Tag Archives: Universal Credit

Pride Comes Before A Fall: Problems With Universal Credit Could Leave IDS With Egg On His Face.

Fee-for-use-Iain-Duncan-Smith-1797134 In yesterday’s Observer Iain Duncan Smith once again boasted about how proud he was of his precious welfare reforms. Instead of addressing the very real and totally legitimate criticisms of his performance so far he pointed to the fact that the DWP had delivered their programme of torture on time:-

… we already have a proud record of achievement… We promised a benefit cap and it began, on time, in April in four London areas. It will be completely rolled out by September. We introduced the new personal independence payment as planned and on time. Automatic enrolment started last year, and now 1 million people have been registered into a workplace pension. People are using our Universal Jobmatch website for more than 5m job searches a day. Our Work Programme has launched and the industry tells us that so far 321,000 people have found a job through it.I am proud of this record.

sick  How any decent, sane human being can ignore the thousands of lives that have been devastated by his policies or refuse to acknowledge the deaths and suicides that can be directly linked to his actions is totally beyond my comprehension. Why a newspaper like the Observer gave him the space to make those comments is also a  mystery to me. And his refusal to undertake an impact assessment of the effect he’s had on the lives of disabled people simply shows that he doesn’t want to know. The only conclusion you can draw from this is that he’s irresponsible, unprofessional and should never be allowed to ‘serve’ as a politician again.

shoes But as usual the odious Mr Smith is not giving us the true picture about the DWP’s performance when it comes to the progress of Universal Credit. There are huge problems with it. Two aspects stand out here. The first is to do with their badly thought through devotion to ‘digital by default’. This report from Public Net published today shows that the DWP have overestimated the number of people who will be able to claim the benefit online. The potential for chaos is tremendous.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT PILOTS REVEAL CHALLENGES FACING BENEFIT CLAIMANTS

Headlines: July 29th, 2013

Many benefit claimants will struggle to meet the requirement of the new welfare arrangements which are due to be introduced from October 2013 with the launch of universal credit. Pilot schemes started last year by councils have revealed the scale of the difficulty many claimants will experience.

Universal credit will require all claimants to submit claims on line. Although 86 per cent of the UK population have access to the internet, the pilots have found that in the case of benefit claimants it is closer to 60 percent. Theoretically claimants can use facilities in libraries to submit claims, but they don’t visit libraries and they need support to cope with the technology and with the benefit processes. Some pilots are experimenting with providing access points in council premises and with staff on hand to support the claimants. Other pilots are exploring various approaches to improving access but have found it difficult to encourage take up.

Universal credit will roll up all benefits into a single payment which will be made directly to the claimant. This will meant that currently where some housing benefit is paid to landlords, in future it will be paid directly to the claimant. The pilots have revealed that many social housing tenants have problems with debt and rent arrears which might compound possible problems with personal budgeting.

Some councils have found a reluctance from customers to take part in budgeting and financial training in group sessions. It is thought the reluctance is due to the stigma of engaging in sessions which may highlight personal debt and rent arrears issues. The uptake of group financial education sessions in some authorities has been so low that sessions have been cancelled. This evidence is mirrored in the Direct Payment Demonstration Pilot areas.

Different approaches are being used to support personal budget management. They include sessions in smaller community groups and collaborating with partner organisations. Changing the welfare culture, which universal credit seeks to achieve, is a mammoth undertaking and it raises issues which must be addressed to bring success. While solutions to the problems are available, they will need time and funding on a scale which has probably not been foreseen in the implementation plan.

global race  The second report is potentially more damaging since it concerns the IT system that’s being developed to allow Universal Credit to be calculated. Because it combines all previous benefits into one package claimant information has to be gathered from HMRC systems and the system used by local authorities to calculate Housing Benefit. It seems they’ve messed up and now need to start from scratch. With the next roll out due in only two month’s time (October) its looking increasingly unlikely that even the six centres that are earmarked for the next stage will be able to cope. These computing problems were highlighted earlier in the year but in typical IDS fashion our SoS shrugged them off and refused to acknowledge that his ‘baby’ wouldn’t be born on time. Again Public Net have the story:-

