European Committee of Social Rights declares levels of benefits in the UK are ‘manifestly inadequate’

January 2014

European Social Charter

European Committee of Social Rights

Conclusions XX

-2 (2013)


17.   Article 12 .Right to social security

Paragraph 1    Existence of a social security system    ……………….

19.     Conclusion

The Committee  concludes that the situation in United Kingdom is not in conformity with Article12§1 of the Charter on the ground that:

the minimum levels of short-term and long-term incapacity benefit is manifestly inadequate;

the minimum level of state pension is manifestly inadequate;

the minimum level of job seeker’s allowance is manifestly inadequate

read the entire report from the European Commission of Social Rights here:

Malnutrition soars by more than 70% since Coalition came to power

During the Tory-led Government’s relentless cuts drive doctors in England have seen huge increases in conditions usually associated with the Third World

Malnutrition has soared by more than 70% since the Coalition came to power according to shocking data on hospital admissions. During the Tory-led Government’s relentless cuts drive doctors in England have seen huge increases in conditions usually associated with the Third World.

People unable to feed themselves saw a staggering 6,686 admissions where malnutrition was the primary or secondary diagnosis during 2013/14. This is a rise of 71% from 3,899 in the year up to April 2010.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre released today also revealed admissions for scarlet fever were up by 110% and cholera by a staggering 450% since 2010.

Labour has branded the figures a “national scandal”.

Luciana Berger MP, Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, said: “This shouldn’t be happening in 21st century Britain and the Government’s response is hopelessly complacent. People are living under greater pressure and struggling with the cost of living. Hundreds of thousands are forced to turn to food banks and sadly it’s unsurprising people are eating less, and eating less healthily too. David Cameron needs to listen to what the experts are saying and tackle the cost of living crisis that is driving people into food poverty.”

Cases of malnutrition have been steadily increasing since the 2010 general election.

In 2009/10 there were 3,899 hospital admissions for this, in 2010/11 there were 4,660, in 2011/12 there were 5,396 then in 2012/13 this had risen again to 5,594.

Government to overhaul benefits sanctions process

Independent report shows systematic failings in the way benefit sanctions are communicated and processed
Providers of the government’s work programme have been required to bring in sanctions when they know the claimants had done nothing wrong.

The government is to overhaul the way it treats benefit recipients threatened by sanctions, after an independent report it commissioned showed systematic failings in the process, including disproportionate burdens placed on the most vulnerable.

The report found that the way in which the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) communicated with claimants was legalistic, unclear and confusing. The most vulnerable claimants were often left at a loss as to why their benefits were stopped and frequently they were not informed about hardship payments to which they were entitled, the report said. It also revealed serious flaws in how sanctions were imposed; providers of the government’s work programme were required to bring in sanctions when they knew the claimants had done nothing wrong, leaving those people “sent from pillar to post”.

The independent report was written for the DWP by Matthew Oakley, a respected welfare expert who has worked as an economic adviser for the Treasury and for the centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange. The report was completed some weeks ago, but publication of its 17 reform proposals was delayed.

Oakley said that the system was not fundamentally broken, but his criticism was all the more damaging for a government that has consistently described the benefit sanctions regime as fair.

The DWP responded to the report by saying it would be altering the way it talked to benefit claimants, setting up a specialist team to look at all communications, including claimant letters.

The sanctions regime, and the confusing way in which it is administered, has been one reason behind the growth in the public’s use of food banks.

In a new commitment, the DWP promised that if vulnerable claimants claimed for hardship on or before their signing day, they would receive a hardship payment at their normal payment date. The department also promised it would take steps to ensure local authorities did not dock housing benefit and that they gave claimants a clear chance to comply with sanctions, and that there was consideration over whether work programme providers could be empowered to make decisions on sanction referrals.

read the rest of this article in the Guardian here:


Spike in demand for foodbanks

Originally posted on UNEMPLOYED IN TYNE & WEAR:

Darlington community workers are urging people to increase food bank donations, as the summer holiday sparks a surge in demand.

The Salvation Army provides free food parcels every Friday evening and the King’s Church has operated the Food Store and three other distribution centres in the town since February 2012.

Both look to provide emergency food resources for those unable to feed themselves or their families with all work carried out by hard working volunteers.

> Hope they are all volunteers – Salvation Army has a poor record regarding Workfare.

Summer is a crucial time for the projects, as the beginning of six weeks of school holidays leaves many families unable to cope.

King’s Church network manager Lisa Marsh said: “It is important that people can put food on the table.

