Category Archives: Universal Credit

This comparison of #UniversalCreditCut with England’s win over Denmark is devastatingly accurate

More UK citizens are to lose a vital benefit uplift worth £1,040 per year than the entire population of Denmark, whose football team were beaten by the UK in the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

That’s according to shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds – and he should know.

It says everything about the Tories.

They say they are trying to get the UK back on its feet after Covid.

But their first instinct is to sweep the support out from under a proportion of the population equal to the entire population of a neighbouring country.

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Watch this Tory MP defend clawing back £20 Universal Credit from the poorest – it’s 1/255th of his weekly earnings

Snout in the trough (all right – bucket): the Tories reckon public money is better spent filling their overstuffed bank accounts than helping the UK’s poorest to survive.

Andrew Rosindell earns £1,575 a week for turning up to work as a member of Parliament – and last year claimed an average of £3,604 per week on expenses – and he thinks people who are defined by his own government as the UK’s poorest don’t need the £20 uplift on the meagre £76 Universal Credit they receive every week.

He really believes that he deserves 255 times as much as the poorest people in the UK, just for filing through the ‘Aye’ lobby when Boris Johnson wants to victimise the poor.

Watch him trying to justify his attitude on the BBC’s Politics Live yesterday (July 7).

What a grasping, mendacious, wretched little parasite.

(I originally wrote a much longer article about this but WordPress, in its wisdom, managed to erase it when I tried to save it prior to publishing. The perils of being a left-wing social media journalist!)

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Deaths and other harms to benefit claimants prompt renewed lawsuits – and calls to investigate DWP

Death by DWP: Philippa Day.

The chickens are coming home to roost at the Department for Work and Pensions.

The families of three benefit claimants – who are said to have died because the DWP deliberately mishandled their claims – are continuing to take the department through the court system in their search for justice.

Publicity around the cases has led to a BBC investigation in which it was found that they are just three out of 150 cases in which the DWP has conducted internal investigations into its own behaviour.

Now the department is facing demands for an independent investigation into its conduct. Long overdue demands, in This Writer’s experienced opinion.

Here‘s the BBC:

Cases where people claiming benefits died or came to serious harm have led to more than 150 government reviews since 2012, a BBC investigation found.

Internal reviews are held by the DWP when it is alleged its actions had a negative impact, or when it is named at an inquest.

Calling for an inquiry, Labour MP Debbie Abrahams said: “It needs to be taken out of the hands of the DWP.”

Ms Abrahams, who previously read out in the Commons the names of 29 people who have died, said: “There needs to be an independent inquiry investigating why these deaths are happening and the scale of the deaths needs to be properly understood.”

The DWP said it had established a new Serious Case Panel in 2019 to consider themes identified from serious cases, which included independent members.

Yeah, right. I opened Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire the other day. That doesn’t mean I read any of it.

Now let’s hear from Leigh Day solicitors, who represent the three families who are pushing their cases through the courts:

The families spoke to the BBC to share their stories and the legal stages of their cases.

Philippa Day who lived with a long standing mental health illness, and was diabetic, died aged 27 in October 2019, two months after she was found collapsed at home in Nottingham.

On 27 January 2021, HM Assistant Coroner for Nottinghamshire, Gordon Clow concluded that the problems Philippa had with her application for disability benefits were “the predominant… and the only acute factor” which led her to take action on 8 August 2019 that ultimately proved fatal.

Following the inquest, a letter of claim has been sent to DWP and Capita which alleges breach of human rights and negligence by the DWP and Capita arising out of the events which led to Philippa’s death and seeks compensation for the wrongs Philippa and her family suffered. DWP and Capita have three months to respond before claims may be pursued in the High Court.

Death by DWP: Jodey Whiting.

Jodey Whiting, aged 42, took her own life on 21 February 2017. She suffered severe mental health problems and had her benefits terminated a fortnight earlier for not attending a Work Capability Assessment, leaving her with no source of income.

