Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Suffolk

New Threats to Claimants and Public Services.

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The reality of the recent cut to benefits – that is for those who got the Top Up, which did not include Legacy Claimants – is sinking in.

One thing that strikes you, and it is a long time since this writer was under 25, is the pitance single young people have to live on: £321.84 a month. You can easily pay £70 a month in gas and electricity alone (Flat). In fact that’s around what I pay. It’s a hefty chunk of any low income. My Bill, like everybody else’s, is set to rise.

Then here is this:

What is now worrying local councils is this:

Budget 2021: Local services face cuts as Sunak’s Spending Review delivers real-terms fall in council funding.

The ‘I’.

Council services such as social carebin collection, sport centres and road repairs are likely to be cut following real-term reductions in funding to councils in Rishi Sunak’s Spending Review, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) will warn.

Analysis by the IFS shows that despite sharp rises in household council tax bills and £4.8bn of new grant funding for local authorities up until 2025, any additional revenue will be wiped out by rising costs, and councils will be forced to slash at least some essential services.

The IFS found that the expected average rise in council tax bills across all councils equates to 2.8 per cent increase each year until 2025. With the average council tax bill currently about £1,428, three consecutive years of rises would mean the average household would pay £39.92 more from next April, and £123.13 more from April 2024 than they paid this year.

These are the kind of things that do not register with people, until they are affected. Things at risk include very visible services libraries and the Citizen’s Advice bureau (in Suffolk a couple of years ago the Health Trust had to step in when the Tory Council Council halved their funding for them, except that kind of thing to happen again).

For all the claims to back public transport a look at the reality shows the reality:

Councils reacted with anger, warning that unless local authorities increase council tax bills by 3 per cent – thereby forcing a referendum in which local residents will vote on the rise – then services are likely to be cut.

Sam Chapman-Allen, chairman of the District Councils Network and Conservative leader of Breckland District Council in Norfolk said: “The Spending Review does not deliver the firm financial foundation district councils need to continue delivering essential frontline services and supporting local economies to grow. 

“We cannot see how the £4.8bn new grant funding announced by the Chancellor will come close to addressing the financial pressures district councils and the rest of local government are under.   

“Councils face a triple whammy of rising inflation, higher wage costs from the lifting of the public sector pay freeze, and continuing pressures from the impact of Covid. This leaves councils with an unpalatable choice between increasing council tax for hard-pressed local residents or cutting services that every local resident and business relies on.”

Don’t forget that people on benefits will begin again to pay Council Tax Relief/Reduction next year, which in some parts of the country is already unfairly high.

Still somebody’s happy:

Halloween Day FINAL.jpg

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2021 at 6:15 pm

Thérèse ‘Karaoke’ Coffey Hits the Headlines.

Thérèse Coffey Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions Celebrating a Few Hours After Universal Credit Cut.

In an unusual move the East Anglian Daily Times (a fine local paper but one which will rarely criticise Suffolk MPs) carries this story about the MP for Suffolk Coastal. This Blog could add that while Coffey is known for a love of a good lunch, fine eating and dining, as well as cigars, her dancing and singing act has yet to be seen – correct me if I am wrong – in Suffolk pubs and restaurants.

Therese Coffey criticised for karaoke video after benefits cut

A Suffolk MP has been criticised for singing a karaoke version of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life as a controversial cut to Universal Credit came into place.

Therese Coffey, the Suffolk Coastal MP and work and pensions secretary, performed a rendition of the power ballad with fellow Tory minister and Colchester MP Will Quince at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has been criticised for singing (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life as she cuts universal credit payments. Ms Coffey belted out a rendition of the power ballad with fellow Tory minister Will Quince at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester in the early hours of Wednesday. Labour called the timing of her karaoke performance of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, as she removes the £20 uplift to universal credit for millions of people, “an insult and a disgrace

Today the paper has this story, one that our contributors know all too well.