“The last two summers has seen an increase in the demand for more food donations, often from families…

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Bedroom Tax for [Twitter] Dummies

Originally posted on UnderOccupied:

Below are some examples of the type of infuriating and generally ignorant Bedroom Tax-related tweets that are repeatedly posted on Twitter by people who are often:

    a] completely ignorant,
    b] out for a spot of ‘Leftie-baiting’,
    c] Liberal Democrat MP’s or councillors,
    d] Scottish CyberNats who don’t believe the truth,
    e] Tory councillors,supporters and often MP’s,
    f] a few Labour councillors, supporters and occasionally MP’s
    g] mixed up UKIP persons, or
    h] a combination of the above, generally including ‘a’.

Unfortunately, 140 characters is rarely enough to give a proper, educational reply. However, the average tweeter of observations like those below is normally unable to accept that maybe, just possibly, they are completely wrong.

If a more educated tweeter points out this fact, in many cases their response will be well, perhaps ‘childish’?

So here we go, not in any order, but hey, does it matter?

Its not a tax.

View original 1,150 more words

Work and Pensions Committee urge Ministers to pay disabled benefits during appeals

Originally posted on glynismillward189:

Sheila Gilmore MP today welcomed a report from the Work and Pensions Select Committee – of which she is a member – that calls on the Government to pay sick and disabled people benefits while they appeal against incorrect ‘Fit for Work’ decisions.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) provides support for people who cannot work due to a health condition or disability. Entitlement is determined by the controversial Work Capability Assessment (WCA). Previously claimants who were declared ‘Fit for Work’ and wished to challenge their decision were paid ESA at a reduced rate throughout the appeal process. However since October 2013 claimants have had to submit an informal appeal – known as a mandatory reconsideration – to a DWP civil servant, and only if they are still refused benefit can they take their case to a judge.

During mandatory reconsideration, a claimant’s only option is to claim Jobseekers Allowance, which…

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Work Capability Assessment Needs Fundamental Redesign, Say MPs

Work and Pensions Select Committee Media Release:

The flaws in the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) system are so grave that simply “rebranding” the assessment used to determine eligibility for ESA (the Work Capability Assessment (WCA)) by appointing a new contractor will not solve the problems, says the Work and Pensions Committee in a report published [yesterday].

The Committee calls on the Government to undertake a fundamental redesign of the ESA end-to-end process to ensure that the main purpose of the benefit – helping claimants with health conditions and disabilities to move into employment where this is possible for them – is achieved. This will take some time, but the redesign should be completed before the new multi-provider contract is tendered, which is expected to be in 2018.


In the meantime, the Committee recommends a number of changes which should be made now, to help ensure that claimants receive an improved service, and that the outcomes for claimants are more appropriate.

read the rest of this article:

read the full report of the Parliamentary committee on ESA and the Work Capability Assessment here:

The mentally ill are neglected in the NHS, but actively tormented by the DWP

Michael Meacher, MP,  writes:

As happens in all authoritarian organisations, the truth is so dreadful that it begins to seep out through leaks, secret briefings, off-the-record briefings that turn out to be recorded, and by other risky but well-intentioned means.   It has long happened in the case of disabled resisters determined to fight back against grotesque misjudgements by Atos over work capability assessments.   It is now just beginning to happen in the case of the mentally ill who are often even less able to protect their rights.   What is now being exposed is even worse than people’s wildest suspicions, exacerbated by the revelation that such bullying and aggressive treatment is deliberate DWP policy.

A secret briefing by a DWP jobcentre manager, recently reported, highlights the sheer cruelty with which mentally ill persons are hounded by the Department in order to push them off benefits.   A great number of those on employment and support allowance (ESA) are suffering from mental illness or learning difficulties.   Despite the DWP always insisting they never used targets, the jobcentre manager produced a printed sheet called ‘spinning plates’ marked by red for missed, green for hit.   The target in her office was 50.5% for ‘off flows’, i.e. pushing people off ESA.   The instructions from DWP are to “disrupt and upset” these mentally ill claimants, described in officialese as “offering further support”, but actually patently bullying and intimidating these defenceless people.   Then when ESA claimants get near the target deadline that none should be on benefit for more than 65 weeks, staff are told to report them all to the fraud department to subject them to further and nastier pressure so that as many as possible are removed from benefit within the timescale aimed for.   As many as a sixth may then be ‘sanctioned’, i.e. deprived of all benefits for trivial or even frivolous reasons.

None of this is written down by DWP for fear it will leak, but it can be found in the development plans of individual advisers who ‘coach’ staff.   In addition, managers regularly put pressure on staff as to why they haven’t sanctioned even more people.   Furthermore, to frustrate access to benefit, claimants ending their contributory entitlement to a year on ESA  are required to fill in a form to get means-tested ESA, but jobcentres are told not to stock these forms.   So these ill persons may suddenly find that their benefit has been stopped without any explanation, but if they ask why, they are then told to get a form from the jobcentre, which doesn’t hold them either.

It is utterly despicable that the Government Department to protect people from poverty and destitution has been callously turned into a machine explicitly designed to produce that result.