UNIVERSAL CREDIT AMBER RED-RATING VINDICATED

Headlines: July 15th, 2013

Last year’s Government review conclusion that the Universal Credit project should be rated as amber/red because its successful delivery was in doubt and urgent action was needed, has been proved to be correct. Current trialling of the system with simple claims has revealed failings and there is to be a new design for dealing with the more complex claims.

Universal Credit will simplify the benefits system, improve work incentives and reduce fraud and error. It will replace income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; income-related Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support; Child Tax Credits; Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.

The Universal Credit project is being tested in 2 areas of the north-west, with another 2 starting later this month. The pathfinder trial is restricted to new claimants who are specially selected. Despite this narrowing of usage, it is understood that significant manual input by officials is required to verify accuracy and deal with other problems.

This assessment of the pathfinder is supported by the announcement that the next stage of development in October will be restricted to 6 additional job centres. The original project plan was for all new claims for out-of-work support to be treated as claims to universal credit from October 2013.

A potentially more serious aspect of the project is how the system interacts with Real Time Data System which includes information about earnings of claimants from HMRC. It appears that this element of the system design has been scrapped and it is now ‘back to the drawing board’. The official line about this re-think is that there is a need to explore enhancing the IT for Universal Credit working with the Government Digital Service.

The need for a re-think is unsurprising, because the universal credit system design was completed prior to the emergence of the Real Time Data System. Pressing on with the system design without knowing what the final integration requirements would be, involved many assumptions. This was a high risk strategy which proved unsustainable.

Re-writing this element of the system will take time and the trialing of in work claims cannot start until it is possible to use information from the Real Time Data System. Getting the IT system to perform effectively is only one of the major risks to the success of the project. The cultural transformation involving claimants moving to a digital service will be difficult to achieve. In a move to promote this transformation 20,000 Job centre Plus advisers will be involved in a training scheme and ten pilots will test how to best encourage claimants to progress in work.

6a00d8341d417153ef0133f5d6b4ef970b-550wi   Mr Smith’s plans to get everyone including the terminally ill and profoundly disabled working to make Cameron’s pipe dream of winning the ‘global race’ come true seem to be nothing more than pie in the sky. The tragedy is by pursuing their hopeless policies this government are causing misery and death.

Osborne’s 7 day wait is not a DELAY in payment, it means NO PAYMENT: Saving him £1/4 billion

uk-child-poverty

I came across this disturbing piece by the Baptist and Methodist Joint Public Issues Team this morning. I’ve reproduced it as it appears on their website here

http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/comprehensive-spending-review-7-days-is-a-long-time-in-poverty/

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Comprehensive Spending Review: 7-days is a long time in Poverty

Posted on 9 July 2013 by Paul Morrison

 It is entirely appropriate that I have waited 7 days before posting a blog on the Comprehensive Spending Review. As part of the increasingly “tough” rhetoric about welfare the main story from the review was a 7-day wait until you can apply for benefits.

As the chancellor put it: “And we’re going to introduce a new seven day wait before people can claim benefits. Those first few days should be spent looking for work, not looking to sign on.

osborne The implication is that unemployed people need to be threatened into looking for a job immediately after being made redundant. What it took some time to come to light, and what was not announced in the speech, was that benefits would not be delayed for 7 days, but rather not paid at all for a 7 day period.  This will take an estimated £1/4 billion a year from the unemployed.

The dispiriting thing about listening to the review was that every crafted phrase played into the myth of the lazy unemployed person who needs to be intimidated into getting off their backside and going to work. People do not need to be forced and threatened into looking for work. The Department for Work and Pensions and many others have strong evidence that people delay claiming benefits as long as possible, that people start their job search quickly, and they tend only to apply for benefit quickly when they have few financial reserves to fall back on. The data is clear but it doesn’t fit the “tough rhetoric” so it is ignored, and the poorest are misrepresented again.

