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Poorest And Most Vunerable The Hardest Hit : Especially Those NOT Able To Work !!! Half Of The 8.4 Million Carer Army ? - Page 6 - Carers UK Forum

Poorest And Most Vunerable The Hardest Hit : Especially Those NOT Able To Work !!! Half Of The 8.4 Million Carer Army ?

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
216 posts
An episode of " Sorry , I Haven't a Clue " ... could pass for one ?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... -tomlinson

Poor families could take in lodger to beat benefit cap – minister.

Junior minister also says families living in poverty could move or renegotiate rent.

Families living in poverty because of the benefit cap could consider taking in a lodger to make ends meet, a minister has suggested, prompting a scathing response from the MP questioning him about the system.

Justin Tomlinson, the junior work and pensions minister, told MPs that other ways families could cope with the impact of the cap would be to move, or to seek to renegotiate their rent so it was cheaper.

Answering questions from the work and pensions committee, Tomlinson also said there was no specific government analysis taking place about the impact on people of the cap, introduced under David Cameron’s government, and reduced in 2016.

The absolute maximum amount of benefits a couple can receive, whatever their circumstances, is £20,000 a year, rising to £23,000 in London.

While the government argues it incentivises people to work and prevents the unfairness of people on benefits receiving more than the average wage, critics say it is pushing many families into extreme poverty and debt.

Questioning Tomlinson and the DWP’s head of working-age benefits, Pete Searle, the Labour MP Ruth George asked what analysis was being done into this effect. Stephen said that as part of a wider evaluation of “other outcomes” of the policy, officials were looking into how people “respond to the cap”.

George said: “Responding to the cap – does that include things like having to switch the heating off and be freezing cold at night? Does that include things like not being able to feed their children to a nutritionally decent standard?”

Almost two-thirds of people affected by the cap were not entering work, George, the MP for High Peak, said.

Tomlinson responded: “Of those, some will have made other changes, including in their housing costs, whether that is either moving or renegotiating what their rental housing costs are. Or they could, for example, take in a lodger. So there’s other circumstances than work.”

George responded with incredulity: “These are large families, they’ve often got three children in one bedroom. How are they going to take in a lodger?”

Tomlinson said this was an argument in favour of the government’s bedroom tax: “If there’s three children in one bedroom then you should start joining us in supporting releasing more family homes through or spare room subsidy changes.”

While some tenants in social housing are allowed to take in lodgers, for those in private accommodation it usually needs the landlord’s permission, and any income would need to be declared.

Explaining the reasons for the benefit cap to the committee, Tomlinson said it had three objectives: saving money; the “fairness test” over comparisons with working incomes; and incentivising work.

This had worked for many families, he said. “For those people where it has made a difference, it has significantly improved their life chances, for not just them but for their children.”

But George pointed out that of those affected by the cap, 81% are not subject to “work conditionality” – meaning circumstances such as very young children dictate they are not automatically expected to seek work.

Later in the session, the committee chair, Frank Field, asked if there were any plans to raise the cap, given rising rents and other costs.

Tomlinson replied: “There isn’t any work at the moment that I’m aware of that’s looking to change that cap.” Searle added that it was reviewed at least once every parliament.

Whose next ?

Life ... on The Street ... more like survival for millions !!

or to seek to renegotiate their rent so it was cheaper.

What planet is this junior minister living on ???
Love the idea of 'renegotiating' your rent! Yeah, like I can 'renegotiate' my mortgage repayments, or how much I pay for food, or my electricity bills....

Landlords will just say 'OK, so move out, and I'll get in another tenant from the queue around the block who will pay the rent I set'.....

It's depressing that a TORY minister doesn't understand the law of supply and demand. There is NOT enough housing in this country for the population who needs to be housed (which is increasing EVERY DAY) - which means suppliers (landlords) get to set the price (rent).
Price cap plan to clamp down on high rent-to-own fees.

