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

All about money
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This morning's Guardian ... Frank Field mp ( One of our very few friends in the House ) :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... -senior-mp
Universal credit: DWP withholding bad news, says senior MP.

Frank Field, work and pensions committee chair, believes department has not revealed scale of problems with welfare changes.


A cover up ? Economical with the true ? Disinformation ? Government propaganda ?

YOU decide :

The chairman of the parliamentary committee investigating the rollout of universal credit has accused the government of withholding “bad news” over the faltering progress of its flagship welfare changes.

Frank Field said he suspected that ministers had only pressed ahead with the accelerated rollout of universal credit this month because civil servants at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had withheld the true scale of the problems.

The MP says that despite evidence of mounting problems with universal credit, the DWP has yet to provide new written evidence to the work and pensions committee, and has so far refused to answer four formal letters requesting statistics and clarifications of policy sent to David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary, over the past six weeks.

Field said: “For the secretary of state not to answer letters shows either a huge discourtesy to parliament or a sign that the government knows the game is nearly up in trying to present this mega-reform as a success.

“I don’t know if the DWP is deliberately concealing information about universal credit or is simply incompetent. Either way, it is not good enough. This has obvious echoes in the far greater failure of not paying hungry claimants on time.

“One letter simply asked if the conference announcement on advance payments was, despite appearances, simply a restatement of existing policy. You’d think they could at least answer that one.”

Field’s comments come as Gauke prepares for a potentially uncomfortable appearance before the inquiry committee on Wednesday morning, just hours before an Labour opposition day debate calling for the accelerated rollout to be paused.

The work and pensions committee inquiry was launched last month amid mounting concern – including on the government backbenches – that flaws in the design and implementation of universal credit, which was meant to streamline and simplify the benefits system, is causing confusion and chaos for many claimants and landlords.

The committee has since received over 100 evidence submissions on universal credit from claimants, landlords, councils and charities. Of those so far published on the inquiry website, almost all report major problems, with consequences for claimants ranging from debt and rent arrears to mental distress and hunger.

Field said: “Given everything we have heard, I was surprised that David Gauke opted to proceed with the accelerated rollout. I strongly suspect his decision, together with the failure to tell us anything, reflects a culture at the DWP of those most invested in universal credit not telling anyone, including their ministers, bad news.

“The overwhelming picture we are getting is that universal credit as currently configured is very bad news. We have heard nothing, to the contrary or otherwise, from those running it.”

Earlier this month Gauke delivered an upbeat assessment of universal credit in his speech to Tory party conference in Manchester. He rejected calls for the rollout to be paused, calling the changes a step towards a Tory vision of the modern welfare state that was “compassionate, practical and aspirational”.

Liverpool city council said local authorities were moving into “dangerous and uncharted waters” as the cost of supporting increasing numbers of low-income residents plunged into financial crisis by long waits for universal credit payments became unsustainable.

In evidence to the work and pensions committee inquiry it said: “Given the growing pressures caused by the government’s multiple welfare reforms and the additional hardship resultant from UC [universal credit], the ability of the council and its partners to support those most affected and protect vulnerable households is not likely to be affordable for much longer, or ultimately sustainable.

“We, along with many other local authorities, are now in what I consider to be ‘dangerous and unchartered waters’.”

A DWP spokesman said: “We are fully engaged with the work and pensions select committee. The secretary of state recently met its chairman and will be appearing before it this week. Meanwhile, committee members have taken up our invitation to visit a jobcentre to see how universal credit works for themselves.

“The department also published a raft of research and analysis of universal credit, following requests from the work and pensions select committee, five weeks ago. This included evidence showing that the vast majority of people are paid on time and in full, and that people are moving into work faster than under the old system.”


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Needless to say , those making the snake oil will NOT be drinking it !!!
Several articles around this morning ... most concentrating on the House and pressure on the Government.

This one , from the Guardian , looks at Inverness in Scotland , several months after the UC was introduced in one of the several " Trial " areas ... using human guinea pigs :

'We went days without eating properly': how universal credit brought misery to Inverness.

People who were never in debt before have been catapulted into crisis in trial of benefit whose rollout continues despite concerns.

For many of Inverness’s universal credit guinea pigs, the past year has been exceptionally stressful. The many glitches of a malfunctioning scheme have already caused widespread misery in this city, which has been trialling various forms of universal credit since 2013. The problems unfolding here offer a taste of what is to come when the system goes nationwide.

The escalating difficulties experienced by Mhairi Thomson, a 35-year-old care worker who faced eviction from her home of 16 years, are typical. She claimed universal credit last September just before she got married; her fiance was moving into the house she shared with her 15-year-old daughter – forcing a reassessment of her benefit eligibility and shifting her on to the new system.

For reasons that remain unclear, the benefit was not paid for five months, leaving her unable to pay her rent, struggling to buy food for her family and often without £2.50 dinner money to give her daughter, who was studying for her exams. Crucially, with no money to pay her phone bill she lost access to her landline and her internet connection, which left her unable to query the absence of payments because the benefit is designed to claimed online. Without her landline, she had to use her mobile to call the helpline at considerable cost, because delays on the line ate up all the free minutes on her pay-as-you-go mobile package, pushing her on to a 30p-a-minute rate.

The speed with which problems spiral into household catastrophes is one of the most striking features of the new benefit system. “After a while I couldn’t afford to make the calls; it was costing an absolute fortune,” Thomson said.

