Category Archives: tax credits

DWP rejection of benefit increase call proves conclusively: we’re NOT ‘all in it together’

The Department for Work and Pensions has rejected a call by its own advisors to increase benefits and help two million people get through the Covid-19 crisis.

The Tory government promised to increase the amounts of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits payable to claimants, way back in March.

But people on the so-called “legacy” benefits like Employment and Support Allowance have been denied the same courtesy.

Ministers said this is because it would take too much time to implement.

What – a few keystrokes on a computer takes too much time to implement? I don’t believe it.

How do they manage the regular annual upgrades, then?

This Writer reckons the intention all along was to give a false impression to normally-working people who were thrown onto UC by the Covid crisis, that the benefits system provides an ample safety cushion to claimants in need. It doesn’t.

People on the “legacy” benefits already know the system is set up to punish people for being out of work, and therefore are deemed not to need an increase that is only for show, while the Covid contingent is claiming.

In other words: the Covid-related benefits boost is just another public-relations scam.

Getting people through the crisis is only its secondary function.

Its main purpose is to reassure Conservatives in the electorate.

If it dupes enough Tory voters into continuing to vote Tory, it will have done its job.

Source: DWP rejects own advisers’ call to up benefits to help two million through coronavirus pandemic

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If Tories don’t support abusers, why does Universal Credit push people to stay in abusive relationships?

Abuse: the Tories have ensured that people can’t escape if it means claiming Universal Credit. That way lie only debt, depression and mental breakdown.

Twisted Tory rules mean that people are financially encouraged to stay in abusive relationships rather than claim Universal Credit.

The Conservative government has deliberately weighted the conditions under which the so-called benefit is paid to make it more difficult for people to survive by claiming it than by living with an abuser – even if this means endangering their own lives.

People with disabilities are particularly at risk. But then, those of us who are familiar with the Tory record on disability have come to expect that.

Unite the Union has provided the story of Emma (not her real name), who lived a life of psychological abuse, control and marital rape until she was helped to divorce her husband and strike out on her own.

She did not think there would be any hardship as her husband, it seems, was a genuine skiver who refused to work, meaning she had been the main earner – despite being able to work only 24 hours per week, due to a serious autoimmune disease.

But the Tories made sure she would suffer.

Previously, as a working person, she had been receiving tax credits, and would have been better-off had she continued to do so.

But the Tories used her change of circumstances to force her onto Universal Credit, leaving her £350 per month worse-off.

There are several reasons for this:

The disabled worker allowance she used to receive under tax credits was stopped. This is because the allowance can only be accessed through a work capability assessment, which grants benefits to people unable to work, rather than for disabled people who can work.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has stated that this has resulted in a Catch 22 where “a worker must be assessed as not fit for work to receive targeted in-work support”.

Have you ever heard of anything as flat-out daft?

I bet if anyone tried to point it out, they’d have to fight an expensive court case before the Tories did anything about it, too.

Worse still, Emma ran into a problem that has now been challenged in court, with a ruling made against it:

Her wages are paid on the last Wednesday of every month rather than on the same date. This resulted in her claim being cancelled and her payments being stopped for three months. She was also ineligible to claim her entitlement back for the month in which the claim was ended.

This is a widely experienced problem for Universal Credit claimants whose regular wages are paid on different days each month and stems from an ill-considered policy stipulation that the benefit amount is calculated to a strictly defined time period.

Now Emma is among 85,000 people who should be able to claim compensation, after the Court of Appeal have ruled that it was “irrational” for the Department for Work and Pensions – and the Secretary of State in particular – to ignore the fact that computer systems would assume that claimant had received double the money expected and cancel their payments.

The Conservative government spent two years fighting this court case – indicating that, despite being well aware of the issue, Tories were determined to continue depriving some of the poorest workers in the UK of vital benefits – including victims of outrageous domestic abuse like Emma.

I asked in my previous article about the court case whether the Tories were sadists or perverts, commenting that “perverts” seemed closest to the mark as one of the judges had described the situation as “perverse”.

Considering Emma’s case, it seems they were sadists as well.

The court ruling came too late for her, by the way – forced into an ever-mounting debt crisis with not even an offer of support from the Department for Work and Pensions, the weight of a life suffering abuse came crashing over her and she suffered a nervous breakdown.

She is now diagnosed as suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.

After 22 years as a healthcare professional in which she had always paid her bills, taxes and pension contributions, she now says she is “mortgaged up to the hilt… living off a credit card and have taken out two personal loans”.

So Universal Credit has put Emma exactly where the Tories want her – deeply in debt and forced to work like a beast of burden in the forlorn hope of clearing that debt again.

Consider the fact that 85,000 people are likely to have been put in the same situation by the ‘pay date’ scandal alone – never mind those who lost the disabled worker allowance, and it seems clear that the Tories are trying to create a “zombie economy” – with working people forced to wear themselves out trying to pay off an impossibly-high debt while their creditors sit back and count their profits.

It seems a limited amount of help is available for people who have suffered domestic abuse – but anyone seeking it must provide “written evidence” (of what kind?) within one month of discussing it with a work coach.

Emma is clear about the end result:

“Had I known that I would lose my tax credits and be transferred to Universal Credit before I separated from my ex-husband, I most definitely would have remained in the marriage and that is a worrying thought.

“Universal Credit, I believe, traps people in unhealthy relationships and causes more difficulties to individuals who are already in a vulnerable and distressing situation.”

So much for Iain Duncan Smith’s brainchild.

The only way for vulnerable people like Emma to avoid its debt trap is to go back into domestic degradation and abuse.

And the only conclusion we can draw is that Conservative politicians have designed the system to achieve this.

So it would be fair to say the Conservative government – and every MP who is a member of it – in league with the worst kind of physical, psychological and sexual abusers.

If they try to deny it, let them explain why they designed Universal Credit that way – and why they fight court cases to keep it that way.

Source: Domestic abuse survivor speaks out about Universal Credit nightmare

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Coronavirus: DWP adds insult to injury over tax credit and Universal Credit claims

It seems the Department for Work and Pensions has found a new way to humiliate benefit claimants during the coronavirus crisis.

The government department that handles the benefit system is using tax credit records to check the identities of people claiming Universal Credit.

But it is then cancelling the tax credit claims – regardless of whether the UC claim is allowed – because UK citizens are not permitted to receive tax credits after claiming UC.

It seems it does not matter if the claim is successful.

The government refuses to provide guidance on whether a person is better-off claiming tax credits or Universal Credit.

It seems this, as part of 20 new measures brought in to speed up the assessment of two million UC claims since the coronavirus lockdown started, has made it possible to get nine payments out of every 10 to the claimant on time.

I wonder how many claims have been successful, though – and how many tax credit claims have been cancelled, leaving the claimant with nothing?

Apparently the DWP’s Universal Credit supremo, Neil Couling, reckons many of the measures will be retained after the crisis is over – but the requirement to seek work will return.

No surprises there, then! Forcing people not only to look for jobs but to seek more hours and better pay – despite the fact that employers offer the exact opposite – is the contradiction at the heart of Universal Credit.

And Mr Couling says nothing to suggest the government will push employers to provide better offers.

Source: New Universal Credit measures to remain after lockdown eased | Express & Star

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Tories tell DWP to strip families of tax credits if they make Universal Credit claim

It would have been nice to be told this in advance.

Apparently more than two million people have claimed Universal Credit after losing income because of the coronavirus crisis.

If any of them were claiming tax credits before applying for the benefit, they have been cancelled.

And the government has refused to give advice on whether a person is better-off claiming tax credits or Universal Credit.

Add it all up and if it looks like a trap, then that’s what it is.

The guide published by the DWP explains that “not all tax credit recipients will be eligible to receive universal credit. If you claim universal credit, your tax credit claim will be closed, even if you aren’t eligible to receive universal credit.”

The UK government has also refused to give guidance on which benefit people should be claiming, stating: “DWP and HMRC cannot advise whether claiming universal credit or tax credits will be better for you.”

SNP MSP Bob Doris said… “This guidance appears reckless and spiteful. Now, more than ever, we need a welfare system which is easy to use, so that people don’t fall foul of the complexities of applying for benefits and end up with no support whatsoever.”

There is a welfare system which is easy to use – they’re using it in Spain right now. It’s called Universal Basic Income.

The UK’s Tory government passed on that. It preferred the complicated way.

We see now that this is because it would cause the maximum harm to the greatest number of people.

And every day they tell you they’re doing their best to protect you. And every day millions of people believe them.

If you’re on lockdown and looking for something useful to do, here’s a thought:

Why don’t you tell people what’s really going on?

Source: ‘Reckless and spiteful’ DWP stripping families of tax credits after an unsuccesful universal credit claim – Welfare Weekly

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Promises on disability and social security show Labour has listened

The Labour Party has paid attention to the people and published a manifesto that promises to end many of the injustices that the Conservative government (with the Liberal Democrats between 2010 and 2015) introduced.

This Writer feels duty-bound to tell you that reading the chapter on Social Security was an uplifting experience on many levels, as so many of the subjects This Site has highlighted have been tackled.

Labour will scrap the Department for Work and Pensions. This Site said the DWP had become so badly damaged by the culture of persecution instilled in it by Tory ministers from Iain Duncan Smith onwards that the only option was to dissolve it and start again. It will be replaced with a new Department of Social Security.

Labour will scrap Universal Credit. Since it began to be developed, This Site has highlighted the fact that UC was a hugely-expensive disaster – a position that was proved when it was implemented; instead of providing a convenient all-in-one safety net for people facing hard times, it has instead deliberately pushed them into poverty. It will be replaced with a new system, to be developed carefully, intending to end poverty by guaranteeing a reasonable standard of living.

While this new system is being prepared, Labour will introduce interim measures to end the cruelty imposed by the Conservatives (and Liberal Democrats), all of which address complaints raised by This Site and others:

Labour will end the so-called “digital barrier” that obstructs people who have trouble coping with computers and the internet from claiming benefits. It will offer telephone, face-to-face and outreach support.

Labour will end the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments.

Labour will reintroduce fortnightly payments, to help people manage their money.

Labour will end the Tory sanction regime.

Labour will scrap the benefit cap.

Labour will end the two-child limit on benefits and scrap the so-called ‘rape clause’, which it describes (as I do) as “immoral and outrageous”.

Labour will pay the child element of benefits to the primary carer, to ensure that women are no longer forced to stay in abusive relationships by the system.

The changes won’t just extend to Universal Credit, though.

Labour will end the Bedroom Tax and increase the Local Housing Allowance to protect people against the threat of eviction.

And the party will reform the benefit system to end its punishment of people with long-term illnesses and disabilities:

Labour will end the “dehumanising” Work Capability Assessments and PIP Assessments.

Labour will stop benefit assessments being contracted-out to private companies and ensure that all benefit assessments are carried out by DSS employees in future.

Labour will increase Employment and Support Allowance by £30 a week for people in the Work-Related Activity Group, reversing the Tory cut.

Labour will raise the basic rate of support for children with disabilities to the same level as Child Tax Credits.

Labour will give extra support to severely disabled people without a formal carer, so they can meet the extra costs they face.

Labour will increase Carers’ Allowance to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance. This is the only measure that This Writer thinks is inadequate. Having been a carer, I know that CA is a pittance, but an increase of a few pounds a week is unlikely to help much. More harmful is the fact that, if a carer earns more than a set amount (around £120 a week), the entire allowance is cancelled. It would be better to introduce a taper, so that the amount of CA is reduced according to the amount a person earns.

And Labour  will help disabled people who want to work by bringing back specialist employment advisors, introducing a government-backed Reasonable Adjustments Passport scheme to help people move between jobs more easily, and reviewing support for disabled people at work, including the Access to Work scheme.

These are all terrific policies.

They make Labour the obvious choice for voters who are currently claiming unemployment, sickness or disability benefits.

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Child poverty set to have more than TRIPLED due to Tory benefit cuts since 2010

The Conservatives abolished targets for reducing child poverty in 2015.

The cumulative impact of current Conservative government changes to state benefits means child poverty will double, in comparison with the current level.

It is currently understood that 4.1 million children are in poverty. That’s 30 per cent of all children.

So Tory cuts will put 60 per cent of children in poverty, if the number of children in the UK remains steady; 8.2 million youngsters.

That’s shameful enough; 18 children in every classroom of 30 will be in poverty thanks to Tory policies in very short order.

But that’s not the worst of it.

You need to understand that child poverty has already increased by nearly three-fifths under the cuts the Tories have already imposed.

In 2009-10, there were only 2.6 million children in poverty. And that was considered too many by the Labour government of the day.

So the latest research shows child poverty is expected to have more-than-tripled since 2010, by the time the Conservative cuts really bite.

This means the childhood of 60 per cent of people will be blighted by the Conservatives.

Half of them – nine children in every classroom of 30 – will not be able to go on holiday for even one week in the year.

By the time they take their GCSEs, there will be a 27 per cent achievement gap between pupils on free school meals and their colleagues with wealthier parents.

