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

All about money
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UC claimants risk losing out when helped by Citizens Advice

Claimants who seek help from Citizens Advice to make a claim for universal credit (UC) risk losing out because their date of claim will not be protected, an MSP has warned. Glasgow City Council has warned of further ways in which claimants are ‘genuinely being put at risk’ because of the terms of the contract between Citizens Advice and the DWP.


MSP Bob Doris raised the alarm after Glasgow City Council warned that up to 200 vulnerable claimants every month could miss out in that city alone. The figure across the UK would be very much higher.

Many people who claim UC struggle with the process and need support.
read in full on this link
https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/ ... newsletter
Love it !

Especially when several Job Centres have contacted the CAB direct for help with UC enquiries when their own systems
have gone down !

Talk about biting the hand feeds you ... occasionly ?

9 out of 10 manors ... the delights of UC are yet to come.
This issue has been in the news ... suffice to say , I censored mysellf before posting anything !
Universal credit delays a factor in sex work, government accepts

Minister apologises for DWP memo dismissing link between long waits and survival sex work



Enough said for now ... I have no wish to disturb a potential hornets nest !
This story was posted across social media today....
Nurse was forced to sell her children’s toys to buy food after Universal Credit blunder left her penniless

Therese Nakitende had to sell off clothes, toys and anything of value to feed her family after being left with no income for weeks
read in full on this link
https://inews.co.uk/news/real-life/nurs ... -food-dwp/

x
I'm on it ... full sp :


Nurse was forced to sell her children’s toys to buy food after Universal Credit blunder left her penniless.

Therese Nakitende had to sell off clothes, toys and anything of value to feed her family after being left with no income for weeks.



In brief.

Applied for Universal Credit after being left with no pay for two months.

Told she wasn't entitled because of system error.

Forced to hold car boot sales to feed her family.



Nurse Therese Nakitende thought she’d have a better life when she moved out of London last year with her family. Having just given birth to her second child after having saved enough money for a deposit on a house, she was looking forward to a fresh start with her partner Derek, 26.

But just over a year later Therese found herself living on the breadline after a reduction in income and, despite applying for benefits to help with her living costs and childcare, she had nothing to live off at all for weeks.

The 28-year-old was eventually so desperate to feed her children she had to resort to selling their toys.

“It’s not something any mother should ever have to do really but I had no choice,” Therese told i. “I had no food in the cupboards and no money to pay bills so had to sell everything I could think of.”

Home move

Therese was on maternity leave from her job as a care nurse when she moved from London to Nottingham in January last year with Derek and their children Veronica, now five, and Gabriel, 16-months.

Derek had been renting a one-bedroom flat in London for £1,000 a month and, with no room for all of them, Therese was forced to live at her mother’s house. When Gabriel came along, the couple knew they needed a proper home of their own but couldn’t afford one in the capital.

“The properties were a lot cheaper in Nottingham and Derek had grown up there, so it seemed like the perfect place to buy our first home,” Therese explained. “Living at my mum’s, I managed to save £9,000 for a deposit as I didn’t have to pay her a lot of rent and she helped out with childcare when I went to work.”

But the sale of the house the couple had put an offer on in Nottingham fell through and they had to rent. Still, at £600 a month for a three-bedroom house, it was a lot cheaper than London.

“We were managing fine until August last year when my maternity pay ended,” explained Therese. “I worked for Bupa Healthcare at the time and tried to go back to work but I could only cover the hours when Derek was home otherwise there was nobody to look after the children.

“In the end I had to hand in my notice as the hours didn’t work around the kids.”

Changing circumstances:


Therese started a new part-time job working from home and put Gabriel in nursery. But with the rent, bills, and nursery fees of £464, she found she was left with nothing at the end of each month.

“I earned £1,200 a month and Derek had been struggling to find work.” She said. “So it was left to me to pay most of the rent and bills, not to mention food. I just couldn’t afford it.”

As the months passed Therese had to keep dipping into her savings until there was nothing left. Desperate, she also took out a credit card to pay for essentials.

“I’d always been careful with money and hated being in debt,” she said. “The council tax alone was £200, then the nursery fees,and £160 for food a month – I was spending more than I was earning.”
Benefit application

Not realising she was entitled to help with nursery fees because they were a low income family, Therese applied for the benefit in February this year after a friend told her she would be eligible.

“I applied straight away and it turned out that I could claim back 85% of my nursery fees,” she recalled. “I was so pleased as the extra money meant almost £400 more in my bank account each month – enough to pay for food and clothes for the kids at least.”

But there was a problem.

