; I am only sad that – once again – the Borough has chosen to be political rather than imaginative about what it does.

Other councils – including Labour ones – elsewhere in the country are coming up with better solutions to helping vulnerable people.

“And on spare bedrooms – most people just do not understand why Housing Benefit is being paid for empty rooms which are desperately needed by families across Ipswich.

My Government is helping vulnerable people find new homes in the doorways of Ipswich shops all the time.

On this, the holiest time of the year, should we not think of the poor?

Beati pauperes spiritu!

Blessed are the poor! May they increase!!”

Written by Andrew Coates

March 29, 2013 at 10:39 am