She spent many hours standing in the doorway of Asda, using the supermarket’s free wifi, following the online complaints procedure to try to get the payments restarted. She raised 26 queries in her online journal – which sits at the heart of the new system, and is designed to simplify communication between claimant and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); none were answered. The journal told her the money had been paid but her bank account showed it had not. When the housing association rang to tell her she was nearly £1,000 in arrears and faced eviction, she felt close to nervous breakdown.

Thomson’s experiences are neither unique nor particularly extreme by the standards of those inundating advisers at Inverness’s housing associations and the local MP’s constituency surgery. All around the city – whose council, Highland, was one of the first to introduce the full system in June 2016 – benefits claimants, around half of whom are working, have experienced difficulties that have pushed them into serious rent arrears.

Highland council has 1,521 tenants receiving universal credit, 80% of whom are in arrears, amounting to around £1m; the council has said it is worried that the growing debt will reduce the services it is able to provide. With the system being rolled out in 54 more jobcentres nationally this month, concern is mounting in areas next in line.

Inverness is more than a year ahead in trialling the system – and this coalmine canary is looking pretty unwell. “We’re ahead of the curve. We discover new problems every day. It is a disaster,” the area’s SNP MP, Drew Hendry, said. More than 60% of his caseload is connected to universal credit. “This is the biggest part of my day every day; it is so overwhelming.”

Partly the problems are caused by an in-built six-week delay to all new payments, which pushes many families instantly into arrears. Partly they are the result of anomalies within the system. “We see short payments, missed payments, lost paperwork, incredibly poor communication between the DWP and the jobcentre, whose staff are not allowed in many cases to speak to the person within the DWP to find a solution,” he said. “It is a chaotic system, beyond inefficient. Every day we see a different situation where someone is being put under unacceptable pressure. They need to halt rollout so that many more people don’t suffer.”

Thomson has always worked, and has never previously been in debt, but without benefits coming in (to supplement the low wages associated with the essential work done by care workers), she was unable to buy petrol and car insurance, and on the point of losing the car, which would have meant losing her job. Soon after Christmas (which the family could not afford to celebrate) she was referred to a food bank, but was too embarrassed to go.

“We went days without eating properly; we’d just have a bit of toast. My daughter was going to school with no breakfast, and no lunch. It makes me feel so bad to think about it,” she said. When Thomson told someone from the council about her difficulties, it sent a woman from the welfare department to talk about better budgeting – which she found a peculiar response. “There was nothing left to budget.” The family only got by because Thomson’s sister and mother-in-law helped out with food, and her neighbour let her use the landline to try to contact the DWP. Finally her husband, an former soldier who served in Iraq, was advised by a veteran’s charity to go to Hendry’s office, where staff helped Thomson to stave off eviction.

Some back payments have been made, and an army charity contributed to paying off some of her arrears, but she remains in debt and shattered by the experience.

Over a day spent talking to universal credit pilot claimants in Inverness, again and again people expressed bemusement at their situation, stressing that they had never previously been in rent arrears or in debt, and voicing confusion over how their situation had rapidly sped towards crisis.

Leslie Ross, 51, said he had not received any payments since 16 August and that he was surviving on food bank vouchers. He opened his fridge, to show milk, but no food; in his store cupboard he had four donated tins of soup, two tins of custard and some rice pudding. There were a couple of frozen bread rolls in the freezer.

“It has been unreal. Have you ever tried to go to sleep at night when you’re hungry? I don’t eat most days until six,” he said. He too has found his situation complicated by losing his internet connection (owing to non-payment of bills) just at the time he needed it most to query why money was not being paid.

Because the six-week delay for his first payment last year pushed him into rent arrears of around £900, he is paying back £63.56 a month out of minimum benefits allowances, which for the past two months have not been paid. Ross had always worked – a lifeguard, a job at Tesco, a car mechanic, a swimming teacher – until a breakdown in September last year. He has found the experience of trying to claim the new benefit overwhelming, not least because payment accuracy has been erratic. He has a long list of belongings he has sold to keep going – his bike, his fishing equipment, his camera. “I’m on antidepressants because of this. You do start to give up on yourself a bit. Things take a spiral downwards.”

Alasdair Christie, manager of Inverness Citizens Advice, said his colleagues were under pressure, working beyond contracted hours, to help sort out universal credit problems.

“They feel the pain that client is going through. People come in crying, in despair, with no hope of how to remedy the situation. The biggest issue is the length of time that people wait to get their first payment, which is causing huge pressure on families, pushing people to food banks, having a detrimental effect on people’s mental health,” he said. “We’ve seen problems escalate at each point of the rollout – the unfairness, the complexities, the delays. In terms of a benefit system, it is worse than your worst nightmares.”

Richard Stokes, 48, a former care worker, is not working because of a breakdown he says was caused in part by the problems he had with claiming universal credit to supplement his income last year. Stokes said a systems error made the universal credit computer believe he was getting double his actual monthly earnings of £500, because two payments came in during one universal credit calendar month, triggering the suspension of his benefits. On another occasion, the universal credit records said he had been paid £382, a sum that never appeared in his bank account. The disparity has never been explained, he said. He too found himself hugely in arrears for the first time; his mother had to step in to pay some of it off, but some of the debt remains.

