Total of 40 minutes and more on hold to the DWP’s Universal Credit Debt Management line

From Kate Belgrave’s blog:

Keeping a record of these things:

Yesterday morning, I made two calls to the DWP’s Debt Management “helpline” – the 0345 850 0293 number that people who receive benefits, including Universal Credit, must use to sort out problems with debt money that the DWP deducts from people’s Universal Credit payments.

I had to call twice yesterday (I didn’t have all the information that DWP Debt Management required the first time around. Unfortunately, I had to make the first call to find that out). I was on hold for more than 20 minutes both times to that 0345 850 0293 DWP Debt Management helpline, as you can see in the image below. I also called the line on Friday and was on hold for more than ten minutes, before I had to hang up to deal with something else.

As far as I can tell, this number has a charge. (I have a phone contract which covers those charges – that’s why I make calls for people who don’t). I hope this is one of the numbers that David Gauke has decided will be free soon. All helplines lines should have been free in the first place (I’d ask the DWP’s press office where things are at on all of these lines, but their answer to all my questions these days is to submit an FOI. So I have).

People who ring the DWP Debt Management helpline only ring that number because they have a debt problem and are in serious financial hardship. They can least afford extra charges for phone calls:

read more here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/10/total-of-40-minutes-and-more-on-hold-to-the-dwps-universal-credit-debt-management-line/

Advertisements

Tales from the Universal Credit frontline

It’s more than the 6 week wait that makes Universal Credit a disaster. Here’s a few tales picked up from my Facebook feed.

…….

“My experience claiming UC can only be described as absolutely disastrous. Every month having to query delayed/late payments via their shambolic telephone system. Umpteen letters informing me my claim’s been suspended that were sent in error and tomorrow I’ll be contacting them again in regards to an overpayment. The issues never seem to subside . . . Teething problems??! No, the system’s unfit for purpose!”

“I am utterly distraught and have never been so poor in my life. I work ..for the NHS, hilariously!!! on minimum wage. Will run out of gas and electric tomorrow and I don’t know where to turn. Am soooo worried and stressed. Working on UC sucks”

“I work full time and am paid 4 weekly, so this month I have no UC, due to being paid twice in 1 assessment period, and my wage isn’t even enough to cover the rent and bills. Any journalists about?”

“When speaking to the council last week the guy said to me that the council tax system had changed. For those who get housing benefit automatically get council tax support, but with universal credits they take your housing element as a form of income, and calculate your income based on everything u get! This morning we received our council tax bill from now as just moved until April! 668! Wtf!!! So because I get more as I’m disabled and husband is my carer, we have to pay the full council tax amount!!! How can we even afford this?!?!”

“So iv just received my universal credit payment today of 5.77 as opposed to 250. It turns out I was sanctioned from 8/09/2017 But they thought it wasn’t at all necessary to notify me of this sanction. I phoned on the 15th to explain why i wasn’t there on the 8th and rescheduled another appointment for the 20th where i would present my evidence for the reason for not attending. However when i arrived on the 20th i was left waiting over 30mins and had other things to do that day. It was then rescheduled again to today which they canceled and then rescheduled to the 18th 
They are responsible for me not getting to work today.
A job I have ONLY just started. How I’m supposed to live on
5.77 for a whole month is simply beyond me.”

“Last year, two days before Xmas my benefits got frozen! I was gutted, what a time to skint a mother out with her child tax that was to cover me and my son through the week holiday! I remember feeling so upset, had to borrow money from people. No warning, nothing! Didn’t know what was going on or why my money was frozen two days before Xmas, universal fucking credit! And then got nothing till March!”

“Was homeless in a hostel but got kicked out as my universal credit not enough to cover it; what we supposed to do??? Government should re-think it as it’s causing so much grief that people can do without! !”

“I’m newly self employed. 
I have a year to get my income up to my minimum income floor which is 25 x £7.50 (minimum wage). This is because I have a child under 13. 
So after a year my earnings will be considered to be £750 per month whether they are or not!! I’ll loose council tax benefit and some housing. Plus free prescriptions and dentist!
This means I have to earn double that amount to be able to maintain my overheads.
This is really hitting us self employed people hard.”

Well once again I have been sanctioned!!! Fucking had enough of this! 2 months for not doing enough work search! I wrote it all down and she took it at the job centre I’ve applied for job after job. Going to every appointment and even going to work programme! I seriously can’t handle this anymore universal credit can have the money!!”

 

Video: Learning and literacy difficulties and need to drop a sick note to the jobcentre? Too bad. You’re banned. Get out

from Kate Belgrave’s blog:

Here’s one you should see: a recent* video which shows a woman with learning and literacy difficulties being told to Get Out of Kilburn jobcentre – even though she needed to drop off an all-important sick note at the jobcentre.

