UNIVERSAL CREDIT ( UC ) : Rollout Schedule * Mines * Sanctions * Changes * Delays * Reports From Affected Manors

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
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Veteran MP accuses ministers of treating universal credit claimants and Commons committee " Like dirt."

Government response to universal credit warnings " Skimpy and disappointing ", says Frank Field.


Ministers have been accused of dismissing the experiences of people struggling under universal credit and treating witnesses and MPs raising concerns about the issue “like dirt”.

In a highly unusual move, the Work and Pensions select committee claimed it was “not clear” the government had even read the group’s recent report on the new benefits system.

Independent MP Frank Field, who chairs the committee, said the government's initial response to the warnings about childcare as a barrier to work under universal credit detailed in the report was “skimpy and disappointing”.

The committee's original report, published in December 2018, found that, far from helping parents get into or back into work after having a child, the way the “support” is constructed under universal credit actually acts as a barrier to work.

A number of witnesses gave evidence to the original inquiry, including several single parents who putting “considerable time and effort” into giving evidence and coming up with constructive ways to improve Universal Credit childcare support.

But the MPs said the government’s response, published last month, gave the impression that it was “simply dismissing the very serious problems (under universal credit) that are plaguing parents who are trying to get into work”.

They said it was particularly disappointing given that work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has acknowledged the serious problems that structural flaws in the new system are causing for parents who rely on childcare support to be able to work.

Independent MP Frank Field, chair of the committee, said the group was “frankly sick of these disrespectful government responses that treat us like dirt and fail to engage with our robust, evidence-based conclusions”.

He added: “It’s not clear they’ve even read this one. Worse, in responding this way, government dismisses the experience and evidence of the individuals and organisations that have taken the time, and made the effort, and are working with us to try to fix the unholy mess that is universal credit.

“This response in particular is simply not acceptable, and that is why we are taking the unusual step of issuing this report, demanding that they go back, look at what we and our witnesses have said, and come up with a second, decent response. This will not do."

A DWP spokesperson said: “These claims are disappointing - we take the committee’s input very seriously, have provided detailed responses to all of their recommendations and have already accepted some. We will now carefully consider their additional points.

“Universal credit is supporting 1.8 million people and can pay up to 85 per cent of people’s childcare costs, which is more generous than the old benefit system.”
" Deeply irresponsible " : DWP kept " Alarming " universal credit findings secret for 18 months.

Report revealing " Lack of awareness " among claimants released to MPs a year and a half after it was produced.


Ministers have been accused of keeping “alarming” findings about their flagship universal credit scheme under wraps for a year and a half.

MPs say it was “deeply irresponsible” to delay the release of the report, which suggests nearly half of claimants were not aware their tax credits would stop when they claimed universal credit, and 56 per cent felt they received too little information from HMRC.

The document was produced in November 2017 but only released this month to MPs who, in the meantime, have had to make “pivotal” decisions based on “partial” information, according to the chair of the Work and Pensions Committee Frank Field.

In a letter to senior ministers, Mr Field said the “excessively long delay” had taken place during ongoing decisions about the flagship welfare benefit, which have affected the “lives and incomes of millions of people”.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has repeatedly argued that universal credit is more generous than the old benefit system and provides a “safety net” for those who need it.

The report reveals, however, that more than a third were experiencing financial difficulties – of which six in 10 said their difficulties started after they began claiming universal credit.


It also found that there was a “lack of awareness and a perceived lack of clear information about the new benefit and the migration process”.

Politicians and charities who support people transitioning to universal credit said it was “counterproductive” for ministers to have refrained from publishing the research for a year and a half. They urged the government to take into account all future research in a “thorough, timely and transparent way”.

In his letter, Mr Field asks Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and Chancellor Philip Hammond what actions they took “immediately on seeing the report, aside from deciding to delay publication”.

He writes: “MPs should not be asked to make these pivotal decisions based on partial information. It would be deeply irresponsible for the government not to provide Members of both Houses with the best possible information on which to make them.

“It is profoundly regrettable that this seems to have occurred in this case. I very much hope that this consideration will be at the forefront of the government’s mind as it makes future decisions on sharing the findings of its own research.”

Garry Lemon, director of research and policy at the Trussell Trust, said the fact that the research has not resulted in significant changes to the support provided to people moving onto universal credit was “not only deeply concerning, but deeply irresponsible”.

He added: ”Our benefits system was created to anchor us all from being pushed into poverty, but for too many people moving on to the new service, universal credit has pushed them to a food bank.”