Financial watchdog to cap interest, delivery and installation fees at cost of original product.

The City watchdog has proposed a price cap on rent-to-own companies in a clampdown on “excessive charges” expected to save 300,000 vulnerable customers up to £22.7m a year.

High interest charges levied by firms such as BrightHouse, which sell household appliances and electrical goods on credit, mean items can cost four times above the average retail price, when insurance and warranties are included, the Financial Conduct Authority said.

The financial regulator said rent-to-own customers are some of the most financially vulnerable in the UK: only a third are in work, most are on low incomes between £12,000 and £18,000, and are likely to have missed a bill payment in the last six months.

Under the proposed price cap, credit charges (including interest and delivery and installation costs) cannot total more than the original cost of the product. In addition, rent-to-own firms will need to benchmark the cost of products against the prices charged by three other retailers.

Andrew Bailey, the FCA’s chief executive, said: “Today’s measures are designed to bring down very high prices in the rent-to-own sector, which is used by some of the most financially vulnerable in our society.

“A cap will prevent firms charging over the odds for essential everyday items like cookers or washing machines. We believe a cap is the only intervention that will effectively tackle the highest prices. If implemented it will save consumers up to £22.7m a year from excessive charges.

“We want to stop consumers having to pay many multiples more than the price of a product on the high street. These changes build on the measures we have already taken across the high-cost credit sector.”

Citizens Advice hailed the cap as a “victory for people who struggle with the runaway costs of rent-to-own agreements”.

Its chief executive, Gillian Guy, said: “These products are aimed at people who have little choice but to resort to this type of credit, yet they come with crippling interest rates on prices that are far higher than anywhere else on the high street.

“A cap gets to the heart of the problem by stopping costs from spiralling out of control and pushing people into further debt. Our evidence has repeatedly shown that well-designed caps can reduce the harm high-cost credit can cause, as they have done in the payday loan market.”

The cap will come into force on 1 April 2019 following a consultation. The FCA is also introducing a two-day cooling off period for the sale of extended warranties, to stop firms selling them at the point of purchase. This will come into force on 22 February.

The crackdown follows the introduction of a price cap on payday lenders in 2014, which means borrowers never have to repay more than twice the cost of their original loan.

Around 300,000 households use rent-to-own firms. Alternatives include Fair For You, a not-for-profit credit provider that funds household goods and credit unions.

The regulator has also imposed customer compensation packages totalling nearly £16m on the main rent-to-own companies, BrightHouse, PerfectHome and Buy As You View. BrightHouse was ordered to pay more than £14.8m in compensation to 249,000 customers in October 2017.

Very welcomed but ... several decades too late ???
Spending cuts breach UK's human rights obligations, says report.

Study finds poorest lost out most from policies on tax, benefits and public services.

Cuts to public services and benefits that disproportionately affect the least well-off, single parents and disabled people put the government in breach of its human rights obligations, a study for the UK equalities watchdog has found.

Echoing the recent findings of the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, the study concluded the scale of the cuts and their lopsided impact on the most disadvantaged were a policy choice, rather than inevitable.

“There were a lot of choices, and the government chose to balance the budget on the backs of the poorest,” said the study’s co-author, Jonathan Portes, a professor of economics at King’s College London.

The study examined the impact of spending on the NHS, social care, police, transport, housing and education between 2010 and 2015 on various groups in England, Scotland and Wales. It also looked at the expected impact of spending plans for these sectors to 2021-22, and tax and benefit changes.

On a per-head basis, reductions since 2010 were significantly higher in England – equivalent to about 18% – than in Wales (5.5%) and Scotland (1%), in part because the devolved governments chose to mitigate some effects of the cuts, it said.

The poorest 20% of people in England lost an average of 11% of their incomes as a result of austerity, compared with zero losses for the top fifth of households.

Measured in cash terms, total spending on public services will have fallen by £1,500 per household in England by 2021-22, compared with just under £500 in Wales and £200 in Scotland, according to the study commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

“The results for Scotland, in particular, show that it has been possible to make spending choices which result in better outcomes for disadvantaged groups in Scotland than has been the case in England,” the EHRC said.

Other findings include:

Lone-parent households lost out most from tax and spending changes, on average. In England, their losses amount to 19% of income, compared with 10.5% in Wales and 7.6% in Scotland.

Big families lose out more than smaller ones. Average losses for families with three or more children were 13% of final income, compared with between 7% and 8% in Scotland and Wales.

Households containing people with a disability, younger households with an average adult age of 18-24, and black households were disproportionately affected by austerity cuts.

The decision to load austerity cuts excessively on to vulnerable groups contravenes the non-discrimination principles to which the UK is signed up under international human rights law, the report said. There was little evidence ministers had taken equality factors into account when taking tax and spending decisions.

The report Alston published earlier this month said the UK government had made a political choice to let what he called “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” austerity policies fall disproportionately on the poorest.

Alston said the UK was in breach of four UN human rights agreements relating to women, children, disabled people, and economic and social rights.

The EHRC study recommended ministers mitigate the effects of austerity cuts by increasing means-tested benefits, tax credits and universal credit, and raising spending on health, social care, education and social housing.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the EHRC chief executive, said: “We know that some communities are being left behind and that the gap is widening. We know we need to do something before it’s too late and we’ve shown that it’s possible to assess public spending decisions to see if we can make the impact fairer.”

The study said the differences between England, Wales and Scotland were down to faster population growth in England, different spending priorities and more generous funding in Scotland because of income tax rises.

A government spokesperson said: “We reject this analysis, which doesn’t include recent announcements such as the five-year NHS settlement or the increase in universal credit work allowances. The report also predicts future spending but the spending review next year will set out government plans beyond 2019-20.

“The Treasury, and other government departments, always considers how our policies will affect people of different incomes and those with protected characteristics such as race, religion and disabilities.”
Four million British workers live in poverty , charity says

Number of workers entering poverty rising faster than employment , says Joseph Roundtree Foundation.

More than 500,000 British workers have been swept into working poverty over the past five years, according to a report that shows the number of people with a job but living below the breadline has risen faster than employment.

In the latest sign that the link between entering work and making ends meet has become increasingly frayed in 21st-century Britain, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said that the number of workers in poverty hit 4 million last year, meaning about one in eight in the economy are now classified as working poor.

Nearly all of the increase comes as growing numbers of working parents find it harder to earn enough money to pay for food, clothing and accommodation due to weak wage growth, an erosion of welfare support and tax credits and the rising cost of living.

Half a million more children have become trapped in poverty over the past five years as a direct consequence, reaching 4.1 million last year, the charity’s report added. It means that in a typical classroom of 30 children, nine would come from a household in poverty.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the JRF, said: “We are seeing a rising tide of child poverty as more parents are unable to make ends meet, despite working. This is unacceptable.”

In the findings of JRF’s report, UK Poverty 2018, the number of children who slipped into poverty from a working family rose more steeply than at any time for 20 years.

It said parents getting stuck in low-paid work, especially in retail and hospitality jobs in hotels, bars, restaurants and shops, were among the drivers for the increase. It said more companies could pay the real living wage, which is higher than the government minimum, to help alleviate in-work poverty.

The charity defines the poverty line as being when households earn less than 60% of the median income, adjusted for size and type of household. The average median income for UK households after housing costs was £425 a week (£22,100 a year) in 2016-17.

Margaret Greenwood, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said the report should be a wake-up call for the government. “There is something seriously wrong when the number of people in work in poverty is increasing faster than employment,” she said.

The JRF analysis shows that gains for working families from the rising national living wage have been far outweighed by changes to tax credits and benefits designed to top up low wages. The living wage has steadily risen from £7.20 an hour in 2016 to £7.83 this April and will rise again to £8.21 next April.