For some Inverness claimants the problems have been with poor wifi signals in the more remote parts of the pilot area. In places where the signal is weak, claimants can find themselves halfway through filling in a form before losing their data because of a dropped connection.

Ailsa Young, a cook, was dismayed that so much had to be done on smartphones or a laptop – since she has neither. “I wasn’t computer literate and I don’t want a smartphone. I struggled with it,” she said. She was frustrated at the long waits when she telephoned, and angry at the cost. “When people are struggling financially, surely they should be entitled to a free call to find out why the money hasn’t come through.”

She too got into rent arrears – for the first time – because of the six-week delay for payments, and visited a food bank – for the first time – when she was in that period with no money. “I’d never been in a situation where I had nothing to eat,” she said. Back in work now, she has paid off the arrears; she describes the experience as “very depressing”.

Jennifer Soley from the local Albyn Housing Society said many other tenants were in similar situations, a large proportion of whom were in work. About 65% of universal-credit-claiming tenants are in arrears, with average debts of just over £700, compared with just 20% of the rest of their residents.

“The thing that disturbs me most is that this isn’t one or two people who are complaining. This is hundreds and hundreds of people.”

Hendry is angry at the government’s refusal to listen to the mounting list problems he has reported. “We have given evidence for three years about the problems we’re seeing, and they have not reacted. The system is meant to support people who are vulnerable, but the ones who are being devastated by it are the ones who can least cope.

“Simplifying the benefit system is the right thing to do. But it’s worthless if the new system is so complex and heartless that it doesn’t achieve any of the objectives.”

A DWP spokesman said: “The vast majority of claimants tell us they are comfortable managing their money. In the minority of cases where an issue does arise, we work closely with claimants, local organisations and landlords to resolve them as quickly as possible.”



Easy to suggest that , once a daily newspaper gets a bee in it's bonnet about a particular issue , it will run it , almost to the point of satuation.

However , this Issue is a lot more than that. It's affecting the lives of many citizens who are simply unrepresented at any level in our society.

Even some readers who have never had problems such as those detailed in similar articles may be sucked into the maelstrom of the UC rollout ,
perhaps not directly but through their caree.

Fast forward to , say , June 2018 ... how many readers will have had a close shave , or even sought a local food bank as " Problems " have arisen in switching over to UC ?

The UC rollout continues ... unabated !
Some relief for many :

Universal Credit helpline charges scrapped.

People will no longer be charged for calling the government's Universal Credit helpline after criticism from MPs and campaigners.

Welfare Secretary David Gauke said the helpline, charged at local call rates which could be up to 55p a minute, would be made free in the coming weeks.



Now for the waiting time for a human being to respond rather than the usual " Select your numbers for tonight's lottery draw " game at the beginning ???

Jackpot winner ... human being response within ... 10 minutes ?

Odds on waiting time to increase ?

1 to 20 ON ... latest quote from the bookies.

And , please , change the music when one is on hold ... " No one likes us , no one likes us , we don't care , we are the DWP " ... gets a little too monotonous ?
After a day in which we all witnessed a historical manoeuvre by the Government in the House , today's Guardian ... " Where are we now ? "

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

The Guardian view on universal credit: losing credit.

By refusing to pause and rectify its benefit reform, the government risks condemning hundreds to a Christmas reliant on food parcels.


Universal credit (UC) is a technocratic solution to a human problem. Rolling up six benefits into one payment in a way that mirrors a monthly pay cheque appears unimpeachably sensible – on paper. The system is still supported in principle across the parties. But in practice too many claimants do not fit into its organised parameters. They come with historic debts, or without any savings, or knocked back by the unexpected loss of their job or a split from their partner. For all its flaws, the old system was baggier and more accommodating.

And there is a long history of new benefits coming laden with unintended consequences. The former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who designed UC, at least insisted that his system came in slowly, with built-in “firebreaks” to assess the success of implementation and the effectiveness of its design. But his successors have lost patience with testing, learning and rectifying, and now they are refusing to pause.

There is a kind of bizarre self-parody in a government that, when faced with soaring debt and rent arrears, concedes to Jeremy Corbyn’s call and makes the helpline free. David Gauke, the DWP secretary, made the announcement to MPs hours before a Commons debate that might have led to a government defeat if the Tories had not backed away from confrontation. It removes a grave injustice; but in the face of the human and political damage being wreaked by the decision to press ahead with the rollout, this is fiddling on a heroic scale.

The problems with UC are now familiar: the built-in six-week delay before any payment is received means many claimants run up large debts. The Trussell Trust, an informal indicator of need, notes that demand for food parcels rises on average 16% where UC is rolled out, which is why the Labour MP Frank Field can warn that his area food bank is anticipating needing an extra 15 tonnes of supplies. Mr Gauke believes that promoting advance payments will mean that people are not thrown back on charity.

But no more than 40% of the likely future entitlement can be claimed, and it must be repaid within the year. In an example of the clash between theory and practice, in some circumstances advances cannot be applied for face to face. Imagine, sitting opposite an adviser, being told that you must find a phone to ask for an advance – when IT malfunction and bureaucratic failure suggest that one in three new claimants waits more than six weeks, and some wait for more than three months. The delay is meant to be part of the process of preparing people for work: claimants who can’t manage are intended to get extra support with budgeting. But you can’t budget with nothing, nor with not enough.

