Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Universal Credit

Benefit Sanctions Return.

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Labour condemns move to restore claimant conditionality rules as ‘incomprehensible’

The Guardian reports,

The work and pensions secretary, Thérèse Coffey, has indicated benefit sanctions will be reintroduced this week as jobcentres in England start to reopen after lockdown, saying it is important claimant rules are reinstated.

Face-to-face meetings in jobcentres were suspended in March, and with them the system of “claimant conditionality” – a set of rules that require people to agree to carry out job search activities as a condition of claiming benefits.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Coffey refused to extend the arrangements after the three-month period finished on Tuesday. “It’s important that as the jobcentres fully reopen this week, we do reinstate the need for having a claimant commitment,” she said.

In the New Statesman Stephen Bush writes,

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

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.

The academic evidence on sanctions is that they don’t work, which led the work and pensions select committee, then-chaired by Frank Field, to declare them “pointlessly cruel” in 2018. The counter-argument in government circles is that the story of the last decade has been record employment growth – and that without the changes to unemployment and in-work benefits, including sanctions, that job growth wouldn’t have happened.

More reactions:

Here is another report, from the Mirror,

Written by Andrew Coates

June 30, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Equal Benefits for Claimants! Raise Legacy Benefits in Line with Universal Credit Rates!

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Under the hood: what Universal Credit means for Council Tax ...

Around £20 a Week Less for Single ‘Legacy Benefit’ Claimants, “The DWP has blamed operational difficulties for the disparity.”

As our contributors raise concerns about the re-opening of Jobcentres for signing on, and the resumption of the fortnightly proof of ‘job search’ or the daily Diary record for Work Coaches,this issue still rankles.

 

This week Civil Service News carried the following story.

A new report by the Work and Pensions Committee says the pandemic is leaving “huge numbers” of people “struggling to cover the cost of essentials.

The government has already raised Universal Credit and working tax credit payments by £20 a week for 12 months.

But the committee warns that those on benefits that have not yet been replaced by Universal Credit — including jobseekers’ allowance, employment support allowance and child tax credits — have not received the same help.

The cross-party group says it is “unacceptable that people have been left facing hardship through no fault of their own, simply because of the outdated and complex way in which so-called legacy benefits are administered”.

And they call on the DWP to increase rates for legacy benefits by an equivalent amount, with the payment backdated to April.

It continues,

Committee chairman Stephen Timms said: “DWP’s frontline staff have worked hard to get support to millions of people. Without their actions, the impact of the pandemic could have been much worse.

“But the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in a social security system which at times is too inflexible and slow to adapt to support people in times of crisis.”

He added: “The focus has mostly been on the unprecedented numbers of new claims for Universal Credit. But in the background, people on legacy benefits – including disabled people, carers and people with young families – have slipped down the list of priorities.

“It’s now time for the government to redress that balance and increase legacy benefits too. It’s simply not right for people to miss out on support just because they happen, through no fault of their own, to be claiming the ‘wrong’ kind of benefit.”

The Committee said clearly,

Raise the rates of legacy benefits to support people hit hard by coronavirus pandemic, not just Universal Credit, say MPs

Rates of older benefits must be raised to provide help for millions of people who have not yet moved to Universal Credit and who are struggling to meet the extra inescapable costs imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Work and Pensions Committee says today.

The report on the Department for Work and Pensions’ response to the coronavirus outbreak finds that the pandemic has left huge numbers of people struggling to cover the costs of essentials, with some disabled people in particular hit hard by increased costs of care and rising food prices.

Raise level of pre-Universal Credit benefits – Government must not ‘simply ignore the needs’ of people claiming legacy benefits

  • The Committee heard evidence that coronavirus has increased living costs for disabled people. In a survey of 224 disabled people in April, the Disability Benefits Consortium reported that 95% of people surveyed had experienced a rise in costs for food, utilities and managing their health.
  • While the Government has raised the rates of standard Universal Credit and basic Working Tax Credits by £20 a week for 12 months, people on benefits yet to be replaced by UC, including Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Child Tax Credits, have not been similarly helped, with the DWP blaming operational difficulties for the disparity.
  • The Committee argues that it is unacceptable that people have been left facing hardship through no fault of their own, simply because of the outdated and complex way in which so-called legacy benefits are administered. It calls on the DWP to boost the rates by an equivalent amount to the rise in UC, backdated to April.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 25, 2020 at 9:02 am

Work and Health Programme’s Dire Results and Latest on Universal Credit.

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Pluss launches Work and Health Programme | Pluss

Programme that’s Not Working.

The Work and Health Programme (WHP) aims to provide support to help people find and keep a job. It is
available to the following groups:

  • The Disability group is voluntary for disabled people as defined in the Equality Act 2010. This is the
    main group that the WHP is aimed at.
  • The Early Access group is voluntary and aimed at people who may need additional support to move
    into employment and are in one of a number of priority groups (e.g. homeless, ex-armed forces, care, leavers, refugees).
  • The Long-term unemployed group is mandatory and is for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit claimants who have reached 24 months of unemployment

Disability Rights  noted in 2019,

9 out of 10 of Work and Health Programme participants do not have a job outcome

31 May 2019

9 out of 10 of Work and Health Programme (WHP) participants (88%) have not obtained a ‘job outcome’.

A ‘job outcome’ is work with earning above a threshold of 16 hours per week for 26 weeks at the National Living Wage, London Living Wage or Real Living Wage) or having completed six months in self-employment.

