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

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
71 posts
Further article in this morning's Guardian , this time the focus is on rent :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... rears-soar

Revealed: universal credit sends rent arrears soaring.

Housing chiefs’ warning on effect of flagship Tory welfare reform


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Ministers are coming under intense pressure to put the brakes on the government’s flagship welfare reform programme, following damning new evidence that it is leaving thousands of low-paid workers unable to pay their rent and at risk of homelessness.

The Observer can reveal a catalogue of concerns from landlords, councils and charities about universal credit, which have been handed to a parliamentary inquiry investigating the programme.

With the accelerated roll-out of the new system just weeks away, some warn that rent arrears among tenants receiving universal credit are running at three, four or even five times the level of those on the old system. Three councils whose tenants have already been moved on to universal credit said they had built up about £8m in rent arrears. Croydon, Hounslow and Southwark said that more than 2,500 tenants claiming it were now at risk of eviction.

Some food banks reported that marriages had broken down as a result of the extra pressures of waiting for payments, while some landlords are now choosing not to accept tenants on universal credit.

Figures obtained by the Observer under the Freedom of Information Act also show that half of all council tenants across 105 local authorities who receive the housing element of universal credit – which replaces housing benefit – are at least a month behind on their rent, with 30% two months behind.

By contrast, less than 10% of council tenants on housing benefit are a month behind on their rent, with under 5% running more than two months behind.


Just under a month ago , I had the semi annual " Landlord's inspection " conducted by one of the letting agent's staff.

Spent most of the time talking about the likely impact of UC come December 'ere in the Worksop Gulag.

What I did find surprising is that the letting agents were unaware , and had taken no action in advance of the 1st. December rollout.

Even more surprising was the revelation of the number of tenants already in arrears , many working ones , and the reluctance of landlords to take any action as demand had fallen year on year despite having some of the cheapest rents for many miles around.

Still , the rollout continues .... unabated ... even to be accelerated if a couple of reports are to be believed.
The Guardian's View on the UC rollout :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... sal-credit

It is a flawed and cruel system that should be stopped.

A snippett :

"We will govern in the interests of ordinary working families”, pledged the latest Conservative manifesto, a line that will ring increasingly hollow in the next few years. By 2022, millions of families will find themselves thousands of pounds a year worse off: not as a result of sluggish wage growth or the rising cost of essentials, rather, as a direct result of this government’s decisions to cut financial support for low-income working parents while it delivers expensive tax cuts for more affluent families.

Well worth a couple of minutes of any reader's time.

Comments section buzzing , one at random that sums up the situation very well :

It never had noble aims. It's sole aim is to 'make work pay' by ensuring that as few people as possible get benefits and as few benefits as possible are granted. The intention is to drive people into low paid, often dangerous and precarious jobs. It's underlying philosophy is the same that legitimated the workhouses of the early 19th Century- the poor are lazy , make em work. It is New Right policy making and yes it is cruel, but the only thing that is 'noble' about it is that wants to make serfs out of us.


The rollout out continues .... coming to YOUR manor shortly ... if not already in place.

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Just think of the advantages of a Carers Credit Union having been established following recommendations ( CarerWatch 2007 ) for all carers faced with the UC rollout amongst other needs over the years.

Mentioned on the ( Now almost dormant ) Dragon's Den thread in passing ...

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/news-and ... on#p352214

Still , what we don't have we won't miss ?

Again , a grass roots recommendation that was simply subject to " Lobbying " ... lob in bin ?
Today's Independent ... one of those articles which could stand alone under a separate thread or be shoe horned into a couple of exisiting ones ... I chose the latter :

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ho ... 57856.html

UK faces 'winter of discontent' after record numbers of families fall below poverty line, experts warn.

Poorest households set to be 'crushed completely' as financial challenges sees demand for emergency support such as food banks soar to unprecedented levels, report suggests


The connection is the UC rollout factor ... by February 2018 , hundreds of thousands more claiming benefits will be affected.

Reproduced in full given the factors involved.

The UK is facing a new "winter of discontent", experts have warnedas, as a record number of low-income families are driven into poverty.

A major report from the University of Birmingham's School of Social Policy suggests the poorest households in Britain are set to be “crushed completely”, with financial challenges having seen reliance on additional support such as food banks soar to unprecedented levels across the country.

With rising inflation brought about by the Brexit vote’s impact on the pound having further reduced levels of real pay and placed more strain on household budgets, the report warns that millions are still struggling to make ends meet.

It reveals that many people who have tried their best to work and save since the global financial crisis have barely returned to the situation they were in nearly a decade ago, with a sharp rise in the number of people who said they would be unable to find £200 to meet a one-off expense.