I’m being made to feel like I shouldn’t have had a child’: Suffolk residents share impact of Universal Credit cut.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 7, 2021 at 9:33 am

Local Impact of £20 a Week Universal Credit Cut: Ipswich Onwards…

No Cuts To Universal Credit | Megaphone UK

Yesterday East Anglia Bylines carried this story:

Universal Credit cuts threaten Tory MPs in the East

Stephen McNair

Extracts.

The government’s planned cuts to Universal Credit will hit one family in five in East Anglia. Will the region’s Conservative MPs dare to back the Chancellor’s plan?

What about East Anglia?

In East Anglia 320,000 families receive Universal Credit, more than half of them with children. Forty percent of these claimants are in work, but not earning enough to meet the minimum needs for basic living. In every constituency more than 10% of families are on Universal Credit, and that percentage rises to over 25% in five of them (see table below). So the blow is going to be felt right across the region.

Will our region’s Conservative MP’s back the cut?

Thirty nine of the region’s 41 MPs are Conservatives, and the Party has traditionally been opposed to generous welfare benefits of any kind. However twelve of the region’s Conservative MPs have majorities smaller than the number of Credit claimants.  At the extreme, in Peterborough Paul Bristow MP has a majority of only 2,580, but 18,360 voters on Universal Credit.

So the Universal Credit cut is a real threat to at least ten of the region’s MPs, especially in Peterborough, Ipswich and Norwich North, where the Conservatives hold the seat with narrow majorities.  

Note, one would hope so, but people in working class Peterborough have already voted for those opposed to their own interests.

In Waveney, Peter Aldous has already written to the Prime Minister calling for the cut to be cancelled.  It will be interesting to see how large a rebellion there will be on the government benches when the issue comes to Parliament. Will our MPs be prepared to inflict cuts on such a large proportion of their own constituents, or will they swallow their traditional principles, and vote to block this cut?

Note, it is to be very much doubted that (many?) others will follow, though some might. The hard right Ipswich Tory MP Tom Hunt is more obsessed with fighting ‘cultural Marxism’ than standing up for constituents on Universal Credit.

One can hardly avoid mentioning that the MP for Suffolk Coastal, which adjoins Ipswich is this figure is the DWP Minister carrying out the brutal cuts…

Where will the cuts bite hardest?

The constituencies most affected are listed here. All are held by Conservatives (we highlight one..)

ConstituencyCountyMP2019 MajorityFamilies on universal credit or working tax creditsPercentage of families on universal credit or working tax credits
IpswichSuffolkTom Hunt5,47912,20024.3%

Yesterday the Ipswich Star published this:

‘Massive impact’ as 58,000 people to lose £20 a week in benefits

Citizens Advice has found itself helping many more younger people during the pandemic, with Mrs Harrison saying the “jobs they were in are no longer there”.

She has argued that a “delay would be ideal – especially to try to get over the winter period”.

Waveney (Note, this includes Lowestoft which has a large working class and some very poor areas) MP Peter Aldous is one of those calling for the £20 a week uplift to be made permanent.

Today, local press is doing its job.

‘Forced to live off £8.30 a day’ – man’s fear at impending benefit cut.

The princely sum of £8.30 might buy you a cinema ticket, a meal for one at a restaurant or a couple of ready meals from the supermarket.

But one Universal Credit claimant from Suffolk is facing up to the harsh reality of a life where that will be his daily budget – as he braces himself for a £20 a week cut to his benefits.

The claimant, a young autistic adult with chronic fatigue syndrome, was an electrician before the pandemic and lost his job in a kitchen as the Covid crisis started.

Since then, the man – who has asked us not to use his name – said he has been “struggling on the benefit system”.

This is a familiar story to our readers,

He says this is “barely enough as it is” – but with the government set to remove the uplift on October 6, the claimant is now asking: “How do they expect everyone to survive?”

“It will cause devastation to so many families across the UK,” said the man, who is one of 58,069 people in the county claiming Universal Credit.

“I can barely afford the things I need with the £20 uplift.

The details makes it worse.

When it gets reduced, people will be forced to live off of £8.30 a day, roughly. This is disgusting and cannot be allowed to happen.”

The claimant also argues the the DWP’s removal of the uplift contradicts letters he has had from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), which warn of the continuing dangers of Covid-19.

“How on one side can the DWP cut off financial support to the most vulnerable people in our society, with the excuse of ‘this was only a temporary increase because of the coronavirus pandemic’, and then on the same day the DHSC can send me a letter saying that Covid-19 remains a threat?.

“So the DWP is saying we don’t need to provide you extra financial support, but the DHSC is saying that the virus remains a threat? It is so ignorantly stupid and a contradiction.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is very much still happening. Those who are vulnerable and disabled in our society still do not feel safe to return to normal.

“The DWP cannot be allowed to get away with this.”

Hats off to the Ipswich Star and the East Anglian Daily Times for the report.

This story can be reproduced across the country, and it is not hard to imagine our contributors having worse experiences of living on existing benefits. Not hard because many have written about it.

There are of course those on Legacy Benefits who never got the uplift.

UK Government urged to scrap plans to axe £20 Universal Credit increase.

ITV.

Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have called on the UK Government to scrap plans to axe the £20 increase to Universal Credit and instead make the higher rate of payment permanent.

In a letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, they branded the change, which is due to come into effect in September, as the “biggest overnight reduction to a basic rate of social security since the modern welfare state began, more than 70 years ago.”

Ministers from Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont raised concerns about the impact the reduction would have on poverty.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 30, 2021 at 5:29 pm

Thérèse Coffey plans to help millions back to work.

DWP MInister Thérèse Coffey on her “Dream Job” and Universal Credit. | Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Coffey: Workers Experienced in Customer Care Can Retrain for New Jobs.

The DWP Minister Thérèse Coffey has stirred up controversy for her latest helpful suggestions.

The Mirror reports,

The government’s welfare chief has prompted fury by suggesting sacked cabin crew can retrain as carers.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey claimed thousands of airline staff made redundant after planes were grounded and international travel ground to a halt in the coronavirus crisis should switch careers.

She told The Spectator: “I want to encourage them to perhaps go into teaching or go to college and to be the people who train the next lot of people who are going to do those jobs.”

She added: “How do we help draw out of them the transferable skills that they have, and that could be working in social care?

“It may not be their dream job for the rest of their lives.

“But it may well be very useful: They get more money coming in than if they’re on benefits and it can also provide something really valuable and rewarding.”

Yet Thérèse Coffey has defenders, well, at least one: the person who wrote the article that’s got people hot under the collar..

How Thérèse Coffey plans to help millions back to work

The Work and Pensions Secretary on unemployment, reshuffles and turning cabin crew into nurses

Writing for the popular Alternative View column, Davidus Toricus Spartacus, in the Spectator Katie Ball, née Bollocks (creator of  the podcast, Women with Balls, note, this is not made up) begins by noting, “Many things have gone wrong for the government over the past few months, but the welfare system has (so far) held up. “

My main task has been making sure that DWP runs effectively. Being in the news would probably be a sign that it wasn’t,’ she says over lunch in The Spectator’s boardroom. ‘I’m a great believer in the DWP being boringly brilliant — or brilliantly boring.’ After just 13 months in the job, she has already lasted longer than her last five predecessors.

We hope a ‘good lunch’ – the MP is much-loved in Suffolk Coastal for her support for local hostelries, sacrificing many hours visiting pubs, inns and ale-houses to support their work for the community – and this good feed put her in more than usual good spirits.

She thinks the social care industry could benefit from workers experienced in customer care such as air hostesses. ‘How do we help draw out of them the transferable skills that they have and that could be working in social care? It may not be their dream job for the rest of their lives. But it may well be very useful: they get more money coming in than if they’re on benefits and it can also provide something really valuable and rewarding so there are those sorts of things where we are going to try and help people think through what it is they can do, even if it is only for the next two to three years.’