It called on the government to end its four-year freeze on benefits, which began a year earlier than planned in 2016, saying it would help lift 200,000 people out of poverty and give 14 million people on low incomes an extra £270 on average in 2020-21.

Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the tax and spending thinktank, has shown that government cuts made under George Osborne’s policy of austerity have left the poorest 10% in society much worse-off than the richest since 2015.

Although Theresa May promised to bring austerity to an end at the autumn budget, as Britain prepares for Brexit, many economists say that milestone has yet to be reached.

More than 14 million people are struggling in poverty, or about one in five of the total UK population, according to the JRF. Of these, 8.2 million are working-age adults, 4.1 million are children and 1.9 million are pensioners. Eight million people live in poverty in families where at least one person is in work.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said it disagreed with the report, and that there were 1 million fewer people than in 2010 living in absolute poverty, which is a higher threshold than the measure used by the JRF.

They added: “With this government’s changes household incomes have never been higher, income inequality has fallen, taxes are down for families and businesses and there are fewer children in workless households than ever before, boosting their prospects in life.”
Nine children in typical class of 30 now living in poverty as levels soar to worst seen in decades, report says.

" More parents are unable to make ends meet, despite working. This is unacceptable. "

A “relentless rise” in the number of working families struggling to make ends meet means more than half a million children in Britain are now trapped in poverty, a damning report has revealed.

In-work poverty is the highest it has been in 20 years and in a typical classroom of 30 children, nine are living in poverty, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s state of the nation report says.

Although successive governments have argued work is the fastest route out of poverty, the figures show 8 million people are living in poverty in households where at least one person is already in work.

The alarming figures come after the chancellor Philip Hammond revealed Brexit will make the UK worse off under any scenario.

Overall one in five of the UK population (22 per cent) are already in poverty – a total of 14.3 million people, and 56.5 per cent of those in poverty are living in household where someone is in work.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, warned families could be “pushed over the brink”.

He said: “We are seeing a rising tide of child poverty as more parents are unable to make ends meet, despite working. This is unacceptable.

“It means more families are trapped in impossible situations: struggling to pay the bills, put food on the table and dealing with the terrible stresses and strains poverty places on family life.

“It’s time for us to decide what kind of country we want to be. As we leave the EU, we must tackle the burning injustice of poverty and make Britain a country that works for everyone.

“We can do this by taking action on housing, social security and work to loosen the constraints poverty places on people’s lives. No one wants to see more families being pushed over the brink.

“We have an opportunity to fix this and ensure everyone can reach a decent standard of living – it is one we must seize to make the country work for everyone after Brexit.”

In-work poverty has been rising even faster than employment, the report says, and has been exacerbated by many parents working in low paid service industry jobs with little chance of career progression “especially in hotels, bars, restaurants and shops”.

Any gains from the national living wage and tax cuts are often outweighed by changes to tax credits and benefits that top up low wages, while the cost of housing has risen.

To stem the rise in poverty, the report calls for major government investments in affordable housing, ending the freeze on benefits and tax credits, and for employers to help people progress in the workplace.
North of England continues to see bigger cuts in public spending, report finds.

Government spending in north fell £6.3bn while rising by £3.2bn in south, thinktank says.

Spending per head in London has increased by twice as much as spending in the north – £326 per head in London, compared with £146 per head in the north – since the launch of George Osborne’s “ Northern powerhouse ” initiative in 2014, the report found.

As many as 2 million adults and 1 million children live in poverty in the north, the report said. Weekly pay has fallen by £21 in the north since 2008, more than the national fall in pay, and half a million people work in accommodation and food services jobs where weekly pay is half the national average.

Northern neighbourhoods have the lowest life expectancies in England, the report found. In one neighbourhood in Blackpool the average male life expectancy at birth is 68, which is well below the English average of 79.
For disabled children in poverty, this Christmas is straight out of Dickens.

Thanks to government austerity, 40% of disabled children are now so poor that they’re going without presents.