One in five Britons believe they are now more likely to lose their jobs, the findings show — a pessimism researchers attribute in part to fresh uncertainty brought on by the UK’s imminent departure from the EU.

The study found that almost half of those surveyed (46 per cent) believed the outcome of June's General Election would make their household's economic situation worse, while 35 per cent believed the result of the poll would make no difference to their financial fortunes and just 6 per cent thought they would benefit over the next 12 months.

The report’s co-author, Professor Karen Rowlingson, of the University of Birmingham’s Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management, warned that unless there are changes, the UK would fall into a "winter of discontent" akin to that in the Seventies, which saw widespread strikes by trade unions demanding larger pay rises.

“Things have definitely got tougher. Five years ago the situation was improving for some people, but in the past two or three years, as we can see from all sorts of data, things have clearly taken a turn for the worse,” she said.

“Unless things change, the outlook for a lot of people appears very challenging – so much so that we could be about to enter a new winter of discontent.

“Since the global financial crisis many people have done their best to work and save – yet today, after nine years of lost growth, they’re maybe only back where they started.

“If the current state of play continues then the people in the ‘squeezed middle’ could be more squeezed than ever – and the people at the very bottom may well be crushed completely.”

The report, which is released annually and has come to be widely regarded as the foremost source of information and insight on financial inclusion in the UK, acknowledges several positive trends, including falls in unemployment, insolvencies and mortgage possessions and a rise in workplace-based pensions.

But it highlights many more negatives, including declining wages and savings rates, rising levels of personal debt and higher inflation placing greater strain on family budgets.

As a result of these and other factors, the report’s authors say more households are facing a “real struggle” to make ends meet and cover one-off expenses.

More than one in five people (22 per cent) were living in poor, low-income households last year — a rise on the 21 per cent figure in 2013-2014. Of these, more than half (55 per cent) of those in working families are now living in poverty – marking a record high.

With this rise in poverty, there has been a dramatic increase in demand for emergency food and support, with food bank provider the Trussell Trust providing three-day emergency food and support to more than 1.2 million people in the past year, compared with just over 61,000 in 2010-2011.

The so-called “poverty premium”, which forces the poorest members of society to pay more for goods and services than those who are able to pay upfront, remains a key issue.

Professor Rowlingson, a Professor of Social Policy, also warned that the universal credit system of benefit payments could prove “catastrophic” to debt levels if implemented as planned.

“We can clearly see from the latest available data that the people at the bottom are being pushed further down, and benefit changes are only likely to make that even worse,” she said.

Report co-author Professor Stephen McKay, a distinguished Professor of Social Research at the University of Lincoln, warned that the gpa between the richest and poorest in society was growing, with others being “squeezed” in the middle.

“The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing. While those at the top have improved their position relative to others, we’re seeing a higher proportion of people struggling at the bottom and being squeezed in the middle,” he said.

“People are generally more pessimistic about the future following the Brexit vote. This provides even more impetus to tackle the fundamental causes of financial exclusion.”

The authors are now calling for the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, Guy Opperman, to formulate a new strategy to improve levels of financial inclusion.

They argue that this should be in line with the recommendations of the recent House of Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion.

The latest figures show that more than 1.5 million adults in the UK personally lacked access to a bank account in 2015-2016, with the savings ratio falling to a new low in 2016 at 3.3 per cent, compared to 11.5 per cent in 2010.


There is some irony in this.

Reporting such articles on this forum.

Just how many carers that WILL be affected actually read the forum ???

Therein lies the problem for our supporting organisations.

How do they reach the " Poorest " amongst our ranks ???

That is ... assuming of couse ... they have the Will to do so ???

Road shows ? Safe destinations so far ....

One politician once said ... " No child should be written off " .

How about carers ?
An article from today's Guardian .... further warning to the DWP , and mention of same advice given by a Select Committee back in 2015 :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... tification

Ministers told to cut wait for new benefit amid evidence it is causing debt.

Report raised ‘very serious concerns’ with government over delay before first payment

Ministers are facing growing calls to slash the time welfare claimants are forced to wait before being entitled to the government’s flagship new benefit, having been warned some time ago by their own advisers that the delay is “beyond reasonable justification”.

David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary, has been under pressure to slow down the roll-out of universal credit, which combines several benefits into one payment, after mounting evidence that it is pushing new claimants into debt and rent arrears. There are also calls for the government to end the seven-day waiting period after a new claim is made.

The delay saves the government £250m a year.