The Attorney General granted their consent last year for an application to the High Court for a fresh inquest into her death, which the High Court will hear on 22 June 2021. Jodey’s mother seeks a fresh inquest to ensure the role played by the DWP in her daughter’s death are publicly and fully investigated.

Death by DWP: Errol Graham.

Errol Graham, was found dead aged 57 in June 2018, eight months after his benefits were stopped because of his failure to attend a fit for work assessment. When his body was found, Mr Graham weighed four-and-a-half stone.

An inquest in 2019 found that DWP and NHS staff had missed opportunities to save Graham, and the coroner concluded that “the safety net that should surround vulnerable people like Errol in our society had holes within it”.

Mr Graham’s family have submitted an application to the Court of Appeal after their judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the DWP’s safeguarding policies was unsuccessful. The family argue that the decision in 2017 to terminate his benefits was unlawful and that the DWP’s safeguarding policies and systems need to be overhauled to provide greater protection to vulnerable benefit claimants who, like Errol, suffer from mental health conditions.

The allegations against the DWP are extremely serious.

They indicate that it has been DWP policy to endanger the lives of benefit claimants.

For that reason, it seems clear to This Writer – and I expect to anybody with the slightest common sense – that the DWP should not be judging its own work with regard to these cases.

I say that for the same reason I say Boris Johnson’s Conservatives should not be conducting inquiries into whether contracts were corruptly handed to Tory cronies – or into whether Johnson himself breached the ministerial code by getting donors to pay for his Downing Street flat’s redecoration.

They are liars; they will always whitewash themselves.

We have seen evidence of such behaviour many times over the last 10 years – reported on This Site, among others.

The work of Debbie Abrahams has been exemplary in trying to get an investigation into this scandal by an organisation we can trust.

It’s true that such efforts have achieved very little, so far.

But attitudes are changing.

As more evidence has come to light, public tolerance of the DWP’s entitled attitude has eroded.

Maybe we are finally about to get some factual answers to questions we have been asking for more than a decade.

Source: Investigation reveals 150 DWP reviews into deaths or harm to benefits claimants | Leigh Day

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Hardship for one in three people by May as Tory plans to impoverish us grind onwards

Small change: ironically, that’s probably how the Tories think of the 21.7 million people they’ve tipped into poverty.

One in three people will be living in hardship by May, according to a report by the New Economics Foundation.

This means 21.7 million people will still not have a decent standard of living even though the £20 per week Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit uplift has been extended.

Here’s Charlotte Hughes:

The report goes on to say that 12.9 million of the people in financial difficulty will be receiving less than 75% of the Minimum Income Standard which is defined as being £19,200 for a single person and £37,400 for a family of four.

Despite the furlough scheme, unemployment has continued to rise over the last year. According to the latest government data it shows that unemployment has increased by 1.3% points higher than the previous year. It also also shows the largest annual decrease in employment since the aftermath of the financial crisis. This being half a million fewer people employed than there was last year. Redundancy rates have also risen from 8.4 per thousand on the year, to 12.3 per thousand employees.

This leaves millions of people that are now dependant upon our social security system to support incomes, help with housing costs and to feed people.

At the time of writing the latest government data reveals there are 5.9 million people on universal credit with 3 million receiving housing benefit, 2.5 million receiving personal independence payment, 1.9 million receiving employment support allowance, 1.4 million receiving disability living allowance, and 0.3 million receiving jobseeker’s allowance.

We know that the UC/WTC uplift will continue until September but after that, claimants face a “cliff-edge” situation that could tip a further 1.1 million people into poverty.

But, you know what?

None of them will be members of the Tory government or doners to the Conservative Party, so they don’t matter. Do they?

Source: 21.7 million people will be living in hardship by May despite the Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit £20 uplift. ‹ The poor side of life ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

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Nothing for you if you’re sick, disabled, at school or in care: reaction to the Tory budget

They all do this: but the way Rishi Sunak held the red box indicated there wasn’t much in it. And there wasn’t.

