Tories will press ahead with cruel benefits freeze despite soaring inflation

New Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke refused to bow to pressure to ease the misery of some of the most poverty-hit households

The Tories will press ahead with their cruel benefits freeze which is crippling hard-up families despite soaring inflation, the Work and Pensions Secretary confirmed today.

David Gauke refused to bow to pressure to ease the misery of some of the most poverty-hit households battling rising prices and falling real incomes.

He also renewed fears for a fresh attack on OAPs, suggesting the pensions triple lock could be axed within three years.

Inflation has climbed to 2.9% and is predicted to rise further before the end of the year.

But the freeze on working-age benefits, which came into force last year, sees most payments capped at their current rate until 2019.

Speaking at a Westminster lunch, Mr Gauke dashed hopes of an end to austerity, saying: “I would expect the benefit freeze to continue.”

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tories-press-ahead-cruel-benefits-10670783#ICID

Fury over ten minute inquest into death of ‘real life Daniel Blake’

St Pancras Coroner’s Court does not hear evidence about Lawrence Bond’s work capability assessments

THE sister of a man whose death triggered protests over the government’s “fitness for work” reforms believes a coroner’s inquest has failed to answer key questions.

Lawrence Bond had seen his benefits stopped under controversial work capability assessments, which critics say are forcing people to take on jobs while they are still unwell. The 56-year-old collapsed and died in Kentish Town in January, shortly after a visit to the Jobcentre, but this back story was not considered by coroner Dr Richard Brittain.

Instead an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Friday was completed in little more than 10 minutes with “paper-only” evidence and nobody on the witness stand. The case had led comparisons with Ken Loach’s award-winning film I, Daniel Blake, and the movie director was among protesters who joined a vigil outside the Jobcentre in Kentish Town in the days following Mr Bond’s death. Frances Coombes, Mr Bond’s sister, who did not attend the hearing, said yesterday (Wednesday): “What we would still like to know is, how can someone who had so many different things wrong with them, be classed as fit for work? What does that say about the system? Is it fit for purpose?”

She added: “I and my sister started to get seriously worried last year that Lawrence did not seem to be getting any help or understanding from the professionals he came in contact with.” Campaigners at the inquest said representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions and Maximus – the company that assessed Mr Bond – should have been called to give evidence.

read more here: http://camdennewjournal.com/article/fury-over-ten-minute-inquest-into-death-of-real-life-daniel-blake

 

Tory Government’s benefit cap is unlawful and causes ‘real misery for no good purpose’, High Court rules

Flagship Conservative welfare policy does ‘real damage’ to single parents and ‘exacerbates poverty’, judge declares

The Government has been dealt a huge blow as the High Court ruled its benefit cap is unlawful and illegally discriminates against single parents with young children.

Conservative ministers are now likely to be forced to change or scrap one of their flagship welfare policies, which limits the total amount of benefits a household can receive to £23,000 a year in London and £20,000 elsewhere.

The ruling was made in response to a judicial review brought by four lone parent families who said the cap would have a severe and disproportionate impact on them.

Ministers had attempted to have the case thrown out but were rejected by the court, which ruled earlier this year that the case must be heard as a matter of urgency. The Government said it was “disappointed” with the latest ruling and will appeal against the decision.

Delivering his verdict, High Court judge Mr Justice Collins said the benefit cap was causing “real damage” to lone parent families, and, in a further blow to ministers, said “real misery is being caused to no good purpose”.

read more here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/benefit-cap-judicial-review-welfare-payments-government-loses-lawsuit-court-case-judge-misery-a7802286.html

 

Benefits cut to hit 200,000 people with mental health conditions

Cut contradicts Theresa May’s commitment to end the “burning injustice” of the treatment of people with mental health conditions, say Labour

More than 200,000 people suffering with mental health conditions are set to see their incomes reduced due to draconian social security cuts, it has emerged today.

A Freedom of Information response published today by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) reveals that over 200,000 people with mental health conditions will have their Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) payments reduced, due to cruel cuts which came into force in April this year.

read more here: http://www.welfareweekly.com/benefits-cut-to-hit-200000-people-with-mental-health-conditions/

Grenfell residents feared benefit sanctions – they are too used to being ignored

f you’ve followed the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire on social media, one disturbing revelation has stood out: the fear that victims could have their benefits sanctioned because they were not able to get to the jobcentre to sign on.

Incredibly, representatives of local residents who approached local Jobcentre Plus officials and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff in North Kensington report being told that it could “not be guaranteed” that people caught up in the fire and its aftermath would not be penalised if they were unable to sign on.

Last night, when the Guardian approached them for comment, the DWP confirmed that normal jobcentre rules – including financial sanctions routinely issued to claimants who miss appointments – had been suspended indefinitely for former Grenfell Tower tenants and other local residents who claim unemployment benefits.

A local resident who said he was acting on behalf of the community claimed that the DWP only later moved to clarify the position because of pressure on social media. “Once it became clear that there was media attention focused on them, they have finally done the right thing,” he said. “Why should it take shame for them to act? Where is their humanity?”

As anyone who has been put through the Tories’ benefit system knows, “humanity” and the DWP are two things that do not tend to go together. Rather, it’s a department that in recent years has become synonymous with cruelty, where marginalised people are treated with total disregard – often at the very moment they are in crisis. In the last few days alone, we’ve had reports of a disabled woman who needs a bladder operation forced to sit in her own urine for two hours by a benefit assessor. And a woman who took her own life after her benefits were stopped when she missed a jobcentre appointment to go to the hospital. The DWP has since apologised for leaving a voicemail on the 42-year-old’s phone to say the sanction was being upheld – despite already having been told of her death.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/20/grenfell-tower-fire-residents-benefit-sanctions-dwp

The displaced tenants paying the true cost of an inhumane housing policy

Councils must commit to a more humane, thoughtful and cost-effective social housing policy than moving people away from jobs and homes

Moving halfway across the country when you are already vulnerable causes huge emotional and health problems.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/dec/02/human-cost-benefits-cap-tenants-shunted-england-councils

 

What exactly is the jobcentre for?

It’s been a long time since jobs were advertised in jobcentres and you went there to look for work, but a jobcentre actively intervening to stop people’s own efforts to find a job places it firmly in the category of worse than useless. It’s not just that they’re making people waste time with pointless exercises. People are telling us about ‘work coaches’ making them stop doing things that would be genuinely helpful.

Read more here: What exactly is the jobcentre for?