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/
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/
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?
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/
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/
Seven years of Tory tampering with the welfare state has shredded the vital safety net which worked for so long, leaving it no longer fit for purpose
Jenny Jones, a science supply teacher, sounds desolate. “I’m going to have to give up teaching,” she says. “I just can’t believe I’ll have to leave something I love and trained so long for.”
The reason? Universal Credit . The government flagship welfare change that was supposed to help people on low incomes move in and out of work.
read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/universal-credit-supposed-help-those-11130094
from ‘Benefits and Work’
The DWP has lost its fight at the upper tribunal to prevent employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants going to appeal where the claimant is late applying for a mandatory reconsideration. The decision will also apply to all other social security benefits.
There is a one month time limit to apply for a mandatory reconsideration. The DWP can extend this time limit up to a total of 13 months where they judge that the claimant had good cause to be late.
For example, the claimant may have a mental health condition which made it difficult for them to deal with official correspondence and have been unable to get help until too late.
The DWP have been refusing to allow claimants access to the tribunal service where they are outside the one month time limit for mandatory reconsiderations. By refusing to issue a mandatory reconsideration notice the DWP can effectively block any appeal.
This means that the DWP can be completely arbitrary and unfair in decisions about whether a claimant has good cause and the claimant has no way of challenging this.
Two claimants who had initially been refused a mandatory reconsideration challenged the refusal to prevent them appealing to a tribunal and began proceedings for judicial review. At this point the DWP backed down and allowed their cases to proceed.
However, a panel of three upper tribunal judges held that the initial refusal was absolutely wrong and that claimants should have a right to apply to a tribunal, even when the DWP considers they have no good cause for their late request. It will then be for the tribunal to decide whether to allow the appeal to go ahead.
you can download the full decision from here: https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3650-dwp-loses-fight-to-stop-claimants-appealing