And the problems don’t go away when the credit is paid. In Scotland, the administration has used its new powers over welfare to pay UC every two weeks rather than every four. It also allows landlords to receive rent directly from the benefits agency rather than the tenant. It is a practical way – although still not completely adequate – of easing the problems of rent arrears that escalate wherever the system has been introduced. But it is also an erosion of the founding principle of using the credit to mirror a pay cheque; and that may be one reason why the DWP is so adamantly refusing to bow to pressure from across the Commons to pause for a review.

There is another reason, too: the DWP budget has to deliver billions of pounds of cuts between now and 2020. These cuts will leave a family of four on UC as much as £2,000 worse off. They are turning an ambitious but worthwhile reform into what one MP called an act of deliberate cruelty. The government is fixed on a course of action that, by the next so-called firebreak in January, will have pitched hundreds of unsuspecting citizens who find themselves in need into the bleak world of Daniel Blake. It takes a government inured to self-harm to pursue a policy that will leave families to celebrate Christmas on the contents of a food parcel.



On par with 1940 ... a sense of foreboding ?

As usual , comments section at the bottom.

If anything , the sense of anger and frustration is increasing.

If the past is anything to go by , the main players in the UC policy will receive their just rewards ... elevation to the Lords , honours for a few , and lucrative jobs in the private sector once they have done their time.

As for recipients of UC , what are there " Rewards " ???

I , Daniel Blake ... for many , a documentary ... not a drama ???????

The " Cathy Come Home " of the 2010s.
Extremely hard hiting article in the later edition of today' s Guardian ... Nick Forbes , Leader of Newcastle City Council :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ing-crisis

My city piloted universal credit. We’re becoming a Cathy Come Home society.

Newcastle’s experience is a warning to the country: this benefit seems designed to punish ordinary people by causing a housing crisis. But do ministers care?


Our country is on the verge of a housing crisis as a result of universal credit, and I know because it is unfolding right now in Newcastle. The government is pushing ahead with a benefit reform that has a built-in wait for financial support averaging six weeks. This causes uncertainty, debt, and an unavoidable feeling that this “reform” is designed to punish.

The experiences of residents in Newcastle today stand as a warning to others. We are a trial roll-out city for universal credit. The impact here has been dramatic. Tenants living in council housing who have been moved to universal credit have accumulated £1.2m of rent arrears. That figure is alarming enough, but we are only about 25% of the way through our roll-out, so that figure is almost certainly set to rise. And that is just the tip of the iceberg – there are many more in the private rented sector who will be suffering alone, without the help offered by a responsible landlord such as the council.

The consequences will be far-reaching. Austerity has led to a rise in homelessness and begging. On our streets we can see what happens after seven years of ideologically-driven assaults on the welfare state. Housing and welfare support are intertwined and you cannot change one without an impact on the other. Beyond housing, how can we expect those on universal credit to get to the jobs the Tories assume recipients will seek out, if there is no money for bus fare? And what about the children of those on universal credit? Families making new applications for free school meals are being told they can’t have help feeding their children until the six-week waiting period for the new benefit passes.


As we witness the stress and hardship universal credit is causing, there are serious questions for ministers to answer. In theory, a staggered approach to introducing the benefit should give the government a chance to correct its mistakes, but there is no indication that ministers are prepared to pause the introduction, or offset the six-week delay in benefit payments for those moving on to the new system. What is the point of a phased roll-out if you do not adapt to the lessons picked up along the way? And what is the point of a benefit reform that pushes people further into debt?

It is hard to avoid the feeling that the next housing crisis is right now being made in Downing Street. Those living on the edge are about to be pushed out of the safety net that the welfare state is supposed to provide for everyone’s good.

It’s no accident. This government simply does not value those who need the help of the state to succeed – a stance that is most obvious in the housing policies forcing the sale of good-quality council homes, or limiting lifetime tenancies.

What we are seeing is a systematic assault on the welfare state that is returning us to the days of the Cathy Come Home society. There are two lessons the government appears not to have learned from back then. First, if you do not take a comprehensive approach to housing and welfare, you create a system in which wherever the less fortunate turn, they are faced with further misery.

Second, this downward spiral costs the state. It is self-defeating. By imposing benefit cuts, housing uncertainty, and additional debt on those claiming universal credit, the government is simply asking another part of the state to pick up the mess it creates.


Now is the time to learn, to pause the roll-out and correct the damage done so far.

• Nick Forbes is leader of Newcastle city council, and heads Labour’s Local Government Association group•


Follow that .... ???

Regretably , many more will follow after UC rolls out on their manor !
As the rollout continues , a guide from the Money Expert site as to the exact nature of the beast , UC :

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/famil ... sal-credit


For any readers , the information contained therein will be pretty useful , and best digested by reading direct.

When using any search engine ... UNIVERSAL CREDIT FORUMS ... will many will be revealed , and maybe worthwhile exploring a few for curiosity value alone. NO situation is ever exactly the same as another.

No doubt , as MOST calls will be free in a short time , the UC helpline is there to assist ... as is our own advice team in Carers UK , not forgetting their own NEWS section available elsewhere on this site.

Whether training and provision of DWP staff will be adequate remains unknown ... from past experience , very debatable ???

Always best to be prepared even if the steamroller has not yet reached your manor.

In my experience , nothing like this " New " product has the potential to cause more damage , principally to our caree , and then on to us.

