MPs hear of activists’ anger and frustration over ministers’ response to UN report

Disabled activists have told MPs and peers of their frustration at not being able to hold the government to account for its “grave or systematic” breaches of the UN disability convention.

The UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) found in November that the UK government had discriminated against disabled people across three key parts of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), following a lengthy inquiry sparked by disabled activists.

read more here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/mps-hear-of-activists-anger-and-frustration-over-ministers-response-to-un-report/

 

Advertisements

Child poverty in the UK: A few facts

Published by the Child Poverty Action Group

*There were 3.7 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2013-14. That’s 28 per cent of children, or nine in a classroom of 30.
* London is the area with the highest rates of child poverty in the country. You can see child poverty rates by local area by visiting http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk.
*Child poverty reduced dramatically between 1998/9-2011/12 when 1.1 million children were lifted out of poverty. Since 2010, child poverty figures have flat-lined. The number of children in absolute poverty has increased by 5 million since 2010.
* As a direct result of tax and benefit decisions made since 2010, the Institute for Fiscal Studies project the number of children in relative poverty will have risen from 3.6m to 4.3 million by 2020.
*Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. Two-thirds (64 per cent) of children growing up in poverty live in a family where at least one member works.
* Children in large families are at a far greater risk of living in poverty. 35% of children in poverty live in families with three or more children.
* Families experience poverty for many reasons, but its fundamental cause is not having enough money to cope with the circumstances in which they are living. A family might move into poverty because of a rise in living costs, a drop in earnings through job loss or benefit changes.
* Child poverty blights childhoods. Growing up in poverty means being cold, going hungry, not being able to join in activities with friends. For example, 60 per cent of families in the bottom income quintile would like, but cannot afford, to take their children on holiday for one week a year.
* Child poverty has long-lasting effects. By GCSE, there is a 28 per cent gap between children receiving free school meals and their wealthier classmates in terms of the number achieving at least 5 A*-C GCSE grades.
* Poverty is also related to more complicated health histories over the course of a lifetime, influencing earnings as well as the overall quality – and indeed length – of life. Men in the most deprived areas of England have a life expectancy 9.2 years shorter than men in the least deprived areas. They also spend 14% less of their life in good health. Women share similar statistics.
* Child poverty imposes costs on broader society – estimated to be at least £29 billion a year. Governments forgo prospective revenues as well as commit themselves to providing services in the future if they fail to address child poverty in the here and now.
* Childcare and housing are two of the costs that take the biggest toll on families’ budgets. When you account for childcare costs, an extra 130,000 children are pushed into poverty.

http://www.cpag.org.uk/child-poverty-facts-and-figures

Depth of UK welfare cuts revealed in Sheffield case study

“Households with dependent children, when all the planned cuts have taken effect, will suffer an average loss of £1,690 per year. Lone parents with dependent children will lose over £2,000 per year”

by Simon Whelan
7 September 2015

Research conducted by two British academics offers a citywide snapshot of the large financial losses incurred by the working class under the coalition government.

The research by Professors Christina Beattie and Steve Fothergill of Sheffield Hallam University, “The Impact of Welfare Reform on Communities and Households in Sheffield,” documents the impact of welfare reform on the city’s population. It uses data from official statistics, including Treasury estimates and local social security figures.

While the report notes that the majority of the cuts were imposed by the 2010-2015 Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, some of the cuts, most notably to Incapacity Benefits, are measures enacted by the previous Labour government. These have only recently taken effect. The latest cuts made to the incomes of the poorest by the new Tory government are yet to be catalogued by academics.

In total, these cuts amount to almost £10 per week off the income of every adult of working age in Sheffield. Sheffield has a population of approximately 560,000 and is Britain’s fifth most populous city.

The authors estimate that the city of Sheffield is losing almost £170 million in benefit income (equivalent to £460 per adult of working age living in the city) once all the government cuts (2013/14) make their impact felt.

The most vulnerable—the sick, the infirm and disabled—will suffer the biggest financial losses because of brutal cuts to Incapacity Benefit, which, just within Sheffield, amounts to losses of £42 million per year.

Workers struggling to survive on poverty wages whose income is subsidised through the Tax Credit scheme will suffer large financial losses, regardless of recent bogus claims of the impact of raising the minimum wage. The failure to link benefit increases to prices, rather than the annual rate of inflation, collectively costs millions in losses to the poorest sections of society.

Unsurprisingly, the impact of the cuts has been uneven across Sheffield, with inner city districts, overwhelmingly working class, hit hardest. Students and some middle class families with children have also been hit through the imposition of student fees and cuts to child benefit.

Households with dependent children, when all the planned cuts have taken effect, will suffer an average loss of £1,690 per year. Lone parents with dependent children will lose over £2,000 per year.

The devastating effects of the cuts are multiplied in households where members are sick or unable to work and affected by the slashing of Incapacity Benefit and cuts to Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit—not to mention the chronic failure of benefit rates to reflect the rising cost of living.

The report, commissioned on behalf of Sheffield City Council, covers the impact of cuts to existing benefits as well as that of new financial sanctions on the poor. These include the loathed “bedroom tax”, a cap on housing allowances based upon “under occupation” of a rented property.

Drastic cuts have hit council tax benefit, housing benefit, disability living allowance, incapacity benefit and child benefit. Benefits like Jobseekers Allowance and other income-based (means tested) benefits have risen just 1 percent, well below the rate of inflation. Cuts to working tax credit fall on households with one or more adults in employment.