Jess Leigh, policy and campaigns manager at disability equality charity Scope, said: “At a time when government needs to restore trust in the system, sitting on a report for 18 months is counterproductive.

“This report is further evidence that universal credit isn’t working for disabled people. As universal credit becomes a reality for millions of disabled people, many face losing vital welfare support and falling off a financial cliff edge.


“It is critical that the upcoming trial of managed migration takes into account all research in a thorough, timely and transparent way.”

The latest figures show that the DWP is expected to spend close to £1bn on administrative errors in the payment of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to disabled people – far more than initially expected.

The department was forced to admit that even after new guidance had been issued to staff in 2015 in an attempt to correct the problem – which saw around 180,000 people deprived of benefits they were legally entitled to – 30,000 extra cases had been identified where it was possible the same error resulting in underpayment had been made.

A government spokesperson said they had received Mr Field’s letter and would respond in due course, adding: “This study shows the public’s understanding of universal credit continues to rise. Satisfaction levels are high and people are being helped into work quicker.

“We publish reports once they are quality assured and we regularly update the Committee on universal credit.”
Almost 2m people will lose £1,000 a year with universal credit – study.

Those on disability benefits and low incomes will be among worst affected, IFS concludes.


Almost 2 million people will lose more than £1,000 a year following the switch to universal credit, with those claiming disability benefits the worst affected, according to research by a leading thinktank.

Self-employed workers on below average incomes and low-income families with little savings will also be among the biggest losers, the Institute for Fiscal Studies study concluded, as the government aims to complete one of the biggest overhauls of the benefits system since the introduction of tax credits in 2003.

The benefit clawbacks under the new system, which will affect around half of claimants, are expected to lead to a huge outcry from anti-poverty charities who have accused ministers of sanctioning more than a decade of austerity for some of the UK’s most hard-pressed households.

Earlier this month, welfare claimants began the fourth year of a benefits freeze imposed by the former chancellor George Osborne in 2016, which has already delivered cumulative savings of £4.4bn.

In March, the annual Households Below Average Income (HBAI) report covering 2017-18 found that 3.7 million children were living in absolute poverty, up from 3.5 million in 2016-17.

Universal credit is a merger of several benefits previously paid to claimants separately, including housing benefit, child tax credit and jobs seekers allowance.

The IFS said 11 million adults would lose or gain under new rules governing UC payouts, with 1.6 million gaining by more than £1,000 a year and 1.9 million losing at least that much.

About 4.2 million will be at least £100 per year better off than under the current system and 4.6 million will be at least £100 per year worse off after transitional protection expires, the IFS said.

The research tracked previous claimants and concluded that the circumstances of many low-income families will improve and they are likely to reduce their losses from UC over eight years. For some, losses will fall from more than £1,000 to nearer £100, the report said.

But those who are disabled or live with a disabled person are especially likely to be persistently, rather than temporarily, poor.

Tom Waters, a research economist at the IFS and an author of the briefing note, said: “The biggest losses experienced as a result of the switch are mostly down to a small number of specific choices the government has made about universal credit’s design, such as its treatment of the low-income self-employed and people with financial assets.

“Many of those very large losses do turn out to be temporary for those concerned. However, even when measuring people’s incomes over relatively long periods, universal credit still hits the persistently poor the hardest on average.”
While Britain forces its disabled people to food banks, it is unfit for the 21st century.

There is no starker example than universal credit of the way cuts punish this country’s most vulnerable citizens.


It is 2019, and the UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. But today’s figures released by the Trussell Trust show that more than 1.6 million emergency food parcels were given to people going hungry across the UK last year.

This country is home to 145 billionaires, yet food banks for the poorest are becoming the norm. Today’s Britain is far from fit for the 21st century.It is marked by soaring child poverty, poor housing and rising homelessness.

Last year was the busiest year for food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network since the charity opened. Over the last five years, the number of food parcels given out across the UK has rocketed by 73%.

Responsibility for this increase lies firmly at the door of nine years of austerity. Devastating cuts to social security, social care and local services have left more and more people with no other option but to turn to charity.

More than almost any other group in society, disabled people have been forced to bear the brunt of austerity.

Cuts to social security, a cruel work capability assessment (WCA) and punitive sanctions regime have pushed many disabled people to the brink.

