This is what happens when you create a system to stop people claiming benefits – and then need to pay them to millions of people.
The Tory government could just switch to a Universal Basic Income system that is straightforward and cheaper – but for some reason it doesn’t seem to want to do that.
I wonder why not?
Instead – well, read about the shambles for yourself:
From Thursday, a new frontline team will be in place to proactively call customers where additional information is required.
Customers applying for universal credit are being advised to sign-up online, where they can share details such as salary and national insurance information for the DWP to assess.
It said claims will then be reviewed, and where additional details are needed, it will get in touch with you over the phone or via your online portal.
The move, it said, is designed to take some of the worry and frustration out of submitting a claim, while speeding it up by putting an end to long call wait times.
More than 1.2 million people have applied for Universal Credit in the past three weeks, and in the past seven days more than 5.8 million calls have been made to its helpline, equivalent to three times the average per day.
That’s an awful lot of people signing up to wait five weeks before they get any money.
And they’ve overloaded the system.
On April 8, the DWP admitted access to its phone lines had to be “controlled” in order to stop critical services like NHS 111 collapsing.
Now, it is asking people to avoid its phone lines altogether.
That is not the statement of an organisation that wants to help.
It is an organisation that only wants to help itself.
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.
It seems that every single Conservative MP has slavishly followed Theresa May through the ‘No’ lobby at the House of Commons, ensuring the success of her desperate bid to keep her own role in the racist victimisation of the so-called Windrush generation secret.
The vote was won by 316 votes to 221 in favour of the motion, which would have ensured that all papers relating to the Windrush scandal between 2010 and 2018 would be released.
But in ordering her MPs to hide the facts, Mrs May has admitted that there are facts about her involvement that she does not want the public to know.
She has admitted that she has not told the truth – or at least, not the whole truth.
That is the message that should be put to voters before they cast their ballots in the local elections tomorrow (May 3):
Does anybody seriously want to support the woman who imposed the most racist policy ever to blight the UK’s citizens – and then tried to deny her role in it?
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Secret smirk: Theresa May thinks she has got away with imposing the racist ‘hostile environment’ policy that deported UK citizens, by letting Amber Rudd take the blame. Shouldn’t she resign too?
She’s between a rock and a hard place.
Tories have been abstaining from voting on Opposition Day debates since the general election last year, so we may conclude from today’s three-line whip to block Labour’s ‘humble address’ that the information being requested is hugely damaging to Mrs May.
Of course, if the Tories continued to abstain – as I stated in a previous article – we would know what that information is.
Either way, the current prime minister’s guilt, her collusion in the targeting of the so-called Windrush Generation and their families, and her determination to continue attacking these people even after being told UK citizens were suffering as a result of her policies, seems clear.
If the Tories succeed in blocking Labour’s motion, do we – the public – accept it?
If not, there’s an obvious answer.
There are local and mayoral elections tomorrow (May 3). If people aren’t satisfied with Mrs May’s behaviour, they can make it clear by voting against Conservative candidates.
A large anti-Conservative vote cannot be seen as anything other than a response to Mrs May and her government. They may try to spin it as something else, but they won’t succeed.
This is an opportunity to rid ourselves of the worst prime minister in living memory. Let’s not throw it away.
Conservative MPs are under a three-line whip to vote against the so-called humble address motion, the same procedure used last year by Labour to force ministers to hand over their Brexit economic impact assessments.
In an opposition day debate later on Wednesday, Labour is to use the motion to ask for all papers, correspondence and advice on between ministers, senior officials and advisers from May 2010 until now.
This would be handed to the Commons home affairs committee and would include information about any detentions or deportations, the setting of deportation targets, and how the policies were seen as affecting people’s lives.
If successful, the tactic could undermine the government’s attempts to insulate May from the crisis over how some citizens of Caribbean origin who arrived in the UK from the 1950s onwards were wrongly targeted amid the “hostile environment” immigration policy, which placed the onus on individuals to actively prove their status.
Almost 19,000 families became homeless after being evicted by a private landlord in the past year, the highest number ever recorded [Image: Getty].
The Conservative Government is shifting its policy on homelessness – although whether it will be effective has yet to be seen.
After years of laissez-faire slackness regarding the causes of homelessness that have seen huge year-on-year increases under David Cameron, his successor Theresa May has announced a change.
From now on, local councils will be charged with preventing private landlords from throwing people out of their homes.
There’s just one catch: Local councils are being starved of money by – guess who? – the Conservative Government.
A helpline run by an anti-homelessness charity now receives one call asking for help every 30 seconds, new figures reveal.
Shelter’s advice line has seen the volume of calls rise by 50,000 in the past 12 months, with one in four cases taken on by the line from people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home within 28 days.
Almost 19,000 families became homeless after being evicted by a private landlord in the past year, a 200 per cent increase compared to five years ago and the highest number recorded.
In August this year the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee warned that the Government’s welfare reforms had played a significant role in driving up homelessness figures.
A report by the cross-party group of MPs warned that the number of rough sleepers in England had risen by 30 per cent to 3,569 between 2014 and 2015. The Committee in part blamed changes to housing benefits payments.