Rishi Sunak’s budget has shown he is a diehard Tory, with concessions for businesses while those of us in need can go whistle.

He has claimed his hands are tied by huge Covid-19-related debts – but we all know that he has already paid them off, by the simple means of creating the money needed to do so.

And his big plans for the future were pathetic: new ‘free ports’ that have always been a bad idea, and an investment bank to replace the one a previous Tory government sold off a few years ago.

We are ruled by intellectual pygmies – and that is being harsh on the pygmies.

I watched the budget speech and commentated on it on Twitter, so I can provide a first-hand account of the announcements – but first, I’d like to go straight to what wasn’t announced, with comments from people who were reading at the time:

So the people who did all the hard work during the Covid-19 crisis will receive no reward for their sacrifices at all – even though many of them sacrificed their lives, contracting the virus and dying because Matt Hancock couldn’t be bothered to supply proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at the right time.

However:

People with disabilities who did not receive the £20 benefit uplift because they are on so-called “legacy” benefits will still receive nothing more, even though the uplift will remain in place until September. After then, it seems people who lost their jobs because of Covid-19 will fall over a so-called “cliff edge”, with the uplift cancelled, forcing them to live on much less.

The Tories have made a major issue of education in the crisis, demanding that our children must go back to school as soon as possible in order to catch up on what they have missed – but Rishi Sunak has provided no extra facilities for this in his budget. It seems it was all talk and – in fact – the plan is to reopen a major vector for transmission of Covid and hope that the increase in infections – and deaths – won’t be noticed amid the falling numbers triggered by the vaccination programme.

And after years of promising to fix problems in the social care system – that became hugely pronounced when 30,000 people died in care homes because of Tory stupidity – Sunak is breaking that promise by offering nothing.

Meanwhile, those who profited hugely from the pandemic – either by being perfectly situated to continue selling goods to people in lockdown or by receiving government Covid-related contracts to provide services at hugely-inflated costs (many of which were not actually provided because the contractors were not qualified to do so) are to get off scot-free because Sunak has backed away from calls to impose a wealth tax.

So, what has he done?

Well, he carped on a lot about borrowing a huge amount of money to pay for Covid-19. That was a stream of lies from start to finish, as I pointed out:

So we were led to expect tax hikes a-go-go. But this didn’t happen:

The refers to income tax, National Insurance and VAT. However – and this is indeed a ‘however’:

This is the amount you earn before you start paying tax, or before you start paying it at a higher rate. Because these thresholds are frozen, it seems more people will pay at a higher rate due to wage inflation, so there will be a de facto increase in taxes. But this depends on people receiving pay rises to cover their costs and Tory policy over the last 11 years has been to discourage that – it’s the reason real take-home pay has fallen by thousands of pounds per year since 2010.

This was the only increase in taxation, and it is only on a tax on profits. So firms that pay corporation tax can avoid it by ensuring that they make no profit from 2023. The best way to do that is to invest in infrastructure and wages (by employing more people, perhaps).

It would be wrong to say that Sunak’s budget does nothing for ordinary people – but it’s all based around existing Covid-related schemes:

Sunak went on to announce plans for government investment. The main points were:

But “free ports” are not new, nor are they likely to help:

Here’s an interesting point:

Mr McDonnell himself promptly answered it:

There was also some muttering about policies that give a nod to the environment but if you blinked, you missed them – and This Writer blinked. They certainly don’t constitute a “Green Industrial Revolution”!

As Tory budgets go, this is not the disaster for working-class people that it could have been – although the main hits have been offset, so it may be a few months or years until we can know the effects for sure.

The lack of any hard taxes or austerity measures suggests a tacit admission that Covid-19 really is bought and paid-for, and there won’t be any real need to pay for it again.

So This Writer is left with a huge sense of anticlimax. I was expecting to be fearful after today; instead I feel let down.

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Sick & disabled people to be subjected to same harm as Universal Credit claimants from April

The Department for Work and Pensions is to run trials on a new “integrated” assessment service, putting sick and disabled benefit claimants under the same conditions as Universal Credit claimants.