Initially , a good idea but ... it's in the application that counts ... and politicians tinkering with it to fit in with their policies turned it into a poisoned chalice for many.

The warning signs are all there ... don't ignore them.

A minefield ... some are clearly marked , others not so ... until you step on one.

###############################################################################

Just met with one of the girls from the local letting agents ... chance meeting ... now just the 3 of them , 5 a year ago ... local lordlords , mainly with 1 - 4 of the BTL variety , asking for advice as to renewing 6 month tenancies to benefit claimants ... answer being " Toss a coin " ... UC steamroller just 2 months away ... demand for any lettings has been decreasing over the past year ... so much uncertainty ?

Fast forward 6 months and ... all bets are off !
Today's Guardian ... an anonymous DWP call handler ... if factually correct ... ???
I’m a call handler for the DWP, where empathy isn’t a trait that’s valued very much. But I’ve been on benefits and I know how difficult it can be looking for work while trying to survive on a minimal amount of money.

I wish I was the one who made the rules, especially after dealing with universal credit claimants for more than two years.

From day one, I’ve been told by long-standing colleagues and managers that it’ll get easier to deal with calls, that I should “shut off” and “not get involved”, but that isn’t the case.

I want to say to the claimants: I do empathise with you when you explain to me what’s happening to you, and how hard it is.
Universal credit is returning my city to the days of Cathy Come Home

To the young lady I spoke to a few weeks ago regarding her childcare costs, I’m sorry the process wasn’t explained to you properly when you started your claim. I’m sorry you had to speak to four other people before me who all gave you the wrong information.

I tried to explain the process to you by using my own knowledge, since I am a working mother myself. But I was told by my manager I can’t use my personal situation to relate to you, I must keep myself detached from anyone I deal with.

To the gentleman I spoke to recently regarding his claim, I’m sorry you lost your home because of the way the system works and lack of information. I’m sorry your landlord wasn’t more understanding about the seven-week delay on your housing benefit payment.

We’re constantly monitored at work, including how often we go to the toilet, and for how long

You needed to hand in an up to date tenancy agreement so your housing benefit is calculated correctly, but this wasn’t made clear. It happens a lot in the department, and affects a lot of people.

In the office, call statistics are a massive focus and this feeds into our personal performance record. We’re constantly monitored at work, including how often we go to the toilet, and for how long. We’re asked to explain ourselves if managers think we are taking too long.

It creates unnecessary extra pressure on the staff, who are already dealing with a highly stressed group of people who are put under extremely stressful circumstances a lot of the time.

We used to have time allocated at the end of each call to process anything that couldn’t be done during the call such as sending information over to other departments or making payment calculations. But this has now been stopped. We are now told to put the caller on hold instead, adding even more time and expense to what is already a very lengthy call.

It isn’t fair to keep you on the phone and make you pay more for the call. I do my best not to extend it any longer than I have to and still do work after the call, but we’re always being scrutinised. I know that not contacting us can cause a sanction to be imposed.

I am a person, and I care. I follow the rules because I need to keep my job and provide for my child. It makes me sad that so many people have lost their homes, and many their lives, due to the changes that have occurred since universal credit started. Please believe me when I say, I do not take the least bit of pleasure in feeling like I’m causing heartache for so many people in doing my job.


The writing is , very much , on the wall ???

Cathy Come Home again ... a harbringer if ever there was one.

Slowly sinking into a mire ... and no one offering assistance.

Good luck ... all the lifeboats went hours ago.

" Get a job !!! "

Many in work and earning the minimum wage are also eligible for several benefits now encompassed by UC !!!

Child Tax Credit for one ... and someone on 3 / 4 TIMES the minimum wage can still qualify.

Was that REALLY the intention of the framers of UC ?????
Oh dear ... potential good news but ... the real reason , loss of face ????

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/po ... 13151.html
Government could cut Universal Credit waiting time following threatened backbench rebellion.

‘We would like to see it set down to four weeks which is what you would have when you went into work and got a salary’

The Government is believed to be on the verge of a U-turn over Universal Credit following public pressure and a threatened backbench rebellion.

Ministers are understood to be preparing to announce the waiting time for the first payment of the new benefit will be reduced from six weeks after thousands of vulnerable people were left destitute and in some cases having to rely on food banks.

One of the Tory MPs threatening to rebel, Stephen McPartland, said he believed critics of the new benefit were “very, very close” to finding a solution.

Opposition MPs as well as some on the backbenches, charities and campaign groups have all warned that the roll-out of the benefit is contributing to rent arrears and in extreme cases making people homeless, as well as forcing already poor people into debt.

Theresa May avoided a threatened Commons revolt this week after agreeing to scrap the 55p a minute phone charge to call a Universal Credit helpline.

The Prime Minister ordered her MPs to abstain on a non-binding motion put forward by Labour calling for the benefit reform to be paused.

The DUP – who are in an agreement with the Conservatives to prop up the minority Government – is known as a pro-welfare party and also abstained in the Commons vote, meaning it was passed by 299 to zero, with one Tory MP, Sarah Wollaston, voting against the Government. Having been brought by the Opposition, however, the vote was purely symbolic and carries no legal weight.

Stevenage MP Mr McPartland told BBC Radio 4’s Week In Westminster: “One issue is reducing the time people wait for their first payment. It’s currently set at six weeks and I would like to see it reduced to four weeks.

