Iain Duncan Smith tells disabled people to work their way out of poverty

The DWP secretary says benefits should not be a route out of poverty

Disabled people should have to work their way out poverty and not simply be taken out of it by state financial assistance, Iain Duncan Smith has said.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said it was not the role of government to pay the disabled enough to stop them being poor and that the correct way to escape poverty was by working.

“We don’t think of people not in work as victims to be sustained on government handouts. No, we want to help them live lives independent of the state,” he told the annual Conservative party conference in Manchester.

“We won’t lift you out of poverty by simply transferring taxpayers’ money to you. With our help, you’ll work your way out of poverty.”

Mr Duncan Smith argued that many sick and disabled people wanted to work and that the Government should give them support to find jobs and make sure the welfare system encouraged them to get jobs.

The Work and Pensions Secretary criticised what he dubbed Labour’s “something for nothing culture”, and also dismissed protests against his policies, which his party’s conference has been subject to.

In his wide-ranging speech, Mr Duncan Smith also criticised the old Employment Support Allowance benefit for signing people off work when they were judged by doctors as too sick to work.

“The ESA has Labour’s essential mistake at its heart – that people are passive victims. Of course if you treat people as passive that’s what they’ll become,” he said.

“It’s no wonder, when the system makes doctors ask a simplistic question: are you too sick to work at all? If the answer is yes, they’re signed off work – perhaps for ever.”

The disability charity Scope said it agreed that disabled people needed better help to get into work, but warned that cutting financial support would actually undermine this goal.

“The Secretary of State is right to say that many disabled people can, and want to, work. If we are going to halve the disability employment gap, we need to remove the barriers disabled people still face when finding, staying in and progressing in work,”  said Mark Atkinson, the organisation’s interim chief executive.

“However, we are deeply concerned that lowering the financial support unemployed disabled people receive, will push people further from the workplace. Those in the Work Related Activity Group who receive Employment Support Allowance are disabled people who’ve been independently assessed as being unfit for work. It is not a passive benefit. Everyone in the Group must take steps towards finding work.”


Tory welfare cuts to force single mums back to work when youngest child turns three

THE new rules, to be introduced in 2017, have been slammed by the SNP as targeting vulnerable women

Campaign groups have warned that Scotland does not have sufficient childcare arrangements to cope with single parents workign full-time when their children are at such a young age.

SINGLE mums will be forced to look for work when their youngest child turns three under the latest Tory welfare cuts to be debated today.

The SNP last night branded the controversial proposals further proof that the UK Government is deliberately targeting vulnerable women in their attack on benefits.

And campaigners warned Scotland does not have sufficient childcare arrangements in place to allow all single parents to work full-time when their children are such a young age.

One parent families are currently entitled to benefits with no strings attached until their children start school aged five.

But proposals contained in Chancellor George Osborne’s poor-punishing budget would lower this age limit to three and require parents to begin to look for work if they want to keep getting the money.

read the rest  of this story here: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/tory-welfare-cuts-force-single-6099323

DWP releases document on cuts to disabled work access scheme hours after election result

And so the war on the disabled continues.

From today’s Independent:

“The DWP has moved further to examine cutting a scheme that helps disabled people into work – just hours after the Conservatives won the election.

The fund helps people and employers cover costs of disabilities that might be a barrier to work. The biggest single users of the fund are people who have difficulty seeing and people who have difficulty hearing.

A policy document originally quietly announced in March suggests capping the £108m Access to Work fund.

An impact assessment of the policy was released on the day the general election results.

“[Spending] has risen significantly over the past five years … One of the significant strategic questions we face is how to establish the right balance between the need to support as many disabled people as possible and what it is reasonable to offer individual users,” the assessment says.

The first option outlined by civil servants in the document is “to set a cap on the maximum value of support per user”.

The party’s manifesto boats that “last year alone, 140,000 disabled people found work” but says that “the jobless rate for this group remains too high.

“As part of our objective to achieve full employment, we will aim to halve the disability employment gap: we will transform policy, practice and public attitudes, so that hundreds of thousands more disabled people who can and want to be in work find employment,” it pledges.

The overall spend on Access to Work in 2013/14 was £108m, covering 35,540 people.


Heart attack victim was told he must attend work scheme… as he lay in hospital

Agency called Colin Rogers as he lay waiting for a bypass operation in Broadgreen Hospital

DAYS after suffering a major heart attack and as he lay in a hospital bed wired to monitors facing a bypass operation, a Wirral dad was phoned and told he must continue a government work programme.

Colin Rogers, 58, from Irby, had been admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital and then transferred to Broadgreen, in Liverpool, after suffering chest pains. His wife, Carol, said she was later told he was moments from death as his heart failed and then specialists said he must undergo a quadruple heart bypass operation after he was taken ill on September 27.

Yet, days later – despite his wife informing the Job Centre of her husband’s condition and asking that this be passed on – as he lay in bed in hospital he received a call about his place on the Government’s Work Programme, delivered by public services company A4e. Colin, who had worked for Champion Spark Plugs until the factory closed and he was made redundant, was told by a manager from A4e that he was committed to the work programme he had been signed up and would have to continue it.

Colin, who came out of hospital a few days ago, said: “I couldn’t believe that they were ringing me because I had given my wife a list of people who needed to be told and she had contacted the Job Centre and told them A4e needed to be informed what had happened to me. So I was completely shocked and I said to the guy I couldn’t believe he was phoning me, that he was supposed to have been told that I had a heart attack.

“This guy was persisting about wanting to discuss the next plan of action but I said I was ending the conversation and put the phone down.”