Other factors, such as a trend away from social housing and towards private renting, have been blamed for the increase in homelessness and rough sleeping in recent years.
We all owe a debt of thanks to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for its work to reveal the depth of poverty in British society today.
The Foundation’s latest report reveals that – even by standards that have slipped since the Coalition government came into office – in-work poverty has galloped ahead of that suffered by those in workless and retired families – proving once and for all that, under the Tories and Liberal Democrats, work doesn’t pay!
But the situation is actually worse than the figures suggest, because the poverty line is always 60 per cent of average (median) income – and incomes in the UK have been dropping. Some say the average is now seven per cent lower than in 2010; others say nearly 10 per cent.
This means that, if we add in the people in working families who would be below the poverty line if it had remained at, say, 2008 levels, another two million people would be considered to be in poverty. These people are no better-off than they were before the poverty level slipped; they can’t buy more than they could before – in fact, their money goes a lot less far because inflation, even at 2.7 per cent, has hugely outstripped pay increases.
Add in the number of workless and retired families who are also in poverty – 6.3 million – and we have 15 million people in poverty in the UK today. That’s a quarter of the population of the seventh largest economy in the world.
And George Osborne wants us to congratulate him for his achievements over the past three years. Well done, George. You have conclusively proved that you are the worst Chancellor in British history – heading up the worst government in British history.
Let’s look at some of his successes:
The fall in average incomes in the last two years alone has wiped out all the gains made by Labour in the previous decade – and George has another year and a half to put people in even more serious trouble.
Worse still, incomes for the poorest 10 per cent of the population have been falling since 2004/5, because the neoliberal New Labour government did not protect them. These are the people for whom the four ‘D’s – debt, destitution, desperation and despair – will hit hardest.
The proportion of low-paid jobs increased in 2012. Remember that, when the government tells you that more people are in work than ever before. They are not telling you that these jobs keep people in poverty. They are not telling you the fact that, under the Coalition, work most certainly does not pay.
Among those in work, the number paid less than the living wage rose from 4.6 million to five million in 2012. This means 400,000 more working people are having to claim benefits to make ends meet. Work does not pay. The five million figure is one-sixth of the total workforce and includes two million people who had never previously claimed.
Meanwhile, those in benefit are being pushed into very deep poverty by sanctions, the effect of overlapping changes to social security benefits – which the government has again and again refused to measure, and the falling value of benefits due to the Chancellor’s one per cent uprating cap.
More sanction referrals were made on the unemployed between 2010 and 2012 than there are people currently claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (1.6 million, against 1.48 million claimants) – and 800,000 benefit stoppages or reductions were approved. This impacts on the government’s jobless figures, which do not include the number of jobseekers under sanction. Think about it – 800,000 is more than half the number that official figures show are out of work. Also, we know that Workfare is being stepped up, in order to fiddle the figures even more seriously.
The Bedroom Tax and council tax benefit cuts have hit 400,000 families, of whom around 267,000 families were already in poverty.
It is in this context that Iain Duncan Smith feebly attempted to distract attention away from the damning facts by telling the Telegraphthat 50 families were each earning around £70,000 in benefits before his benefit cap (the £26,000-per-year, not the one per cent uprating limit) was brought in.
While this may be a shocking figure for some people, he did not provide the full details. How many people are we discussing, per family? Will the cap push them below the poverty line? Considering the facts laid out above, would a job relieve poverty for these families – or make it worse?
Smith – or ‘RTU’, as we call him here (it stands for ‘Returned To Unit’, a reference to his dismal Army career) – has yet again insisted that his diabolical changes are making the system “fair”. Anybody who repeats an assertion such as this, as often as he has, knows that nobody believes it.
Today, he is due to go before the Commons Work and Pensions Committee to account for his persistent interference with the statistics. Expect bluster and bravado but do not expect the facts.
For example, he will never admit how many people have died from the poverty caused by his assessment regime for Employment and Support Allowance.
That figure alone could bring down this government.
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A true pro: It is a testament to the Queen’s professionalism that she is able to get through her speech at the annual opening of Parliament without either laughing at the stupidities or choking in horror at the implied threats to her citizens.
Today the Queen made her speech at the official opening of Parliament. Her words were, as always, written by the government of the day, and therefore it seems appropriate to provide a translation, as follows:
“My government’s legislative programme will continue to focus on building a stronger economy so that the United Kingdom can compete and succeed in the world.” Focus on it, but do nothing about it.
“It will also work to promote a fairer society that rewards people who work hard.” If you haven’t got a job, you’re shafted.
“My government’s first priority is to strengthen Britain’s economic competitiveness. To this end, it will support the growth of the private sector and the creation of more jobs and opportunities.” There is no intention to take any action in this regard; the government will simply applaud actions taken by others.
“My ministers will continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit – ensuring interest rates are kept low for homeowners and businesses.” Interest rates are nothing to do with the government. It is easy to make promises when no action is required.
