Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Tories

Johnson, Corruption and Claimants.

Newspaper headlines: Sleaze rules 'torn up' by 'shameless' Tory MPs - BBC  News

Tory Corruption.

You can’t ignore the events in Parliament over the last few days.

On this Blog we talk about the problems we have as claimants, or (in my case, finally, getting Pension Credit). The stand out fact is that people in that position have not much money – even when working we are not going to get well paid jobs – and all the problems that creates. When looking at the kind of cash some people have it’s hard, if not impossible, to get a grip of the kind of income some get. I would not want a town house in Knightsbridge, private jet and helicopter flights, a country mansion, or wih to eat a gold plated steak (£850 to £1,500.) at Salt Bea’s restaurant. But it’s hard to see why people should get that kind of money when others rely on Food Banks.

It’s hard to see how you get this money through ordinary work.

Then there is the political angle.

This case stands out. The gang running this government seem to have got themselves into trouble over how they enrich themselves.

This was in the ‘I’ (strongly recommended as a daily paper) yesterday.

The Owen Paterson scandal shows how corrupt our political class already is.

Patrick Cockburn.

People in the UK often fail to see the seriousness of this deteriorating situation because mealy-mouthed words and phrases such as “lobbying”, “sleaze” and “egregious cases of paid advocacy” are used. But when these activities come together they create a toxic system in which it is only the companies that invest heavily in acquiring the services of powerful politicians and civil servants who will win the big contracts and plug into government subsidies.

In the wake of the Paterson furore, much of the commentary is about Boris Johnson’s misjudgements, and there is a reinforcement of the feeling that his government is full of dodgy people doing dodgy things. Parallels are drawn with the Tory sleaze scandals of the 1990s or the parliamentary expenses scandal of 2008. But these analogies miss the point, because in both cases the amount of money involved was trivial compared to the vast sums that the politically powerful can now hope to gain.

Paterson’s overall earnings were about £100,000 a year as a consultant to two companies, which may not sound enormous, but Randox Laboratories was paying him £8,333 for 16 hours’ work a month, or about £500 an hour according to the Commons standards committee report. Lynn’s Country Foods, a processor, was paying him £2,000 for just four hours work every other month, which is about the same rate of hourly pay.

….

Honesty and dishonesty are more of a matter of habit than people care to admit. The spread of corruption is turbocharged if the fortunes to be made are large and the risk of punishment low. But the lesson of Russia, Ukraine and a host of other states in the world is that once a political class becomes corrupt, there is no way back because its members will leap to defend their own, in case they should be next in line for detection and punishment. This may not have happened yet in the UK, but, as we saw this week, it is not for lack of trying.

You do not have to look to the former Eastern bloc to see how this can happen. As a French speaker over the years I have seen many affaires involving bent politicians, the most recent involving former President Nicolas Sarkozy: Sarkozy: Former French president sentenced to jail for corruption (May 2021) (he got a suspended sentence).

This is even better known in Spain, “The Gürtel case began with one Madrid mogul. Over the next decade, it grew into the biggest corruption investigation in Spain’s recent history, sweeping up hundreds of corrupt politicians and businessmen – and shattering its political system. (Guardian Sam Edwards 2019). Spanish people got so fed up with this that some (often from the protesters who went on to support the radical left Podemos) called the politicians ‘la casta politica’, the political caste, which ruled, they considered, in its own class interests.

Now we have this: Ex-British PM calls actions of Johnson’s government “politically corrupt”

LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) – Former British Prime Minister John Major on Saturday attacked fellow Conservative Boris Johnson’s handling of a corruption row, saying the government’s behaviour was arrogant, broke the law and was “politically corrupt”.

Johnson was forced to make a U-turn after he abandoned plans pushed through parliament to protect a lawmaker found to have broken lobbying rules.

This:

Image

This sums up the government’s policies more broadly:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Posted in DWP, Tories

Tagged with ,

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries,”Nobody” to be Pushed into Poverty by Slashing Universal Credit.

Universal Credit cut will not drag a single person into poverty.”

With the rise in the cost of gas and the expected increase in food prices most people on low incomes and benefits are worried. Slashing Universal Credit will not help, to say the least.

Hearing about this from people I wondered if this will help everybody, “Support with essential costs. You can contact your local council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund, including food or essential things like clothes. Check your local council on GOV.UK.”

Just guessing, but apart from those in dire straits and, above all, families, it is hard to see that applying to our contributors.

I imagine this may well offer something, judging from the queue of homeless people outside the nearby 7th Day Adventist Church on a Sunday waiting for food distribution:

Food bank vouchers. If you can’t afford the food you can ask for a referral from Citizens Advice or an organisation that’s already supporting you – for example, a charity, school or children’s centre – for a food bank voucher.

The Government itself says that everybody will be helped by getting work, with some push up from various schemes, like the “life-time skills guarantee.”

One Minister who could do with skills training in how to communicate with ordinary people has had her say on the Universal Credit cut.

Tory Nadine Dorries claims Universal Credit cut won’t push ANYONE into poverty.

Mirror.

 Tory minister has been accused of not living in the real world after she claimed the Universal Credit cut will not drag a single person into poverty.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries boasted “nobody” will be driven below the poverty line when a £20-a-week Covid uplift in place since March 2020 is withdrawn from this week.

That is despite think tanks putting the worst-case estimate at around 500,000 to 800,000 people.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has said the cut risks moving 500,000 people including 200,000 children below the poverty line.

While the Legatum Institute think tank, led by Tory UC architect Baroness Stroud, says the change will hit 840,000 Brits who are currently just above the poverty line – including 290,000 children.

But ministers have no official figure for how many people will be thrown into poverty because they’ve refused to do a formal impact assessment.

And questioned by left-wing journalist Owen Jones at the Tory conference, Ms Dorries said: “Nobody. Nobody is.

Because what we’re doing, what we’re doing is giving people a step out.

“By lifetime skills guarantee, by all the money being invested in the…” – she then walked away with an aide.

****

Some people think that Nadine Dorries is one of Boris Johnson’s famously unfunny jokes and probably only exists as a hologram borrowed from GB News…

But the scheme is a very real.

Bootcamps for Skills:

“An estimated 11 million adults now have the opportunity to gain a new qualification for free, designed to help them to gain in-demand skills and secure great jobs.

Almost 400 qualifications are available to take from today (1 April) – backed by £95 million in government funding in 2021/22 – as part of the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

The qualifications on offer range from engineering to social care to conservation and are available to any adult who has not already achieved a qualification at Level 3 (equivalent to A-levels).

The roll out marks a major milestone in the delivery of the landmark Lifetime Skills Guarantee – announced by the Prime Minister in September 2020. The Guarantee aims to transform the skills system so everyone, no matter where they live or their background, can gain the skills they need to progress in work at any stage of their lives. It will also ensure employers have access to the skilled workforce they need, and more people are trained for the skills gaps that exist now, and in the future.

Adults who take up the free courses have the potential to boost career prospects, wages and help fill skills gaps, while supporting the economy and building back better.

For example, with a Diploma in Engineering Technology adults can progress to roles in Maintenance or Manufacturing Engineering. A Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation or a qualification in Adult Care can also provide a gateway to sectors offering rewarding careers and where there are multiple job opportunities.

So more unemployed people can take full advantage of these courses, the government will pilot an extension to the length of time they can receive Universal Credit while undertaking work-focused study.

They will now be able to train full time for up to 12 weeks, or up to 16 weeks on a full time skills bootcamp in England, while receiving Universal Credit to support their living costs This will allow access to more training options and provide a better chance of finding work, while continuing to receive the support they need.”

Let us know if you have experience of this “bootcamp”.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2021 at 9:35 am

Universal Credit Cut: Real Issues are Low Benefits and Failing Social Security System.

No Cuts To Universal Credit

 

 

This was the alt-right reaction:

 

Universal credit: MPs urge PM to keep £20 benefit ‘lifeline’

BBC,

MPs have urged Boris Johnson to extend benefit increases worth £20 a week.

A non-binding Labour motion calling for the universal credit top-up to be kept in place beyond 31 March passed by 278 votes to none after a Commons debate.

Six Tory MPs defied party orders to abstain and voted with Labour, adding to the pressure on the PM on the issue.