The actual effect of this policy is to exquisitely target the poorest low paid workers – strivers if you buy-into that unpleasant narrative. You may be surprised that such a small measure with take away so much money – £1/4 billion – from the poorest: the reason is the “low-pay no-pay cycle”.

Huge numbers of people go into low paid insecure jobs each year – and huge numbers of people lose those jobs – often many times in a year. It is these people who will lose a week’s benefits every time they transition into and out of work. It is those people who are living hand to mouth trying to stay in work and will find it hugely difficult to save a week’s wages in order to be able to get through their next churn round this nasty cycle. Poverty campaigners are appalled; Wonga should be rubbing its hands together and preparing some more of its characteristic small loans charged at 5853% APR[1].

It is important to note that although only unemployed people were mentioned, when Universal Credit is introduced people seeking help with high rent, disability, sickness or their children’s needs will also have to wait a week.

Although the chancellor said, “We’re doing these things because we know they help people stay off benefits and help those on benefits get back into work faster.” As usual what the minsters “know” about benefit claimants, and what they have evidence to support, bear no relation to each other.


[1] 5853% was the actual rate advertised on the Wonga frontpage 08/09/2013. There is no decimal point.

Isn’t it time we exposed the REAL scroungers?

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Why has Baron Freud been consulting with his Bankster Mates about our Credit Unions?

italian-banksters    images (11) We’ve all heard the twisted logic coming from David Freud’s lips. Baron Freud’s argument is that because the poor have the least to lose they should take the biggest risks. Perhaps we shouldn’t be all that surprised to hear a former banker talking like this or be further surprised that he seems to measure risk purely in terms of quantities of money and has completely failed to see that while the poor do indeed have less to lose, by losing the small amount of money and possessions they own they would be rendered destitute and homeless. Whereas for the rich to lose the very same amount – the sum total of the poor’s assets – would have no impact whatsoever on the quality of their lives. They certainly wouldn’t go hungry. Freud is not an uneducated man. He’s well aware that the facts I’ve just written above are true. His argument is not based on fact but on a deeply held class prejudice because what he is effectively saying very clearly with his banker’s logic is that the money he and his class own is more important than the very lives of the poor. He knows just as well as we do that when you deprive a human being of the most basic means to survive you condemn them to a slow death. This is the man who has been entrusted with the job of welfare reform. And this is the man who, since early 2011, has been talking to some of the biggest and most notoriously criminal banks about our Credit Unions. Why? images (3)       A Credit Union, as many of you will know, is a member-owned financial cooperative, democratically controlled by its members, and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at affordable rates as well as a few other financial services to its members. Its a very different beast than a commercial bank, not least because it doesn’t exist to make a profit. When the Credit Union Act 1979 was passed it defined the meaning and ethos of Credit Unions and set out their objectives. The central and most basic principle that underpins such organisations is the notion that there is a ‘common bond’ between members. Members were people who had things in common such as being employed in the same industry, living in the same locality, belonging to the same organisation or group or had any other reason to be associated with each other. By virtue of this basic requirement Credit Unions were necessarily small co-operative societies. The objectives laid down in Statute were,

  • the promotion of thrift among the members of the society by the accumulation of their savings;
  • the creation of sources of credit for the benefit of the members of the society at a fair and reasonable rate of interest;
  • the use and control of the members’ savings for their mutual benefit; and
  • the training and education of the members in the wise use of money and in the management of their financial affairs.