“My government is committed to building an economy where people who work hard are properly rewarded. It will therefore continue to reform the benefits system, helping people move from welfare to work.” My government is committed to building a low-wage economy where people have to work hard simply to keep what they’ve got. It will therefore continue to erode the benefits system, forcing people to move from welfare to destitution as a warning to those who’ve got jobs, that this will happen to them if they make a fuss.
“Measures will be brought forward to introduce a new employment allowance to support jobs and help small businesses.” A bung for our friends.
“A bill will be introduced to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on businesses. A further bill will make it easier for businesses to protect their intellectual property.” Deregulation worked so well with the banks in 2007, we thought we’d give other businesses a chance to ruin the economy. And it’s not enough that Facebook now owns everybody’s photographs – corporations want everything else as well.
“A draft bill will be published establishing a simple set of consumer rights to promote competitive markets and growth.” The rights of the consumer will be restricted to what we say they’re allowed, to protect corporate freedoms.
“My government will introduce a bill that closes the Audit Commission.” We don’t want the public to know the facts about our spending and where it goes (into our pockets).
“My government will continue to invest in infrastructure to deliver jobs and growth for the economy.” But we’re not saying where the money will go (into our pockets).
“Legislation will be introduced to enable the building of the High Speed Two railway line, providing further opportunities for economic growth in many of Britain’s cities.” Future economic growth, of course – we won’t see the benefit for many, many years.
“My government will continue with legislation to update energy infrastructure and to improve the water industry.” At huge cost to everybody who has to pay the bills.
“My government is committed to a fairer society where aspiration and responsibility are rewarded.” This is meaningless.
“To make sure that every child has the best start in life, regardless of background, further measures will be taken to improve the quality of education for young people.” This is meaningless.
“Plans will be developed to help working parents with childcare, increasing its availability and helping with its cost.” Private childcare organisations, starting cheaply but costing more as they get a grip on parents.
“My government will also take forward plans for a new national curriculum, a world-class exam system and greater flexibility in pay for teachers.” We’re going to stamp on teachers hard. And the new national curriculum means nobody from state education will be able to compete with our children at Eton.
“My government will also take steps to ensure that it becomes typical for those leaving school to start a traineeship or an apprenticeship, or to go to university.” We’ll shoehorn the state-school mob into something under threat of destitution, and save university for people who can pay for it (like us).
“New arrangements will be put in place to help more people own their own home, with government support provided for mortgages and deposits.” More second homes for Tory voters, as set out in the Chancellor’s Budget speech in March.
“My government is committed to supporting people who have saved for retirement.” If they have savings, they won’t need the national pension and can give it back, like Iain Duncan Smith suggested.
“Legislation will be introduced to reform the way long-term care is paid for, to ensure the elderly do not have to sell their homes to meet their care bills.” They can die there instead.
“My government will bring forward legislation to create a simpler state pension system that encourages saving and provides more help to those who have spent years caring for children.” It’ll encourage saving because it won’t be enough; and carers can have the kids taken away from them.
“Legislation will be introduced to ensure sufferers of a certain asbestos-related cancer receive payments where no liable employer or insurer can be traced.” Otherwise we’ll get the blame for abandoning them.
“My government will bring forward a bill that further reforms Britain’s immigration system. The bill will ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deters those who will not.” We’re scared that UKIP is taking our voters away.
“My government will continue to reduce crime and protect national security.” We will privatise the police, MI5 and MI6.
“Legislation will be introduced to reform the way in which offenders are rehabilitated in England and Wales.” If you thought our prisons were schools for criminals before, we’re turning them into universities.
“Legislation will be brought forward to introduce new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, cut crime and further reform the police.” We will privatise the police and introduce curfews.
“In relation to the problem of matching internet protocol addresses, my government will bring forward proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace.” We want to know how it works so we can make money off the internet.
“Measures will be brought forward to improve the way this country procures defence equipment, as well as strengthening the reserve forces.” We’ll buy the cheapest equipment we can find and ask the reservists to do it for no pay.
“My ministers will continue to work in co-operation with the devolved administrations.” Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will get even less cash.
“A bill will be introduced to give effect to a number of institutional improvements in Northern Ireland.” It’s too peaceful over there and we need something to distract the plebs from the mess we’re making in the rest of the country.
“Draft legislation will be published concerning the electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales.” If we give the sheep the vote, they might vote Tory.
“My government will continue to make the case for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.” We want their money; we want their oil.
“Members of the House of Commons, estimates for the public services will be laid before you.” Prior to privatisation.
“My government will work to prevent conflict and reduce terrorism. It will support countries in transition in the Middle East and north Africa, and the opening of a peace process in Afghanistan.” We want their money; we want their oil.
“My government will work to prevent sexual violence in conflict worldwide.” We can’t even stop it here.
“My government will ensure the security, good governance and development of the overseas territories, including by protecting the Falkland Islanders’ and Gibraltarians’ right to determine their political futures.” They’re strategically important so we’ll rattle the sabre for them.
“In assuming the presidency of the G8, my government will promote economic growth, support free trade, tackle tax evasion, encourage greater transparency and accountability while continuing to make progress in tackling climate change.” We’ll blame the other nations when none of these things happen.
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