Every week, I hear heartbreaking accounts of people going hungry or unable to heat their homes, having been denied social security or sanctioned for missing a job centre appointment. This is sadly unsurprising, given that spending on social security for disabled people has shrunk by £5bn in the last decade, and more than a million social security sanctions have been imposed on disabled people since 2010.

It follows that half of all people at food banks are from households that have one disabled family member.

The social security system is supposed to protect people from poverty. But it is in fact pushing them closer to it. There is no starker example of this than universal credit. The system is the clearest embodiment of the government’s austerity agenda. It has acted as a vehicle for cuts for disabled people – such as the removal of vital disability premiums worth £180 per month. Since its introduction, universal credit has been beset with errors and delays that have pushed many to destitution.

After years of denial from ministers, the current work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd recently admitted the link between universal credit and the rise in food bank use. According to the Trussell Trust’s new analysis, nearly half of food bank referrals were made due to a delay in benefits were linked to universal credit.

Analysis from the Trussell Trust on food bank referrals in 2018 showed a 52% average increase in food bank use in areas that had universal credit for 12 months or more compared with 13% in areas that had not yet gone live with universal credit, or where it had been live for three months or less.

This is the reality in Rudd’s own constituency of Hastings and Rye, where the number of people going to food banks rose by 80% when universal credit was introduced.

But instead of springing to action, the Conservatives have continued to ignore what is happening on their doorsteps. They have failed to end the five-week wait between claiming universal credit and receiving first payment, and they have failed to reverse the brutal cuts inherent to the system. Instead of recognising the devastating effects of austerity on food bank use, Conservative MPs are lining up for photo opportunities.

The figures published today must act as a call to action. Disabled people and the millions of others using our social security system deserve better.
Universal credit is " Orwellian ", says former high court judge.

Sir Stephen Sedley says digital benefits system is also failing to meet legal obligations.


A former high court judge has described universal credit as “Orwellian” because of its tendency to create and exacerbate misery for claimants even while it professes to be rescuing them from hardship.

Sir Stephen Sedley’s comments about the troubled digital benefits system accompanied a report that revealed hundreds of claimants risked falling into debt because the system had miscalculated their monthly benefit payments.

Claimants who were underpaid, or overpaid, sums amounting in some cases to hundreds of pounds a month were routinely unable to work out the correct payment, or how they could challenge the decision, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) report said.

The charity criticised the “opaque” way in which individuals’ monthly benefits payments were calculated, and said the lack of information provided to claimants who wished to challenge the calculation was in some cases unlawful.

It cited the case of a working mother who was left £400 a month worse off after universal credit neglected to include a child element for her daughter or a work allowance, an error only spotted when she went to a welfare rights adviser.

Universal credit rolls six different working-age benefits into one and CPAG said this means it is difficult for claimants to unpick the different components of the payment or work out whether it is correct.

One in five of 1,110 cases gathered by the charity as part of a universal credit monitoring project involved administrative errors by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which were likely to result in the claimant being paid the wrong amount.


Sedley, a former lord justice of appeal and now a visiting professor at Oxford University, said universal credit was repeatedly failing to meet its legal obligations to make it clear why a particular decision had been made, or how claimants could appeal if they thought it was wrong.

“People in need are left to guess at and grope for things which should be clear and tangible. The consequences are not limited to over- or underpayment. They feed into the stress and worry that so many people managing on low incomes experience, which in turn can affect family life for children growing up in these environments,” he said.

“There is something Orwellian about a system which is intended to alleviate hardship yet is administered in ways which generate and aggravate human misery. Whether this is happening by accident or by design is an argument for another time and place.”

CPAG said spotting errors was difficult for claimants, while universal credit helpline staff were often unable to help because they did not have access to the calculations, which had been made automatically by the digital system. It called for payments to be made more transparent and easier to understand.

The charity’s chief executive, Alison Garnham, said: “The DWP must improve the information it provides so that universal credit claimants are not floundering in the dark about their award. Clear and accessible information on how decisions are made and your right to appeal is the bare minimum we should expect from a modern benefit.”

The report cited a self-employed father with accounting experience who was unable to work out from his online statement how his payment had been calculated. “I can’t possibly see how an average person with less than an accounting degree can deal with all this stuff, because it was complicated for me,” he said.

The report concluded: “The combination of poor decision making and a system that is not transparent about how decisions have been made is causing significant hardship in people’s lives.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “More than 1.8 million claimants receive a monthly statement advising them of their entitlement, how it has been calculated and what to do if they think the payment is incorrect.