The effects continue through later life. Men in the most deprived areas of England die an average of 9.2 years earlier than those in the least deprived areas – and spend 14 per cent less of their lives in good health. The statistics for women are similar.

And the impoverishment of your children doesn’t even save the state any money.

Governments forgo prospective revenues and commit themselves to providing services in the future if they fail to address child poverty.

The cost of child poverty on the UK government at the moment is estimated to be at least £29 billion per year.

Those are the findings of the Child Poverty Action Group.

The meaning is clear:

Child poverty harms all of us. Perhaps that’s why the Tories like inflicting it on young people.

Changes to social security benefits are devastating family incomes and will double the number of UK children living in poverty, according to a damning new report published today.

Research by Policy in Practice, on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner for England, found that policies like Universal Credit, the Two-Child Limit, and Benefit Cap affect 48% of households and will leave them worse off by £3,441 per year.

Overall, the cumulative impact of all welfare reforms “is considerably greater than the impact of each reform in isolation”, the report says.

Source: Tory benefit cuts will double the number of children living in poverty

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Amber Rudd is right and people have been using food banks who didn’t need to: TORY MPs

He didn’t need to visit a food bank: Iain Duncan Smith – the man considered more responsible for sending people to food banks than any other – contributed a small bag of sugar, the cost of which he’ll probably claim back on expenses, to his local foodbank in a photo opportunity intended to pretend that he cares about the poor people he sent there.

The minister responsible for making sure everybody who is entitled to state benefits knows what benefits they should have has claimed that people are using food banks because they don’t know what benefits they should be getting.

Amber Rudd, who had to resign as Home Secretary over the racist Windrush scandal, appears to be trying to prove she can’t function as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions either.

She told BBC Five Live: “Sometimes I discover when I go to visit the food banks there are people in there who don’t know what access to benefits they had, which is why it’s important that there’s a good relationship between us and the food banks, which generally there is.”

This makes no sense at all.

If there is a good relationship between the DWP and food banks, and the reason for that is to ensure that people visiting food banks know what benefits they can access, then nobody visiting a food bank should be unaware of the information they need… unless the DWP isn’t doing its job properly, of course.

Let’s consider an alternative theory. The Trussell Trust published information showing that food bank use as increased by 52 per cent in areas where Universal Credit has been in place for at least a year, compared with 13 per cent where it had not been, and Ms Rudd admitted in February that “the main issue… could have been the fact that people had difficulty accessing their money early enough”.

Perhaps that is because the DWP, in fact, didn’t inform claimants of the difference between the benefits they had been getting and the amounts they would receive in the future.

There is evidence to support this. A report on the transition from tax credits to Universal Credit shows nearly half of claimants were not aware their tax credits would stop when they claimed universal credit, and 56 per cent felt they did not receive enough information.

More than a third were in financial difficulty – of whom six in 10 said their troubles started after they began claiming Universal Credit.

Now, here’s the punchline: The release of this report was delayed for 18 months. It was made available to Ms Rudd’s forerunner David Gauke (and, presumably, to his replacement Esther McVey before coming into the hands of her replacement, Ms Rudd) and to Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and they immediately decided not to publish it.

Why?

That is the question asked by the chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, Frank Field, in a letter to both (current ministers), sent on Monday (April 15).

His letter points out that the delay came at a time when pivotal decisions about Universal Credit were about to be made, and asks what actions the ministers took after reading the report, other than ordering that it be shelved.

On April 16, the Work and Pensions committee published new figures showing that the DWP had “serially botched” payment of the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance, meaning it is likely that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people were underpaid.

How many of them ended up having to visit food banks because of the DWP’s errors?

How many Universal Credit claimants had to visit food banks because they were not properly informed of what it means to go from tax credits to UC – making a mockery of Ms Rudd’s claims about users being ignorant of their entitlements?

While we’re thinking about those questions, let’s all remember that these issues were all current at a time when Conservative MPs were visiting food banks for photo opportunities, arranged to make it seem these super-rich Tories actually cared about the poverty-stricken people they had sent there.

It seems clear that the only people using food banks who didn’t need them were those Conservative MPs.


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In total, Universal Credit two-child limit will put nearly HALF A MILLION children into poverty

Around 450,000 children will be pushed into poverty because of the two-child limit on child allowances in Universal Credit and tax credits.

That’s the prediction from the Child Poverty Action Group about the cruel policy that has pushed 150,000 children into poverty so far – and will impoverish twice as many more by the time the rollout of UC is complete.