What a disaster for people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

Universal Credit is known to be harmful to its claimants. The five-week wait before anything is paid puts most people into debt and forces them to take out advance loans, meaning that the amount they receive – when they do get it – is much less than their government-assessed need, and continues to be so for many months.

This creates serious mental and emotional stress and otherwise fit and healthy UC claimants have done horrifying damage to their own health as a result.

People with illnesses and disabilities are already suffering damage to their own health. The current system already piles mental and emotional stress on them –

Only yesterday I wrote about “brown envelope anxiety”, that pushes sick and disabled people (especially) to avoid opening communications from the government, in the expectation that the message inside will inflict harm upon them.

– and putting them under Universal Credit conditions can only make matters worse.

I notice that the new trial is set to start in April, when the effects of Covid-19 are expected to be dying down.

Is it the Tory aim to immediately replace one fatal attack on sickness and disability with another?

Source: Justin Tomlinson confirms that the new DWP intergrated assessment service to be trialed in April. – The poor side of life

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One in six new universal credit claimants forced to skip meals during Covid crisis

It isn’t news that people claiming Universal Credit are forced to starve – especially in the five weeks before they receive any payments at all.

But the Tories have been making a big deal of their generosity in providing the benefit – along with a £20 uplift – to more people during the Covid-19 crisis.

Now we see the facts:

Many people claiming universal credit for the first time during the pandemic were unable to put aside enough cash to save £10 a month, eat healthily or regularly, or pay bills because the benefit payment was inadequate to meet basic living costs, a study has found.

A survey of the experiences of thousands of people who signed on after losing their job under lockdown concludes that even with the temporary £20 a week Covid-19 uplift many struggled to bridge the gap between benefits and living costs without borrowing from family, running up credit card debt, or using food banks.

Two-thirds of all claimants reported suffering financial strain, with one in six new claimants skipping a meal in the previous two weeks, and more than 60% reporting they would be unable to replace or repair electrical goods if they broke, or put aside enough cash to save £10 a month.

The fact is that Universal Credit is a sham that provides only enough in payment for the Tory government to make their claims – when in fact it plunges claimants into debt, and often into mental illness.

There are many reports of suicides among benefit claimants and the information above suggests ample evidence to support their reasons.

Source: One in six new universal credit claimants forced to skip meals | Society | The Guardian

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Boris Johnson SHOULD be blasted for thinking of plunging kids into poverty

Two-fingered salute: Boris Johnson displays his attitude to your starving children.

Bear in mind what we know about money: the government creates it in order to fund its policies, and taxes it back afterwards in order to prevent inflation.

Now read this:

Boris Johnson has been blasted for considering plunging hundreds of thousands of children deeper into poverty by ending the £20-a-week uplift of Universal Credit.

Anne Longfield, the outgoing Children’s Commissioner said the Prime Minister’s claimed commitment to helping youngsters catch up after the pandemic was “not compatible” with cuts to the vital benefit.

And she called on the government to back Joe Biden-style funding boost, aimed at families and children.

In suggesting that he won’t continue the £20/week uplift, Johnson is saying that his government prioritises funnelling millions to fake companies run by rich Conservative cronies over saving innocent youngsters from starvation that he has caused with his other policies.

We know this because the crony contracts keep being signed.

It isn’t a matter of there being not enough money; it’s a matter of priorities.

Now you know that his lie with his fat mates – and not with your starving kids.

Source: Boris Johnson blasted for considering Universal Credit cut that could plunge kids into poverty – Mirror Online

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Trickster Coffey: she says disabled people should switch to Universal Credit – where they’ll be worse-off

Therese Coffey: you wouldn’t think she was trying to get her jollies by encouraging people to quit legacy benefits for Universal Credit with a false claim that they’ll be better-off, would you?

Did Therese Coffey get her doctorate in lying to people?