“I think people accept you have to be paid in arrears, a lot of these people on Universal Credit will be in work so they will get paid in arrears themselves, so we would like to see it set down to four weeks, which is what you would have when you went into work and got a salary.

“On that particular issue I think we are very, very close to getting a resolution.

“I think the Secretary of State has found it very difficult to justify inside the parliamentary party why they need to defend a six-week wait, so I’m quite pleased about that.”

Mr McPartland was not one of the rebels reportedly called into Number Ten by the Prime Minister in advance of the vote.

But he said Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke was finding it increasingly hard to justify the six-week wait.

Universal Credit represents the biggest shake-up to the benefits system since the founding of the modern welfare state in the 1940s.

It combines a number of benefits for working age people into one combined payment – such as housing benefit, tax credits, Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Claimants in about 100 Jobcentres are already paid this way, but from October the pace of its roll-out was set to be ramped up, with 50 Jobcentres scheduled to switch to the service every month.

The Government’s own figures show that 23 per cent of new claimants do not receive their first full payment within six weeks, with a growing number of cases highlighted in the media showing some people left for months without a payment and having to depend on charities or relatives so they can eat or pay bills.

Mr Gauke insisted during the Commons debate that his department’s measures are “already improving lives” and criticised Labour for opposing the reform.

“What we are hearing … is not constructive opposition, not a plan to reform universal credit, but an attempt to wreck it,” he claimed.

“We will proceed: we will address the historic failures of our benefit system, we will increase opportunity, and we will deliver a welfare system that puts work at the heart of it.”


Just one comment from the comments section :

The 6 week waiting time is only one problem in this whole revolting mess.

This system does not work for many groups of people. Worst of all, they have chosen UC to hit the severely disabled with yet another huge hit to their support and yet few seem to care.

The severe disability component of tax credits has been scrapped under UC which represents a huge monthly cut! The effect of this, is then further multiplied, by the fact that many tax credit claimants are the carers of severely disabled people and, by neccessity, are self employed!

UC does not work for the self employed with the lower income floor completely opposed to the realities of running a small business and, for many, the need to juggle time between work and heavy caring responsibilities!

The caring responsibilities have been made much heavier by a government that as made it impossible for local authorities to provide adequate homecare for these people!

I could scream....the severely disabled people are being driven out of society at every turn.

Where are you 'Great' Britain?

Why are you allowing this travesty?


Now , just imagine ... Carers Allowance now included within UC ... problems ???

Just one to kick off ... joint application with caree ???

" ( A + B + C ) + ( D + E ) = ... hang on a mo , if A , D out , C less 40% ... recalculate .., oh , F comes into play ... and there are 2 blue moons in October ... no view of the sunset ... cat not dog in residence ... oh , dear , I need a new battery for my calculator ! "

CA cannot be shoe horned into anything ... an abnormally ... as well as an abomination ???
2018 ... stopping manors for the UC steamroller :

January 2018

In Northern Ireland: Strabane and Lisnagelvin,

February 2018

In England, Scotland, Wales: Accrington, Annan, Ayr, Basingstoke, Bathgate, Blackburn, Bodmin, Boston, Bracknell, Bridgend, Bridgnorth, Broxburn, Cardiff Alex House, Cardiff Charles Street, Chatham, City of Westminster Marylebone, Clapham Common, Coalville, Colwyn Bay, Darwen, Diss, Dumfries, Folkestone, Girvan, Gloucester, Gravesend, Huyton, Jarrow, Killingworth, Kirkby, Livingston, Llandudno, Maesteg, Maidenhead, Market Drayton, Middleton, Newark, Newquay, North Shields, Oswestry, Porthcawl, Pyle, Redbridge, Rhyl, Rochdale Heywood, Rochdale, Rushden, Scarborough, Selby, Shrewsbury, Slough, South Shields, St Austell, Stowmarket, Stranraer, Streatham, Truro, Wallsend, Westminster, Whitby, Whitchurch, Whitley Bay.

In Northern Ireland: Foyle, Armagh, Omagh and Enniskillen

March 2018

In England, Scotland, Wales: Abergavenny, Alfreton, Amlwch, Ammanford, Ashford, Banff, Barnsbury, Bedminster, Belper, Bishopsworth, Bradford Eastbrook Court, Bradford Westfield House, Bristol Central, Caldicott, Carmarthen, Chepstow, Chester le Street, Congleton, Crawley, Darlington, Dereham, Durham, Eyemouth, Falkirk, Finsbury Park, Fraserburgh, Galashiels, Grangemouth, Hanley, Hawick, Haywards Heath, Heanor, Helston, Hereford, Highgate, Holyhead, Hornchurch, Horsham, Keighley, Kingston, Leicester Charles St, Leicester New Walk, Leicester Wellington St, Leominster, Leyland, Lincoln, Llanelli, Llangefni, Longton, Macclesfield, Merthyr, Tydfil, Newton Aycliffe, Penryn, Penzance, Peterhead, Preston, Redruth, Romford, Ross on Wye, Shipley, Skegness, Spennymoor, Stockport, Thetford, Twickenham, Wandsworth, Wilmslow.

In Northern Ireland: Dungannon and Portadown.

