Re: UNIVERSAL CREDIT ( UC ) : Rollout Schedule * Mines * Sanctions * Changes * Delays * Reports From Affected Manors
Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:56 am
That UC steamroller is on hold , thankully l
In truth, universal credit was doomed from the start.
The Right failed to see the poor as they were rather than as they wanted them to be. People are losing tenancies and going without food not only because universal credit is underfunded but because it imposes delays of five weeks or more before it pays anything at all to claimants.
The delays are a matter of deliberate policy. In 2010, rightwingers wanted poverty to be the result of chaotic lives, alcoholism, drug addiction and, above all, for this is was what got the religious right’s rocks off, the breakdown of traditional families. They blamed individuals, not the system.
A month’s wait for money would make the feckless pull themselves together and learn to live like members of the respectable middle class, who must wait a month for their first salary cheques when they take new jobs.
Leave aside, if you can, that much casual work isn’t paid monthly but weekly or daily, and that by definition if you don’t have money you don’t have savings to fall back on, and consider the lives of the actual poor. Alcoholics and other addicts are indeed chaotic, but the bulk of the working poor are hyper-organised to a degree that their more fortunate compatriots cannot imagine.
As Helen Barnard from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says, the mother who is running between childcare and serial part-time jobs, counting every penny in Aldi and watching every minute of her waking day lives a meticulously ordered existence.
Huge rise as hundreds of Universal Credit council tenants in rent arrears.
East Riding Council say Universal Credit has a 'significant' effect on rising levels of rent arrears.
The number of council tenants on Universal Credit in rent arrears has more than doubled in just three months.
East Riding Council figures show that last year Universal Credit (UC) tenants in arrears rose by 151 per cent, from 154 tenants on September 5 to 387 on December 11.
In turn, the value of arrears to the council has trebled from £99,639 to £293,494, while the total number of UC tenants has grown from 221 to 560 during the same period.
In a report to a scrutiny committee, Paul Bellotti, the council's director of environment and neighbourhood services, said the roll-out of UC has had the most significant effect on the rising levels of rent arrears, partly due to the delay in payment to tenants.
East Riding Council states that when a claimant is transferred onto UC, there can be up to a seven-week period between an applicant claiming UC and the payment being made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Government faces High Court challenge over impact of universal credit on disabled households.
Campaigners to argue welfare reform has " Disproportionately adverse effect " on disabled claimants.
The government’s universal credit system “irrational” and has a “disproportionately adverse effect” on disabled claimants, campaigners will claim as they challenge the controversial welfare reform in the HIgh Court.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is bringing the action on behalf of a single mother with a severely disabled 12-year-old and a disabled woman who lives alone.
The charity claims the women were left worse off after being “forced” to move to universal credit from previous benefits, following incorrect decisions by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
As a result they are challenging a policy which prevents claimants from returning to their previous benefits after moving to universal credit following an “incorrect” decision.
They are also challenging the “lack of protection against cash losses” for people affected in this way.
CPAG says that in the case of the mother she received £140 a month less for more than 18 months after switching to universal credit.
he other woman continues to receive about £180 a month less than she did previously, the charity says, adding that the women had “no option” but to claim universal credit after their existing benefits were stopped incorrectly, and that they were entitled to “significantly less” on the new system than on their previous benefits.
They were not entitled to cash top-ups designed to protect against loss of income because they were not part of the planned “mass managed migration” from existing benefits to universal credit, it says.
The DWP has since introduced measures to prevent people from transferring to the new system before the first planned migration, which is due to take place in July, and also to compensate people who suffer losses by moving to the new benefit.
But CPAG claims those who are more severely disabled will be more than £100 a month worse off under universal credit than the previous arrangements.
“The government has consistently said no one will be worse off if they move to universal credit without a change of circumstances,” said Carla Clarke, the CPAG solicitor representing the claimants. “But our clients suffered significant income drops. Neither chose to claim universal credit – they were forced to, following incorrect decisions by the DWP.
“We say what happened to them is both irrational and unlawful discrimination, treating them less favourably purely on account of DWP’s own incorrect decisions. To their credit, they are bringing the case to stop any more claimants from having to take the fallout of the DWP’s poor decision-making.“
The case follows a successful High Court challenge against the DWP earlier this month brought by four working single mothers who claimed they were struggling financially because of the way their payments were calculated.
