1) Thousands across country falling into rent arrears as reforms and bedroom tax effects deepen
The number of people falling into rent arrears has almost doubled from 35% to 62% in the first three months of the new bedroom tax policy, where social housing tenants deemed to have a spare room are charged.
“Rent arrears for all 500,000 tenants covered by the 45 survey respondents rose by an average of 21 per cent. This is £17.5 million in cash terms, enough to build almost 1,000 homes.”
A combination of a rise in living costs, rising rent, below inflation increases of benefit rates and a lack of smaller housing for tenants looking to downsize is causing people to become trapped in arrears, which forces landlords to lose out on rent and pushes people into poverty cycles.
2) Universal credit rolled out further, despite criticism and instability of reform so far
Universal Credit is being rolled out across West London today, in the next step towards a national launch. Hammersmith and Fulham will be the latest councils to take on the government’s flagship reform which will replace several means tested benefits and pay in a single amount, monthly.
The scheme is being rolled out more carefully and slowly than anticipated, following problems with IT, staff and responses to the new payment.
Labour have described the reform as “total chaos.”
Still, the Department for Work and Pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith has pressed forward amid strong criticisms and clear failings of budgeting and control, and the reform will be fully rolled out by 2017.
3) Mother of four with rare allergy told to find work
A mother of four with an allergy to shoes has been ruled fit-to-work and had her benefits cut.
Tracey Kenny, 45, from Eccles, Greater Manchester has been out of work for 24 years due to an allergy that stops her from wearing shoes. Tracey is allergic to dust, metal, glue, rubber and nickel, and is forced to wear gloves to handle her cutlery.
Doctors even sourced and made some special shoes from Switzerland for Tracey to wear, but they still irritated her feet.
She said: “I don’t know how these people expect me to go to work or go to job interviews with no shoes on – because that is what I would have to do.”
“I can only wear shoes for ten or 15 minutes, before my feet blister and split. It stops me from doing everything.”
4) Russell Brand’s Newsnight interview calls for revolution against wealth gap, politics and environmental damage, and goes viral
If you haven’t seen it, you must watch:
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass