The Workfare week of action (6-14th July) saw thousands of people from around the country voice their opinion on the controversial Workfare scheme, which forces benefit claimants to work up to 30 hours a week unpaid, or risk losing their benefits.
As well as the demonstration outside the Hilton, where the network dinner was held for the welfare to work convention, there were thousands of tweets, comments and e-mails sent to companies taking part in the scheme and the DWP.
Stay tuned for our interview with Jo from Boycott Workfare up on the site soon.
In a press release on Monday 8th July, the DWP announced a new 2 year pilot scheme which would force claimants on sickness benefit to have regular meetings with doctors and therapists in a bid to get them back to work, or they would lose their benefits.
The scheme will target 3,000 claimants on Employment Support Allowance, who have been assessed as able to work in the future. The regular meetings will focus on getting them back into work.
The scheme will run alongside two other pilot schemes to see which works best. This one involves higher healthcare involvement, another will involve enhanced Jobcentre Plus support, and the third has enhanced Work Programme advisor support.
3) Carers face eviction and debt due to bedroom tax
Carers are not receiving sufficient help and support as the bedroom tax forces some into debt and possible eviction, despite promises from government to help vulnerable carers.
The Carers UK charity found that one in six carers interviewed in the first 100 days after the bedroom tax was introduced, had fallen behind on rent or were in debt.
Around one in ten carers will continue to qualify for support from the £25m discretionary payment fund created by government specifically to help carers who need support.
4) £1bn benefit cut will hit Scotland’s most vulnerable
Citizens Advice Scotland has warned that disabled and ill scottish people will lose out on £1bn due to the “quadruple whammy” of the coalition cuts.
With 170,000 people facing the ‘fit to work’ test under the new reforms, Citizens Advice are worried that around 115,000 ill and disabled people will lose out on their benefits unfairly, given the track record of the tests. Around 40% of “fit to work” decisions are overturned at appeal.
On top of this, the benefit replacing the Disability Living Allowance, has new criteria. Personal Independence Payments are given under much stricter circumstances, for example – being unable to walk 50m without assistance.
Disabled people also face being hit by the bedroom tax and housing benefit caps.
Chief Executive of Citizen’s Advice Scotland, Margaret Lynch said the “quadruple whammy [was] making life a misery for sick and disabled people in our communities. The people who have suffered most from the welfare reforms are those who were already the most vulnerable.”
The DWP retains that it is “absolutely committed” to helping disabled people.