She also supports Boris Johnson’s enthusiasm for air hostesses to become nurses. ‘I’m sure other cabin crew as well who are male could make equally good nurses. It’s just whether or not people want that as a complete lifestyle change.

Reflecting on issues that concern us, the well-being of her soul, she said,

As a practising Catholic who has missed mass on a Sunday only six times in her life, Coffey is more relaxed than most politicians when it comes to discussing faith. One of the upsides of lockdown, she says, was online church services: ‘We just basically did a tour of the UK. I’ve become quite fond of St George’s in Taunton, the St Gerard Majella in Bristol — very nice priest there. Northampton Cathedral is pretty good. A church crawl is a bit different to a pub crawl, isn’t it?’

We take this fine distinction on the word of a seasoned  veteran of many a tavern and rustic taproom.

Therese Coffey MP appointed Beer Parliamentarian of the Year after visiting all 118 pubs in her constituency

Will she ever be booted out?

She is the second-longest serving Tory work and pensions secretary, but would need to last until the next election to take first place from Iain Duncan Smith. There’s a rumour she confronted the Prime Minister a few months ago at cabinet about reshuffle reports in the press — he told her she wouldn’t be moved anytime soon. When I mention it, she blushes and won’t get into the details of what was discussed, but she does say rumours of hirings and firings are unhelpful, especially in a department where the lifespan of a Secretary of State is measured in weeks and months.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Unemployment Set for Big Rise as DWP Recruits New Staff.

HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambrige sit and talk with Anife, a newly appointed Work Coach.

Royalty Do Their Bit: Meeting a former claimant who recently joined the DWP as a Work Coach.

Ken reminds us that unemployment is set to rise, a lot.

This is the Guardian article he links to:

New Covid-19 restrictions mean UK unemployment will get much worse

Larry Elliot.

Bank of England forecasts for 7.5% unemployment this winter may have to be revised up considerably.

The clampdown could not have come at a worse time for the chancellor. Rishi Sunak has admitted that unemployment will rise over the coming months but he hoped that temporary cuts in VAT and stamp duty, together with his eat out to help out scheme, would limit the rise in joblessness.

Now the chancellor is coming under pressure to extend the furlough scheme, which has prevented the unemployment rate from rocketing by paying workers to stay at home.

Why?

Gordon Brown, who was in charge the last time Britain faced an economic crisis, used his first keynote speech to a Labour conference in a decade to call on Sunak to come up with a new economic recovery plan within days.

The former prime minister said job prospects were at their worst in 50 years. There were, he added, 2,932 applicants for a single warehouse job in Northumberland, 2,653 applicants for a factory job in Sunderland, 2,154 applicants for an administrative job in Coventry and 15,000 applicants for 10 assembly operative jobs in Birmingham.

The Federation of Small Businesses supported Brown’s call for urgent action. “Many businesses – particularly those at the heart of our night-time economy and events industries – are now seriously fearing for their futures,” said its national chairman, Mike Cherry.

What is going to happen?

As the wage subsidy scheme unwinds, the Bank of England expects unemployment to rise substantially, reaching 7.5% by the end of the year.

That, though, was before the new restrictions were announced. By winter’s end it could now be a lot higher than that.

What is the DWP doing?

Here is an indication:

 

This is coming:

Royalty has already been pitching in to help out.

DWP Boss Thérèse Coffey is doing her best to stimulate the economy (and it’s only a short drive from Ipswich, for those of us with a sturdy MPV with seating for six, and up to date Sat-Nat  to navigate the lonely, bus-free, back lanes and by-ways of Suffolk).

 

One could mention the Kickstart Scheme, but to the readers of this Blog the message below is the important one:

The Covid Pandemic  Denial Maniacs,  whose comments here keep mysteriously vanishing,are no doubt getting ready for a weekend piling up bog rolls, just in case.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

September 23, 2020 at 5:42 pm