I post this to show you how unpleasant things can be at these places for long-term unemployed people who have support needs. People in these situations really are at the bottom of the pile. They have no power and absolutely no means of challenging the DWP.

I hate that.

The woman, Linda (name changed. I’ve written about her many times) is in her 50s. The day I took the video, Linda, as I say, needed the jobcentre to accept a sick note she had from her doctor. She risked sanctions if the jobcentre did not accept the note.

Nonetheless, the jobcentre adviser we saw refused to take the sick note.

Read more, and see the video here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/10/video-learning-and-literacy-difficulties-and-need-to-drop-a-sick-note-to-the-jobcentre-too-bad-youre-banned-get-out/

Universal credit and tax credit debt collection… wtf is going on here. My god

From Kate belgrave’s blog.

Let’s finish the week as we started it – ie trying to make sense of the Universal Credit “system”:

I just finished speaking to the young Universal Credit claimant I wrote about earlier in the week. Readers of this site will be familiar with this woman’s story. This woman must carry out her Universal Credit compliance activities through Croydon jobcentre even though she lives in Colchester. She’s also been having £100+ deducted from her Universal Credit payments each month to repay a Universal Credit advance payment – the advance payments that David Gauke assures us will help people avoid (don’t laugh) the debts caused by delays in Universal Credit payments.

Now, the DWP has landed another debt on this young woman. This is a tax credit debt that she is sure she does not owe. The DWP has suddenly (this week) started deducting £25 a month from this woman’s Universal Credit payments. That’s another £25 gone each month from this woman’s money. She didn’t expect this deduction (at all) and she hasn’t budgeted for it. You see what I mean when I say that the state keeps broadsiding people with debts they can’t pay.

read her story here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/10/universal-credit-and-tax-credit-debt-collection-wtf-is-going-on-here-my-god/

 

Revealed: universal credit sends rent arrears soaring

Housing chiefs’ warning on effect of flagship Tory welfare reform

Ministers are coming under intense pressure to put the brakes on the government’s flagship welfare reform programme, following damning new evidence that it is leaving thousands of low-paid workers unable to pay their rent and at risk of homelessness.

The Observer can reveal a catalogue of concerns from landlords, councils and charities about universal credit, which have been handed to a parliamentary inquiry investigating the programme.

With the accelerated roll-out of the new system just weeks away, some warn that rent arrears among tenants receiving universal credit are running at three, four or even five times the level of those on the old system. Three councils whose tenants have already been moved on to universal credit said they had built up about £8m in rent arrears. Croydon, Hounslow and Southwark said that more than 2,500 tenants claiming it were now at risk of eviction.

Some food banks reported that marriages had broken down as a result of the extra pressures of waiting for payments, while some landlords are now choosing not to accept tenants on universal credit.

Figures obtained by the Observer under the Freedom of Information Act also show that half of all council tenants across 105 local authorities who receive the housing element of universal credit – which replaces housing benefit – are at least a month behind on their rent, with 30% two months behind.

By contrast, less than 10% of council tenants on housing benefit are a month behind on their rent, with under 5% running more than two months behind.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/16/universal-credit-rent-arrears-soar?

DWP using benefit sanctions to force claimants into zero hours jobs, Tory minister admits

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted that is using the controversial benefits sanctions regime to force unemployed and low-paid workers into insure and exploitative zero-hours jobs.

Zero hours employment notoriously offers no guarantee of hours and lacks many of the employment rights enjoyed by people in full-time and part-time employment.

read more here: http://www.welfareweekly.com/dwp-using-benefit-sanctions-to-force-claimants-into-zero-hours-jobs-tory-minister-admits/

#Rapeclause: Abuse survivors must do extra paperwork to claim benefits for ‘non-consensual’ children

Britain’s Conservative government has ruled that victims of rape must fill out a specific form in order to claim child tax credits and Universal Credit from the government, provoking public outrage.

The NCC1 4/17 form, also known as the “rape-clause,” follows a series of welfare changes limiting child tax credit claims to two children. Exemptions are given to children conceived “without consent.”

“The #rapeclause really is one of the most disgraceful policies ever introduced. We must all continue to oppose,” tweeted Scottish First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon.

The move is being introduced as part of the Welfare Reform and Work Act, which was unveiled in the 2015 summer budget and will come into force this month.

Civil servants will be made to assess whether a woman’s claim that her child was conceived as a result of abuse is legitimate or not.

While women may be expected to prove the veracity of their claim, many have argued that around 600,000 doctors, nurses and social workers in Britain lack the skills needed to exercise the assessment.

“Capping benefits at two children is immoral enough, but the #rapeclause is disgraceful for a civilised country. Both policies must go,” the editor of the Liberal Democrat Voice website Caron Lindsay wrote on Twitter.

read more here: https://www.rt.com/uk/383731-rape-clause-child-benefits/