April 2018

In England, Scotland,Wales: Abertillery, Airdrie, Andover, Ashton in Makerfield, Atherton, Bangor, Barnstaple, Barrow, Bellshill, Beverley, Bideford, Billingham, Blairgowrie, Bognor, Bridlington, Brownhills, Buckie, Caernarfon, Canterbury, Chichester, Chorley, Clay Cross, Colchester, Coventry Cofa Court, Coventry Tile Hill, Cumbernauld, Derby Forester House, Derby Normanton Road, Dinnington, Dolgellau, Ebbw Vale, Elgin, Forest Hill, Forres, Goole, Harrow, Harwich, Herne Bay, Hessle, Honiton, Ipswich “My go Hub”, Ipswich, Leigh, Lewisham, Littlehampton, Loughborough, Machynlleth, Maltby, Motherwell, Newton-le-Willows, Perth, Porthmadog, Pwllheli, Rotherham, Spalding, St Helens, Staveley, Stockton, Thornaby, Tiverton, Tredegar, Walsall Bridle Court, Whitstable, Wigan, Willenhall, Winchester, Worthing.

In Northern Ireland: Banbridge and Lurgan.

May 2018

In England, Scotland, Wales: Aberystwyth, Atherstone, Bargoed, Blackwood, Brixham, Bromley, Bromsgrove, Bury, Buxton, Caerphilly, Campbeltown, Canning Town, Canvey, Cardigan, Carlisle, Cheetham Hill, Clacton, Dartford, Dunoon, East Ham, Easton, Ely, Gainsborough, Glossop, Haverfordwest, Helensburgh, High Wycombe, Horfield, Houghton le Spring, Hythe, Johnstone, Kirkwall, Lerwick, Louth, Malvern, Mansfield, Matlock, Middlesbrough East, Middlesbrough, Milford Haven, Newport (IOW), Newton Abbot, Oban, Paisley, Pembroke Dock, Penrith, Plaistow, Prestwich, Rayleigh, Renfrew, Rothesay, Shirehampton, Southwick, Stornoway, Stratford, Sunderland, Torquay, Totnes, Washington, Wisbech, Wythenshawe.

In Northern Ireland: Kilkeel, Downpatrick, Newry, Bangor, Newtownards, Holywood Road, Knockbreda, Newtownabbey and Shankill.

June 2018

In England, Scotland, Wales: Aberdeen, Alexandria, Aylesbury, Barrhead, Barry, Belle Vale, Brecon, Bulwell, Cambridge, Chesham, Clydebank, Cosham, Cromer, Dalston, Dumbarton, Eccles, Edinburgh City, Eltham, Exeter, Felixstowe, Garston, Guisley, Hackney, Hertford, High Riggs, Hoxton, Huntingdon, Irlam, Kendal, Kettering, Leamington Spa, Leeds Eastgate, Leeds Park Place, Leeds Southern House, Leiston, Leith, Letchworth, Lewes, Llandrindod Wells, Lymington, Machynlleth, Morley, Newhaven, Newtown, Norwich, Nottingham Central, Nottingham Loxley House, Penarth, Portsmouth, Pudsey, Salford, Seacroft, Stevenage, Wester Hailes, Worcester, Worsley, Ystradgynlais.

In Northern Ireland: Corporation Street, Falls, Andersontown, Shaftesbury Square, Lisburn and Larne.

July 2018

In England, Scotland,Wales: Aberdare, Aldershot, Alton, Arnold, Ashington, Beeston, Berwick, Bexleyheath, Bolton Blackhorse St, Bolton Great Moor St, Bordon, Chapeltown, Cramlington, Dunstable, Edge Hill, Epsom, Evesham, Farnborough, Farnworth, Guildford, Hayes, Kidderminster, Kings Lynn, Kingswood, Llantrisant, Luton, Madeley, Morpeth, Mountain Ash, Northampton, Oldbury, Pontypridd, Porth, Redhill, Ryde, Sheffield Bailey, Sheffield Cavendish Court, Sleaford, Smethwick, Telford, Tipton, Tonypandy, Tottenham, Toxteth, Treorchy, Uxbridge, Wavertree, Wellington, West Bromwich, Williamson Square, Woking, Wood Green, Yate.

In Northern Ireland: Carrickfergus, Antrim and Ballymena.

July to September 2018

In Northern Ireland: Cookstown, Ballynahinch and Newcastle.

August 2018

In England, Scotland, Wales: Ashton-under-Lyne, Biggleswade, Bolsover, Burton, Camberley, Cannock, Castleford, Clitheroe, Colne, Eston, Fareham, Gosport, Guisborough, Harlesden, Havant, Hemsworth, Hyde, Leighton Buzzard, Loftus, Maidstone, Nelson, Petersfield, Pontefract, Rawtenstall, Redcar, Shirebrook, Stafford, Staines, Stalybridge, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Swadlincote, Tonbridge, Wakefield, Weybridge, Willesden

September 2018

In England, Scotland, Wales: Aintree, Alnwick, Anniesland, Bedlington, Blackpool North, Blackpool South, Blyth, Borehamwood, Bridgeton, Castlemilk, Chelmsford, Drumchapel, Easterhouse, Everton, Fakenham, Fleetwood, Govan, Hemel Hempstead, Hexham, Hull Britannia House, Hull Market Place, Kentish Town, Kidsgrove, Kilburn, Langside, Laurieston, Loughton, Maryhill, Mildenhall, Milton Keynes, Newcastle Under Lyme, Newlands, Newmarket, Norris Green, North Kensington, North Walsham, Parkhead, Partick, Sheffield Eastern Ave, Sheffield Hillsborough, Sheffield Woodhouse, Shettleston, Springburn, St Annes, Tunbridge Wells, Wembley, West Derby




A tombstone to rival the rollout of the Black Death in June 1348 onwards ?