Credit Unions were never intended to be banks…. cu_umbrella    Back in July 2006 the then New Labour government started a Growth Fund as part of their Financial Inclusion Fund and in an attempt to encourage growth in run down local economies they handed out grants to Credit Unions so they could provide more loans to local people to help fund small businesses and other projects. They gave Credit Unions grants worth in total £42 million between 2006 and 2008, then pledged a further £38 million to be used between 2008 and 2011. Its estimated that this money benefited around 160,000 people to the tune of £70 million in affordable loans. This was money given up front by government and they took the trouble to do some research and target the most needy areas with the most money. But in 2010 of course the slash and burn Coalition government took over the budget… Mark-Hoban-said-the-euroz-007    In early 2011 DWP Minister Mark Hoban (pictured here with a rather large zit) made a statement about the future of the Financial Inclusion Fund containing a shadowy hint at their plans for Credit Unions,

“The Financial Inclusion Fund will close at the end of March 2011. The Government will work closely with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that tackling financial exclusion remains a high priority. ….. The Financial Inclusion Fund has always been due to close in March 2010(sic). The Government have not yet taken a decision on the future of the projects currently funded from the Financial Inclusion Fund. The Government remain committed to helping poorer households to access appropriate financial services, to improve their financial resilience and to avoid falling into unsustainable levels of debt”

This reference to a commitment to help poorer families access ‘appropriate’ financial services is an ominous one in light of the fate they have in store for Credit Unions. The key is in the use of the word’appropriate’ rather than, say,  ‘affordable’ – because you can be sure its their definition of that word that will prevail given that they have not publicised their plans widely enough to open up the consultation debate to the very poor and low waged who traditionally rely on Credit Unions. We were hearing a great deal about Universal Credit back then  but there was precious little media reporting on this issue at all despite the many opportunities to bring it up whenever there’s been a horror story in the news regarding pay day loan sharks. Its pretty obvious they have deliberately kept it low profile. banks     Whilst a spotty Hoban was speaking in such vague terms to the press, his wily colleague the Baron Freud was consulting with some of the biggest banking and private equity interests in the world. According to DWP records, almost from day one, of the Coalition he was having meetings with a number of big players regarding Credit Unions.

  • In July 2010 he consulted separately with people from Deutsche Bank, UBS and J.P. Morgan for  ‘investment expertise.’
  • In January and February  2011 he met with PMM Partners LLP, a company describing itself as existing for ‘ the purpose of pursuing private equity opportunities in the real estate sector’ and offering help  ‘with all aspects of fund origination, structuring, acquisitions and disposals, due diligence, asset and property management’. One of their customers is Grant Thornton who produced the so-called ‘independent’ report on Furness General Hospital.( http://wp.me/p3mYc5-5J )
  • In April 2011 he met with Barclays who had been ‘donating’ small sums of money -around £30K  – to Credit Unions since 2010 to encourage them to change their business model towards a more mainstream banking version.
  • In December 2011 he met with Barclays again, along with Goldman Sachs and PMM Partners LLP.

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions So what’s going on here? Lord Freud seems to be conducting a consultation about the future of Credit Unions by speaking to the banks but not involving the Credit Unions themselves in the process. Well, not quite, but we’ll get to that in a minute…. social-spending-cuts-cartoon        Its important to remember at this point that the grant funding given to Credit Unions by the previous government was coming to an end and the Coalition wasn’t minded to carry it forward. However, Freud and his gang at the DWP knew that they were about to embark on a massive cut in benefits and it can’t have failed to register with them that this was going to leave the poorest people in dire need and thus create a huge market for small loans. There had already been a number of tales of horror about pay day loan sharks getting in on the act with exorbitant interest rates. Credit Unions were the obvious acceptable alternative to this but the tight-fisted, moralising, capitalist Tory attitude baulked at  the thought of simply handing over money with no return. The Baron, it seems, was hatching a cunning plan, which with the right kind of propaganda would make it look like the government was still supporting Credit Unions out of a paternalistic concern for those they were about to impoverish further, when in fact they were about to facilitate a kind of hostile takeover by the Banksters. To this end, back in 2010, they made ambitious claims in the press to be planning to ‘invest’ over £70 million in Credit Unions. 144359404   Freud and Co.then commissioned Experian to do a feasibility study for what they called their ‘Credit Union Expansion Project’. The study found that,

“a market exists amongst people on lower incomes for locally provided banking, savings deposit and loan services from trusted providers such as credit unions:

  • 1.4 million have no transactional bank account at present
  • 4 million incur bank charges

  • up to 7 million use sources of high cost credit”

    http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/credit-union-feasibility-study-report.pdf rman13158l       So there was definitely a market out there and with the roll out of benefit cuts playing in the background any Tory fool could see this was a growing market. But there were problems. The ethos of the Credit Union laid down in statute which kept such organisations small and that relied on a common bond between members didn’t sit well within a market context. The very nature of Credit Unions is to be co-operative not competitive and has a distinctly socialist flavour to it.  Experian saw this as a major drawback and gave the following advice which Lord snooty Freud and his pals have placed at the heart of their expansion programme,

“A major programme of cultural and behavioural change would be required to achieve the modernisation and expansion needed.By achieving the publicly funded change we propose it can speak to the Big Society Bank and other funding organisations as one ‘organisation’ large enough and financially stable enough for investors to be interested in. However, until real change has been achieved there is no realistic opportunity for it to achieve commercial or social investment because it lacks the capacity to repay.”

Now where have I heard that phrase ‘cultural and behavioural change‘ before? 01_awelfarea     It seems the sheer arrogance of this government knows no bounds. Just like IDS the Baron is acting like a feudal lord towards the Credit Unions and by extension to all of us who use them. As members we have shares in them, we OWN them yet here he is treating them as if he has the right to consult with banks behind their backs and make decisions about their future in order to make them a more attractive prospect for the sharks to invest in then impose those decisions on them as a condition for government money which they’ll have to pay back. There’s much more of this draconian approach in the feasibility study that should raise the alarm.

  • Government investment being made in stages on a payment by results basis, with the next stage not approved for commencement until the objectives of the previous stage have been achieved
  • Strict criteria will be applied to ensure that only suitable credit unions, which have already demonstrated sufficient progress are involved.
  • Change programme will need to demonstrate at an early stage a greater capability and willingness to change if Credit Unions want to be selected to participate in a program of behavioural, process and systems change.
  • Legislation to be changed to allow them to charge up to 3.0% pcm ( approx 43% APR) on loans from April 2014.

credit unions    It gets worse. There are over 400 Credit Unions in the UK, some smaller than others. The one I belong to is one of those smaller concerns. Experian didn’t think that government should fully subsidise the gap between income and expenditure for the credit unions in the financial model they produced. This is, in part, because they thought they should be asked to find ways of bridging some of the gap themselves.They point out that this would pose risks for the smaller Credit Unions and as evidence for this they mention that 55 Credit Unions have already had grant funding withdrawn, 25 of which have been forced to cease trading. They also mention that during the course of their study around 80 of the bigger Credit Unions had agreed to sign up for the program BUT they advise this is too big a number, and advise that government  “ will want to select the credit unions you work with in future very carefully.” Following this report the Baron has revised down the figure for investment into this so-called ‘expansion’ of Credit Unions from the £70+ million originally announced to a mere £38 million  to be delivered in phases over 5 years on a payment by results basis. This will effectively be a loan not a grant. So if less than 80 Credit Unions are to be signed up for this what will happen to the remaining 300 plus Credit Unions whose funding will disappear altogether?  images (13)    I said above that it wasn’t quite true that the Baron had only been consulting with big banks over this cunning plan. In fact both he and IDS had just one meeting back in February 2011 with the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL) who say they represent 70% of Credit Unions and ‘provide a full range of advice, training and development services to help our member credit unions grow and become sustainable financial co-operatives.’ Except for organising a get together of several of the larger Credit Unions in May 2012 where the plans were announced and this year making a patronising token gesture of opening an account for himself at one of the London Credit Unions this is the only serious meeting the Baron has had with anyone who has a grass roots stake in Credit Unions. http://www.abcul.org/media-and-research/news/view/342 On 22nd April this year the Baron announced that ABCUL were ‘the winning bidder in the recent DWP Credit Union Expansion Project (CUEP) procurement exercise.’ The wording of this suggests that there were several bidders for this contract – you can only win something if there’s competition – yet there’s no information on the DWP website at all about this procurement exercise, despite others being available for public scrutiny and despite the government’s trumpeting of itself as aiming to be ‘the most transparent government ever’.(FOI applied for yesterday). And given the lack of evidence of any wider consultation with the shareholders of Credit Unions you have to wonder if ABCUL were given the nod back in early 2011 that the contract was theirs. They have form for this with ATOS. city-of-london1   The question now remains over what part the banks consulted by the Baron are hoping to play in all this. And why he was involving a company like PMM Partners LLB, a private equity firm specialising in real estate. Maybe we can get a taste for what their intentions are by looking across the Atlantic to the United States where the model proposed by the Baron has been playing out for many years, long before the 2008 meltdown. Here are three reasons why Credit Unions should give the big banks a very wide berth indeed

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The NCUA – the American equivalent of ABCUL – accused London- based Barclays Capital  of breaching state and federal law when it allegedly made misrepresentations in the course of selling securities valued at more than $555 million to the U.S. Federal Credit Union and to the Western Corporate Federal Credit Union between February 2006 and June 2007.Both credit unions were placed under the agency’s conservatorship in March 2009, then into liquidation in 2010. When the NCUA sued Barclays contested it on the grounds that NCUA had left it too late. Both these Credit Unions were part of a corporate consortium of the kind proposed by the Baron for the UK.

http://www.law360.com/articles/381613/credit-union-agency-sues-barclays-over-555m-in-risky-rmbs

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The National Credit Union Administration Board on Thursday hit a UBS AG unit with claims that the banking giant misrepresented the risk of more than $1.1 billion in residential mortgage-backed securities it sold to two now-defunct credit unions. Again these credit unions were part of the consortium. UBS are another bank to have consulted over here by the Baron …and of course he used to work for them.

http://www.law360.com/articles/376102/credit-union-watchdog-says-ubs-falsely-sold-1-1b-in-rmbs

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A federal watchdog for the credit union industry slapped Goldman Sachs with a lawsuit in 2011 alleging violations of federal and state laws tied to the sale of mortgage-backed securities

.goldman-sachs-cartoon    The NCUA filed suit in California district court against the financial firm for damages in excess of $491 million. Specifically, the NCUA claims that Goldman’s misrepresentations caused the credit unions to believe certain investments carried minimal risk, while that was not the case.

http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/09/news/companies/goldman_ncua_lawsuit/index.htm images (18)   The government have already changed the law concerning Credit Unions. Enacted in last year it means the following changes have already happened with few of the people it will really affect noticing, let alone being consulted about it.

  • Credit unions  no longer have to prove that everyone who can join a credit union has something in common. This means they are able to provide services to different groups of people within one credit union.
  • Credit unions are able to open up membership to new groups, such as tenants of a housing association or employees of a national company, even if some tenants/employees live outside the geographical area that the credit union serves.
  • Credit unions are no longer limited to providing services to just individuals.
  • Credit unions are able to choose to offer membership to unincorporated associations and corporate bodies such as companies, partnerships and social enterprises.
  • Non-individuals can only make up a maximum of 10% of a credit union’s total membership hold a maximum of 25% of shares in the credit union and be granted a maximum of 10% of loans
  • Credit unions can choose whether to offer ordinary shares – ownership of which will bring all the benefits of credit union membership, or deferred shares, which will only be repayable in restricted circumstances and which will count towards the capital of a credit union.