 

 

The prime minister said the government had provided £280bn worth of support during the pandemic but all measures would be kept under “constant review”.

The motion, which will not automatically lead to a change in policy, was put forward by Labour as a way to put additional pressure on the government to continue the increase, worth £1,000 a year.

The Treasury is considering a partial climbdown over plans to end the boost to universal credit amid pressure from the work and pensions secretary, Thérèse Coffey, and after six Conservative MPs defied a call to abstain on a non-binding vote in the Commons.

Boris Johnson also hinted at a rethink over the £20-a-week uplift, which is due to end in April, saying the government wanted to ensure “people don’t suffer as a result of the economic consequences of the pandemic”.

The welfare minister, Will Quince, said a decision would be made closer to the 3 March budget because of the uncertain economic outlook. But the Institute for Fiscal Studies

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2021 at 10:41 am

Universal Credit: Inside the Welfare State. Hats off to the BBC!

The BBC documentary on Universal Credit showed a side of life a lot people know about, and yet some do not.

I thought it was a fine investigation.

The investigation showed ordinary people, people you could know, grappling with a system that, for many, makes their lives worse.

Debt, on the pitiful level of benefits, is a major problem.

They programme makers could have showed a lot worse…..

They did run the smug, no doubt richly rewarded,  git at the DWP head office who thinks that UC is the shining future…

Hats off to the BBC for Universal Credit: Inside The Welfare State

The thread in the programme last night that struck me was how hard it is to juggle working on a zero hour contract and any kind of decent life.

Universal Credit clearly did not help.

This is how some people saw it,

Bolton News.

Viewers hit out at Universal Credit ‘vultures’ after BBC show centres on Bolton

VIEWERS of a BBC show have hit out at the government after an episode set in Bolton showed people struggling to deal with the Universal Credit system.

The final episode of Universal Credit: Inside the Welfare State was aired last night and showed two struggling women, Jenny and Paula, who are trying to navigate the new rules around benefits.

20 year-old Jenny finds a waitressing job which appeals to her. However, she quickly realises that the zero-hour contract makes her shift pattern unpredictable.

As Universal Credit is paid a month in arrears it can leave her with very little to live off and confused about how much money she will get on a monthly basis.

Paula takes advantage of an advanced payment system to get her money earlier. But, she is not used to receiving this amount of money in one payment, and spends much of it quickly leaving her struggling to survive on what’s left.

The show drew a strong reaction from viewers and many were angry at the way the system works.

Twitter user MidBoss wrote: “Saw trending, was reminded that the vultures at DWP once tried to sanction me for attending a doctor’s appointment to alleviate a serious health concern.

“Meanwhile, the landed gentry sleep in the House of Lords and get paid to do so.”

Others had even more difficult battles with the system.

One Twitter user wrote: “I was unemployed for 5 years on JSA under the job centre’s boot, do you have any idea how it feels to be rejected for every single job interview for 5 years without feedback?

“I was close to suicide before I got into university, lucky really.”

Another Twitter user Sean Michael said: “A huge portion of people on UC are hard working people who want to do the most they can.”

Mirror:

People were disgusted at the problems in Universal Credit where claimants end up in debt, in the last episode of BBC show Inside the Welfare State.

Twitter user Martyn G said: “Just watching the BBC programme on Universal Credit and these Middle Class Morons who have been running the DWP have been hiding their fat heads in the sand with regards to the Delay in payments having a direct effect on hardship and foodbank use!”

Amongst many comments this stands out:

Twitter user Thomas Hemingford said: “With Universal Credit and work, the system leaves people constantly chasing their tails, not knowing if they’ll have money for bills. It’s no way to live, you can’t plan, and you can’t build a life like that.”

And then later: “Universal Credit crushes people. It causes severe anxiety and mental health problems. Not just amongst adults, but children, too. It pushes people into a debt spiral. That does not help anyone.”

One viewer tweeted that they had worked in finance and analysis for 21 years before they “became unable to work” and went onto Universal Credit after moving towns.

They said they “keep meticulous budgeting spreadsheets for myself and even I came unstuck during the 5-week wait”.

This is Coffey’s latest Tweet..

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 19, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Over a million households on Universal Credit having benefits cut to repay debts and loans.