Eight-year-old Finley has always had things tough. He has autism and a bowel condition, and is scared by crowds and noise. Finley’s mum, Lisa, is disabled and does the best she can, but the costs are colossal. Finley’s special nappies alone cost £60 a month. Since Lisa became too ill to work, social security has been their lifeline – from specialist food to keep Finley healthy to therapy toys to make him less anxious.

Then universal credit came in. The inbuilt six-week wait stopped the family’s only income – “[It] left me with literally no money in that time,” Lisa says – and her benefits now vary month to month.

What’s more, under universal credit, disabled kids like Finley are seeing their child disability payment cut in half – that’s a loss of more than £1,750 a year – and Lisa has had to start using her own disability benefits to top up Finley’s.

The family car recently broke down and they were housebound as they saved to fix it. Respite care for Finley – a precious breather for both him and Lisa – has ended. Even Christmas has to be rationed.

“We’ve had to limit Finley’s expectations about Christmas, saying that Santa will bring one or two presents this year,” Lisa says. “We’re not taking him to see Santa in the runup to Christmas because we can’t afford it.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking this was some sort of Scrooge-like parody of so-“welfare reform”: wealthy Conservative ministers withholding Christmas presents from sick and disabled kids. But Finley’s case is brutally common: 40% of disabled children are now so poor they’re going without Christmas and birthday presents, according to research out this week by the charity Contact into the cost of childhood disability. Read through Contact’s study and it shows unflinchingly the reality for Britain’s disabled children, where austerity has cut so deep that a quarter of families with kids with disabilities are skipping meals, while almost seven in 10 are going without new clothes.

The study shows many disabled children are even going without hospital appointments and becoming sicker as a result – like Finley, they need to see a doctor but their parents are too poor to afford the transport to get there.

The critical underfunding of Britain’s disabled people is now well documented. But the maltreatment of disabled children is rarely discussed – a sort of national secret too shameful to admit. A cocktail of cuts and longstanding inequalities is seeing families with disabled kids facing widespread hardship, placing enormous stress on parents and robbing vulnerable children of their health, security and comfort.

Across the board, disabled kids are being hardest hit by austerity, from losing payments under universal credit and the closure of respite centres, to the crisis in special educational needs. The charity Scope is now so concerned that it is currently calling on the government to introduce the first ever minister for disabled children and families.

It emerged this month that thousands of disabled children’s lives are at risk after being denied vital equipment by cash-strapped councils. The charity Newlife found more than eight in 10 local authorities were using unlawful “blanket bans” for disabled children – where councils ration shrinking budgets by refusing to provide equipment such as wheelchairs or walking frames in any circumstances, irrespective of the child’s medical need.

This strain is only set to mount in the coming years: by 2021, the Equality and Human Rights Commission calculates all households with a disabled child and a disabled adult will shoulder losses of more than £6,500 a year.

It is the definition of a safety net gone wrong, in which the very group in society that most needs to be nurtured and cared for is being discarded and harmed. As one parent struggling to pay the bills put it to Contact: “Benefits should be there to help people, not make us feel like scroungers and thieves. We’re missing quality time with our terminally ill child, all because of money.”

The government is not so much turning a blind eye to this suffering as turning it into a photo-op. As need goes up this winter, the Christmas season is seeing a trend of Conservative MPs posing at food banks; the latest being the former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab. The nerve of this is staggering, as if a criminal returning to the scene of a crime, but it shows clearly how the most nightmarish of things – say, a disabled children going hungry – can embed itself into reality.

The rhetoric that has so successfully scapegoated disabled adults in recent years – that we are fakers, scroungers, leeches – cannot, even by its most zealot critics, be levelled at disabled children. Instead, such a social crisis takes hold through a combination of disconnect and normalisation. Politicians publicly lament the sad sight of “struggling” families at food banks while pretending no one has noticed that their policies caused it. The public can put a pound in a children’s charity tin while voting in governments that cut funding for disabled kids.

