Archives For PIP

1) ‘No more Neets’ – IPPR release new report for Labour plan to tackle 1m unemployed youth

The IPPR released a report entitled ‘No More Neets’ aimed at tackling the ‘lost generation’ of 1m unemployed 16-24 year olds not in employment, education or training.

The report has been attacked for removing benefits from young people and replacing it with a new ‘Youth Allowance’ which would require young people to take on training or work experience for up to six months, before being offered a taxpayer subsidised minimum wage or traineeship role, should they not find any other employment.

The plan takes on some of the welfare-to-work programmes and ideas, but these have failed to solve employment problems time and time again. As Johnny Void explains “you can’t fix unemployment by fixing unemployed people, a lesson which has sadly still not been learned by politicians today.”

Rachel Reeves, Labour welfare minister supports the IPPR report Image: BBC

Rachel Reeves, Labour welfare minister supports the IPPR report Image: BBC

Read the report here.

Read Johnny Void’s post on the report here.

2) Training people to use Universal Credit could cost hundreds of millions

Training claimants to use the new Universal Credit system could cost hundreds of millions, according to an unpublished report commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions. The study, carried out by 3 London councils, found that each would have to spend £6m over two years on training and support for claimants, to equip them with digital and financial skills required to use the system.

The report suggests that millions of hours of support, face-to-face training and telephone help from charities, private companies and government will be required to ensure claimants can use the online system, or failure to do so could risk debt, eviction and homelessness. Around one in ten claimants will need intensive support.

Image: gov.uk

Image: gov.uk

Iain Duncan Smith, Minister for Work and Pensions, insisted the system would give claimants a chance “to get back into the 21st Century,” by reaching the digitally tame and socially excluded households. However, the Universal Credit system has already been blighted with overspending and budget problems, with £34m already written off earlier this year due to IT problems.

Read more about this story here. 

3) ATOS launches YouTube channel for Benefit claimants

ATOS, the French healthcare company which administers the controversial fit-to-work tests has launched a new YouTube channel for benefit claimants. The channel has some short videos providing information for disabled claimants applying for the new Personal Independence Payment, fit-to-work testing and Employment Support Allowance.

See more videos here.

4) Petition success will see Iain Duncan Smith questioned over flagship policies

Following a petition that gained over 100,000 signatures, Minister for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith will have to face questioning over the flagship Universal Credit policy and other DWP statistics and spending on 9th December at 4:30pm. Numerous revelations, problems (like the above) and lies have shrouded policy implemented by IDS, in the biggest reforms to happen to welfare policy ever. Yet, the Minister has been regularly absent or unavailable to comment on the problems.

Paula Peters, a disability campaigner posted the following photo and comment after handing in the petition:

“Petition with 105,000+ to call Iain Duncan Smith to account for his lies and corruption. It was taken to Westminister by Jane Linney, Kate Green (Labour Shadow Minister for Disabled People), Liz Kendall (Labour shadow minister for Care and Older People), Paula Peters and Debbie Sayers. The group along with the MPs signed the covering letter that went with the box and then it was handed over. Because of the petition Iain Duncan Smith will appear in front of a select committee on 9th December. So far he has arrogantly evaded attempts to question him, this time he will have to appear. Well done to all the brave and beautiful disabled people who fought long and hard despite facing incredible hardship to make this petition happen.”

1422595_715567895139015_565248047_nRead more about this story here. 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

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1) MPs vote on bedroom tax 

On Tuesday 12th November, MPs gathered to debate and vote on whether the bedroom tax should be abolished. To see what was said click here. Unfortunately, despite evidence that the hated policy was not working due to a lack of smaller housing and options leaving tenants in arrears and poverty cycles, the vote returned a result of 252 voting against abolishment and 226 for.

Following the debate, Labour have been attacked and accused of ‘rank hypocrisy’ after 47 of its MPs failed to show for the key vote which is one of Labour’s own motions, with a promise to abolish the tax should they win the election in 2015.

The Herald were told that 24 Labour MPs were absent due to a pairing with a coalition minister.

21 Lib Dems also did not vote, with some believed to have done so in protest.

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

2) David Cameron announces we need permanent austerity from a gold lectern

In a speech to the lord mayor’s banquet last week, prime minister David Cameron announced that Britain needed to remain a leaner state, and called for permanent austerity.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

The photo that emerged from the banquet shows David Cameron in white regalia, speaking from a gold lectern, next to a gold throne and many reacted to the speech suggesting that this demonstrated how out of touch Cameron is with those at the sharp end of the austerity measures he promotes.

