Youth homelessness figure eight times higher than Government admits, says charity

Exclusive: 136,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 in England and Wales sought emergency housing in the past year

The full extent of youth homelessness is more than eight times higher than the Government admits, according to a new report.

Some 136,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 in England and Wales sought emergency housing in the past year. The figure is based on an analysis by the Centrepoint charity of 275 Freedom of Information responses from local authorities. In stark contrast, only 16,000 young people were officially classed as “statutory homeless” – which would mean councils had a legal duty to house them – according to the report.

Worryingly, some 30,000 of those seeking help were turned away with little if any support. And as many as 90,000 were only offered support such as family mediation, to help them stay at home, or debt advice. This means the vast majority of those going for help are not getting the full assistance they’d be entitled to if they were officially accepted as being homeless.

“The most alarming aspect to these findings is that it is very likely they are a significant underestimate – many of the local authorities where youth homelessness is most prevalent did not respond to our Freedom of Information requests,” said Gaia Marcus, who runs Centrepoint’s youth homelessness databank.

read more here:


IDS and Government under fire for ‘massaging’ unemployment figures via benefit sanctions

Amid angry scenes in Parliament, Labour MP Debbie Abrahams referred to a study which suggests 500,000 sanctioned people were excluded despite not finding work


Iain Duncan Smith came under fire today after a study suggested cruel benefit sanctions may be helping the Government massage jobless figures.

Campaigning Labour MP Debbie Abrahams asked the Tory Minister how many people were excluded from unemployment figures after being sanctioned but not going into work. The MP was referring to an Oxford University study – seen by the Daily Mirror – which suggests the figure could be as high as 500,000.

In angry exchanges at the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Mr Duncan Smith described Ms Abrahams’ claims as “ludicrous”.

But the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth hit back: “People have died after being sanctioned, Minister.”

“No, I don’t agree with that,” Mr Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, retorted.


read the rest of this article here:

Latest legal aid figures. Social welfare – it’s a wipe out!

Latest legal aid figures. Social welfare – it’s a wipe out!

by nickd (Mylegal), ilegal team

It’s a wipe out!
The Ministry of Justice has today released the latest legal aid statistics. Remember these cuts were once promoted by the Coalition as one of their ‘top achievements’. I can’t help but feel today’s release couldn’t have been timed any better, the breaking news over the Brooks aquittal and Coulson conviction provides the MOJ with the ideal opportunity to slip these statistics out in silence – very much as per their usual transparency agenda….
I’m sure these will be analysed in detail over the weeks to come but for now I just want to draw your attention to the areas of social welfare law once well served by legal aid which helped advice agencies & law centres assist thousands of vulnerable individuals battle for their benefits – no easy task when your opponent is none other than the Secretary of State.
Download the data and take a look at “Table 9: Civil Legal Help – Providers available”

Welfare Benefit legal aid providers
   Year                    Number of providers
2011/12                              359
2012/13                             345
2013/14                                11*
* Of the 11, only 1 is a not for profit, the remaining 10 are all solicitors

Debt legal aid providers
   Year                    Number of providers
2011/12                            356
2012/13                            337
2013/14                              51*
* Of the 51, only 12 are not for profit, the remaining 39 are all solicitors

Employment legal aid providers
   Year                     Number of providers
2011/12                           179
2012/13                           169
2013/14                             8*
* Of the 8, there are no not for profit, all 8 are all solicitors

Housing legal aid providers
   Year                   Number of providers
2011/12                           530
2012/13                           509
2013/14                           228*
* Of the 228, 18 are not for profit, the remaining 210 are all solicitors

I’d call it a total wipe out, especially for the not for profit sector. I seem to remember the days when we were once highly regarded as part of what was once called the ‘Community Legal Service’, – but then came along the ‘Big Society’ which promptly saw an end to the once ‘innovative’ evolution of community based legal services.