After paying her nursery bills upfront, Therese went to upload her receipts onto the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website to claim the money back, and was told she wouldn’t be getting a penny because her receipts needed to be uploaded the same day the fees were paid to the nursery to be valid.

No pay

“To make matters worse, I’d just started a new job as a care in the community nurse but, because of a mix-up, I wouldn’t receive any pay for the first two months, so I had even less money than usual,” Therese said.

‘For two months I had no income at all and if it wasn’t for the support we have had from family, we wouldn’t have managed. Derek’s mum even gave us food from her cupboards so we wouldn’t starve’

With no other option she applied for Universal Credit but was refused because she was incorrectly down as receiving maternity allowance. Although Therese did eventually manage to take out an advanced payment, by then she’d had to sell off virtually everything the family owned of any value to survive.

“We would have ended up homeless otherwise,” she said. “For two months I had no income at all and if it wasn’t for the support we have had from family, we wouldn’t have managed. Derek’s mum even gave us food from her cupboards so we wouldn’t starve.”

With no other way to pay the rent, Therese began going to boot fares on Sundays and selling her children’s toys, prams, old clothes, her own jewellery and clothes, and anything else she could spare.

“I even sold the two prams we had – one for £118 and the other for £15. I had to use an old stroller of Veronica’s to push Gabriel around instead,” Therese admitted. “Derek sold a nice watch I’d bought him as a gift a few years back for £100 which helped pay the bills too.”

Limited food

She also had to cut the family’s food shop by half, relying on pasta and potatoes to fill the children up and not buying any treats. Days out and trips to play areas for the youngsters also had to be put on hold.

Therese was eventually paid but with £5,000 credit card debt she says it will be a while before the family is back on its feet.

“I’m a strong person but the experience almost destroyed me,” she said. “I’ve always been able to provide for my children and this was the first time I had ever had money problems and it was awful. I was constantly anxious and worried about losing our home.”

Derek has since joined the Army as an engineer and Therese did finally receive a Universal Credit payment of £460 last month and one month’s reimbursement for her nursery fees, which have since increased to £603.50.

“I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone,” she said. “It broke my heart having to sell my children’s things and I felt guilty that Veronica had to see what we went through. It has made us realise how much we take for granted.

“I’ve worked all my life and paid taxes and only needed help for a couple of months until I got paid but it was like getting blood out of a stone.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We have apologised to Miss Nakitende for the error and have made a full back payment for the arrears due.

“We will be closely monitoring future payments to ensure her monthly amounts are correct.”



WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF ... UNIVERSAL CREDIT.

BY 2022 , THE WHOLE COUNTRY WILL BE INFECTED BY THIS FINANCIAL PLAGUE !
Universal credit is failing military veterans, study finds.

Veterans with complex needs report overwhelmingly negative experiences of benefits system.



Ex-service personnel with physical and mental health issues have described how they felt ignored and let down by their country after falling foul of a social security system that failed to offer adequate support when they fell on hard times.

Research has found that many armed forces veterans with complex needs report overwhelmingly negative experiences of universal credit, fit-for-work tests used to gauge eligibility for disability benefits, and benefit sanctions.

Veterans found it difficult to navigate what some described as a bewildering social security system, with universal credit adding an extra layer of complexity, the study commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust charity said.

Many reported hat they were reluctant to claim benefits in the first place – seeing it as a sign of failure – but after they signed on they found social security officials often did not understand or account for their experiences, needs, or health conditions.

In one extreme case an interviewee with post-traumatic stress disorder reported a fit-for-work test where the assessor refused his request for a five minute break if he began to feel unwell. “He said: ‘To be honest, all you veterans that say you’ve got PTSD and everything, it’s just a crock of shit.’”

Another underwent a fit-for-work test where he was not asked a single question about his PTSD, even though that was the main reason he was on benefits. “They were asking me about how far I could walk and could I move my arms and legs, and pretty much that was it. There was nothing at all about mental health.”

The study concluded that benefit sanctions should be scrapped for veterans who left the service with physical or mental impairments. It found sanctions were ineffective in moving jobless veterans into work, although they could often push claimants into poverty and ill health.

One veteran described how he was was plunged into severe hardship after being sanctioned – when benefits are stopped for supposed rule breaches – while on universal credit: “I was in food banks, I was in skips, I was behind Greggs in the bins,” he told interviewers.

He said he felt he had played by the rules but had been let down by his country at a time when he had been in desperate need of support. “I am shocked and absolutely so let down and so deflated … After 39 years working, paying national insurance contributions, first time in my life, aged 54, need some help … no money, no food, no nothing. Is this country for me, is this country for you?”