“Help is also available from work coaches, the freephone Universal Credit helpline, gov.uk and through our ‘Help to Claim’ partnership with Citizens Advice.”
DWP accused of 'holding 10,000 disabled people to ransom' over Universal Credit
read in full here

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/ ... ts-section
Yep ... the Daily Mirror article pulls no punches :

Tory Alok Sharma was blasted after admitting 10,000 severely disabled people are still waiting for back payments - months after they moved to Universal Credit.


Tory ministers have been accused of “holding 10,000 disabled people to ransom” by failing to pay out over a Universal Credit blunder.

MPs warned severely disabled claimants are still in the lurch, months after they were forced onto the new benefit.

In January, the government stopped people on Severe Disability Premiums from joining UC - amid fears many were being left £200 a month worse off.

Yet the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has still not coughed up back pay for more than 10,000 SDP claimants who'd already moved over.

Instead, the back pay is wrapped up in a wider law that still hasn't been passed because MPs are worried about it.

Today DWP minister Alok Sharma warned MPs that if they don’t back that wider law, “these people will not get the support we all believe is right ”.

But Labour MP Ruth George told him: “You’re basically holding 10,000 disabled people to ransom to try and force the house to agree to your regulations overall.”

She added: “It sounds very much like you’re trying to blackmail members of this House.”

Mr Sharma replied: "That is certainly not my intention, that is not the Secretary of State’s intention, that is not the department’s intention.

"I’m very sorry that you feel that is something we’re trying to do. That is not."

And he insisted: “This is not about trying to railroad something through.”

The row surrounds people who had received a benefit called Severe Disability Premium, but were forced onto UC when their personal circumstances changed.

In June 2018, the High Court ruled the DWP unlawfully discriminated against two of these people who saw their payments cut.

Days before the judgement, the DWP agreed to stop future SDP claimants moving to Universal Credit.

Ministers also said they would give back payments to the 4,000 SDP claimants who had already moved.

But the block on SDP claimants moving to UC only took effect on January 16, more than six months later.

That means thousands of extra SDP claimants were moved to Universal Credit before the cut-off date.

Today, Employment Minister Alok Sharma said the number of former SDP claimants on UC is now "just over 10,000" - suggesting a rise of 6,000 in six months.

Those people will get both a lump sum to cover the cash they've missed out on, and ongoing monthly payments.

Mr Sharma told the Commons Work and Pensions Committee: "We recognise we had to do something."

Yet the back payments are part of a much wider law that is being used to enact the next phase of Universal Credit.

And that law has been pushed back after the new phase - the "managed migration" of 3million existing benefit claimants - was pushed back to summer 2020.

Labour MP Ruth George warned some the 10,000 disabled people in the lurch had lost out by £200 a month - and said they "need some sort of financial protection."

She told Mr Sharma people were being forced to food banks, saying: “They have absolutely no end in sight as to when that protection might come through.

“It’s a really serious situation for those people.”

She added: "At the moment we’ve got landlords trying to cover their rent for them. They’re in imminent danger of eviction.

"This is because the Department made a mistake in the first place, reducing their SDP, and now they’re the ones suffering for it."

She pleaded for a separate law that could compensate former SDP claimants in the meantime.

Yet Mr Sharma told MPs the way to solve the problem was to pass the overall law.

He said: “We are talking about people who are your constituents.

"You have very eloquently set out the case that you would like to see them get compensation as soon as possible.

"The only way they will get that is if we collectively in the House support the regulations."

He added: “If individually we don’t support these regulations in the House, these people will not get the support we all believe is right that they should be getting."




I warned all and sundry when starting this thread back in August 2017.

So far , ONLY 1 IN 10 MANORS , has been visited by the UC steamroller.

Without major changes , just think of the day when it completes it's journey ???
Back to Victorian times ??

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EARLY Victorian ... perhaps ?

Some parts north of me haven't really changed since those days.

At least those in employment had jobs ... unlike many on zero hour contracts today ?

And , as recorded on a few threads , UC does not " Like " irregular earners ... the bane of my local food bank !
Universal credit regulations ruled unlawful by high court

Government regulations that would leave thousands of people with severe disabilities worse off by about £100 a month as a result of moving on to universal credit have been ruled unlawful in the high court.

The ruling followed a legal challenge to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over arrangements for claimants who were in receipt of severe disability premium (SDP) benefits and had moved on to universal credit before 16 January this year.

read in full on link
https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... are_btn_tw


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