The cuts documented by the research, when fully implemented nationwide, will save the government £19 billion. However, these cuts have already been superseded by further savage austerity mapped out by the Tories. These have not yet been the subject of in-depth research.

read more here: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/09/07/shef-s07.html

26 ways Tories were told to clean up benefit sanctions – and they haven’t done any of them

Six months ago a damning report by MPs said the Tories should make 26 urgent reforms to the welfare system. Not a single one has happened

The Tories are still reeling from campaign that revealed more than 2,500 people died after being found fit for work.

Now the same activists who pushed for those figures have a new target in their sights.

Mike Sivier and Maggie Zolobajluk – who recruited a quarter of a million people in their last campaign – want the Tories to reform benefit sanctions.

A damning report by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee attacked the system in March and recommended 26 urgent reforms.

Six months have passed and not one of the reforms has happened.

The campaigners are now demanding two of the most desperate changes are put in place immediately, followed by the other 24.

They are a full review of sanctions, and for hardship payments to be handed out the day someone has their benefits withdrawn, not many days later.

In their petition – already signed by more than 3,000 people – the campaigners attack David Cameron’s punishing welfare cuts.

“Under your watch, Mr Cameron, too many people to whom you have a duty of care are needlessly suffering and dying,” they write.

Read what the 26 recommendations were here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/26-ways-tories-were-told-6364780

More than 100 people per day with mental health problems are having their benefits sanctioned

The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed

New data released today (20th Jan 2015) has revealed that benefits claimants judged as unfit to work due to mental health problems are more likely to have their benefits stopped by sanctions than those suffering from other conditions.

Policy advisers for the Methodist Church obtained the data using Freedom of Information Requests to the Department of Work and Pensions. It shows that people who receive the sickness and disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because of a long-term mental health problem are being sanctioned at a rate of more than 100 per day. In March 2014 – the last month for which data is available – approximately 4,500 people with mental health problems who receive ESA because of mental health problems were sanctioned.

Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church, said: “We believe that the number of people with mental health problems who have their benefit stopped due to being sanctioned is in fact a great deal higher than 100 a day. Not included in these figures are people who receive ESA due to a physical illness, but who have a higher risk of mental health difficulties.”

According to the DWP data, the most common reason for being sanctioned is that a person has been late or not turned up for a Work Programme appointment.

“Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping. The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed,” said Mr Morrison, who is also the author of an upcoming report on the sanctions regime. “Churches have increasingly seen people in desperate need because they have been sanctioned. The suffering and injustice we have seen caused by the sanctions system deserves serious scrutiny.”

Read the rest of this article from the Methodist Church here: http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases/new-data-more-than-100-people-per-day-with-mental-health-problems-are-having-their-benefits-sanctioned

 

Review of benefit sanctions urged amid concern over regime’s effectiveness

Advisers to Iain Duncan Smith say there is no hard evidence that stopping payments to claimants is helping people get jobs

Official advisers to Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, have called for an urgent and robust review of the government’s controversial benefit sanctions regime amid concerns that it is failing to help jobless claimants.

The independent social security advisory committee says the policy of stopping claimants’ dole payments for alleged breaches of benefit rules should be put on hold until “a firm evidence base” has been established.

Sanctions, under which claimants lose benefit payments for between four weeks and three years, have come under fire for being unfair, punitive, failing to increase job prospects, and causing hunger, debt and ill-health among jobseekers.

Although ministers say monetary penalties are effective in helping people into jobs by changing their attitudes to work, the committee says there is no hard evidence for this and urges ministers to consider trialling non-financial sanctions.

It states in its report to ministers: “[The committee], among others, has raised concerns about the increased use of sanctions, not because we believe that they are necessarily ineffective, but because we do not know for certain that they are effective, at least in terms of getting people into good quality jobs.

“We believe that the sanctions regime needs to be tested.”

read the rest of this article here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/26/benefit-sanctions-review-urged-amid-concern-over-regimes-effectiveness

 

DWP To Be Investigated Over Refusal To Publish Reviews Into Benefit Deaths

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is facing an investigation into its refusal to publish ‘secret’ reviews into 49 benefit-related deaths, it has reported today.

The information watchdog is to investigate the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over its refusal to publish secret reviews into 49 benefit-related deaths.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched the investigation into DWP’s failure to provide information requested by Disability News Service (DNS).

A series of DNS Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests eventually revealed how DWP has carried out 49 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths since February 2012.

Of the 49 “peer reviews”, it later emerged that 33 contained recommendations for improvements in procedures at either national or local level within DWP, while 40 of the 49 reviews were carried out following the suicide or apparent suicide of a benefit claimant.

But despite FoIA requests from DNS, and others, DWP has refused to publish the reviews, or their summaries, recommendations or conclusions, even with personal details of benefit claimants removed.

It claims that releasing the reviews – even with these details removed – could breach section 44 of the FoIA, because section 123 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 makes it an offence for anyone employed in social security administration to “disclose without lawful authority any information which he acquired in the course of that employment and which relates to a particular person”.

Now the ICO has said that it will investigate a complaint lodged by DNS into the failure to release the information.

Read the rest of this article herehttp://www.thefedonline.org.uk/disability-in-the-news/information-watchdog-to-probe-dwp-s-secret-reviews-on-benefit-deaths