Marske woman was ‘deeply in debt’ after benefits cut before her death – inquest

Sarah Louise Wood was living on jobseeker’s allowance :: Her death was found to be drug-related

A “bubbly” young woman was found dead in her flat after suffering severe money problems following being taken off benefits.

An inquest into the death of Sarah Louise Wood heard how she had taken loans at a “phenomenal” rate of interest as her money worries piled up.

The body of Ms Wood, 30, a known drug user from Marske, was found on May 28.

In a statement read out at Teesside Coroner’s Court, her mum Janice English said she was aware her daughter had used heroin.

Ms Wood also suffered from epilepsy and bipolar disorder, and had been diagnosed with COPD at a young age.

Her mum told the hearing her daughter was “deeply in debt” and had “stopped opening her letters” because she was “sick of bad news”.

“She had been taken off her benefits and was only on jobseekers’ allowance,” Ms English added.

“She would frequently get loans where the interest rate was phenomenal. She presented as bubbly and full of fun.”

read more here: http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/marske-woman-deeply-debt-after-13455772?ref=BNTMedia&utm_medium=facebook

 

MPs urge government to delay universal credit rollout

MPs’ letter calls for extension of universal credit to be postponed until next year to avoid people suffering Christmas hardship

David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary, has been urged by 30 Labour MPs, and the Green party MP Caroline Lucas, to delay the expansion of the new universal credit benefit system to stop their constituents suffering severe hardship over Christmas.

In a letter to the Guardian the group, led by the Labour MP Laura Pidcock, called on the government to put off the latest rollout of universal credit until the new year, because people would not be able to afford delays to their first benefit payments over the festive period.

Ministers are planning to accelerate the introduction of universal credit, which rolls six benefits into a single monthly payment, to about 50 new areas.

But the 31 MPs, whose constituencies will be affected, said it would cause misery for thousands of new claimants who may not get their first payments for up to seven weeks after applying.

“There is a real worry that the introduction of universal credit, at this time, will cause extreme hardship for many people in vulnerable situations, exacerbated by the financial burdens of the festive period.

“We understand that the proposed changes were designed to make the social security system simpler, more reactive to an individual’s issues and more efficient. However, evidence from other parts of the country where UC has been introduced already shows that it is far from the efficient system trailed,” the MPs

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/06/labour-mps-urge-government-to-delay-universal-credit-rollout

One-month time limit on appealing against a benefits decision is unlawful.

Top judges ruled a one-month time limit on appealing for benefits is unlawful – meaning people have been wrongly blocked from justice for years

Thousands of benefit claimants have won a landmark legal victory over the Tory government’s welfare regime.

Three top judges today ruled a one-month time limit on appealing against a benefits decision is unlawful.

Instead the judges said the time limit should be 13 months after someone’s benefits are rejected.

The Upper Tribunal, which rules in the most serious benefit disputes and includes a High Court judge on its panel, said its decision is likely to affect “many thousands” of cases “at the very least”.

Carla Clarke of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), which brought the legal challenge, said the result was “fantastic”.

She added: “It stands to provide justice for significant numbers of families wrongly denied the financial help to which they are entitled.”

CPAG brought the case on behalf of two women with serious mental and other health issues.

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/thousands-benefit-claimants-win-legal-10931703

 

More suffering at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre

I’m not going to bother you with talking about the weather, I’ve said it in today’s blog title. It was raining AGAIN. Will we ever get a break, and have some good weather for once? My heart went out to Richard, a homeless chap who I buy a cuppa for most mornings and chat to. […]

via A hard morning. A man crying, rain pouring. It’s supposed to be August. — The poor side of life

Just one in six people hit by the cruel Tory benefit cap are actually on the dole

Ministers claimed the cruel £20,000-a-year limit would stop families sitting on jobless handouts. Turns out hardly any of them are.

Barely one in six families hit by the Tory benefit cap are actually on the dole, the government has admitted.

Ministers claimed the cruel £20,000-a-year limit would stop jobless families sitting on handouts when they could be at work.

Yet new figures show only 17% of people living under the cap are claiming jobseekers’ allowance. Instead most are sick or disabled (15% of cases) or single parents with kids under five (54%) – leaving them with little or no option to seek work.

Shadow Work and Pensions minister Margaret Greenwood said the figure was “shocking”, adding: “Yet again we see the Tories hitting those who need support the hardest. They are cutting the incomes of thousands of struggling families who they know are unable to work.”

Imran Hussain of the Child Poverty Action Group said: “The benefit cap is a cruel policy that’s been mis-sold to the public.

Pioneered by welfare-slashing ex-Chancellor George Osborne, the cap limited total benefits to £26,000 per year. It was then cut in November 2016 to £20,000 (£23,000 in London), quadrupling the number of families affected and doubling the number of emergency payouts.

The number of families hit by the cap has now soared to 68,000, 52,000 of which were hit since the lower rate launched. Many live in areas with soaring rent and half are having to find £50 or more a week.

A quarter are being hit by the cap unlawfully because they have are single parents with child under the age of two. The High Court said the cap illegally discriminates against these parents in June, but the government is appealing the case.

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/just-one-six-people-hit-10925556

 

Poverty ‘driving people to choose between eating or keeping clean’

In Kind Direct charity warns of ‘hidden crisis’ facing thousands after it distributes £20.2m of hygiene products in one year

Growing numbers of people are facing hygiene poverty, where they are unable to afford essential products such as shampoo and deodorant, and are having to choose between eating and keeping clean, a charity has found.

A report from In Kind Direct says thousands of people are seeking help and describes the issue as a “hidden crisis”. Last year the charity distributed a record £20.2m of hygiene products, a rise of 67% on £12.1m the year before.

Robin Boles, chief executive of In Kind Direct, said: “This is hitting families hard. The fact that last year was our busiest year ever, distributing products to charities and the people they help, highlights the stark choices people are facing.”

The study has prompted campaigners to call for the government to do more to alleviate poverty. They say cuts to working benefits coupled with rising inflation have left families struggling.

Samantha Stapley, operations manager for England at the Trussell Trust food bank network, described the report as “very concerning”. She added: “When people are referred to food banks with no money for food, they’re often struggling to afford other basic essentials too.”

The report shows 82% of 948 charities have seen an increase in demand over the past year from people who cannot afford essential items.

A further poll of 1,000 people, conducted by In Kind Direct, found that 37% of those surveyed, and 56% of 18- to 24-year-olds, have had to go without hygiene or grooming products, or cut down on them, owing to low finances.

Stapley said Trussell Trust research with the University of Oxford had found that more than half of the households visiting the network’s food banks were struggling to afford toiletries.

She added that voluntary organisations alone could not resolve the problem and the underlying causes of poverty needed to be addressed. “Making work more secure, tackling the high cost of living and working to reduce the issues people experience with benefit payments would all make a difference,” she said.

Her words were echoed by Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child PovertyAction Group, who said: “To tackle it we first need to ensure that benefits once again reflect families’ needs and so rise with inflation. No one should have to suffer the indignity of living without basic sanitary products.”

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/27/poverty-driving-people-to-choose-between-eating-or-keeping-clean-in-kind-direct?