Having refused calls to extend the £20-per-week Universal Credit uplift to so-called “legacy benefits” that sick and disabled people receive – Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and others – she has suggested that they should claim UC instead.

People on Severe Disablement Premium (SDP) were unable to make that move until Wednesday (January 27) – when the Tories removed that barrier.

But charities have warned that this is a trap.

People with long-term illnesses and disabilities are more likely to lose money if they switch to UC and, once they have made the move, there is no going back.

It’s just another example of Tory discrimination against people with disabilities, that has reached new heights in the Covid-19 crisis, which they have used as an excuse for persecution.

People who’ve been on SDPs can get £120, £285 or £405 per month in transition payments – depending on their circumstances. But DWP officials have confirmed these payments “will be subject to erosion and cessation” over time.

And the Disability Rights UK group has claimed that, “after transitional help is eroded after time”, Universal Credit will be “significantly less generous” than legacy benefits for disabled people.

So the two-tier discrimination against people with disabilities in fact continues, no matter whether they are on “legacy benefits” or Universal Credit.

This Writer’s advice is clear: stay where you are. Don’t give Trickster Coffey the giggle she wants to get from hurting you.

Source: Fears as DWP chief urges disabled people to switch to Universal Credit from Wednesday – Mirror Online

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MPs – including Tories – demand Universal Credit uplift retention after misleading Tory tweet

The Big Lie: Labour won a vote calling on the Tory government to extend the £20 Universal Credit uplift – and this is the tweet the Conservatives sent before the debate.

MPs on both sides of the House of Commons have urged Boris Johnson to extend an uplift of Universal Credit beyond its planned end date.

The non-binding Labour motion passed by 278 votes to none, with six Conservatives defying a Tory whip to abstain.

They were Robert Halfon, who appeared on TV vowing to support Labour’s motion…

(He has some strange ideas about the so-called ‘benefit’ but he did the right thing so we’ll cut him some slack this time, right?)

… along with former Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, Peter Aldous, Jason McCartney, Anne Marie Morris and Matthew Offord.

Personally, This Writer thought their decision was more impressive when contrasted with the behaviour of whoever writes the official @Conservatives Twitter feed.

Before the vote, a message appeared there, saying

Keir Starmer wants to scrap universal credit, withdrawing vital support from millions of people.

Experts say Labour’s plan would would [sic] be disruptive and cause chaos.

Conservatives are investing £7.4bn to help those who need it most.

It is a sickening distortion of the facts, as Peter Stefanovic makes clear:

But wait! The plot thickens:

He is.

That’s like paying them the uplift for 25 weeks, all at once – and it’s a dangerous thing to do.

The people receiving it are in dire straits financially. That’s a given, because otherwise they would not be on benefits.

They probably got into debt while waiting the mandatory five weeks before payment of UC began, and probably took out the advance loan of UC that is offered to people in that situation.

This means those who did this have been receiving less than even the government says they need on which to live, because they have to pay off that loan.

Now suppose they get that £500 payout. What do you think they’ll do with it?

They’ll pay off their debts and treat themselves with some – or all – of what’s left, most likely. It’s a relief reaction: “We’ve got some money; let’s enjoy it.”

And then they’ll find themselves back trying to make ends meet on UC – with £20 a week less on which to live. In fact, if they do pay off the debt, they’ll probably be in more or less exactly the same position as they are now.

And let’s just put this into context:

That’s right. The sum we’re discussing is less than one-third of the amount a member of the House of Lords gets, simply for turning up.

Finally, let’s be clear about what Universal Credit is.

Grateful?

That would be hugely overstating the obligation, considering we all fund UC with our taxes. And what do claimants of the so-called benefit get in return?

See for yourself, if you can bear it:

Labour does want to scrap Universal Credit – because it is a diabolical travesty of social security.

But Labour wants to replace it with something better. That can’t happen at the moment because we have a Tory government, with ministers who put forward the view of it that Robert Halfon expressed (above).

Retaining the £20 per week uplift is the least those Tories can do.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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