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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Child Poverty Action Group says cuts to Universal Credit push up child poverty

From CPAG enews

UNIVERSAL CREDIT IS POVERTY-PRODUCING

Evidence from CPAG's Early Warning System and analysis from our new report on the impact of cuts, 'The Austerity Generation',  helped secure important improvements to how Universal Credit is delivered in last week’s Budget. We’ve raised our concerns about the 6-week wait and the difficulty in securing advance payments extensively with the DWP, in Parliament and in the media. However, a key finding of our new report is that cuts to Universal Credit will push 1 million more children into poverty by 2020. To restore Universal Credit’s promise of greater rewards from work and to be poverty-fighting, not poverty-producing, we need work allowances to be restored and a triple-lock on child benefit and the child element of Universal Credit. The announcements in last week’s Budget are welcome, but they don’t go nearly far enough to make Universal Credit fit for families.
CPAG says cuts to Universal Credit will push 1m children into poverty, and
900,000 children including 300,00 under 5 into severe poverty by 2020


http://cpag-mail.org.uk/5MH-5AY6O-HLQZQ-2WINBV-1/c.aspx

A royal wedding announcement is a great time to bury bad news about benefit cuts

There is this from the Independent:

Government confirms freeze on working age benefits minutes after Prince Harry wedding news revealed

Freeze continues amid the longest fall in living standards for 60 years
"According to Clarence House, the wedding will take place in Spring 2018" — by which time many more parts of the UK will be experiencing the 'shock and awe' of 'Universal Credit full roll-out'. That in itself will be an opportunity to 'bury bad news'.

Meanwhile, there is this excellent Zoe Williams article from The Guardian:

Such is the poverty of Tory ideas that they deny poverty even exists

.... good intentions would manifest in curiosity about the lived experience of one’s policies, which would in turn entail figuring out what those policies amounted to in the aggregate. Failure to ask such questions is not born out of ignorance: it is critical to the Conservative narrative to deny, forcefully and sometimes gleefully, that anyone in the country is struggling.
The contrast between the royal wedding announcement and UK poverty reminds me of lines in a Harvey Andrews & Graham Cooper song, 'Targets' that was written to commemorate Margaret Thatcher's election as Tory Party leader in 1975:
We would have married long ago 
And we're still hoping one day 
Two up two down and a little lawn 
And time to rest on Sunday. 
I wish the ones who left us here 
Could live like us and borrow 
I'd place a pound for what it's worth 
That they'd be gone tomorrow
We'd like a yacht, some rooms to spare 
And horses in the stable 
We might as well believe that we 
Could buy meat for the table. 

Call us equal, call us proud, call yourself a liar 
No matter what the people do, they set the target higher
 
The Zoe Williams article even mentions nurses using food banks. So much for 'the pursuit of inequality'. Where has it got us?

Blog post by Dude Swheatie of Kwug 

Notes

  1. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/benefit-freeze-working-people-typical-family-300-real-terms-cut-inflation-a8079196.html
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpsSb8AHIQ4
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/27/poverty-tory-ideas-budget

Friday, 17 November 2017

Devisers of Universal Credit blithely wish claimants a rotten Christmas 2017?

Placard: "Government knows what it's doing."
Do you know what they are planning?
From Private Eye, 3-16 November issue 'In the Back' p37 (the one with a 'sex shop' photo on the cover):

With the opposition, the Commons work and pensions select committee and even universal credit's instigator, Iain Duncan Smith, lining up to condemn the minimum six-week with new recipients must undergo before they see any cash, pressure is mounting on the government to reduce the arrears period. But this initial wait for cash may not be the only period during which UC claimants go without funds.

For claimants who are in work and paid weekly (which is the case in many low-paid jobs that will qualify for UC top-ups), the small print of the benefit makes it clear that they will run into problems whenever they receive five pay packages withing the calendar months that are used to calculate their UC eligibility.

"When you have five weekly earnings payments within an assessment period, your income may be too high to qualify for universal credit in that month," say the DWP rules. "If this happens you will be notified that your income is too high and you will no longer ge universal credit. You can re-apply the following month as you should only get for wage payments in your assessment period then."

The vagaries of the calendar will not, of course, affect the amount workers are actually earning — but a month with five Fridays (this December, for example) will see them automatically lose their entire universal credit for that period. "You will need to be prepared for a month when you get five wage payments in one assessment period and budget for a potential change in your monthly universal credit payments," the DWP guidelines state blithely.

In 2018, March, June, August and November will all have five Fridays — so UC claimants who are paid weekly may have to budget for extraordinarily lean months for a third of the year. The DWP itself admitted in a report published last month that delays in UC payments were "a key factor" in claimants falling into rent arrears.

Given that UC has supposedly been designed to mimic standard work pay patterns, this fluctuation seems particularly cruel: no employer, after all, docks pay following every five-week month, or pays them less because they are on a weekly wage.

