Tag Archives: Welfare

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.

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Cameron: The ‘Caring’ Scrounging Conservative.

images Before his disabled son, Ivan, died David Cameron claimed DLA for him. While we don’t know the full extent of the amount of this universal state benefit he received we do know he got the higher rate mobility component, just over £50 a week, because he was able to lease a car under the Motability scheme. And according to Mumsnet he was also claiming for four free NHS nappies a day.

Rumour has it that after Ivan’s death our Eton educated super rich Prime Minister wasn’t in too much of a hurry to give back the Motability car so someone else in need could benefit from it but had to be chased repeatedly before finally handing it over to its rightful owner.

Conservative Social Justice Policy Group report This is a man we’re supposed to look up to, who holds the most responsible job in the land and who constantly preaches the sermon of social responsibility from his Tory pulpit. It can be argued that Mr Cameron was only exercising his rights when he claimed for DLA, after all he was entitled to that benefit since its not means tested. But there’s no argument whatsoever that he needed the money – in fact compared to his £135k plus salary and his millions in the bank its a total pittance. And from a social responsibility point of view and coming from a man who’s constantly harping on about the absolute necessity of austerity and spending public money wisely, you have to ask why would such a man bother to fill in the form and take money he didn’t need leaving less for the hundreds of thousands who need it desperately?

download  MPs have now just been offered an 11% pay rise and leaders from all parties have assured us they wouldn’t dream of taking it. Cameron himself made a public display of saying it would be wrong for MPs to get this rise when the rest of us were ‘having to make sacrifices’ . Even as I  write this he’s on the news using that puke-making phrase ‘we’re all in this together’.  Does he seriously think we believe him?

Lets not forget the coldly calculating and determined propaganda campaign this Tory led government have fought in the media against benefit claimants labelling the sick and disabled as scroungers too lazy to be arsed to get out of bed, or driving around in luxury Motability cars living it up on tax payers’ money. And lets not forget the inevitable results of this – the rise of unspeakable hate crime against people who were targeted because of this evil ideological attack. How many of you now think that the ex-PR man who orchestrated this propaganda was entitled to  his share of the benefit he’s now about to take away from thousands of people who can never hope to see a million pounds in their bank unless they get lucky in the Lottery?

images (1)   On Wednesday in Parliament Labour used its Opposition Day debate to try to force the government to do a simple thing – to undertake a cumulative impact assessment of the effects of the various cuts in welfare benefits on disabled people. There are hundreds of thousands of very sick and seriously disabled people in the UK who now face up to SIX separate cuts to the various benefits they receive , not to mention facing the prospect of Work Capability Assessments and assessments for the PIP by Atos. You’d think the government would already have done this, wouldn’t you, given the enormous impact these cuts are bound to have. You’d think any sensible, decent government would agree to listen to the many campaigning groups like Spartacus and DPAC who’ve been trying to talk to ministers about this impact. Apparently not. And even when forced to confront the issue on Wednesday by Labour MPs on behalf of these groups, they still weren’t listening. In fact , judging by the sickening responses the few Tories and the odd LibDem gave, they were aggressively opposing the idea that they should give a flying fuck about the demolition job they were inflicting on people’s lives.

+Paul+Maynard  Probably the most disgusting example of Tory attitudes to people with disabilities came from an MP with a disability himself, Paul Maynard. If this guy is a friend of the disabled then who needs enemies? He spoke with cleverly simulated passion that made me suspect Cameron had paid for him to have lessons in Method Acting just for the occasion. Whoever had written his speech managed to turn all the hard work put in by those campaigning disability groups who’d gathered evidence of genuine hardship caused by the cuts into something called ‘negative messages about disabled people’ which apparently would act as a disincentive to young disabled people to be what the Tories want us all to be ‘strivers who work hard and do the right thing’. Waving his expensively suited arms about  Maynard added insult to injury by labelling these disability groups who have a  perfectly legitimate agenda as ‘extremists’!!! You couldn’t make it up!

alan-h2       What Maynard wanted was ‘positive’ messages for young disabled people, Paralympic superheroes and ‘inspirational’ role models and the like. Those who win out despite all the odds. He painted a very narrow picture of disability and turned the debate into an emotional farce. What he didn’t acknowledge was that the debate wasn’t about this at all but about ordinary people’s basic means of survival being taking away from them and with it their dignity as human beings. He didn’t address the humiliation of having to rely on charity and the condescending pity of others. He didn’t see, from his privileged position, that he was betraying people who had a right to expect him to stand up for their right to an independent existence just like his.

prejudice-and-persecution          And so, unsurprisingly, the government won the day and got out of having to do what they should already have done – a proper impact assessment of the cumulative cuts on the income of disabled people. Their feeble excuse that it was too hard just isn’t credible. But then how can we have faith in the credibility of the Tories, or any politician, when they change their tune depending on the circumstances?

