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:

Welfare reforms, food banks, malnutrition and the return of Victorian diseases are not coincidental, Mr Cameron

Originally posted on Politics and Insights - kittysjones :

The coalition will leave more debt than all Labour governments since 1900. The current government is now responsible for £517 billion of the trillion-plus-pound UK public debt, compared to £472 billion accrued during the 33 years Labour led the country since the turn of the twentieth century.

And the figures look even worse when you adjust for inflation. When you do that, the Coalition’s share jumps to nearly half of the total debt.

But the Coalition don’t meet any public’s needs, they simply serve the wants of  a powerful, wealthy elite. Labour invested in public services, the Tories have bled them dry. So, what have they done with the money? Because the public have seen only austerity cuts. And the most vulnerable bear the brunt of the cuts.

Oxfam’s director of campaigns and policy, Ben Phillips, said: “Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who…

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Public health statistics could cease to be published amid wave of budget cuts

ONS statisticians also looking at ‘a significant reduction in the scale’ of David Cameron’s ‘wellbeing programme’

A complete halt to the publication of politically sensitive official statistics on smoking, drinking, teenage pregnancies and infant mortality, is being considered for a programme of cuts being drawn up by the Office of National Statistics, documents show.

The statisicians are also looking at “a significant reduction in the scale” of David Cameron‘s pet “well-being programme” including its analysis of inequalities in Britain and making “significant savings” in the orchestration of the official crime survey from next year onwards.

Details of potential cuts to 23 separate sets of official statistics are outlined in a “restricted” annex to a letter from Glen Watson, the ONS’s director-general, sent to other government departments during the recent Treasury spending round, which have been seen by the Guardian.

A spokesman for the ONS confirmed a public consultation on a programme of cuts is to begin within the next month. “Challenging and difficult decisions will need to be made,” said a spokesman. Details of the body’s Treasury funding for the next three years were only finalised this week.

The letter has sparked alarm amongst health campaigners and the research community who point to the fact that several of the statistical series under threat of the axe, such as teenage conceptions, involve issues where Britain fares poorly in the international comparisons. Watson says in the letter, dated 5 April, that the ONS is facing “severe funding pressures” but their ability to find savings is restricted because over 80% of their work is required under EU law.

“The scale of reductions in 2013/14, 2014/15 and those likely in 2015/16 mean that significant reductions in statistical outputs would be necessary unless we can secure additional funding from HM Treasury, or directly from other departments. My priority will be to make sure that we can continue to meet the legal requirements placed on ONS, and to ensure that the statistics we do produce are of sufficiently high quality,” says Watson.

Read the rest of this article here:


Disabled People In Britain Face ‘Hidden Housing Crisis’ Finds Charity

Originally posted on Same Difference:

Disabled people are experiencing a hidden housing crisis, says a new report suggesting that many are having to wash in their kitchens and sleep in their living rooms because their homes are ill-designed for their needs.

The charity Leonard Cheshire Disability claims that as many as five million people now need a disabled-friendly home, a number set to rise as the population ages. A survey for the charity’s Home Truths campaign finds that almost three-quarters of people with mobility problems do not have an accessible door into their building. More than half say their buildings do not have doors and hallways wide enough for a wheelchair.

The report cites the example of Sue Frier, 52, a wheelchair user. Unable to get upstairs, she has been confined to the ground floor of her house, sleeping in her lounge and washing at her kitchen sink. Once a week she pays £30 to…

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Criticising Government Policy Online Is “Unacceptable Intimidation” According To Treasury

Originally posted on the void:

byteback-fb1As pointed out by @refuted, the Treasury’s claim that a recent anti-workfare social media storm was “unacceptable intimidation” comes just days after an Upper Tribunal judge endorsed this kind of criticism as “legitimate political expression”.

The comments came after news broke that Bristol IT company Byteback had pulled out of workfare a week after being visited by George Osborne to sing the praises of the scheme.  Hundreds of people had contacted Byteback on social media expressing dismay at their involvement in forced work after some fierce questioning from @andygale on twitter caused them to refer to their unpaid workers as ‘employees of the state’.

Shortly after this bombardment, and in a huge embarrassment for Osborne, Byteback apologised for their involvement in his grubby scheme and promised “no more involvement ever with workfare”.

This prompted a tantrum from the Treasury who took to the national press to complain of…

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Council tax rises hit Britain’s poor hardest

More than two million of the poorest people in England are facing rising council tax demands this year because of fresh Government cuts to the benefit system, new figures reveal today.

War widows, carers and the disabled are among 2.31 million people who used to be entitled to council tax benefit but have now had their support substantially reduced or taken away altogether. As a result, significant numbers of families have been pushed into debt, with a survey revealing that nearly 16,000 people in London alone have been referred to the bailiffs for non-payment.

Under changes to the benefits system that came into full effect this year, councils have lost nearly half a billion pounds that was previously provided by central government to cut or eliminate the council tax bills for local residents on low incomes. As a result millions of families on low incomes have received council tax demands for the first time and hundreds of thousands of people face being summoned to court if they are unable to pay.

Freedom of Information requests sent by Labour to all local authorities in England reveal that 409,000 disabled people have seen their council tax increase, while 112,000 carers have also been hit. Some 3,600 recipients of pensions relating to being a war widow or a disabled veteran as a result of service in the Armed Forces have seen their council tax increase.

Council Tax Benefit used to provide nearly £5bn of support to 5.9 million people. But in 2013 the Government cut the grant by £300m – and told councils they would have to find the difference from saving or by reducing the benefit to poor residents. In April this year the cut was increased to around £400m – which equates to around 10 per cent of the total fund. At the same time, councils have been banned from reducing council tax benefit to pensioners, who make up 2.2 million of the 5.9 million who used to get the support.

