Universal credit delays forcing people to food banks, says MP

Delays in government’s flagship welfare reform has caused debt, rent arrears and health problems, says Labour MP Frank Field.

Huge built-in delays in the processing of universal credit benefit claims have turned the government’s flagship welfare reform into a “recruiting sergeant for food banks”, according to Labour MP Frank Field.

Field, the chair of the Commons work and pensions select committee, said the minimum six-week payment period faced by new UC claimants led to reliance on emergency food parcels, triggered debt and rent arrears, and caused health problems.

Field has written to the work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, asking him to cut the lengthy and stressful wait for payments faced by penniless claimants.

“This is an unbelievably long time for people at the bottom to survive with no money, and I have received evidence to suggest people have been exposed to hunger and homelessness during this 42-day period,” he wrote.

The lengthy wait for UC payments was reported as the main cause of referral for one in nine of the 79 cases presenting at a food bank in his local Birkenhead, Merseyside, constituency in recent weeks, the veteran poverty campaigner said.

The Department for Work and Pensions responded that it was misleading of Field to draw wider conclusions “from the anecdotal evidence of just eight people”. It said: “The reasons people use food banks are complex.”

However, Chris Mould, the chair of the Trussell trust food bank network, said the charity’s local managers were reporting UC payment delays as a big cause of hardship for claimants: “For someone with no income the lengthy 42-day wait will leave them struggling to afford to eat and, for those without friends, family or other support networks to help, it can leave them desperate.

“We wholeheartedly support the recommendation that this waiting time be reduced.”

read  more here: http://www.welfareweekly.com/universal-credit-delays-forcing-people-to-food-banks-says-mp/

Diseases associated with malnutrition are now making a reappearance because of the rise of numbers of people living in absolute poverty.

This is an extract from a post on womensviewsonnews

“Diseases associated with malnutrition, which were very common in the Victorian era in the UK, became rare with the advent of our welfare state and universal healthcare, but they are now making a reappearance because of the rise of numbers of people living in absolute poverty.

NHS statistics indicate that the number of cases of gout and scarlet fever have almost doubled within five years, with a rise in other illnesses such as scurvy, cholera, whooping cough and general malnutrition.

People are more susceptible to infectious illness if they are under-nourished.

In 2013/14, more than 86,000 hospital admissions involved patients who were diagnosed with gout – an increase of 78 per cent in five years, and of 16 per cent on the year before.

Causes of gout include a lack of vitamin C in the diet of people who are susceptible.

The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show a 71 per cent increase in hospital admissions among patients suffering from malnutrition – from 3,900 admissions in 2009-10 to 6,690 admissions in 2013-14.

Cases of scarlet fever admitted to hospital doubled, from 403 to 845, while the number of hospital patients found to be suffering from scurvy also rose, with 72 cases in 2009/10 rising to 94 cases last year.

read more: http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2016/08/britons-dying-from-malnutrition-daily/

Cancer sufferer ‘put through hell’ after told he was fit for work by government assessors

A DISABLED man who has battled bladder cancer for more than 10 years has won his fight to be paid benefits.

Paul Marlow, from Barton, said yesterday it felt “amazing” after officials ruled he should receive £368 a month – five weeks after the payments were stopped.

The 59-year-old, who said he felt let down and “angry” when he was told to get a job – hit out at the earlier decision to halt his employment support allowance.

The Meadow Brook resident said: “It’s unbelievable this happened. These people are out to stop disabled people from what they are rightly entitled to and it stresses people out so much it can cause suicide.

“I know there are people who are out to defraud and cheat the system and they should be punished, but people who need it shouldn’t be put through hell. It’s not right.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said in July that Mr Marlow was “now capable of doing some work” despite him having bladder cancer, suffering from hepatitis B, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a medical drug addiction and other health problems.

Mr Marlow said “he would love” to work, but added his health would not allow him to maintain a job.

The former caterer has had bladder cancer since 2002 and had 42 operations as part of his ongoing treatment.

read more here: http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/14699246.Cancer_sufferer___39_put_through_hell__39__after_told_he_was_fit_for_work_by_government_assessors/

Colwyn Bay woman who had open heart surgery has benefits stripped because she ‘missed’ appointments

Lyn Wright will lose almost £140 in a week in personal independence payments after draconian DWP ruling

A woman who missed two appointments because she was in hospital for open heart surgery has been stripped of her benefits.

Lyn Wright, who has a heart condition, says she has been left feeling suicidal as a result of the effect of the decision made by Capita, on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, to stop her Personal Independence Payments (PIP) which will see her lose almost £140 a week.

After rearranging one appointment because she was due to undergo life-saving surgery in May, she did so again after the surgery was brought forward to earlier that month.

Lyn’s mother Margaret Unsworth informed Capita she was unable to make a third appointment after she collapsed during her recuperation and was rushed to Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor in June.

On August 3, the DWP informed Lyn that she had lost her PIP payments due to her “refusal” to make the assessment appointments.

read more here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/colwyn-bay-woman-who-open-11785356

Call for overhaul of Universal Credit as disabled people are left without benefit for weeks

A SCOTTISH charity and East Lothian MP George Kerevan are calling for an overhaul of how Universal Credit works for disabled people.

Hundreds of vulnerable people are forced to go online to claim the new benefit, being trialled in East Lothian, but charity Fair (Family Advice and Information Resource) and Kerevan insist more needs to be done to support those with disabilities.

The MP and Robert Davie, senior advice worker at Fair, which helps people with learning disabilities and their carers in the Lothian area, said the number of vulnerable people looking for help had soared since the introduction of Universal Credit in March.

One case they are investigating involves a 40-year-old man with learning disabilities who has been struggling to survive since he was refused Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

After an appeal, the decision to refuse ESA was overturned but he had to apply for his benefits under the new Universal Credit system.

Davie has written to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) saying they “failed” the man, who was forced to get into debt to survive after he went 10 weeks without benefits.

He wrote: “I believe he has been failed by DWP and welfare reform. He attended an ESA work capability assessment and received zero points, and was refused ESA from March 16.

“Due to his learning difficulties, inability to understand the decision and arrange support, he was unable to claim your alternative benefit Universal Credit until April 20.

“Despite not having computer skills, having learning difficulties and being a vulnerable person receiving 14 hours per week support financed by East Lothian Council, no arrangement has been made to have his rent paid directly to East Lothian Council.

“The amount of Universal Credit awarded is dramatically less than he would have received if still on ESA and receiving Housing Benefit.

“His award does not include any limited capability for work component. To compensate for the reduction in benefit, he will need to apply for a discretionary housing payment and may need additional support from scant local authority resource.”

Davie said it took him four weeks to get his care worker to help him fill out a form for Universal Credit and then he had to wait five weeks for his first payment.

read more here: http://www.thenational.scot/news/call-for-overhaul-of-universal-credit-as-disabled-people-are-left-without-benefit-for-weeks.21477