How much can be taken from Universal Credit payments? There is an overall maximum percentage rate for all debts and deductions that can be taken from a Universal Credit payment. The maximum amount that can be deducted is an amount equivalent to 30% of the claimant’s Universal Credit standard allowance.

It’s, odd as it seems, an improvement on the previous rate which was 40%.

The new rate came in this October,

The changes mean, from this month, the maximum amount that can be taken out of Universal Credit payments will fall from 40% to 30%.

This means if you’re currently affected by the 40% rate, you will start to see more money coming in every month.

Deductions can be taken out of a person’s Universal Credit entitlement for various reasons, including sanctions and for recovering debts such as arrears on rent and fuel bills.

Universal Credit changes coming into force this month – how they will affect you (Mirror)

But thirty percent is still very stiff, when you realise that the full rate of payment is already the bare minimum to live on.

Hence this story in the Observer.

Million universal credit households ‘do not get full entitlement’

Deductions to cover loans are forcing many to turn to food banks.

More than a million households on universal credit – 60% of everyone receiving the payments –are having their benefits cut to repay debts and loans.

Data sourced under the Freedom of Information Act show that in May – the most recent month for which figures are available – 1,048,000 universal credit claimants had a deduction of their benefit payment out of 1,759,000 claimants who received any universal credit payment that month.

The figures exclude deductions for fraud and sanctions. Nearly a third of all people on the troubled welfare scheme are having more than a fifth of their payment cut, often to repay loans that some claimants received to tide them over during the five-week wait for their first payment to arrive.

Charlotte Hughes, an anti-austerity campaigner who provides support and advice to benefit recipients, said universal credit deductions come up as an issue in her work every day. “Everyone is being hit by deductions in one way, shape or form. I don’t know anybody that actually receives the full amount of money that they’re supposed to get.”

She added that many claimants were having to use food banks as a result. “Your health suffers, your housing situation suffers, you can’t eat properly, you worry, you stress. It’s just never-ending.”

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Our evidence shows many people on universal credit are struggling to make ends meet, and that deductions are contributing to this.” She said the government should introduce affordability tests when recouping debts from claimants.

The story continues,

A separate freedom of information request shows that universal credit claimants who are having their benefits deducted to repay debts and loans owe an average of £903. About 570,000 households owe more than £1,000, including 80,000 people owing more than £5,000.

The largest deductions are often due to overpaid tax credits, incurred when claimants earned more than expected under the existing tax credit system. Many of these debts date back many years.

Minutes of a meeting of welfare rights advisers in October 2018 show that Neil Couling, the head of the universal credit programme, “admitted that the government over the last 18 months has demanded a push to recover old debt and has provided UC with extra funds to do this”.

There is plenty of scope for the DWP’s famous ability to get things wrong.

Sarah, from Lancashire, is one claimant affected by this “push”. Unable to work for health reasons, she lives with her partner and daughter. The government has been deducting more than £100 a month from her universal credit payment, mostly to repay tax credit overpayments dating back to 2009. The level of the deduction changes each month, as does the amount of benefit she receives, making it impossible for her to budget.

“If I owe money I’ll pay it back,” she said. “I have no qualms about paying money back that I owe. But my argument is, ‘Why are they taking such a big chunk of my money?’ Over £150 some months – that’s a lot of money. That’s like two weeks’ worth of shopping, that they’re taking off me and we are running out of food.”

She started claiming universal credit in 2017 after leaving full-time work to become a part-time paid carer for her uncle. A car accident and subsequent diagnosis with osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia forced her out of paid work altogether.

The deductions are forcing her to borrow from her family. “We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. We get our money today, we get our food shopping, we always make sure our bills and everything are paid first, and then we pay back whoever we owe. So we end up with no money left.”

On top of her tax credit debts, she is also having £50 a month deducted for a loan that she never borrowed. After the Observer spoke to the Department for Work and Pensions about Sarah’s case, it accepted that the loan deduction was a mistake and pledged a refund, while agreeing to discuss recovering the tax credit debts at a more affordable rate.

In the meantime DWP MInister  Thérèse Coffey re-tweeted this happy little note;

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2019 at 10:27 am