Almost a third of the first wave of 68 interviewees reported being sanctioned. One said he was sanctioned for spending 27 hours job searching, rather than the mandated 35 hours. Another was sanctioned after he attended a job interview rather than a meeting at the jobcentre.


Lisa Scullion, associate director of the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit at the University of Salford, who led the research, said: “We found people who desperately did not want to claim benefits and only did so as a last resort, but who found the system baffling and had been given little preparation for dealing with it.”

The research conducted 120 in-depth interviews with 68 veterans claiming social security benefits and their families, in two phases between 2017 and 2019. The sample ranged in age from 18 to 65 and the majority had served in the army. Most were men, and most had mental or physical disabilities.

The DWP said: “This research recognises that the majority of people are able to make a successful transition to life outside the armed forces, with 82% of veterans employed within six months after leaving.

“We deeply value the service of our armed forces and we are pleased the report takes into account the series of adjustments made to Jobcentre Plus and other DWP services – including through our Armed Forces Champions – to better support current and ex-personnel and their families. Working with MoD Career Transition Partnership and providers giving specialist support, such as the Royal British Legion, is just part of this.”
Oh dear ... our Ministry of Propaganda ... there is propaganda ... and there is BELIEVABLE propaganda ???

Universal credit adverts from government " Deliberately misleading ", say charities.

The Department for Work and Pensions insisted that 80 per cent of claimants surveyed were satisfied with the new arrangements.


A coalition of more than 80 benefit charities has submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority over government ads for Universal Credit which they claim are “deliberately misleading”.

The complaint by the Disability Benefits Consortium alleges that the six-page advertorial – designed to look like a set of news articles – was “dangerous to the health and financial security of disabled people”.

The £200,000 “Universal Credit uncovered” ad which has run weekly in the Metro newspaper since May promised to "set the record straight" about the flagship benefit, which is replacing a set of welfare payments including the Employment and Support Allowance for people with disabilities.

One page listed a series of “myths” about the new system, including the claim that “Universal Credit doesn’t work”, adding: “Fact: it does.” Another featured an interview with a work coach and photos of claimants who were said to have benefited from universal credit.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the ads drew on a survey of 6,000 claimants of whom 80 per cent were satisfied with the new arrangements.

But the DBC said its own survey found that the majority of disabled people moved from ESA to Universal Credit now get less money than they did previously, in some cases a considerably lower amount.

Some 70 per cent of the 476 respondents to the DBC survey said they were left struggling to pay for food, 35 per cent that they were forced to go to food banks and 85 per cent that their mental health had worsened.

The DBC complaint accused the DWP of “puffery” in the ads, as well as concealing important facts such as the requirement for payments made in advance to be taken back from future payments within a fixed period.

DBC policy co-chair Anastasia Berry, the policy manager at the MS Society, said: “These adverts, masquerading as facts in a national newspaper, are seriously damaging.

“The DWP says that claimants can get an advance of their benefit to help them, but it’s really just a glorified loan – and one that must be paid back over mere months. The omission of this fact is a major cause for concern and, coupled with everything else, points to serious ignorance from the DWP.

“The DWP must stop messing around with its colourful – not to mention, expensive - PR operation and focus on what really matters, which is ending the five-week wait and reintroducing disability premiums cut from the system. Until then, it’s not going to convince anyone that Universal Credit is working for disabled people.”

A DWP spokesman said that all of the department’s advertising was “factual”.

And the department questioned the validity of the DBC survey, saying there was “no proof” that those responding had ever received UC.

“It’s likely that this unscientific and unrepresentative survey will only serve to discourage people from claiming the benefits they’re entitled to and it compares poorly to our survey of 6,000 people that shows 80% are satisfied with Universal Credit,” said the DWP spokesman.

“All our advertising is factual and designed to increase understanding of Universal Credit. We consulted the Advertising Standards Authority prior to launching the partnership and have reflected their advice.”

There was fury in May when the DWP ads first ran on the same day that MPs heard evidence of women on UC selling sex in order to survive.
Mentally ill universal credit claimant receives less than £6 for month after £312 deducted for sanctions.

'" This poverty has no prejudice. This is the kind of thing that drives people to homelessness, and to suicide. "


A mentally unwell universal credit claimant received less than £6 for the month after hundreds of pounds were withdrawn from their allowance.

A letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) addressed to the Manchester resident, who did not wish to be named, stated that £312 had been taken off their monthly benefit allowance "for sanctions", leaving them with just £5.82.

The Independent was unable to confirm what the sanctions were for.

“If you have trouble making your money last for the month, you can ask for help with budgeting," the letter stated in a paragraph near the bottom.