Councils and housing associations have raised concerns about the waiting period because it means claimants are then paid a month in arrears, meaning they may wait up to six weeks for their first payment. There have been reports of claimants waiting even longer.

The government had been urged not to proceed with the seven-day wait by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), which advises it on welfare issues, as long ago as 2015. Its report to ministers then raised “very serious concerns” about the measure. It said it should not go ahead, based on “persuasive and compelling evidence”.

“The committee considers that the impact of having to serve waiting days for a benefit that includes other costs, in particular housing, puts it beyond reasonable justification,” it said. “Universal credit was introduced on a platform of being a simple benefit and we consider that simplicity requires there to be no waiting days.”

There have also been huge cuts to the overall budget for the project: the Resolution Foundation thinktank has calculated that some families will lose out on up to £2,600 a year. David Finch, its senior policy analyst, said: “As universal credit is rolled out across the country, the problems that are already starting to emerge are likely to build. The government should urgently rethink the design and operation of universal credit before too many more families are affected.”


There are times when the Government are seriously out of step with the general public.

This one is in the top three .... by a country mile.

The evidence is overwhelming and yet , the policy is to carry on regardless.

Usual comments section , just one to savour :

This bars so many benefits claimants from private landlords whose banks demand rent up front in the tenancy agreement. Paying four weeks in advance puts them in arrears sooner according to the tenancy agreement and a quit notice issued a lot faster, on the face of it with eight weeks unpaid. Then there is the hassle and cost of moving out, getting them out, and finding somewhere else when the system may not pay a penny for 8 - 14 weeks. Even housing associations do it locally, when they know the family qualify. 8 weeks and out is the automatic reaction, with zero tolerance if you pay late, as an example to others.
Further article from the Guardian , this time a more general view on UC and it's effects on poverty :

Universal credit is a shambles because the poor are ignored.

Far from being progressive, the measure will bring destitution of a huge scale


A strongly worded introduction to say the least ?

The argument about poverty has become an argument between the left and right wings of the middle class. Universal credit is the malign result of the failure to listen to working-class voices or develop the imaginative sympathy to understand the constraints on their lives. In no other area of public policy would we accept it, but with the poor we nod it through without a blush of shame.

Academic worded language ... always a " Bad " sign ?

Still , the article is on record , what do YOU make of the conclusions ?

It's not a " What if " type situation , it's a direct consequence of Government policy.

The first priority of ANY Government is to protect it's citizens.

There is a clear failure here as the protection against the ravishes and hiccups in the free market economy has all but disappeared.

As carers , low millions of us , together with our carees , are in the front line.

In plain language ... demned expendable ???
An article from the Huffpost .... UC rollout and the likely impact on food banks :

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/garry-l ... 94874.html

If Universal Credit Rollout Continues, Foodbanks Won’t Be Able To Catch Everyone Who Falls


Another if night follow day scenario ?

Universal Credit has the potential to be transformative. Its twin goals - to simplify a complicated system and ensure that moving into work pays - are sensible. In theory, people will no longer struggle with multiple agencies administering multiple benefits, while those who are able to work should find they can keep more of each pound they earn as they transition into employment. In theory, it should ensure people have the support they need to be able to buy the basics, put food on the table and get back on their feet.

That’s the theory. In reality, our foodbanks are finding the opposite is true for many:

“We are being squeezed at both ends, less disposable income for the givers leading to reduced donations and more demand at the other end. Our food reserves are down from 40 tons to just over 14 tons. We have had part roll-out [of Universal Credit] but it’s not yet complete in the outer parts of the city so we expect things to get rapidly worse.”



This is primarily because of a six week wait that must be endured before you can claim the money to which you are entitled. Designed to get people used to ‘normal’ working patterns, Universal Credit is payed monthly, in arrears. On top of this month’s wait, most new claimants must get through a week of ‘waiting days’ before the assessment period of four weeks even begins, and then wait a further seven days before any money is finally paid into their account.

Inevitably, trying to survive without money for such a long period is going to be a struggle for people without savings in place or access to other support. Managers and volunteers in foodbanks in areas of Universal Credit roll-out areas are clear that this delay is the main cause of financial crisis and hunger in people they speak to referred to our network of foodbanks. Recent research by Citizens Advice (who have also called for a pause in roll-out, and call Universal Credit ‘a disaster waiting to happen’) backs this up. It shows that lack of funds during this six week wait can cause or exacerbate debt problems.

But it is not just the way Universal Credit has been designed that is leaving people in crisis. We are also seeing serious issues in its implementation. Due to poor administration and IT issues, we are seeing reports of people waiting 11, 12 and even 13 weeks to receive their first Universal Credit payment.