“We are sticking to the task. But that doesn’t just mean making difficult decisions on public spending. It also means something more profound. It means building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently.”

David Cameron

Further, prior to not really winning the election in 2010, Cameron said that he would introduce austerity measures for a short time to get the country back on track. No one signed up for permanent austerity. Yet, Cameron now wants to abandon his election promises and continue with indefinitely with the cuts.

But perhaps Cameron was hoping we wouldn’t remember this or find it out, following another revelation this week, that the conservative party have attempted to wipe all of their speeches from 2000-2010 from the Internet. We can only imagine this is because they want to wipe the evidence of promises the conservative party have broken, including the one for a transparent government.

Image: @labourpress

Image: @labourpress

3) Disabled could lose 50,000 jobs

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) – an organisation formed of over 50 leading charities, has warned that welfare reforms could see 50,000 disabled people lose their jobs.

Image: e-activist

Image: e-activist

The move for disability benefits from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will see thousands lose out on support due to tougher eligibility criteria. The government’s own projections estimate that 500,000 disabled people will no longer be allowed to claim.

Many disabled people use the support from the DLA to help them get around where they cannot use public transport. Without this extra support many disabled people may not be able to hold on to their jobs.

The PIP will save £145million. But the loss of tax and national insurance payments from the jobs disabled people stand to lost could cost £278million in tax and national insurance and the cost to the taxpayer to pay for unemployment benefit for those that lose their job will amount to £178million.

Steve Winyard, co-chair of the DBC said:

“One in five disabled people use DLA to help them in work. But thousands could be forced out of employment as a result of cuts to mobility help.

DWP has failed to analyse this issue to date.  It is vital that cuts don’t  force disabled people out of work and cost more to the public purse overall.”

Read more about this story here. 

3) Underemployment now worst on record

The Office for National Statistics revealed that 24,000 more part-time workers were looking for full-time work between July and September.

This takes the figure for underemployment to 1.46m – the highest since records began in 1992, under John Major.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said the figures show that while the workforce is increasing, people are still becoming poorer;

“We need better jobs and healthier pay rises to tackle to the living standards crisis and ensure that the full benefits of recovery reach working people.”

David Cameron avoided questions and attacks by using the additional 177,000 in employment as “proof our long-term plan for Britain is working.”

Read more about this story here. 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) Workfare Week of action sees thousands respond and take action
Image; Welfare News Service

Image; Welfare News Service

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.

Read more about this story here.

2) Sick and disabled will be forced to address their ‘barriers to work’ or lose benefits say DWP 
                     Image: http://www.ftadvisor.com

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.

Read the press release here.

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.

Read more about this story here. 

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.

Citizens Advice Scotland

Citizens Advice Scotland

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.

Read more about this story here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass
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1) A third of Britons worry they will not be able to keep up with rising housing costs

Research from the Chartered Institute for Housing (CIH) and Ipsos Mori has found that 10.3 million Britons are worried about meeting mortgage payments and rent prices in 2014.

Over 11 million people said that the situation was causing them stress, and homeless charity Shelter reported a 40% increase in calls to its helpline from people worried about meeting rent or payments.

The LSL buy-to-let index shows that rent prices in England and Wales are increasing faster than the rate of inflation, with an average 3.5% increase in the last 12 months. These increased rents, cuts to benefits and reforms such as the bedroom tax, have pushed people into debt, with an increasing amount of social landlords reporting that tenants have gone into arrears.

However, there are more cuts to come – with the introduction of the benefit cap due to start later this year.

Grainia Long, Chief Executive of the CIH said: “The fact that one in three people are worried they won’t be able to pay their mortgage or rent next year – and almost a quarter are already concerned about their ability to pay at the moment – is extremely disturbing.

The number of people worried about their housing costs will continue to rise because we have failed to build enough new homes for decades. Recent government announcements have shown ministers understand the importance of fixing our housing system, but we need housing to be understood as a national priority if we are to have any chance of dealing with this deepening crisis.”

Read more about this story here.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

2) Call for national demo against NHS cuts at Tory conference

Britain’s biggest unions have united in support of a protest against NHS cuts and privatisation, to be held outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester later this year.

Unite, Unison and GMB will join with campaign groups outside the conference on September 29th.

Campaigners hope to highlight and stop a dismantling of the NHS, with increased cuts, job losses and a fragmentation of the service which critics say will allow private sector companies to buy up parts of the health service.

Read more about this story here.

