Universal Credit Rollout ( UC ) : Schedule * Mines * Sanctions * Changes * Delays * Warnings !

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
71 posts
Two articles , both from the Guardian , highlighting problems with the existing rollout , and premonitions of the forthcoming rollout extensions :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... any-people
David Gauke, the new work and pensions secretary, has been urged to delay the mass rollout of the new universal credit benefit, after Citizens Advice produced fresh evidence that it is causing debt and financial insecurity among recipients.

The advisory charity surveyed 800 people who sought help with universal credit in pilot areas, finding 39% were waiting more than six weeks to receive their first payment and more than half (57%) were having to borrow money to get by during that time.

The report also detailed problems with the online application system and long waits to get help over the phone. It said nearly a third (30%) of those surveyed said they had to make more than 10 calls to the universal credit helpline during their application process, often having to wait over 30 minutes to get through.

The evidence from Citizens Advice is the latest in a long line of warnings about problems with universal credit, which involves wrapping six existing benefits into a single monthly payment.

Around two-fifths of the payments go to people in work rather than those who are unemployed, as it includes recipients of tax credits and housing benefit, as well as jobseeker’s allowance and disability benefits. The benefit is currently paid to around 530,000 people in trial areas but it this number will rise sharply in the autumn, when it is due to be rolled out to 50 new areas.


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... it-rollout
David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary, has been urged by 30 Labour MPs, and the Green party MP Caroline Lucas, to delay the expansion of the new universal credit benefit system to stop their constituents suffering severe hardship over Christmas.

In a letter to the Guardian the group, led by the Labour MP Laura Pidcock, called on the government to put off the latest rollout of universal credit until the new year, because people would not be able to afford delays to their first benefit payments over the festive period.

Ministers are planning to accelerate the introduction of universal credit, which rolls six benefits into a single monthly payment, to about 50 new areas.

A group of 31 MPs writes to urge the government to postpone the introduction of universal credit in their constituencies until after the festive period

But the 31 MPs, whose constituencies will be affected, said it would cause misery for thousands of new claimants who may not get their first payments for up to seven weeks after applying.

“There is a real worry that the introduction of universal credit, at this time, will cause extreme hardship for many people in vulnerable situations, exacerbated by the financial burdens of the festive period.

“We understand that the proposed changes were designed to make the social security system simpler, more reactive to an individual’s issues and more efficient. However, evidence from other parts of the country where UC has been introduced already shows that it is far from the efficient system trailed,” the MPs said.

They highlighted the wait of up to seven weeks, the removal of the severe disability premium and difficulties people have in repaying crisis loans of £150 in three £50 lump sums.


16 page Report from Trussells on this very issue :

https://www.trusselltrust.org/wp-conten ... dbanks.pdf

Needless to say , those who devised the UC Scheme have no real idea of the problems at grass roots level.

How many of us have resources to balance the loss of 6 / 7 / 8 weeks income ?

Comments section towards the bottom of both articles.

No doubt , the Trussells thread will record the aftermath leading upto the end of the year.

And , what an end of the year it will be for many nationwide !

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A little more , this time from a couple of national social housing organisations :

https://www.localgov.co.uk/Universal-cr ... -say/43499

Social housing providers have called on the Government to halt the roll-out of the universal credit (UC) scheme which it says is causing problems for tenants and landlords.

In a joint report the National Federation of Arms Length Management Organisations (NFA) and the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) say previously identified problems have remained unresolved.

The report, 'Pause for Thought – measuring the impact of welfare reform on tenants and landlords 2017 survey results’, says delays in the assessment process for the benefits, poor communications and a seven-day waiting period are creating hardship.

Access to computers is also a problem for older claimants.

The two organisations say they support the principles of universal credit (UC) but warn that support provided to tenants by landlords alone is not sufficient to resolve the challenges and is not scalable as the roll out accelerates across the country.

NFA managing director Eamon McGoldrick said: ‘We are strongly urging the Government to halt the roll out of universal credit and pause for thought until the system works properly for both claimants and landlords.'


Same theme , Sally Walmsey on the recent warnings from the Citizens Advice Bureau :

https://news.rla.org.uk/13187-2/

The rollout of Universal Credit should be paused until significant problems with it are fixed, says Citizens Advice.

In a new report – Delivering on Universal Credit – the charity said the requirement to wait for six weeks to receive any payment means people face serious financial insecurity, with many being forced into debt.

The research also identifies a wide range of administrative challenges, including problems with the online system and long waits to get help over the phone, which can make the initial six week wait even longer.

Universal Credit ‘bundles’ individual benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit into a single monthly payment.

By 2022 over seven million households will receive Universal Credit and new Citizens Advice analysis reveals over half (54%) of these will be working households.


As predicted earlier this year , the Advice Line on Carers UK will see more panic situations involving both finances ( UC rollout ) together with landlord / tenant issues than ever before.

I hope the " Powers to be " see the same scenario , and are prepared for the flood by providing the additional expertise required either inhouse or , perhaps a better option , with others ( Shelter ? Trussells ? ) specialising in same fields ?

Wearing blinkers won't work , carers and their carees will be JOINTLY affected !

The time for pigeonholing carers and carees is long past it's sell by date.
If any readers want to check , the following Scedule ( In PDF. format ) details the expected dates and areas for the UC rollout between April 2017 and September 2018 :

http://www.cpag.org.uk/sites/default/fi ... lout_0.pdf

My own Manor , Worksop , scheduled for December 2017 ... 'appy Christmas I am sure ?

For many 'round 'ere . a two week shutdown will do wonders for the minions on zero hour contracts !

Assume early December and it could be late January / early February before claimants are able to catch up ... assuming no " Crisis " loans or outside finance ... pawnbrokers and money lenders will be busy !

And , the landlords 'round 'ere aren't exactly flush ... this is Worksop , not exactly a desirable area apart from being relatively cheap !

For many , it reads like a tombstone ....

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Today's Guardian :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... sal-credit

David Gauke signals he will press on with universal credit

Work and pensions secretary says benefit changes are ‘transforming lives’ after MPs called for a pause in their introduction


“You mention that sometimes the initial payment can take longer than the intended five- to six-week period. While there are cases that can take longer than five to six weeks, this should be put into context. Our latest internal data suggests some 80% of cases were paid in full at the end of the first assessment period,” he says, adding that the other 20% are often those who have not yet signed up to their “claimant commitment” or provided all the necessary paperwork.


Oh really ?

Trussells would disagree ... as would virtually all claimants who have already been switched onto UC.

One interesting CAB referral worthy of being quoted under this thread :

"One woman turned to Citizens Advice for help when her Universal Credit application was delayed because her childminder didn’t provide receipts on a type of letter headed paper which was required as evidence for her claim. Because of this delay she lost her childcare places and had to take time off work to care for her children. Further delays to her Universal Credit claim then meant she could still not afford childcare, and she has since lost her job for taking so much time off."


An interesting snippett from Wikipedia on the current Minister :

Gauke claimed £10,248.32 in stamp duty and fees involved in the purchase of his second home in London, a flat. A Channel 4 Dispatches programme revealed that he was claiming expenses on the flat in central London despite having a property located only one hour away on public transport.

Gauke sold the flat in August 2012, keeping £27,000, the property price having increased by £67,000 since purchase. He paid nearly £40,000 of this to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) as MPs only have to pay back any profit made in the previous two years.

He told the UK public that negotiating a price discount with a tradesmen for paying in cash for the purposes of evading tax is morally wrong


The " Fun " continues ....
Frances Ryan in today's Guardian .... an apocalyptic view of sorts for many :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... are-reform

A taster :

When welfare secretary David Gauke said this week that universal credit is “transforming lives”, it’s unlikely he meant through hunger and pain. It’s reflective of the scale of damage universal credit is causing that Gauke spoke out in response to fears from Labour MPs that – with many areas switching to universal credit in November and December and the infamous “six week” wait for a first payment still in place – families would be destitute in the run-up to Christmas. Hungry and cold children. Poor parents fearing an eviction notice. This is some incompetent 21st-century parody of Dickensian public policy.

In total, a staggering eight million households are due to be transferred to the new system by the end of its rollout. This is a recipe for, at best, bureaucratic chaos and at worst, widespread economic hardship. Party politics aside, any politician worth their salt would look at the damage already being caused by universal credit’s mix of flaws and cuts and hit the pause button. Instead, the government is pressing ahead regardless. Ministers may indeed want to look away. The biggest social policy disaster in modern British politics could be coming.

Oh dear ..... " Could be coming ? " .... " It's been raging for the past decade or more , luv ! "

Just ask the carers and their carees , not their supporting organisations for their watered down visions of life in the social gulags !

Frances does highlight an individual case in her article ... most Guardian reporters in their social care network are equally guilty ... best to stay on the outside looking in rather than trying to get inside ?

Carers can always use the press to highlight our Injustices ... trouble is , very few reporters have been carers themselves , and most articles are too " General " to be of any real advantage ... citing individual cases is not really in our best interests.

The days of being patronised with the usual buckets of crocodile tears have long past.

Unsung heroes ? Yes ... to the extent that we SAVE everyone else shelling out for a social care system that meets the demands of this Sad New World.

