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/
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/
George Osborne might have been sacked as Chancellor nine months ago, but the poor and vulnerable are still paying the price for the decisions he took during his six years in Number 11 Downing Street.
And a whole raft of extra cuts announced by Osborne in the 2015 summer budget will enter into force from tomorrow.
We’ve put together this timeline of pain, showing how many people will be effected and how much they will lose, based on research by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).
Cut 1: Housing benefit for young people
Who will lose what: 18 to 21 year olds will lose their automatic entitlement to housing benefit
How much: £35 million
Cut 2: Employment and support allowance
When: Monday April 3
Who will lose what: New Employment Support Allowance claimants, deemed to be fit to do work-related activity, will lose £1,510 a year.
How much: £350 million
Cut 3: Two child benefit limit
When: Thursday April 6
Who will lose what: New claimants to Universal Credit, child tax credits and housing benefit will not receive support for any more than two children. It will affect more than 500,000 families by 2019 and mean they will lose £2,780 for each ineligible child. CPAG says it “breaks the link between need and support” in the benefits system and will push up to another 200,000 families into poverty.
How much: £1.2 billion
Cut 4: Child tax credit family element and first child element in Universal Credit
When: Thursday April 6
Who will lose what: Both benefits are being scrapped for new claimants. It will leave 970,000 families £545 a year poorer by 2019.
How much: £540 million
Cut 5: Bereavement benefits
When: Thursday April 6
Who will lose what: The new “bereavement support payment” will mean 91% of bereaved parents will be supported for a shorter time and 75% will receive less money – by £12,000 a year for the average working parent.
How much: £100 million
In total that’s more than £2.1 billion worth of benefit cuts affecting hundreds of thousands of people landing in the next week.
But don’t expect to read about it in the Evening Standard…
Tax credit claimants who had payments wrongly stopped by fraud-busting firm Concentrix have received almost £87,000 in compensation from HM Revenue and Customs, a report has revealed.
Some 35,000 people whose tax credits were cut off or changed by US operator Concentrix later had their cases overturned on appeal, a report published today by the National Audit Office (NAO) spending watchdog has found – almost a third of the 108,000 total.
Many of those left out of pocket when payments ended then struggled to reach Concentrix to discuss the problem, the report added.
By mid-December last year, HMRC had paid out £86,815 in compensation payments to claimants mishandled by Concentrix, including almost £68,000 for worry and distress caused.
The tax credit administration shambles emerged last August when large numbers of claimants told how their payments were being adjusted or stopped by Concentrix – in many cases because it mistakenly suspected them of living with a partner. In one particularly bizarre case, a woman was reportedly left reliant on food banks after the firm accused her of cohabiting with 19th century philanthropist Joseph Rowntree.
What was Concentrix hired to do?
In November 2014, Concentrix was hired by HMRC to reduce fraud and error in the tax credit system as part of a three-year deal. But the deal was brought to an early end just two years later as a result of the problems.
During the two-year life of the contract, Concentrix saved the Government less than a fifth of the £1 billion in savings originally estimated. The contractor was already failing to meet half its targets less than a year into the deal, the NAO said.
In light of the problems, HMRC has now vowed not to outsource tax credit investigations again and will instead keep them in-house.
What does the report say?
read more here:http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/reclaim/2017/01/victims-of-concentrix-shambles-receive-almost-87000-in-compensation
The tax authority is condemned for being a willing accomplice with Concentrix, as the contractor wrongly swiped payments from thousands of vulnerable people.
Tax chiefs sought a fresh contract with a US firm despite being “well aware” that its blunders were plunging tax credit claimants into poverty, a report reveals.
HM Revenue and Customs is condemned for being a willing accomplice with Concentrix, as the contractor wrongly swiped payments from thousands of vulnerable people.
Concentrix was hired by HMRC to root out fraud and error in the tax credit system and stop payments to claimants who were not entitled to them.
But a staggering 90 per cent of people who appealed against losing their tax credits won their cases – a figure described as “extraordinary” by the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee.
Its report accuses both Concentrix and HMRC of setting ‘strike rates’ to stop tax credits, causing people to suffer “humiliating hardship and debt” and sending many to food banks.