This means many councils are forced to make up for the cost of ensuring pensioners are protected by increasing council taxes even further on young people, the unemployed, the disabled, carers and people on low incomes.

The Citizens Advice Bureau said that one in five people reporting debt problems are now facing council tax arrears. “The number struggling with council tax payments has rocketed since council tax benefit was replaced by localised council tax support schemes.

Read the rest of this article in the Independent here:

South Kilburn regeneration project dubbed ‘social cleansing’ by residents

Housing chiefs have been accused of social cleansing the South Kilburn Estate by selling off new homes built as part its £600million regeneration to overseas buyers.

Residents claim Brent Council failed to tell them that half of the 2,400 new homes being built would be sold at the market rate. The remaining homes have been reserved for social and affordable housing.

Members of Alpha, Gorefield and Canterbury Tenants’ and Residents’ Association claim that the sky-high prices of the new builds put them out of reach for many residents who have grown up in the area for generations.

Pete Firmin, who is a committee member of the residents’ association, said: “We thought the project was about improving local facilities and living conditions in social homes; but now, those who have been living in the area are essentially being driven out. This all amounts to a social cleansing of South Kilburn.”

Earlier this month the Times revealed that all 95 flats in the revamped Willesden Library Cultural Centre had been sold to an investor who is marketing the properties in Asia.   one-bedroom flat in the development is being marketed online for £405,000.

Sujata Aurora, of Brent Housing Action, a group that campaigns for the building of more social homes in the borough, said: “Brent Council doesn’t appear to have learnt any lessons after the disastrous marketing in Asia of the Willesden Library flats. We have a desperate need for low-cost social housing in this borough, yet once again it seems that overseas property speculators are to be the main 
beneficiaries of this so-called regeneration.”

Cllr Margaret McLennan, lead member for regeneration and housing, said homes sold in the open market subsidise the building of affordable homes. She added: “Residents with secure council tenancies who live in the blocks due to be redeveloped will be offered new affordable properties within the regeneration area. Local residents are fully consulted before any development.”

DWP Admit Knowing They Would Cause Harm

About PIP and the 20 meter rule.

this is from ‘Diary of a Benefit Scrounger’

I hate this fight and everything it says about my country.

But I dearly love the remarkable characters who’ve stepped up (or hobbled in many cases) to face it.

We are often unlikely warriors, with our limps and our oxygen tanks and our feeding tubes. But perhaps there was something the DWP didn’t realise. Far from being easy victims, weak and helpless, it turned out (as we argued all along) that we were unbreakable.

Doctors hadn’t broken us, endless hospital stays hadn’t broken us, misdiagnoses, constant forms and judgement and unnecessary bureaucracy hadn’t broken us. “Suffering” or “Hunger” or “Terror” might be abstract terms for most, but we had triumphed over them all. Some of us for decades in an endless Groundhog Day loop. How ironic that the DWP thought they had picked the most vulnerable targets of all, but found, in fact, that no elite crack squad of Royal Marines fight as hard as a group of sickies faced with destitution.

And so it is with Steve Sumpter and the “20 Metre Rule” “Latent Existence” to many through his blog and twitter accounts.

This is a long and tortuous story that I will try to cut short. The government decided that they were going to scrap Disability Living Allowance, the main benefit (for some 3.2 million, in OR out of work) that covers the extra cost of being disabled. There wasn’t a hint of it in their manifesto. The new benefit (Personal Independence Payments or PIP) aimed to cut 20% from the existing “caseload”. Whether it had any aims other than cost cutting is unclear.

The first Spartacus Report exposed that the new scheme was almost unanimously opposed and that the case they were making for why it needed cutting at all was dishonest. Undeterred, they marched on, ignoring all advice and overturning every sensible amendment made to the changes in the Lords.

Just as the details of the new benefit were being finalised, with no consultation or prior warning, the government announced that the qualifying distance you were able to walk to qualify for full mobility support would be slashed by an inconceivable 60%. From 50 metres to just 20 metres. The government estimated that a whopping 600,000 disabled people would lose their support from this measure alone – to give you some idea, 20 metres won’t get most people to their car or even to their own bathroom. We took the government to court, arguing that the lack of consultation was unlawful and we won. We forced them to consult properly before they could go ahead. A new Spartacus report showed that over 30,000 people would no longer be able to get to work if the changes went ahead directly contradicting claims the coalition have always made that these changes were about helping sick and disabled people INTO work.

From the new consultation, of 1142 responses just FIVE supported cutting the distance to qualify for mobility support from 50 metres to 20 metres. The government ignored the consultation and went ahead with the change anyway. That, is not illegal.

So we took them to court again. With the unfailing support of Leigh Day Solicitors and Public Law Solicitors, we challenged the 20 metre rule itself.

That sounds easy doesn’t it? But I think we forget that one brave individual has to be the “test case”. One person has to stand up and say “OK, I’ll put myself through all of this on your behalf.” Going to court is unpleasant in every way – it’s stressful, intimidating, frightening and physically demanding. Your life is exposed along with every last one of your insecurities. And you, small, insignificant, you must take an entire government to Judicial Review. If ever David and Goliath fitted modern allegory it is this. To top it all, Steve has ME along with other congenital conditions that make this fight more demanding than most will ever know.

The fact that he will detest this post and chastise me for writing it says everything about the man and his tirelessly supportive partner – who incidentally has given up her own successful career to be his carer. Let’s not forget that all around the country people make this decision every day and get almost no support for doing so, saving the government £119 BILLION in the process. 

As with so many of the cases, the court have ruled that the change itself was not unlawful. But as with every other case we have bought, they listed a litany of criticism and rebuke over both the way and the means they have used to push changes through.