Just one comment worthy of being posted inside this thread :

I could write a book on this subject. I work with Universal Credit and anyone with any awareness of how the welfare system works has to admit changes were required. I say that as someone on the left of politics, someone who holds every Tory government with utter contempt and who is a passionate defender of a well-funded social security system.

However, the sad and pitiful truth is this: hidden behind the proclaim intent of simplyfing the system lurks the usual nasty, anti-working class policies that the Tories are famous for.

The brutal cuts - work allowances that made a mockery of Duncan Smith's "making work pay" mantra, the benefit cap, the two-child cap, the driving of thousands of disabled people into work and many more - are destroying lives. Debt is being racked up by thousands, credit is being accessed via high-street lenders, gambling out of trouble, foodbank usage. It is truly disturbing.

For those in doubt of the author's prediction, let this act as confirmation: in my area, 892 children have received a food parcel from a foodbank since the start of this year. The Trussell Trust's figures show around 40% of all foodbank referrals come about because of benefit delays and changes (27% and 14% of all referrals - they treat 'delay' and 'change' separately). In my area, UC is in the Full stage (it is split into Live and Full - more complex claims are accepted on Full) and the figures look at about 65-70% for foodbank referrals linked to benefit delays and changes.

Make of that what you will.
Anyway , the rollout continues unabated.
The Daily Mirror finally joins the media bandwagon :

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/u ... e-11130094

Universal Credit was supposed to help those out of work not force families to food banks.


Case study included ... trickle of comments towards the bottom.

Does not night follow day ... springs to mind ?
More from the BBC , this time the Citizens Advice Bureau :

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41226942

Citizens Advice calls for Universal Credit 'pause'


A charity has called for a suspension in the expansion of a major benefit reform because it says families risk being pushed into a spiral of debt.

Citizens Advice said those under the Universal Credit system were more likely to struggle with priority debts.

But the government said the system offered extra support and that budgeting and financial help was available.

Universal Credit merges six existing benefits into one.

These include tax credits, housing benefit, income support, Jobseeker's Allowance, and employment and support allowance. By 2022, more than seven million households will receive Universal Credit - at least half of which will be in work.

A major rollout of the scheme begins soon, following a series of delays. The system was originally scheduled to be fully in place this year.

Citizens Advice analysed 52,075 cases that it had seen, and concluded that those on Universal Credit would, on average, appear to have fewer than £4 per month left to pay all their creditors after they had paid essential living costs.

This compared with £16.25 per month for people in receipt of the individual benefits under the old system.
'Stubborn approach'

A six-week wait for an initial payment, processing delays, and budgeting difficulties were suggested as the key causes of difficulty for those on Universal Credit, it said.

"The roll-out of Universal Credit is a disaster waiting to happen," said Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy.

"While the principles behind Universal Credit are sound, our evidence shows that if the government continues to take this stubborn approach to the expansion of Universal Credit, it risks pushing thousands of families into a spiral of debt, and placing an even greater strain on public services.

"Government can help protect these households by taking the simple step of pausing Universal Credit and fixing the underlying problems, so families are less likely to fall into arrears."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman, who pointed out that the Citizens Advice research was based on those with debts, not benefits claimants as a whole, said: "We are committed to helping people improve their lives and raise their incomes.

"Universal Credit does that by providing additional, tailored support not available under the old benefit system, including more help for those in work so they can eventually stop claiming benefits altogether, and under Universal Credit people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the previous system.

"The vast majority of claimants are comfortable managing their money, and for anyone who needs extra help, we have budgeting advice and benefit advances."


The steamroller chungs on remorsefully .... crushing all those in it's path who cannot escape from it's financial rollers.

In early trading , shares in UK Food Banks PLC soared on rumours of a bid from Amazon ... there were cheers from THAT side of the House ... as one would expect .... ?
Whilst , hopefully , not affecting any carers directly ( ? ) , prediction made in the very first posting is becoming reality.

Report on today's BBC web site :

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41241021

Homelessness rise 'likely to have been driven by welfare reforms,

The number of homeless families in the UK has risen by more than 60% and is "likely to have been driven" by the government's welfare reforms, the public spending watchdog has said.

Homelessness of all kinds has increased "significantly" over the last six years, said the National Audit Office.

It accused the government of having a "light touch approach" to tackling the problem.

The government said it was investing £550m by 2020 to address the issue.

There has been a 60% rise in households living in temporary accommodation - which includes 120,540 children - since 2010/11, the NAO said.

A snapshot overnight count last autumn found there were 4,134 rough sleepers - an increase of 134% since the Conservatives came into government, it added.


Homelessness charity Shelter said it wants the government to end the freeze on housing benefit and commit to building affordable homes.

The government said tackling homelessness was a "complex issue" but it was determined to help the most vulnerable in society.

It said it was implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act which "means more people get the help they need earlier to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place".

A spokesman added: "Our welfare reforms restore fairness to the system with a strong safety net in place to support the most vulnerable, including £24bn through the housing benefit.

"There's more to do to make sure people always have a roof over their head and ministers will set out further plans shortly, including delivering on our commitment to eliminate rough sleeping entirely."


Probably more on this Issue as the clock ticks on.
More on this important Issue from today's Independent :

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/po ... 44331.html

Universal Credit delays leave claimants to 'drop off a cliff' in rent arrears, hear MPs,

It comes after Citizens Advice warned the accelerated roll-out of the new regime was a ‘disaster waiting to happen’.

Claimants “drop off a cliff” and “remain in freefall” in rent arrears due to delays in receiving payments under the new Universal Credit regime, MPs have heard.

It comes as the Government plans to accelerate the delayed roll-out of Universal Credit – devised by the former welfare chief Iain Duncan Smith – to 50 new areas in the autumn despite warnings that it is a “disaster waiting to happen”.

Speaking to MPs on the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee in Westminster, council leaders, food banks and charities from across the country raised concerns about the system which intends to merge six existing benefits into one single monthly payment from claimants.



The rest of the article follows a similar thread ... a steamroller is coming ... and not many will be unaffected.

One councillor from the London council of Southwark – where Universal Credit is already up and running – said an additional £1.3m of rent arrears was attributable to the new regime since its introduction by the council two years ago.

Southwark Councillor Fiona Colley told the committee, chaired by the former Labour minister Frank Field, that the roll-out had a range of impacts on the council and its residents due to typical 12-13 weeks to administer the first payment.

One comment worth sharing :

No it's a poor system.

I work with users of the system and have seen first hand the issues.

To begin with claimants have to be fully computer literate and have access to a computer. If the slightest error is made when inputting or updating a claim, then the claim is cancelled Nd the applicant has to reapply.

There is no payments until 7 weeks after the claim.

If someone misses an appointment for any reason, the sanctions are huge.

Rent money which was previously paid directly to landlords is now paid directly to claimants regardless of their ability to pay. This is causing huge rent arrears to landlords and doubtless resulting in homelessness due to rent arrears.

The system is a mess and does nothing to help those who need help.


Looks like the violins will be playing for both landlords and tenants ???
Some more .... today's Guardian ... Debbie Abrahams , Shadow Works and Pensions Secretary ... a little like calling the kettle black if one goes back a decade or more ... " New " Labour created the groundwork without asking the obvious question ... " How do we implement this without causing economic and social pain ? "

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... ray-labour
Universal credit is in “total disarray”, Labour has said, after a government study found that lengthy benefit payment waiting times were causing claimants to run up hundreds of pounds in debt and rent arrears.


Labour joined welfare charities in calling for the planned roll-out of the benefit to be paused in the light of mounting evidence that design and administration problems are causing financial hardship for vulnerable and low-income households.

One in four new universal credit claimants waited more than 42 days for a first payment, while nearly half of families said moving on to the benefit had led them to fall behind with rent for the first time.

Debbie Abrahams, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The government’s flagship universal credit programme is in total disarray. It is unacceptable that one in four claimants are waiting more than six weeks to receive support, alongside mounting debts and arrears among recipients.

“I have written to the secretary of state requesting that he immediately halt the roll-out of universal credit to contain the misery being caused by the disastrous mishandling of this programme.”

The work and pensions select committee has launched an inquiry into universal credit after hearing evidence from landlords, charities and tenants about extensive problems associated with it.

Frank Field, the committee chair, said: “Everything I have seen so far, on the committee and in my constituency, points to fundamental flaws in the operation of universal credit, which must be resolved before the full service roll-out proceeds.”

The Department for Work and Pensions evaluation found that 42% of all claimant families surveyed said the wait for a first universal credit payment to be processed and DWP administrative errors were the cause of their rent arrears.


Nobody would argue that the old benefits system needed replacing with a System that provided a safety net to protect the most vunerable against the ravishes of the free market economy.

The latest attempt is UC ... role up of all the major benefits into one.

Perhaps a good idea ( If one ignores other alternatives such as our own Social Wage destined for the disabled / elderly and the carers ) BUT ...

It's in the delivery that the problems are seen at grass roots level .... a 6 / 7 / 8 week gap between existing benefits ceasing , and the new UC kicking in.

Tack on the REAL cuts to LA funding and you now have a potential social holocaust on the horizon.

Too late to stop the juggernaut now !

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71 posts