On top of this, winter is coming. Due to a number of factors, such as cold weather and high energy bills, particularly for customers on pre-payment meters; or foodbanks and referral agencies ensuring that people who are likely to hit crisis have food ahead of Christmas Day, we traditionally see a huge spike in demand. Yet it is over this critical period that we will see Universal Credit roll-out accelerate significantly from 51 of our foodbanks to cover over a quarter of our entire network.

We fear this combination of factors will leave our network of foodbanks struggling to cope. And in light of this we have no option but to call for the Universal Credit roll-out to be paused.

So what can be done? In the immediate term, work to amend Universal Credit’s design and tackle poor administration in the system is needed before it can be rolled out without causing more hunger and destitution: reducing the 6-week wait for a first payment and providing more support through programmes like Universal Support would make a real difference to people navigating the new system.

We also know there are some areas where Universal Credit hasn’t led to huge increases in the number of people needing foodbank and we want to find out why - is it that budgeting loans are being offered and people are getting the support they need, or is it that their Local Welfare Assistance Scheme is working well and people aren’t falling into crisis? Finding out the positive stories of good partnership working is crucial to making sure Universal Credit works well.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and have good links to the DWP to share the experiences of foodbanks in our network as they deal with this reform on the ground. The Trussell Trust supports the principles that underpin Universal Credit - this is an opportunity to fix a benefits system that is currently leaving far too many people in crisis.

But what we must not become is a charity safety net that catches people because our benefits system is fundamentally flawed. Not just for moral or ethical reasons, but because all of the evidence on Universal Credit leads us to believe that even with the enormous generosity of our donors and the hard work and sacrifice of our volunteers and staff, we will simply not be able to catch everybody who falls.


One which will only intensify as the weeks pass by.
Many papers , including the tabloids , have picked this one up ... an article from today's Guardian :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... d-tory-mps

Universal credit rollout should be paused, say Tory MPs

Letter from 12 MPs raises concerns over impact on people already receiving universal credit in trial areas


A " Letter " .... why not sit down in the path of the UC Steamhammer once it appears on their manor ???


A dozen Tory MPs have added their voices to mounting calls on the government to slow down the implementation of universal credit – its controversial overhaul of the benefits system.

A letter backed by 12 Tories MPs, including the prominent backbencher Heidi Allen, called for the rollout to be paused over fears about the impact on claimants already receiving universal credit in trial areas, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Signatories to the letter, which was sent to the work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, include Andrew Selous, a former parliamentary aide to one of Gauke’s predecessors, Iain Duncan Smith.

The letter echoes similar calls by Labour and the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, and Citizen Advice.


New universal credit claimants are set to receive significantly less than they would have done under the tax credits system, as a result of changes aimed at cutting £12bn a year from the welfare bill.

Landlords report that rent arrears among tenants receiving universal credit are running up to five times the level of those on the old system.

Research by the charity Citizens Advice found that of the people it had helped, over a third had been waiting more than six weeks for their first payment, and more than half were borrowing money to cope.


However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said its research had found that about 80% of all new claims were paid in full and on time.

Allen spoke out in the Commons earlier this month to call on the government to “slow down a little bit and get it right” after figures showed that about one in four new claimants waited longer than six weeks to be paid.

Gauke is due to make a decision in the coming days about whether the rollout should be accelerated.


Nothing really new if you have been following this thread except for the discontent is growing.

12 Tory mps ... in marginal seats ?

Or , a twinge of conscience ???

The second would be a real novelty ???

Jacob Rees - Mogg amongst them ???
Yet more today , Neil Coyle , local mp writing in today's Guardian :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ark-tories

Universal credit is a mean, flawed scheme. Its rollout must be blocked.

In my Southwark constituency, the Tories’ benefits system has already forced many into debt, food poverty and eviction.

Others should be saved from it


Southwark’s trialling of universal credit has been fraught with problems. Almost weekly, I have seen the direct effect of the scheme’s inbuilt delays. From asking for help to getting any takes at least six weeks, but the average has consistently been higher – and many people wait up to 12 weeks. This pushes many into foodbank use, debt, rent arrears and even evictions. It is also unnecessary, as advanced payment agreements could be made to help people with learning disabilities, previous money troubles or at risk of homelessness, which cut the delays considerably. DWP has, to date, refused to advertise or use them properly.

This DWP failure has a clear effect. The Leathermarket JMB is a resident-managed housing organisation in Southwark. It is well run and, until recently, the average tenant’s rent account was about £70 in credit. The 137 tenants on universal credit, however, now are an average of £648 in arrears. If universal credit is rolled out without tackling inbuilt delays it would leave councils, housing associations and other landlords with crippling deficits, and eviction costs, to boot.