So, for those on UC and getting paid weekly this December, Christmas is cancelled!

I'm sorry to be a bearer of bad news, but maybe to be forewarned is to be forearmed?

Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Town twinning within UK between those yet to receive Universal Credit 'full roll-out' and those that have already had it?

On this Scottish Unemployed Workers Network blog post,
there is a youtube video of demonstration speeches outside Dundee Jobcentre, in which 'full roll-out' of Universal Credit is compared to the Poll Tax in terms of its potential to be a counter-productive government policy.

I believe that the long delayed introduction of Universal Credit and the way that it has been targeted first at 'single people making a fresh claim' in any area has been partly designed so as to avoid Poll Tax levels of opposition.

Despite its apparent hap-hazardness, it now looks like Universal Credit roll-out has been conducted as a military operation in the war against claimants

First Universal Credit targeted single Jsa claimants at Ashton-under-Lyne jobcentre
making a fresh Jsa claim who met certain criteria

Second, it rolled over similar Jsa claimants using Wigan jobcentre

2014: Divide and roll-over single claimants makingfresh Jsa claim elsewhere...

.... then couples in Hammersmith, Bath...

Universal Credit roll-out 2016
'Live Service Areas' and 'Full Digital Service Areas'
defined
November 2014: families — couples or lone parentswith children. "Anyone claiming Universal Credit as availy were entitled to Free School Meals for their children."

Universal Credit -- at least in its current design with income caps -- attacks the working poor as well as the much demonised claimants of out-of-waged work benefit claimants, and so it can be regarded as a Trojan Horse for attacking the 'working poor' while debt slavery is introduced via the back door.

So what can claimants and their allies do about this 'divide and rule' matter?

As can be seen from the above screen captures, the history of Universal Credit roll-out can be regarded as a military operation.

Now for 'full roll-out', there is geographic phasing.
2016: Universal Credit roll-out 'Live Service Areas' and 'Fully Digital Services Areas' defined


2017: Universal Credit 'full roll-out' in 'Full Digital Areas'

https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Universal-Credit-timetable/Universal-Credit-(UC)-roll-out-2018#guide-content
2018: Universal Credit 'full roll-out' in 'Full Digital Areas'

Perhaps a way of overcoming the geographic phasing barrier could be to do some 'town' or 'area' twinning between those who are yet to 'get it' and those who have already 'had it'?

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Should Universal Credit 'full roll-out' be halted or scrapped entirely? And what of the 'Department for Work & Pensions'?

I would say that this approach
Yahoo News: Jeremy Corbyn calls for Universal Credit to be halted
'before millions of people are made worse off'
does not go nearly far enough. What about those who have already been made worse off under the so-called 'Universal Credit'?(2)

The 'Universal Credit is too big to fail' consensus of acquescence that has existed hitherto within the Labour Party and also the other main political parties that 'Universal Credit is a good idea' is one based largely on ignorance and prejudice.

Not only does 'Universal Credit' need to be 'stopped and scrapped'(2), but the Department for Work & Pensions needs to be changed from the benefits denial factory it seems to have been designed as

A major problem with any existing DWP system is that it leads the way to further abuses against claimants, as can be seen from my blog post Terra firma benefits services closures leave the economically vulnerable in the lurch.(3) Even before it became the Department for Work & Pensions, its decision-making by remote control mechanisms were designed as what could be called the 'detached torturer syndrome', with pay-per-minute and long delays calls to add to the financial punishment for being poor enough to require help.

Further still to the evidence brought up in that blog post about DWP as what might be called a 'claimants' rights denial factory', is Labour's previous role in bringing in Employment & Support Allowance as a more 'active labour-market programme' oriented payment, and Yvette Cooper's tightening of 'eligibility' restrictions even further in response to claimants' tribunal victories.(4) The Tories were left to pilot the outgoing Labour DWP Secretary's 'Work Capability Assessment' Mk 2 after 2010 General Election.(5)

Further reading

The above is one benefit claimant's analysis, and I 'declare an interest' in that I am a Green Party member. What do readers of this blog post say? Please comment.

Blog post by Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Notes

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Save Our Job Centres — a 1 minute 45 seconds video by Shootroot

Video of demo outside DWP HQ, Caxton House, Monday 6 November 2017




This video was originally posted at https://youtu.be/p8jnYVjqtfQ
with this description:
Job centre closures will affect the most vulnerable who need personal and human support to find employment. They will also mean job losses and a reduction in civic spaces. There has been almost no consultation with those affected and no equalities impact studies have been done. Shame on the DWP!

See also the Kwug Blog blog post Kwuggies and friends at Caxton House as protectors of jobcentres, Monday 6 November 2017
http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/kwuggies-and-friends-at-caxton-house-as-protectors-of-jobcentres-monday-6-nov-2017.html