krauzeyield     The government eventually plan to deliver the new Credit Union services through local Post Offices where most people draw their benefits. Perhaps we can now see why they called their shiny new system Universal Credit. As benefit are slashed further and further Baron the Bountiful is providing the masses he so despises with access to credit, possibly from the same account their benefits are paid into. With the planned increase in interest rates that Credit Unions can charge to around 43% APR these loans won’t necessarily be all that cheap. A quick browse on the internet revealed a number of companies offering far lower rates. Tesco have a loan at 5.1% APR and some companies even offer bad credit risk customers under 20% APR. For Banksters like the Baron it seems the future is bright…..

WALKING THE BREADLINE: Charities blame benefit sanctions for ‘scandal’ of food poverty in UK

490ed79d-2cb7-4952-894e-5f68219b8606OXFAM and CHURCH ACTION ON POVERTY are today to present Parliament with their latest report “Walking the Breadline” . They will petition the government to launch an urgent enquiry into what they describe as the ‘scandal’ of nearly half a million people now using Food Banks in order to survive in the UK – the seventh wealthiest nation in the world.

The scrupulously researched report states that it isn’t just the cuts in welfare benefits that are causing families in Britain to go hungry but blames delays in benefit payments and particularly highlights the often inappropriate use of benefit sanctions by the DWP. The report also makes the point that many families have people in work needing to rely on Food Banks because of ever decreasing wages.

The report is authored by Niall Cooper and Sarah Dumpleton and makes the following recommendations:-

  • The House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee conducts an urgent inquiry into the relationship between benefit delay, error or sanctions, welfare reform changes, and the growth of food poverty.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions publishes data on a regular basis on the number and type of household who are deprived of their benefits by reason of benefit delay, error or sanctions; the numbers leaving and returning to benefits after a short period of time, and the number of referrals from Job-centre staff to local food banks.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions commission independent monitoring of the roll-out of Universal Credit, to ensure that there is no unintentional increase in food poverty.
  • All referrals to food banks/emergency food aid provision, made by government agencies, be recorded and monitored in order to establish more accurate numbers on people experiencing food poverty in the UK.
  • HM Treasury make tackling tax dodging an urgent priority, including promoting robust and coordinated international action at the forthcoming G8 meeting in Northern Ireland in June – to reduce the need for future cuts in benefits, and restore the principle that benefits should at least rise in line with inflation.

They go on to say:-

“There is clear evidence that the benefit sanctions regime has gone too far, and is leading to destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale.
There is a real risk that the benefit cuts and the introduction of Universal Credit (which will require internet access and make payments less frequently) will lead to even larger numbers being forced to turn to food banks. Food banks may not have the capacity
to cope with the increased level of demand.
The growth in food aid demonstrates that the social safety net is failing in its basic duty to ensure that families have access to sufficient income to feed themselves adequately.”

The emphasis in bold print is theirs.

They also make the important point that Food Banks are , and should only ever be seen as, an emergency measure and that even in developing countries food aid is seen as an emergency measure.

This report is underpinned by reliable and valid research using sound methodology which has been tried and tested over many years by leading academics.

Its absolutely necessary that government are presented with this kind of evidence because so far both Conservative and LibDem MPs have dismissed the very claims made in this report by countless others as anecdotal.

Ed Davey, LibDem Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change recently went on record as saying  it “completely wrong to suggest that there is some sort of statistical link between the benefit reforms we’re making and the provision of food banks”.

You can help by visiting the website of CHURCH ACTION ON POVERTY and using their app for emailing your MP to urge them to push for an urgent enquiry by the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/foodfuelfinance/walkingthebreadline

You can also download the full report here

http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/foodfuelfinance/walkingthebreadline/report/walkingthebreadlinefile

Please, please share this news widely. Its time this cruel government were made to confront the miserable effects of their disastrous policies.