From Ilegal:


Yes, you’re better off working than on benefits – but it’s not enough to reduce poverty

‘People are better off on benefits than working’ is one of the most persistent myths about poverty in the UK. Chris Goulden explains why this simply isn’t true – and why it misses the point anyway.

There were hints of this myth yesterday in response to the excellent Tonight programme on the working poor. While in some extreme cases, it may be true, the social security system, combined with National Minimum Wage policy, is designed specifically to make sure you get more money in a job than if you’re out of work. There seems to be inordinate public, political and media cynicism about this principle in practice. Let’s look at the figures:

If you are single person aged over 25 who is unlucky enough to lack a job, this is what you get each week (using JRF’s Minimum Income Calculator, which makes assumptions about rent and council tax, for someone living in social housing):

  • Job Seeker’s Allowance £71.70;
  • Housing Benefit £73.22 (enough to cover rent on your flat);
  • Council Tax Support £13.24 (to cover most but not all of your Council Tax of £14.47 following localisation and a 10% cut);
  • Total disposable income £70.47.

If you get a full-time job on the National Minimum Wage (£6.31 an hour) then you will:

  • Earn £236.63 gross;
  • Pay £11.12 in income tax and £10.52 National Insurance;
  • Receive back £5.54 in Working Tax Credit (and you don’t even get that if you’re working only part-time);
  • Get nothing in Housing Benefit & Council Tax Support as your earn too much to make you eligible;
  • Leaving you with a total income of £132.84 (disposable income of £62.37 a week more than on the dole).

Now effectively this is £62 for 37.5 hours work, which may seem like it’s not worthwhile, especially when doing a low-paid job long-term is likely to be bad for your mental and physical health. But it’s objectively not less money than you get on benefits (and unemployment is also bad for your health). What’s more, having to pay more than £20 a week to the Treasury and receive a fiver back in Tax Credits looks like an inefficient use of the State’s resources. The income tax figure has, in fact, dwindled and will do so further as the Coalition policy of raising the threshold to £10,000, and maybe beyond, plays out.

Fine, the cynics will say, but what about families with children? We know that they get loads of benefits. Looking at the figures, it’s again clear that financially they are better off in work. Here’s what a family of four gets when neither parent works:

  • JSA £112.55;
  • Child Benefit £33.70;
  • Child Tax Credit £114.94;
  • Housing Benefit £86.88 (for rent on a 3-bed terraced house);
  • Council Tax Support £20.59 (of a bill of £22.50);
  • Total disposable income £259.28.

If one of the parents gets a full-time job on NMW, they get:

  • Gross earnings £236.63 (i.e. same as the single person);
  • Therefore, same income tax (£11.12) and NI (£10.52);
  • Considerably more Working Tax Credit £43.34;
  • Retain their Child Benefit (£33.70) and Child Tax Credit (£114.94);
  • Reduction in Housing Benefit as it’s tapered away somewhat to £31.64;
  • With the same deal for Council Tax Support (to £3.59);
  • Leaving a total disposable income of £332.82; an increase of £73.54 per week.

Lone parents also get a lot of financial support in work that would produce a similar result. The fact that you’re not better off on benefits doesn’t imply that working poverty is not a problem – both are still poverty but they are experienced differently with varying consequences. And many go from unemployment to low-paid work and back again, with 4.8 million different people claiming JSA in the last two years. The real issue is that households relying on either the national minimum wage or out-of-work benefits do not have a standard of living that is sufficient or acceptable in the UK today. There really is no need to set them against each other.

From the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 7th March 2014:

Shocking Extent Of Sick And Disabled Benefit Sanctions Revealed

The shocking extent of the number of sick and disabled benefit claimants having their benefits cut, through the use of sanctioning, has been revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

According to the response from the DWP, 172,750 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants were referred for potential sanctioning between October 2008 and June 2013. Of those referrals, 76,300 received an adverse decision, meaning their sickness benefits were cut or stopped completely. 11,600 of those benefit sanctions were in Greater London alone.

18th Feb 2014. Read the rest of this article by Steven Preece on the Disability News service here: