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

 

Vomiting boy ate just CRISPS all day as holiday hunger crisis revealed

Shocking report shows even grandparents go hungry to feed children

A Birkenhead boy threw up while playing football after eating just two packs of crisps all day, according to a shocking report on children going hungry.

The report said growing numbers of children are underfed or malnourished during school holidays, when cash-strapped parents struggle to afford the extra meals and childcare.

Some Wirral parents and even grandparents sometimes go without food to keep their children fed and pay for other essentials, according to a Birkenhead school governor quoted in the report. The Croxteth Gems youth centre revealed some children were so hungry they ate two or three breakfasts and dinners.

Nadine Daniel, head of the Liverpool Hope+ Foodbank, said she and other emergency food providers had noticed rising holiday demand and expected it to grow again this summer.

The research, led by Birkenhead MP Frank Field and the parliamentary group on hunger, suggested some parents resorted to junk food because it was all they could afford or they could not cook. It highlighted a young person who vomited during a free sports and food programme in Birkenhead run by Wirral Positive Futures and the Street Games charity. When a member of staff asked the boy what he had eaten that day before the evening football session, he replied that he had eaten just a packet of crisps for breakfast and lunch.

It also said a group of children at a Feeding Birkenhead holiday meals event all headed to the table full of fresh fruit – rather than a table with cakes and biscuits. It said: “They had had enough of the sporadic, unhealthy snacks on which they had been surviving at home. Some families are surviving on cheap, stodgy food that temporarily keeps hunger at bay without necessarily giving children and parents the nutrients their bodies need. It is the additional demands placed on budgets of families on low incomes – from food, fuel, activities, childcare – at those times of year that lower children into the clutches of hunger.”

read more here: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/vomiting-boy-ate-just-crisps-12938981

Teachers have reported “heartbreaking” increases in the numbers of poor children at primary schools going hungry.

 

Over half of surveyed teachers have children in their school who go hungry during school holidays, when no school meals are available. Most of those teachers also see children arrive at school hungry. Substantial numbers of teachers also report seeing children return from school holidays with signs of malnourishment.

One teacher said: “In addition to holiday hunger I have families who cannot cook a meal because their oven is broken and they cannot afford to get it repaired. I have families with disabled children who cannot easily leave the house and shop for affordable healthy food because it is too difficult and they have no help.”

Another teacher said: “It’s heart-breaking to hear children not wanting holidays because they don’t get to eat enough.”

The Tory government has also been slashing services which help families to help themselves. One teacher noted: “I believe our local Sure Start children’s centre used to remain open during school holidays to support families until it was closed down last year.”

Compared to other developed countries, the UK has a very unequal distribution of income. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has predicted that if the #Tory government’s planned benefit cuts go ahead, inequality will rise even further. The IFS also predicts that “low-income households with children will fare worse than other households”.

#GE17 #StoptheTories

Sources:
– The Independent, 17 April 2017 – http://www.independent.co.uk/…/poor-children-hunger-malnour…
– National Union of Teachers survey – https://www.teachers.org.uk/…/con…/nut-survey-holiday-hunger
– The Scale of Economic Inequality in the UK – https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/scale-economic-inequality-…

From the facebook page StopTheTories17

My child is in pain, bleeding and she is ignored because we are poor. We have no NHS to go to anymore.

From my Facebook feed.

My kids have a variety of ongoing health needs. Three days before a consultant appointment we waited 6 months for, we received this letter. virgin health.jpgI called the hospital who refused to speak to me. They just told me to speak to Virgin Care. You can’t speak to Virgin Care. Only leave voice mails to which they don’t respond. I wrote a letter to which they responded. I got an initial assessment appointment and again have heard nothing since. I still haven’t seen a consultant. In all since seeking a referral from my GP it has been 18 months. This is the new Tory Health care. And it is targeted at your children. If you want this for your babies. Carry on and vote Tory in June. My child is in pain, bleeding and she is ignored because we are poor. We have no NHS to go to anymore. This is your UK if you want to save our NHS. Do something.

 

New exemptions from the bedroom tax come into law

From 1st April 2017 the rules are changing to allow an additional bedroom for disabled children or non-dependent adults who require overnight care and for couples who are unable to share a bedroom for health reasons. Previously people in these circumstances could have been subject to the bedroom tax.

The ‘bedroom tax’ means that working age people who get help towards their rent through Housing Benefit can have the amount they receive restricted if they are considered to have too many bedrooms.

Ever since the policy was proposed Carers UK have campaigned for it to be scrapped. We’ve argued that these bedrooms are not spare but needed by families providing care.

In November the Supreme Court ruled in favour of two families; Carers UK member Paul Rutherford and his wife Susan care for their profoundly disabled 14-year-old grandson, Warren, and live in a specially adapted home, which has a room for a care worker to stay when providing overnight care. This had been deemed as a spare bedroom and, as a result, their housing benefit had been reduced.

The Court also ruled in favour of Jacqueline and Jayson Carmichael, who are unable to share a bedroom due to Jacqueline’s severe disability.

To reflect the Court’s ruling the Government has changed the law to create further exemptions for carers from the Bedroom Tax. This means that from the 1st of April:

  • A couple that could not share a room because of a disability – could now have an additional room. This is already allowed for disabled children that cannot share a bedroom with another child.
  • A child that is disabled – may need overnight care from someone other than the parent/s and may need an additional bedroom can have one.  This was previously allowed for a disabled adult, but not for children.

Although we are delighted that the law is being changed we are concerned about the way the change is being communicated to local authority staff in charge of Housing Benefit as the guidance given to them appears to attempt to  limit the kinds of health conditions that could result in an extra room.

Read more here: http://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/news/new-exemptions-from-the-bedroom-tax-come-into-law

By abandoning ‘hardworking families’ to poverty, have the Tories finally gone too far?

From child tax cut restrictions to universal credit, the government has crossed its own red lines. Soon millions more children will go hungry

Exactly four years since Britain’s first wave of cuts came into force – and as this month’s new measures begin to take hold – we’re entering what we may call the next stage of austerity. Where, at first, particular sections of the poor and marginalised – the disabled, people with mental health problems and the unemployed – were targeted, now it’s free rein on anyone who’s struggling.

While the policies of April 2013 – the bedroom tax, for example, or the original benefit cap pilot – were sold by politicians as protecting “hardworking” families, the policies of April 2017 – from child tax credit restrictions to the impact of universal credit – cross even the line the Conservatives themselves have spent years creating. This is no longer a case of “tough love” against the coalition’s so-called shirkers but, on top of further cuts to out-of-work disabled people, it is the gutting of support for the low paid and their children.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the reduced aisle in supermarkets, 19p for spaghetti and 20p for chopped tomatoes,” says Cydney, 23, from Bournemouth. Six months ago, Cydney’s partner left her and their four-year-old boy, Oscar, and she’s since been struggling to afford regular meals. Cydney had a wage coming in – she worked part time in marketing for an insurance broker, as well as caring for Oscar – but 80% of it went on childcare alone. The rest had to stretch for all her bills: rent, utilities, phone, and council tax. Her £20 a week child benefit helped but barely made a dent. Often, after all her outlays, there’d only be £5 left for a whole week’s food shop.

To be able to feed her son, Cydney ate one or two meals a day: skipping breakfast, eating lunch at work, and then going without dinner. “I’d give Oscar baked beans on toast,” she says. “There were times I’d go to bed early because I was hungry.” With her mental health suffering and no way to pay the bills, Cydney’s only choice was to give up her job to move back in with her mum in Buckinghamshire.

Cydney’s is not a rare case of course, but rather a snapshot of reality for families all over the country. Research by the Young Women’s Trust last month found that half of young mums are now regularly skipping meals because they’re struggling to afford to feed their children. A quarter have had to use a food bank. This is even before this month’s benefit measures kick in. It is part of the same normalisation of hardship that means there are now 11 million people in this country who are not only living far below what the wider public view as “socially acceptable” living standards but who are on the precipice of what the Joseph Rowntree Foundation call “severe poverty”.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/13/cuts-hardworking-families-tories-child-tax-cut-universal-credit