Two senior judges concluded that the secretary of state for work and pensions had “wrongly interpreted” the relevant regulations.
A DWP spokeswoman said: “We are unable to comment on an ongoing legal case. Universal credit is a force for good and over 1.6 million are receiving the benefit successfully.”
I spent a week living on Universal Credit - this is what it's like
Hull Live reporter Alex Grove was given a typical weekly allowance - here's how he got on.
If you ever drive along Spring Bank on a weekday morning, you will always be greeted by the common sight jobseekers waiting to sign on at Britannia House.
It’s something that nobody wants to do, but in Hull that unenviable task is an all too grim reality for thousands of jobseekers with the city one of the most competitive places when it comes to seeking employment.
In recent months, horror stories have emerged from Hull people left starving, in rent arrears, and destitute enough that some have even resorted to stealing because of Universal Credit.
The controversial “six-in-one” benefit has been labelled a “shambles” by critical MPs and earlier this month, the Works and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd announced a string of changes to save Universal Credit from further disaster.
Keen to see exactly how difficult it is for people to live on Universal Credit, Hull Live reporter Alex Grove was given a typical weekly benefits allowance based on calculations by Hull Citizens Advice Bureau.
How much Alex received
To make it as realistic as possible, the amount I was given was based on how much I would receive if I was a 23-year-old man, with no disabilities and no children, living in private rented shared accommodation.
To make matters easier, the housing element was kept out of the calculations, meaning my personal allowance as part of the Universal Credit would be £251.77.
Divided by four, this gave me £58.10 for a week but there were further deductions that had to be made from that figure.
As a band A Hull City Council resident, £4.02 a week had to go from my budget towards council tax and as an average, we factored in £10 a week to cover my gas and electric.
At this point, I had £44.08 to live with, not taking into account water rates, my mobile phone contract and any other outgoings of mine such as car insurance and road tax.
With regards to rent, the most I would get to help towards paying it is £60.80 a week and any shortfall would have to come out of my personal allowance.
So with just over £44 to live on, that left me with £6.28 a day, and I quickly realised some of my typical outgoings during the week would have to be significantly reduced.
No room for treats or takeaways
With a limited amount of money to spend, I soon realised just how much money I waste during the week, particularly during my days at work.
I am a sucker for a Tesco meal deal which sets me back £3 a day and although it’s a great offer, it costs me almost half of my daily budget.
I knew I had to change my ways so every night I made sandwiches to take into work and bought multipacks of crisps instead of wasting money buying individual packs as part of a meal deal.
Takeaways were also a no-go. Lazily, I do sometimes find myself having a scroll through Deliveroo and picking out a meal or heading over to McDonalds – particularly when I’m hungover.
But having a takeaway even just once a week would completely wipe out my budget, so I had no choice but to make the most of my weekly food shops and resist indulging on junk food.
Your social life suffers
The money given to jobseekers by the government is designed to help you with the bare necessities and I soon found out there was no room for me to be able to afford what most would constitute as a respectable social life.
Fancy a trip to the cinema ? Think again.
Couple of pints down the pub with your mates? No chance. A meal out at a restaurant? In your dreams.
On the budget I had, there just wasn’t enough money to go towards typical social activities for a man of my age.
It is impossible to have a car
As a man in my early 20s, I know just how crippling car insurance is, and if I were to factor that into my weekly and monthly budget, over half of it would go towards that – not to mention road tax, breakdown cover, petrol and all the rest of it.
If you wanted to make a trip to another nearby city such as Leeds and York, it would really set you back fuel-wise to go by car and you would have to look at using trains which these days are also not cheap.
Having a car just isn't realistic if you are on the bare minimum so therefore you have to rely on public transport, and trips to and from Britannia House to sign on can be costly depending on where you live.
Alcohol is a no-go
As I mentioned above, if you do fancy a trip down the pub, a couple of pints would almost certainly wipe out your budget for the day.
I like a tipple sometimes after a day at work and I will ask my workmates if they fancy a pint but this was something I just could not financially manage given the limited budget I had at my disposal.