This week’s Private Eye, under the title, “Doleful Result”  carries the story’s latest turns.

They state that 15% of the people who began the welfare to work scheme, the Work and Health Programme from its  start in late 2017 till February 2019 (the latest available figures)  found a job.  That is “at least six months of self-employment of employment of 16 hours a week at, at least, the minimum wage.

They conclude, “Around two-thirds of participants haven’t earned a penny within a  year of joining the scheme, and half never do.”

This is from the latest DWP statement and  figures (next release of statistics in August 2020).

Work and Health Programme statistics to February 2020

The WHP predominantly helps disabled people, as well as the Long-Term Unemployed and the Early Access group (which is made up of certain priority groups) to enter into and stay in work.

People are referred by jobcentres to work with organisations known as providers, from the public, private and voluntary sectors. The providers are paid a service delivery fee as well as outcome-related payments when a person reaches either:

Here are the outcomes:

Since the WHP began there have been:

  • 166,160 referrals for 138,330 individuals
  • 103,300 starts
  • 13,710 job outcomes

Note: those starting more recently have had shorter time to achieve a job outcome, therefore it is not meaningful to divide the number of job outcomes by the number of starts or referrals.

Note how low the job outcomes look in this table:

Another statistic:

69% of all individuals referred by August 2019 have started the programme, and of these, so far 15% have reached the job outcomes earnings threshold or 6 months of being in self-employment by February 2020.

If you wish to, you can read the list of failure in the rest of the document.

Meanwhile the Civil Service News reports,

The Department for Work and Pensions is facing calls to give an “urgent lifeline” to recipients of Universal Credit, after a study found six in ten families claiming the benefir have been forced to borrow money since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

The latest study from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Save The Children found families have been increasingly forced to rely on payday loans or credit cards to ensure they can afford food and pay bills during the pandemic.

It came as the latest official figures released on Monday showed the UK’s “claimant count” – including both those on Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit – had soared to 2.8 million in May.

Don’t forget!

More on the reports:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 18, 2020 at 3:45 pm

Universal Credit Claims Double in Two Months.

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How we design content for the Universal Credit digital service ...

Online Only.

The Mirror has just reported.

3million people have now made a Universal Credit claim since coronavirus hit

Total claims between March 16 and June 2 are 2,976,140 individuals, in 2.3million households.

The milestone suggests the number of people on the six-in-one benefit has almost doubled in just a few months.

In mid-February there were 2.6million households on Universal Credit as part of a decade-long rollout set to last until 2024.

But the number of people being forced onto the welfare state for the first time has soared amid the pandemic.

Not all those who put in a claim will receive money under UC.

The Mirror revealed that of the first 800,000 post-coronavirus UC claims in late March, 264,000 had not yet resulted in a payment.

Of those, half had an award of £0 in their first month due to their earnings being deemed too high. The other half were either deemed ineligible for Universal Credit or withdrew their claim.

DWP officials insisted large numbers of those people will have joined other government support packages like the furlough scheme.

Not to mention:

And,

And,

‘Legacy Benefit’ payments have still not been upgraded to include the extra £20 a week that Universal Credit claimants get (if they get it). 

The scandal of this discrimination against the poor continues to fester.

Our contributors have commented that Job Search on Universal Credit or the much lower ‘legacy benefit’ JSA, is hard.

But those kind folks at the DWP think of everything:

Looking for work? jobhelp is a good place to start.

Despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, there are still jobs out there to apply to. We’re here to help you get started.

In the meantime this rumour is rife:

 

Government Prepares for Big Rise in Unemployment; Plans to Double Work ‘Coach’ Numbers.

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Working with your Work Coach (Universal Credit full service) - YouTube

More Work ‘Coaches…’

DWP draws up plans to double the number of work coaches for Universal Credit

The Mirror seems to be the first with this news.

Congratulations to them!

The government is braced for a rise in unemployment and millions more on benefits due to the economic fallout of Covid-19.

Benefit chiefs have drawn up plans to double the number of frontline staff working on Universal Credit.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is looking at several “scenarios” to grapple with a longer-term rise in unemployment from the pandemic.

One of those would be to double the current 13,500 ‘work coaches’ – a staff member assigned to help claimants find work.

Revealing the plans today, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said “hopefully” the economy will “bounce back”.

But she told the Lords Economic Affairs Committee: “We do anticipate the interactions with Universal Credit claimants may be somewhat different from an era where we’ve had very low levels of unemployment.”

Background: The economics of Universal Credit

This was a “virtual meeting”, as listed here.

Another report:

More on Politics Home:

Government ‘may need to double’ part of DWP workforce to deal with coronavirus fallout

The Mirror continues:

She said the recruitment “recognises the larger number of people who will need our services” in the “wider labour market”.

She added it will reflect the “changing situation we have for our economy as a consequence of the recent coronavirus public health emergency.”

Universal Credit director-general Neil Couling told peers he is already “actively recruiting” 2,500 new work coaches, but it is “highly dependent on the volumes we will have to face.”

Double Plus Congratulations to the Mirror for this item:

Universal Credit was boosted by £20 a week from April 2020 to March 2021 in a helping hand to those hit by coronavirus.

This week the government’s Social Security Advisory Committee demanded the same boost is handed to more than 2million people on ‘legacy’ benefits – most of them sick or disabled.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 2, 2020 at 7:02 pm