2) Judges asked to explain decisions on fit-to-work appeals

The government is asking judges making decisions on appeals from those found fit-to-work, to explain their decisions, in the hope that they can monitor and improve the process.

The controversial assessments carried out by ATOS, have been condemned by campaigners who say they are weak and often wrong, with many decisions being over-ruled at appeal.

Reports and feedback from judges will be analysed by the government this summer.

Read more about this story here.

3) Unison starts judicial review against ‘brutal’ charges for employment tribunals

The country’s biggest public sector union, Unison, has applied for a judicial review against new rules to charge workers £1,000 to take companies to tribunal.

The fees, which will affect workers seeking trial for unfair dismissal or discrimination, are due to be rolled out by the coalition next month.

However, there are concerns that the excessive fees will stop some employees from seeking help for genuine grievances, and will cover the backs of big business.

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary said, “They want to take away our employment rights with punitive charges to access justice” adding that Unison would pay the fee for any of it’s members upfront if needed.

Read more about this story here.

Unison General Secretary - Dave Prentis Image: The Mirror

Unison General Secretary – Dave Prentis Image: The Mirror

5) Over 4,000 turn-out for the People’s Assembly against Austerity

On Saturday, over 4,000 people joined in a movement against austerity at the Central Hall in Westminster. The day was filled with talks and debates from  a range of speakers including Union Leaders, councillors, journalists and campaigners from up and down the country.

As well as providing a space for people to unite and discuss the problems of government and cuts, the People’s Assembly hopes to now help unite and mobilise local groups to take action against the attack on welfare being carried out by the coalition. Several days of action have been announced, including a day of civil disobedience on November 5th. There was even talk of creating a new political party formation, in light of Labour’s lack of assurance to reverse the cuts.

Find out more about the People’s Assembly and read their first draft statement here.

One of the most inspiring talks was given by comedienne, writer and actor Francesca Martinez, who has also been a supporter of the WOW petition which calls for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform, and a fairer deal for sick and disabled people affected by the reforms.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass
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1) 36 councils call on government to abolish the bedroom tax

36 councillors from around the country gathered at a summit in Manchester to unite and express their concern over the damaging under-occupancy policy.

Councillors said that the tax was counter productive and pushed people into debt cycles, forced them into private sector accommodation, broke down communities and would eventually only increase the benefits bill.

The meeting will result in a detailed report that will be forwarded to government in the coming weeks.

Bedroom Tax Demonstration in Manchester City Centre Image: MEN

Bedroom Tax Demonstration in Manchester City Centre Image: MEN

Read more about this story here.

2) Concerns over ATOS broken pledges that helped them secure contract of £184m

ATOS Healthcare has failed to meet the standards of pledges made to the government when gaining their contract to supply fit-to-work testing across the country.

In the agreement, ATOS said they had ‘contractually agreed’ 22 sub-contractors across the country to supply the 750 assessment centres/sites needed. It has since been revealed that they have agreements with only 8 sub-contractors.

This creates problems for those using the sites, who may have to travel further on longer journeys, breaking the maximum 60 minute journey ATOS had promised in negotiations.

ATOS refused to reveal how many of the 750 sites they actually have.

This news comes after the government issued an investigation in October, into misleading information supplied in the ATOS bid about their links with Disabled People’s Organisations.

Read more about this story here.

3) Slump in low wages has helped to hide the true condition of the jobs market. 

Institue for Fiscal Studies Image: libdemvoice.org

Institue for Fiscal Studies Image: libdemvoice.org

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has revealed that large rises and figures of unemployment have been avoided through pay cuts.

A third of those who had stayed in the same job throughout the recession had either seen a pay freeze or a pay cut.

The IFS discovery revealed this information just as David Cameron praised the work of new policy, in bringing unemployment and benefit support down. However, general secretary of the Trade Unions Congress, Frances O’Grady, said that recovery was only being felt by top bosses, where pay is rising “10 times faster than ordinary workers”.

Read more about this story here.

4) Young carers to get help, as government agrees new rights

10-16 June was also ‘Carers Week’ – represented by a UK-wide awareness campaign to provide support to carers, raise the profile of those caring and in need of help to care, and also celebrate the work of over 6.5 million people in Britain caring for a loved one.

With over 70,000 young carers looking after parents or siblings, the profession has also campaigned heavily to help get more support to those under 18 who previously, could not qualify for help or income support.

However, during a House of Commons debate last Tuesday, children’s minister Edward Timpson, committed to the changes and will be included in the new draft of the Care and Support Bill.

Read more about this story here.

Image: Spurgeons.org

Image: Spurgeons.org

 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

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