The firm was “incentivised” to claw back as much as it could for the Treasury – with a cut to a claimant’s benefits being described as a “strike”.
However, the MPs also expose HMRC for negotiating a new contract until just four days before the scandal forced it to pull the plug on Concentrix – and for giving misleading evidence.
Frank Field, the committee’s Labour chairman, condemned the pain caused by a “cut first, think later” strategy.
He said: “The damage caused to families’ living standards by this ‘strike rate’ is still being felt by my constituents needing to rely on food banks while their claims are reinstated.
read more here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hmrc-concentrix-tax-credits-firm-new-contract-well-aware-blunders-mps-poverty-claimants-a7448221.html
(I hope someone takes the DWP to court over this – Argotina)
‘Gap in data feed’ led to thousands of families missing up to £20,000 – but payments will only be backdated to April
Thousands of families with disabled children have lost out on up to £4,400 a year in tax credits after an administrative blunder by the authorities.
The error in processing their claims meant an estimated 28,000 families whose children qualified for disability living allowance (DLA) during 2011-14 missed out on an additional tax credit premium of between £60 and £84 a week.
The government revealed in the autumn statement this week that it had set aside £360m over six years to ensure these families receive child disability tax credits in future. However, the payments will be backdated only to April, meaning individual families may have lost out on entitlements totalling up to £20,000 over the past five years.
The non-payment of the tax credit premiums appears to have been a result of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failing to inform HMRC about families’ eligibility for the award over a three-year period.
The charity Contact a Family called for a compensation fund to be set up to help the families, saying it was not their fault that they lost out on what collectively amounted to tens of millions of pounds in entitlements.
“One thing is certain: this isn’t the fault of families. When you tick a box on a government form indicating you are in receipt of tax credits you reasonably expect it’s there for a reason – and there’s a process in place that allows government departments to share this information,” said the charity’s head of policy and public affairs, Una Summerson.
Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/25/huge-rise-in-hospital-beds-in-england-taken-up-by-people-with-malnutrition
Sarah Broome was told to ask for her benefits back in a hand-written letter – despite the fact she has one hand and suffers chronic pain
A disabled single mum fought back tears today as she told MPs of her treatment at the hands of shamed tax credits firm Concentrix.
Sarah Broome, 30, was told to ask for her benefits back in a hand-written letter – despite the fact she has one hand and suffers chronic pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
The mum-of-two told MPs her tax credits were stopped in August after she was “financially connected” to a person she had never heard of.
She spent 19 hours and 57 minutes on the phone to the US outsourcing firm in six weeks – including one day when she was blocked by an engaged tone 70 times.
Eventually she got through to an advisor but was told she could not send a letter using a dictation service.
Ms Broome told MPs: “I said ‘I can’t write because my hand shakes. How do you expect me to write this letter by hand?’
“They told me ‘well, you are just going to have to get someone else to write it for you’. They were the exact words.
“I cried all day after that phone call and it’s been very emotional. My one-year-old and my four-year-old have seen me cry.”
She added: “This has consumed my life and my family’s life.”
read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/disabled-single-mum-fights-back-9040731#
This is from my facebook feed this morning.
“I have a concern regarding sorting out getting swept up in a Concentrix fishing expedition that has currently stopped my Tax Credits, before I get moved to Universal Credit.
Basically I am being asked to provide a mountain of paperwork to prove I am single (I have been for over 10 years!). I finally managed to get them to tell me who it was they believed was my partner – turns out I have to prove I’m not with my ex-husband, divorced 7 years ago, he’s remarried and has two kids. Apparently my decree absolut isn’t good enough proof!
I don’t even know where he lives or how to contact him but find myself in the position of possibly needing to buy a copy of my ex-husband’s current marriage certificate to stop this farce. Based on how many people I know who were sent out questionaires & who are also being made to jump through ridiculous hoops to be believed, I’m convinced this is a pure fishing expedition designed to make us all give up & go away.
How laughable – like anyone who didn’t really need this money would put themselves through this system in the first place. Utter ***tards.”