Yes, you can buy packs of lager and cider in supermarkets and minimarts but these will still set you back and realistically, alcohol is something you just have to do without.
It was doable to survive a week on my £44 so long as I didn’t indulge and led a pretty menial lifestyle. However, given I couldn’t factor in extra outgoings such as my phone bill, car costs and the exact money I was spending on electricity and gas, I know just how difficult it would have been had I actually been a jobseeker.
I would have been living on the breadline and although you receive more money if you have children and other relatives to look after, ultimately, you have more mouths to feed and that presents difficulties.
It was impossible for me to measure how much gas and electricity I was using as it is factored into my rent but there is a high possibility, particularly at a time when we are experiencing sub-zero temperatures, that I would have had to endure freezing cold nights and sacrificed my warmth in order to get by.
Call for universal credit overhaul amid fears of looming evictions crisis.
Citizens Advice reveals half of claimants seeking benefits assistance are at risk of being evicted.
Citizens Advice has called for a root and branch overhaul of universal credit, after revealing that half of all claimants who came to it for help managing the new benefit were at risk of being evicted owing to rent arrears and hardship.
Relatively minor changes to the way the benefit operates, announced by ministers in the 2017 budget after coming under intense pressure from campaigners, have “only made a dent in the problem rather than fixed it,” the charity said.
The minimum five-week wait for a first benefit payment left nearly half of claimants it advised unable to pay household bills, or forced them to go without essentials such as food or heating, it said, while 54% had to borrow cash from family and friends to stay afloat.
“Half the people we help with universal credit are still struggling to keep a roof over their heads while they wait for their first payment,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.
She added: “Changes to the waiting period for first payment have improved things for many people, but our evidence shows they don’t go far enough. Universal Credit must continue to be reformed so it works for all claimants and leaves people with enough money to live on.”
The charity said rent arrears was more common among its clients on universal credit compared to those on the benefits it replaces, as was debt. Although the changes had helped some claimants cope, “too many people on universal credit are still struggling to manage their money”.
The changes announced in the 2017 budget include a shortened wait for a first payment from 42 days to 35, two week’s extra housing benefit, and more generous advance payments to help people manage the wait. Further changes flagged in the 2018 budget will come into force over the next two years.
The charity warns that although fixing fundamental design and reliability issues in universal credit are crucial, the overriding problem is that payments are too low because of the benefit freeze and housing benefit cuts.
“The people we see on universal credit often struggle because the level of income they live on leaves no budget for any unexpected expenses or income shocks. Some simply do not have enough money to live on,” it says in a report.
“Fixing issues in the design and delivery of universal credit can help with the five-week wait and ongoing budget issues, but people need to be paid reliably at a level that gives them enough to meet essential living costs.”
The work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, signalled last month that she would consider further policy changes and rollout delays to restore public confidence in universal credit, telling MPs her priority was to make it safe for vulnerable claimants.
A Department for Work and Pensions survey of universal credit claimants published last week found that one in five were not satisfied with their experience of the new benefit – and one in 10 reported being “very dissatisfied”.
Universal credit : DWP " Bans jobcentres from referring people to food banks. "
Benefit claimants " Slipping through the net " after claim government is ordering local jobcentres to stop referring them to food banks in a " Ploy to hide those needing help. "
Jobcentre staff have been ordered not to refer universal credit claimants to food banks, in a move campaigners have said is preventing vulnerable people from getting vital help and “hiding” those who are in need.
Food bank volunteers in Lewes in East Sussex have told The Independent people in need of support were “slipping through the net” after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) issued the local jobcentre with a national directive stating they were no longer able to refer people.
A leaked email from staff at Lewes Jobcentre, published on neighbourhood watch site Lewes Eye, said the DWP policy “does not permit” foodbank referrals and that the local jobcentre had been advised to “verbally signpost” people to charities who can formally refer them instead.
But volunteers said many who needed support would not approach charities because of the additional stress and the embarrassment of asking for help for a second time.
More than 1,000 people in Lewes have been moved on to universal credit, the government’s flagship welfare benefit, despite warnings the new scheme is driving people with disabilities and others with vulnerabilities into severe hardship and causing anxiety.
Debbie Twitchen, from Landport Foodbank in Lewes, said she was “very unhappy” about the alleged policy because the food bank requires a written referral for anyone receiving a food parcel.
She said she believed it was a way for the DWP to “hide that people are going hungry and needing food banks” due to “failures in the system”, and added: “I know that it’s an obvious ploy – if you can’t show figures for something then it’s not happening is it?
“Lots of people have been waiting for money since the rollout [of universal credit] in September, and the jobcentre was the place people have been sanctioned to go.”
In comments made on the community Facebook group Lewes Present, local MP Maria Caulfield dismissed the claims. She said: “This is not true... Not all of the food banks locally need referrals but if they do I can refer them. Please be assured that there are no changes to access.”
But a caller to the centre requesting a referral to food banks was advised to visit a Citizens’ Advice Bureau branch and told: “We’re no longer able to refer people to the food bank.”
Ms Twitchen said she was concerned that people wouldn’t want to put themselves in the “humiliating” situation of getting referred to a different agency. “I fear that people are going to be slipping through the net because of it,” she said.
“I have people coming in in tears who are absolutely embarrassed and angry with themselves for the situation they are in – people are proud and they don’t want to admit they can’t cope. I’m really concerned that by taking away that easy option of going down to the jobcentre, people won’t come.”
“People can’t just walk in [to the food bank] – we absolutely require people to have a referral. I don’t see what the sense is in people saying we’re not going to give you a referral. [The jobcentre] people are best placed to make one because they know the financial circumstances,” she said.
“People are in a really bad state mentally but some of them are having to go to yet another place and explain their set of circumstances to another set of people. I’m worried that people will be put off using our service. The DWP have shown themselves to be a provider of a service that is inadequate.”
A second leaked email from a food bank in Eastbourne, also in East Sussex, suggests that more than one jobcentre is following the no-referral advice, although it’s not clear how widespread the issue is.
In one of the emails, the jobcentre worker wrote: “While we at Lewes Jobcentre have been adopting a locally agreed process, we have been advised that DWP policy does not permit Jobcentres to refer customers to foodbanks by issuing vouchers or referral forms.
“We are allowed to verbally signpost them to your service and would be happy to do this, but unsure if this meets your needs.”
A DWP spokesperson said their policy on food bank referrals had not changed. “Jobcentres will signpost people to food banks and other services according to their individual circumstances, as part of their support to help people manage their finances and get into work,” the spokesperson added.
Amber Rudd links universal credit to rise in food bank use.
Amber Rudd says the increased use of food banks is partly down to problems in rolling out universal credit.
The work and pensions secretary said she was "absolutely clear there were challenges with the initial roll-out" of the benefit and that the difficulty in accessing money was "one of the causes" of the rise.
But she said the government had made changes to help tackle food insecurity.
Universal credit has been plagued with problems since its inception in 2010.
The monthly payment merges six different benefits for working age people into one and has been subject to a gradual roll-out across the UK.
The system was supposed to be up and running by April 2017, but it has faced numerous delays and is now not expected to be fully operational until December 2023.
Research released by the Trussell Trust charity this month showed the use of food banks had increased by 52% in areas where universal credit had been in place for a year or more - compared with 13% in areas where it had not been.
Speaking in the Commons, Ms Rudd said the government was "committed to a strong safety net where people need it".
"It is absolutely clear that there were challenges with the initial roll-out of universal credit," she added. "The main issue which led to an increase in food bank use could have been the fact that people had difficulty accessing their money early enough.
"We have made changes to accessing universal credit so that people can have advances, so that there is a legacy run-on after two weeks of housing benefit, and we believe that will help with food and security."
Pushed again on the cause of the issue by Labour's Stephen Timms, Ms Rudd added: "I have acknowledged that people having difficulty accessing the money on time as one of the causes of the growth in food banks, but we have tried to address that."
The Department for Work and Pensions has said that, under universal credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer.
According to the Resolution Foundation think tank, 2.2 million families are expected to gain under the system, with an average increase in income of £41 a week.
However, 3.2 million families are also expected to be worse off, with an average loss of £48 a week.
Labour has called for ministers to halt the roll-out "as a matter of urgency".