The document was shared with Manchester-based poverty group Barakah Food Aid by a member of staff in the DWP, who reportedly told the group they were "so angry" that this was what they were seeing "week in week out"


Image


Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood accused the government of "leaving people on the edge of destitution" after it emerged.

It comes amid mounting criticism of the DWP's sanctions regime, which penalises benefit claimants who miss jobcentre appointments or fail to show that they are doing enough to find work by reducing their financial support.

The system has previously been branded “arbitrarily punitive” by the work and pensions committee, while a government report last year found there was “no evidence” that benefits sanctions were encouraging people into work or increasing their earnings.

Manzoor Ali, director of Barakah Food Aid, which offers donated food and toiletries to people struggling to get by, said it was common for claimants to have large sums of money deducted from their monthly support.

Between 10 and 15 similar letters were seen by the charity each week, he said.

“It’s common. They might get £20, or £60 or £5 taken off in sanctions," he added. "In some cases they people zero for the month. And often they’ve got children. What are they supposed to do?

“We’ve had situations where a mum is receiving benefits and they are on their way to the jobcentre, then her child has an accident she has to go collect them, so she misses the appointment. Then the sanctions begin. Everything gets stopped. They have to then re-apply for their benefits and that can take another few weeks.

“We get referrals from schools, where teachers might see an upset parent, or a malnourished child, and things come to light. We’ve come across mothers on the verge of prostitution to feed their children."

Mr Ali said a growing number of claimants were contacting the charity in desperation after being sanctioned and left without enough to live on.

"We are going to be known as a food bank generation," he added. "This poverty has no prejudice. It’s like they’re geared up to stop people from receiving the benefits. This is the kind of thing that drives people to homelessness, and to suicide."

Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood said it was "completely wrong" that people could be "left on the edge of destitution by sanctions or deductions for debts and overpayments".

Accusing ministers of being "in denial" about their impact on people’s health and wellbeing, she added: “Universal credit is clearly failing. [It] was meant to lift people out of poverty, but instead it is acting as a vehicle for cuts. No one can live for a month on five pounds. It’s no wonder food bank use and poverty is soaring."

It comes following warnings that more universal credit claimants would face cuts to their benefits as DWP caseworkers are handed bigger workloads to reduce costs.

Figures published in a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) earlier this year showed the caseload for work coaches will rise from around 130 to more than 280 by 2024-25​, which campaigners warned would lead to more claimants being placed on sanctions.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We can’t look into this case without more details, so unable to say whether or not they receive any other income or benefits. We continue to pay the housing, disability and child support elements of universal credit even when someone is sanctioned.

“Sanctions are only ever used as a last resort when someone fails to fulfil their benefit commitments, and they affect fewer than 3 per cent of all universal credit claimants.”

Universal Credit forcing parents to take out payday loans to cover childcare costs, charity says.

Save the Children claims new benefits system is forcing parents into debt.


Parents claiming Universal Credit are being forced to take out payday loans to cover childcare costs this summer, potentially driving them hundreds of pounds into debt, a charity has warned.

Research, carried out by Save the Children, claims thousands of families are thought to be paying for care upfront, before waiting up to a month to be reimbursed through the new benefits scheme.

The charity said some parents could may fall into debt attempting to pay for childcare during the summer holidays, when costs rise further as they are not eligible for free government provisions.

Nichola, a single mum of one from Portslade, West Sussex, said she was forced to borrow from family and even take out payday loans to cover childminder costs during the school holidays.

“It’s enormous stress – you’re always on the back foot. Every six weeks there’s a half term,” she said.

“I’ve borrowed from my family to pay the last half term, and when I can’t come up with the extra money I’ve taken time off, but I’ve only got one week’s holiday left this year and there’s a six-week holiday coming up.

“How am I going to do this? This isn’t about the odd £50 – we’re potentially talking about having to find thousands.”

The study found even those with pre-school-aged children who were eligible for 30 hours free childcare a week through Universal Credit could see their costs drastically increase, as they lose their entitlement during the holidays.

Families can “stretch” their allowance over the period by cutting the amount of care they use during term time. However, this still means they may only receive as little as four-and-a-half hours a day over a working week.

Analysis showed such parents would need to find as much as £833 extra during the six-week break in order to fund additional care through holiday clubs or childminders.

Martha Mackenzie, Save the Children director of UK poverty policy, called on the government to offer greater help to parents in paying for childcare upfront.

“It’s simply not right that families are being driven into poverty and debt by soaring childcare costs. Parents tell us it feels as if the system is stacked against them,” she said.