Colin said within minutes of this a nurse, who had noticed his heart monitor, came and asked if there was a problem, but Colin said: “I didn’t want to say anything because I was embarrassed I was being phoned up like that.” He added: “But I was disgusted with what had happened. I want to work, but all I seem to be doing is fighting these people.”

Carol said: “He was not supposed to be stressed. It’s been horrendous, Even though my doctor said he may never work again, they are saying to us he has to finish the back to work programme.”

A spokeswoman for DWP said correct procedures had been followed. A spokeswoman for A4e said: “The telephone call that was made to Mr Rogers had been pre-arranged two months earlier, and when we rang him, we were unaware he had been taken seriously ill and was in hospital. The conversation was very brief and as soon as we realised Mr Rogers was in hospital, we ended the call. All correct procedures were followed, and no further contact has been made.”


Short term employment contracts ate my benefits.

This is from http://shaftsword.blogspot.co.uk

Make no mistake sanctions are just a multi-faceted tool for propaganda and to be used against the unemployed and under-employed.
 Figures on high numbers of sanctions each month or year adds credence to the foolish idea that all the unemployed are out there trying to scam the system and that there are plenty of jobs.
  1. Sanctions are a legal way to steal our money and for the government to profit from it. If person A gets wrongfully sanctioned and loses say £290 that he was entitled to help him survive while looking for work firstly there is only a 50% chance he is going to take it further just for the first level of appeal and god knows what that percentage will be for those who go through all 4 stages of appealing meanwhile Person A’s money is sitting in the government coffers making them money and even if he is ultimately successful it will take MONTHS before he gets the cash with no compensation to help mitigate the costs of missed direct debit payments, fines, court action or anything else that may have arisen from the wrongful sanction.
Just a personal story to share after leaving university I would now and then be lucky enough to get temporary jobs from the employment bureau there while claiming JSA. That meant each week having to fill out a complicated bit of paperwork putting out in excruciating detail days and times of each role, fair enough. 
After I did a temporary job let’s say as waiting staff at a graduation it would likely take two weeks before my payment came around with the payment slip sent to me but oh JSA won’t release funds of any kind without my pay cheque so that meant I was often going without any money for up to a month which lead to missed payments on my bank account which charged £30 per OD transaction, my bank must have made £300 from me easily before I just stopped taking short term roles and it was only years later and too late according to the JSA that I learned that I could have claimed back for all that messing around.
The DWP and JSA just want you the unemployed to disappear off their books one way or another and then slap themselves on the back about how the unemployment figures are going down all the while ignoring more and more stories of horrific incidences were unemployed people crack under the pressure and commit suicide because of the circumstances and stigma of being unemployed in this country it makes me sick.
This is the second part of a blog entry here: http://shaftsword.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/sanctioned-again.html

Face-To-Face ‘Fit For Work’ Interviews Could Be Scrapped

Humiliating and demoralising face-to-face ‘fit for work’ assessment interviews, known as the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), could be scrapped following a report by experts which blamed the controversial tests for delays in processing benefit claims.

It is understood that the Department for Work and Pensions is exploring the possibility of replacing the WCA with a streamlined system, based upon written medical evidence acquired from claimants, their GP’s and consultants.

read the rest of this article on the Welfare News Service here: http://welfarenewsservice.com/face-to-face-fit-for-work-interviews-could-be-scrapped/

(although personally I think this is too good to be true, will remove this comment if any independent corroboration appears)


Bedroom tax support falls apart as Lib Dem president breaks ranks

Government support for the bedroom tax looked as if it was on the verge of falling apart today, after Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron broke ranks on the policy.

The intervention comes after a report by an influential committee of MPs corroborated many of the concerns about the policy’s effect on disabled people.

“The onslaught of divisive rhetoric that demonises the poor can never help us to create a fairer society,” Farron will tell the Centre for Social Justice later. The bedroom tax causes huge social problems and distorts the market – we as a party cannot support this.”

Farron’s attack on the bedroom tax does not constitute a change in Lib Dem policy, although it comes after the party conference agreed to review it and comes hot on the heels of pledges from Nick Clegg to give local councils more flexibility in providing discretionary support to hardship cases.

Labour was unimpressed by Farron’s conversion. This is breathtaking hypocrisy from the Lib Dems,” a spokesperson said.  “The bedroom tax is their tax, just as much as it is David Cameron and the Tories’ tax. Their support made it happen and no amount of weasel words will change that.”

A report by the work and pensions committee today found there had been financial hardship for vulnerable people as a result of the policy, which cuts housing benefit according to how many spare bedrooms people have.

read the rest of this article by Ian Dunt on Politics.co.uk (2nd April 2014) here: http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2014/04/02/bedroom-tax-support-falls-apart-as-lib-dem-president-breaks


Unemployed Single Parents To Be Forced Into Unpaid Work Placements

Same Difference

This article titled Unemployed Lone Parents To Be Forced Into Unpaid Work Placements and written by Steven Preece was first published by the Welfare News Service on 1 April 2014 and has been reproduced here with permission.

Unemployed lone parents could to be forced into mandatory unpaid work placements as part of fresh changes to benefits coming into force from the 28th April 2014.

Lone parents in receipt of Income Support who have a child between the age of 3-4 will be required to undertake ‘mandatory work related activity’ “to better prepare them for the full work-related requirements they will face when their child turns 5”.

The changes will also apply to lone parents in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ (WRAG) of the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

It does not apply to those in the ESA Support Group: which is for sick and disabled benefit claimants who…

View original post 288 more words

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: http://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/2014/03/better-off-working-than-benefits