January 2018 ... anticipating bad weather ?

June - September 2018 ... a brief reprieve for Northern Ireland , or the beaches considered better elsewhere ?
Much the same ... 2 human guinea pig London boroughs report in ... today's Guardian :


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... uncils-say


Universal credit behind rising rent arrears and food bank use, 'guinea pig' councils say.

Research by Southwark and Croydon councils reveals devastating effect of new benefits system.


The universal credit system is pushing poor tenants deeper into rent arrears and sending food bank referrals soaring, according to a study by two councils that have been guinea pigs for the new regime.

Southwark and Croydon councils in south London warned that without rapid changes the new system could have a devastating effect across the country as it is rolled out over the next few months, warning that arrears could reach “many hundreds of millions of pounds” and that tenants could face severe hardship. One food bank reported an increase in referrals of 97%.

The findings emerge amid reports that the government is considering changes to cut the minimum six-week waiting period universal credit claimants must wait before they receive a first payment. Ministers have been warned that the widespread evidence of hardship caused to many tenants by the 42-day wait risks turning the flagship welfare policy into a “new poll tax”.

The report examined rent accounts for 775 social housing tenants in the two boroughs who had moved on to universal credit between August and October 2016, comparing them with 249 rent accounts held by tenants who moved on to the older housing benefit system during the same period.

The study found that 36% of those moving on to universal credit failed to pay rent at all in the first week, and on average accrued arrears for each of the next 11 weeks. At this point arrears stabilised but were not fully paid off. At the end of the study period 406 of the 775 households on universal credit were in a worse financial position that at the start. On average, each universal credit tenant ran up arrears at a rate of 60p a day. Total arrears for this group rose by £89,000 over the period.

Southwark said that although just 12% of its social housing tenants were on universal credit, they have collectively built up £5.8m in rent arrears. The average universal credit household was £1,178 in arrears, compared with £8 in credit for the average council rent account across the borough.

The study found that by week 20 tenants in receipt of universal credit were on average £156 in arrears, while those on housing benefit were in credit. Universe credit tenants were far more likely than housing benefit claimants to fail to pay the full rent owed – more than a third underpaid rent by 75%.

The study found that long delays for universal credit payments was a key cause of stress, anxiety and depression for claimants. There was a common perception among claimants that the system was inflexible and challenging to navigate. Those tenants used to being paid weekly or fortnightly found it particularly difficult to move to a system of monthly payments.

“Participants in this research almost universally have experienced financial hardship as a result of transitioning onto universal credit, notably as a result of the significant delays to payment,” the study says.

Universal credit problems have also stretched local hardship services. As well as the local Pecan food bank reporting a 97% increase in referrals in the first three months of the year, Southwark council’s emergency support scheme handed out 34% more food parcels over the same period.

Fiona Colley, Southwark’s cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance, said: “This report’s stark evidence is why we need to lead this debate; I implore the government to listen to how this is affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people in our borough, and the potential effects reverberating nationally.

“Universal credit, in its current form, has the potential to be catastrophic, not just for residents at an individual level, but for councils’ ... [budgets for housing].

“The arbitrary delay in receipt of money – particularly for those already in difficult situations such as temporary accommodation, could mean a spiral of debt, poverty and people not being able to afford to eat. I cannot think of a more compelling reason to push for change on this.”

Alison Butler, Croydon council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, said: “This report underlines the major flaws in universal credit, which is placing more and more Croydon and Southwark families in rent arrears and at risk of losing their home. The government needs to fix this policy now or risk devastating thousands more people not only in Croydon but nationwide.”

The councils said more flexibility for tenants to arrange to have the housing benefit element of universal credit paid direct to the landlord would ease the transition period, along with shorter waiting times for a first payment to claimants.

Universal credit was designed to simplify the benefits system by bundling six existing entitlements, including unemployment benefit, housing benefit and working tax credit, into one. However, the long-delayed programme – it is currently five years behind schedule – has run into huge criticism as a result of huge cuts and administrative errors and complexity.

Labour, which supports the general principle of universal credit, is seeking a pause to the rollout so problems can be fixed. After the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, raised the issue of claimants being charged 55p a minute when calling a helpline on a mobile phone, the work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, announced last week that this line would be made free.

Later that day the party inflicted a symbolic Commons defeat on the government with the passing of an opposition day motion calling for a pause in the rollout. It was passed by 299 votes to zero after government whips ordered Tory MPs to abstain.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “This research into a small group of claimants was carried out over a year ago, now the vast majority of claimants receive their first universal credit on time and in full.

“The best way to help people pay their rent and to improve their lives is to support them into work, and under universal credit people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than the old system. We also know that over time people adjust to managing monthly payments, and reduce their arrears.

“The majority of people are comfortable managing their money upfront but budgeting advice, upfront benefit advances and direct rent payments to landlords can be provided for those who need it.”


If any reader has any doubts as to the likely effect on their manor , this article , together with several recent others posted here , are the harbringers.

Nothing short of a war footing for many ... ihis really is today's Sad New World.

All bets are off as to likely reaction if ever just one manor makes a stand.
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