“They rely on childcare to go to work but when the school holidays come around they find themselves faced with sky-high childcare bills they can’t afford.

“They are having to resort to desperate measures – cutting back on essentials, falling behind on bills or getting into debt – just to go to work.”

Universal Credit is designed to bring together six means-tested benefits into a single monthly payment for low-income households. It includes provisions for childcare support previously provided through Working Tax Credit.

There are currently 30,000 parents across the country receiving support with childcare through UC.

However, around half a million families are expected to be claiming under the scheme once it is fully rolled out.

UC has already come under extensive criticism, including over concerns long payment delays could force claimants into rent arrears, projections it could leave many families worse off and reports it has led to a rise in food bank usage in some areas.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said Universal Credit claimants could receive help paying for upfront childcare costs by applying for a budgeting advance, which offers claimants a loan usually paid back through reduced UC payments over the next 12 months.

It said others may be eligible for help under the Flexible Support Fund, which offers non-repayable awards under the discretion of Jobcentre advisers.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Help with upfront childcare costs is already available, either through our non-repayable Flexible Support Fund or as a budgeting advance.

“We’re committed to helping parents into work and those on Universal Credit can claim up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, worth up to £13,000 a year for families with two children.
Families on universal credit falling into debt in school holidays.

Parents tell MPs they are struggling to cope with higher childcare and food costs.


Families on universal credit are being plunged into debt because of increased childcare and food costs during school holidays, parents have told a committee of MPs as they appealed for help to manage the extra costs.

The parliamentary hearing on holiday hunger heard from parents and charities about struggling families where parents have to stop working during the school holidays or pay crippling additional childcare costs up front.

Under universal credit, families need to pay the cost of childcare in advance, then claim the cost back via the benefit system, meaning delays of several weeks until they receive a refund.

Nicola Salvato, a single parent in receipt of universal credit, told the MPs: “I’m working, so my child is being looked after during the summer holidays. I’ve had to reduce my working hours to manage the upfront costs for childcare. But I’ve still got to come up with, for August, about £750 on top of my rent, food, travel costs and all of that.”

Heidi Allen, a former Conservative MP who now represents the Liberal Democrats, said forcing families to pay up front was “totally bonkers, and I can’t believe that the penny won’t finally drop and [the government] will change that”.


Other parents told the joint meeting of parliament’s education and work and pensions committees that they often struggled to find any sort of childcare outside term-time. “When I had a full-time job, I had to send my youngest to relatives who were two hours away, because that was my childcare, and he absolutely hated it because he was away from everyone,” said Karen Rotherham, a parent from Birkenhead.

“The job centre said to me: ‘Why can’t your 12 year-old look after the nine-year-old?’, which I think is absolutely ridiculous because he’s still a child himself.”

Rotherham said the current system didn’t take into account the extra pressures of childcare. “We all want to work, but I don’t think we get the help. They don’t explain things to you. They just say: ‘Look for work, there’s your job, bye.’”


Martha Mackenzie, the director of UK poverty policy at Save the Children, said the need to pay for holiday childcare was “a huge financial burden” for low-income families, with well over three-quarters having no savings to fall back on.

“A lot of other costs under universal credit are much more permanent – you know how much you are paying in rent, you know broadly what your utility and food costs – whereas childcare is nothing like that. Parents are seeing it fluctuate month to month,” Mackenzie said.

“And when something like a holiday comes along … you sometimes have to find up to £800 a month extra, which is money that people just do not have lying around.”

The joint committee also heard of other increased costs, such as holiday activities and additional food for families eligible for free school meals during term-time.

Several of the parents said they had gone hungry during the holidays to ensure their children had enough to eat. “As a parent, you do eat less, because children are the priority. I know that at times I have had less to eat because I want them to have more,” one of the parents, Anne Newbold, told the MPs.

Asked by Frank Field, the chair of the DWP select committee, if there was enough food for her, Newbold replied: “There’s always cereal, isn’t there?”

Abby Jitendra, the policy and research manager of the Trussell Trust, said this summer was likely to be the busiest on record for the trust’s food banks. “There is so much that the government could do to provide support during the holidays, but fundamentally, if people can’t afford the very basics like food and activities all year round, the problem is only going to continue,” she said.

The parents said they benefited from local charities offering free or subsidised activities and lunches during the holidays, such as the St James Centre and youth charity the Hive in Birkenhead. “We wouldn’t survive without them. They are our backbone,” said Dawn Taplin, a parent from the Wirral.

The Department for Education has said that it will extend its programme of free meals and activities over the summer holidays this year across 11 areas, including Leeds, Newcastle and Plymouth.
232 posts