Back in 1999 it was the New Labour government who wanted to make changes to disability benefits by scrapping the severe disablement allowance.  Here are a few gems from the Tory opposition , words we should now ram down their privileged throats:-

Quentin Davis:-

 ‘I am proud that we stand today on our previous record, which is that the disabled, far from being a soft target and an easy touch for a Government, are a group of vulnerable people who should be the last people to be disadvantaged when changes are made to our welfare and benefits system.’

Julie Kirkbride:-

‘Many other ladies and gentlemen will retire in the same condition as my constituent, who is obliged to sell her house because she can no longer afford to live there on her reduced income after being forced to retire on incapacity benefit. Others in her condition will find the Government’s policies deeply offensive.’

Nigel Evans:-

‘The Labour party fought the last election on the slogan, “Things can only get better”. Does my hon. Friend agree that many disabled people, whose benefits will be removed, will be aghast at what is happening this evening? At the next election, disabled people, who have been so badly let down, will give Labour Members short shrift. Things can only get better unless one happens to be disabled’.

Angela Browning:-

‘The organisations that went to the Department included Action for Blind People, Disability Alliance, Mencap, RADAR and the RNIB. Those organisations went to the Department believing that they were part of a consultation, only to find that the decision had already been made and their views were not required, but that they could have an input into some sort of management. To cap it all, the Lord Chancellor’s Department is considering proposals to abolish legal aid for personal injury claims—another move by the Government which will clearly have an effect on people with disabilities and will cause them a great deal of distress.’

Teddy Taylor:-

‘Will he take seriously the real concern, alarm and anger felt by disabled people whose benefits are being cancelled on review? During my weekly surgery on Saturday, I was visited by a woman and her child, who has only one small finger on each hand and one small toe on each foot. The woman had been told that there was no need for any disability living allowance-related provision of any sort.’

pg-18-norman-watt     The final irony of all this is that if Ivan was still alive the two-faced David Cameron would still be getting DLA and there may well be other millionaires out there who are dipping into the disability benefit pot that Esther Mcvey is fond of telling us is growing too big. She’s fond of the word ‘fairness’ but where’s the fairness in that?

 

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/

jpit-header-0911121

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?

images (3)                1017260_598426213530629_308425508_n

We’ve had enough of the lies from Duncan-Smith’s DWP. Now its time for the truth.

truthandlies-twitter-avatarLike so many others I’m sickened by the lies and spin that seem to characterise Iain Duncan-Smith’s DWP public statements about welfare benefit recipients. What’s worse is the way certain sections of the news media, notably the Daily Mail and the Sun reinforce this ‘dog whistle’ politics with aggressive content designed to turn public opinion against the poor. I was appalled to read recently that even Labour supporters were beginning to believe all this evil bullshit.

In view of this, I was more than a little heartened yesterday when I came across an excellent recent report published by The Joint Public Issues Team from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church which identifies six myths propagated by the Coalition government about the nature of the UK’s poor families.

The report entitled “The lies we tell ourselves:ending comfortable myths about poverty” is a thoroughly researched piece and exposes the ideological agenda of a morally bankrupt government in no uncertain terms. In the Executive Summary of the report the Joint Public Issues Team say:-

“The myths exposed in this report, reinforced by politicians and the media, are convenient because they allow the poor to be blamed for their poverty, and the rest of society to avoid taking any of the responsibility. Myths hide the complexity of the true nature of poverty in the UK. They enable dangerous policies to be imposed on whole sections of society without their full consequences being properly examined. This report aims to highlight some comfortable myths, show how they have come to prominence and test them against serious evidence…The reputations of society’s most disadvantaged families became collateral damage in the rush to defend a new policy. Perhaps we are not surprised by this but we should be appalled.”

The full report can be found here  

http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/resources/campaigns/.

In order to publicise their findings and challenge the perceptions of the public which are being fed by the Tory press the Joint Public Issues Team actively encourage people to share their findings and provide a number of graphics which totally blow apart the false picture of families living in poverty which has been painted by the likes of IDS and George Osborne who recently tried to claim that the UK was full of dysfunctional families like the Philpotts who were the products of a ‘benefits lifestyle’. The graphics appear below. Click on each image to amplify. Please share them widely.

benefits3-percent dla drink2 drinkdrugs2 fiddle fraud2 housing-benefit kids

The Welfare Benefits Up-Rating Bill is currently going through parliament and a wide spectrum of church leaders have been lobbying for the government to protect benefits that affect children. As Paul Morrison, a Joint Public Issues blogger said on 13th April:-

“Churches and church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have asked the Government to reconsider and exempt the benefits targeted at children. The Government response to these challenges has been aggressive but failed to address the substantive points or the underlying issues. More troublingly the response is grounded not in robust evidence but in the popular myths about those in poverty and receipt of benefits.”

 I’ve been an atheist for many years and will continue to be one, but I’m impressed that these churches are at last standing up publicly against the government in defence of the many thousands of vulnerable people whose lives and reputations have been torn apart by the pernicious lies emanating from Westminster. Please give them your support.