Already, 43 per cent of children in families with three or more live below the poverty line, in a country where the overall child poverty rate is 30 per cent. That in itself is a scandal in the fifth-richest nation in the world.

Two-thirds of families hit by the policy will be working, and CPAG says a single parent with three children working 16 hours per week on the fake ‘National Living Wage’ of £8.21 per hour would have to more than double their hours to 37 per week to compensate for the effect of the two-child limit.

Of course, that’s a full-time working week, which means childcare may be necessary – meaning our hypothetical single parent would probably have to hold down two jobs, just to make ends meet; there’s no guarantee they would be able to get free care.

They would be worked into the ground, and probably would hardly even see their own children.

CPAG also says the policy breaches the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and unlawfully discriminates against children, because it treats them as unworthy of individual consideration for entitlement to subsistence benefits – in fact it automatically disqualifies them.

That is the intention behind the two-child limit on Universal Credit, of course: Harm.

The intention is quite clearly to penalise people for having more than two children – never mind the circumstances. In short, it is a eugenics experiment; a “nudge” project – an attempt to restrict the population at large by making it too expensive for people on a low income to have children.

The rich will be able to continue having as many youngsters as they want, of course.

So the comment by a DWP spokesperson – that “the two child policy ensures fairness between claimants and taxpayers who support themselves solely through work” – is a lie.

Doubly so, in fact, because it does not acknowledge the fact that the number of people supporting themselves solely through work is diminishing – because of the fakeness of that misnamed “National Living Wage” mentioned above. It isn’t a living wage; anybody receiving it must top up their income with benefits or go into debt.

This means the claim that the government is tackling child poverty and helping families with the cost of living is also a lie.

As the number of people – especially young people – in poverty increases, one has to question how many people will continue believing this nonsense.


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Jack’s benefits have been cut – now he gets so cold he turns BLUE

[Original image: sei-ten.deviantart.com].

Universal Credit is not the only benefit the Tories are misusing to harm the poor.

Seven-year-old Jack Woods has a condition which means only half of his heart is capable of working and he is unable to control his own body temperature.

It means his family have to heat their house all the time – even in the summer – but the Tories have decided he is not worth saving and have cut his disability benefits, child tax credit, and his mother’s carer’s allowance.

Here’s the Daily Mirror:

The family of a boy whose rare heart condition means he can’t control his own body temperature are struggling to get by – because they can’t afford to heat their home.

Jack Woods, seven, had his first heart operation at just six-days-old and was later diagnosed with the heart condition Tricuspid atresia which meaning only half of his heart is capable of working.

The illness means that he can’t control his own body temperature and is always cold – so mum Ashleigh, 31, has to keep the family’s heating on all year round.

The family have been spending up to £200 a month on heating bills over the summer.

But Jack’s disability benefits and child tax credit has now been cut – as well as his carer’s allowance – thanks to government cutbacks.

After an appeal was made, the claim was denied for the second time and Ashleigh is currently waiting for a tribunal date to be set.

Ashleigh, from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, said: “They stopped the benefits without any warning or assessment… We have lost around £1,700 a month in benefits and we are struggling to keep the heating on, especially now it’s colder.”

Note: You may be wondering why the image accompanying this article is of a cute cat (that happens to be blue). It refers to a tweet by This Site’s good friend and fellow campaigner Samuel Miller:

Fair comment, I thought. Let’s try attaching images of cute animals to stories of the Tories’ “calculated cruelty” over benefits and see if attitudes change.


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Jeremy Corbyn says he opposes making EU migrants wait to receive benefits


Corbyn is right, of course.

But then, everybody here knows This Writer thinks Reeves was a pathetic excuse for a shadow work and pensions secretary – right?

The comment that anyone working in the UK under the same conditions as everybody else should receive the same benefits is simple common sense.

Jeremy Corbyn has torn up Labour’s European policy, saying he opposes EU migrants having to wait to receive benefits when in the UK.

Labour said in its manifesto for the general election in May that there should be a two-year ban on EU migrants receiving tax credits. The policy had been set out by the then shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves.

But Corbyn, who is in Brussels for a meeting of the Party of European Socialists – a grouping of leftwing parties in the European parliament – rejected the policy. He said on Thursday: “If somebody is working, paying taxes, doing a job just like anybody else, then surely they deserve access to exactly the same benefits as anybody else.”

Source: Jeremy Corbyn says he opposes making EU migrants wait to receive benefits | Politics | The Guardian

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