There is a time in every society where we have to make an active choice for something better – to challenge politicians who dare to balance budgets on the backs of the poor and disabled. It is not a festive cliché to suggest Britain needs to refind its compassion and fund a welfare state with care at its heart. Otherwise, no one is safe. Not even disabled children.
Pensioner poverty rises as benefits freeze bites.

Declining home-ownership and rising rents mean that one in six may have to choose between food and heat, warns Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

One in six pensioners is now living in poverty as a result of declining home ownership, soaring rents and the benefits freeze, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned. Pensioner poverty is rising, having fallen steadily for nearly two decades, the charity said.

The figures prompt fears that many pensioners will be forced to choose between paying for heating and buying food this winter, as benefits remain frozen below inflation for the third year in a row.

The foundation’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, said: “Pensioner poverty is a problem that we thought had gone away.”

The incidence had halved over 20 years, but began rising again in 2012-13. By 2016-17, 16% of pensioners were living in poverty, rising to 31% among those in social housing and 36% among private renters. Poverty here is “relative poverty” – an income of less than 60% of the median among pensioners, after housing costs.

Robb said: “For middle-aged people who have been struggling over the past few years, who don’t have many savings and don’t own their own home, the prospect of being a pensioner is very challenging.” The “golden age” when people enjoyed rising home-ownership and well-paid work was coming to an end, he added. About 20% of all pensioners rent their home, and the proportion is growing.

The problem is compounded by the benefits freeze, in place since 2016. “As rent goes up faster than housing benefit, pensioners have a huge gap to fill,” Robb said. “This tips people into poverty, and forces them to choose between food and heating.”

Figures published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies this year reveal that relative poverty among pensioners has risen in the past five years, while “absolute poverty” – an income of less than 60% of what the median of the general population was in 2010-11 – has fallen by just 1%. By comparison, absolute pensioner poverty fell by 12% between 2002-03 and 2007-08, and by 3% between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

The foundation called on the government to end the benefits freeze and to build genuinely affordable housing. “These figures are part of a wider increase in poverty across all age-groups,” said Robb. “If we don’t tackle the causes now, we fear that we are going to see poverty – particularly among pensioners – rise even more.”

50,000 " Excess " deaths last winter :

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... r%20deaths

A macabre bet for the winter of 2018 / 2019 ???
Gordon Brown : I didn't think I'd see child poverty again in my lifetime.

Ex-chancellor’s tax credits started to erase problem – but universal credit reverses trend.

As chancellor between 1997 and 2007, Brown used the tax and benefit system to tackle child poverty. He introduced tax credits to top up poverty pay and made child benefit more generous. The downward trend in child poverty that Labour bequeathed in 2010 has been reversed and is on course, Brown says, to hit 5 million by 2022.

Asked how that makes him feel, the former PM says: “It makes me angry. I’m seeing poverty I didn’t think I would ever see again in my lifetime. Slum housing was a feature of my childhood in the 1950s and 1960s, and I thought we had finally got over the worst of child poverty. Tax credits were the key to that.”

Brown has been especially critical of universal credit, which replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment. After widespread criticism, the current incumbent at the Treasury, Philip Hammond, announced an extra £1.7bn for UC in the budget and says the switch would happen more slowly.

Brown is unimpressed. “You can’t solve child poverty with the existing system,” he says. “Universal credit is completely underfunded and every time they move people on to it you see more poverty. Minimum wage jobs don’t pay enough to keep a family with two or three children out of poverty.”

Child poverty in Britain was once concentrated among the unemployed. Today, a combination of low pay and a much less generous welfare system means that two-thirds of poor children are in working households.

“The government is trying to analyse this as people who are too lazy to get into work,” Brown says. “But the problem is that people can’t earn enough to stay out of poverty.”

Despite all the faults of the " Pink " phase whilst in office , one attempt to ease the plight of millions did work ... for a time ?
216 posts