Pecan, Southwark’s main foodbank provider, estimates that benefit delays have caused a tripling of the number of children reliant on its help since universal credit was extended locally to cover parents. One single father recently broke down as he told me he couldn’t afford soap or sanitary products for his daughter.


Again , worth reading the full article .... could be any one of several hundred mps reflecting on modern day life in his / her manor.

Just one comment from a buzzing section at the bottom :


You don't abandon an entire system because of an 'IT glitch'.

You fix the glitch, then fix the management processes that allowed glitchy software to go live.

The 'inbuilt delays' are another matter.

There needs to be a change of policy to eliminate delays from the system.

A good benefits system maintains the stability of claimants' lives, as that gives them the best chance of quick return to self-sufficiency.

Designing in delays in which peoples' lives can unravel makes no sense at all.


The UC rollout continues ... unabated ....
Bad day for this thread !

Snippet from an article on the BBC website :

Homeless 'because of Universal Credit'

Garry Dunningham, 24, lives in a tent by the river in Great Yarmouth.

He says he and his girlfriend were evicted from their shared flat about six months ago once their landlord found out they were on Universal Credit.

"Basically because we were on Universal Credit and he's had a lot of people not paying the rent... we got kicked out."

Garry says he has tried 58 private landlords across the town but no-one will take them.

"As soon as I go to meet them and say I am on Universal Credit, it's a no: 'We ain't got no rooms.'"

He says being homeless has affected his chances of finding work: "You need an address. It's a vicious circle."

He has even offered to pay rent and a deposit in advance "but they won't even do that".

"No-one's giving us the benefit of the doubt. You can't always judge everyone by what other people have done but that's what they're doing.

"I've walked down the street and there's been house after house empty... and no one will let us in."


Just come back from a visit to the local post office.

5 letting agency officies passed .... 2 have prominent new signs in their window :

SORRY , NO HOUSING BENEFIT CLAIMANTS

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UC rollout scheduled for the 1st. December for the Worksop and surrounding gulag..
More adding their support to stop the UC steamroller in it's tracks.

The Scottish Government and mps from the Northern Ireland Assembly :

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... are-reform

Scotland calls for halt on universal credit.

Northern Ireland also expresses concerns, putting launch of flagship welfare reform in doubt.


Ministers were under mounting pressure last night to slam the brakes on their radical welfare reform after the Scottish government called for a pause and their Northern Irish partners in parliament raised serious concerns.

With senior Conservative MPs privately voicing unease about the universal credit system, it emerged that the Scottish government and Scottish local councils have written to David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary, demanding a halt to the rollout of the project in Scotland.

The Democratic Unionist Party, whose support allowed Theresa May to stay in government after the general election, has also said it has concerns as the new arrangements begin in Northern Ireland. It is understood that the DUP raised the matter with ministers after charities, councils and housing associations highlighted instances in which the scheme forces people into debt and rent arrears.

Jeane Freeman, the Scottish social security minister, said there had been some “abject failures”, leading to severe hardship for claimants. Data from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) suggests that in areas where a full rollout has taken place, the level of rent arrears for tenants in the new system is at least 2.5 times that of those in receipt of housing benefit.

The findings come after a group of Tory MPs wrote to Gauke asking for a pause in the rollout, which is set to accelerate. A senior former minister said the government was now worried about the “several-week wait” that claimants face before receiving their first payment.


Irony .... just how many of those in Goverment / Opposition adding their concerns to this Issue will be recipients of UC ?

What are they REALLY concerned about ... losing votes or , for once , the genuine concerns of the people at the bottom end ?

Given the rubber stamping of regressive legislation over the years , it is correct to ask that question ?


When is enough enough ?


And then...

What we have is a jungle, which individuals usually have to fight their way through alone and often without any resources or help.

What we need is a social security system founded in respect for citizens and which aims to help them navigate the rules, without dropping them down a cliff of debt in the meantime. That means we need a channel of communication - feedback and power - from local offices back up the line to central government.

And to make any huge system changes - from a zillion benefits to UC, or integrating health and social care, or moving from treatment to prevention, or whatever - governments need to build in a period of overlap, IMO, ensuring that the old system doesn't drop people while the new system is taking over.

That means staffing both systems, and it means assuming some double-payment in the meantime, but it would IMO ensure the new system does work and I think that would be cheaper in the end.


The UC rollout continues .... unabated.
71 posts