Tag Archives: loan

Cost of living crisis: 10 years of Tory benefit cuts are driving people deeper into debt

Sanction centre: people paying back debts to the benefit system are being penalised for being poor by the current Tory cost of living crisis because their situation forces them into the hands of high-interest doorstep lenders who will make their situation worse. Isn’t the benefit system supposed to keep people out of debt?

It is amazing that this has to be spelt out for people but, with us all having to deal with the Tory squeeze on our incomes, this may have evaded a few people.

The cost of living crisis has hit the poorest people and families worst, with people on benefits suffering the worst after 10 long years of punitive Tory cut after punitive Tory cut.

The Resolution Foundation has already pointed out that the poorest households are facing a higher rate of inflation than richer people.

This is because the rising cost of home services (like energy bills), transportation and food is having a greater effect on people with less income and fewer savings to pay for them; it’s not rocket science.

So the headline inflation rate for the lowest tenth of families is around 10.3 per cent, while it is 8.7 per cent for the richest tenth. This is the greatest disparity since cost of living data began to be collected at the start of this century.

Now the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has produced a study showing that a decade of social security cuts, underfunding, and punitive government debt collection terms are pushing low-income families – particularly benefit claimants – into financial crisis.

In many situations, people were forced to choose between feeding their loved ones and making their rent payments on time, as described in the study. 2.3 million homes had already gone without both.

Low-income individuals have resorted to borrowing, adding £12.5 billion in new debt in 2022 out of a total of £22 billion. They owe high-cost lenders, such as doorstep lenders and illegal loan sharks, a total of £3.5 billion, which jeopardises their future financial stability.

Families are already having a difficult time making their payments. Since October of last year, total personal debt arrears have more than quadrupled from £1.8 billion to £3.8 billion, and JRF anticipates that these arrears will continue to grow as interest rates rise.

Unsettlingly, the research discovered that the government is making life extremely difficult for people by exploiting the benefits system to collect some debts, sometimes at exorbitant rates. Families receiving assistance without these “debt deductions” suffer less than those who are obliged to have them.

JRF has suggested a simple way to ease the burden on these claimants: allow them to repay their debt more slowly while the cost of living crisis is ongoing, rather than cutting their income by a quarter every month.

And Universal Credit entitlements should increase to ensure that – at a bare minimum – people are able to afford the essentials when they fall on hard times.

This is, of course, entirely logical. The benefit system is intended to ensure that people don’t fall into debt at all – not simply to make them prey to loan sharks at a slower speed.

But we’re seeing no announcements about this from Rishi Sunak or Therese Coffey.

All we’ve had are big headlines about payouts to everybody, including £400 for every house – meaning people who own multiple dwellings receive that amount many times, in comparison with the poor who only have one.

This Site has stated it before: it’s a big subsidy for the rich. And the fact that the poor are being driven to loan sharks makes it all the more obscene.

Source: Tory cost of living crisis made worse by a decade of welfare cuts

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MPs use taxpayer-funded expenses to pay bills worth thousands. You get a £200 loan

Not strictly a backhander: but why are MPs getting their extra heating bills paid on expenses – along with an increase in their wages?

The following should be self-explanatory:

These are just three examples. Want to know how many MPs are sponging thousands of pounds from you – that’s right, you personally – this way?

340:

Connected to this, here’s a good question:

In fact, the pay rise is supposed to cover extra work that MPs have to do now – and RD Hale’s argument still works.

By the same logic, if MPs deserve £2,212 to cover the value of the extra work they’re having to do, then minimum wage earners deserve £66,770. And their heating costs paid by the government.

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Left-wing campaigner rejects Sunak’s energy loan. Will you?

An old friend of This Site has written to Rishi Sunak, turning down the Chancellor’s attempt to foist a £200 loan on him to pay for increased energy bills.

Keith Lindsay-Cameron (remember him from A Letter A Day to Number 10, back when David Cameron was in Downing Street?) said he was perfectly capable of managing his own poverty without having more of it pushed on him.

His letter states: “With regards to the recent news that all customers of energy companies in England will be given a £200 loan from the Government to be repaid over following years.

“I would like to state that I do not want this loan. I have not asked for this loan. I do not wish my energy company to transfer the loan to my account, nor take repayments from my account in the future, and I shall be writing to them to this effect.

“I have several reasons for this decision.

“I do not want any debt imposed upon me that I have not asked or given my consent for.

“It is a certainty that prices will continue to rise, thus creating more hardship which this imposed loan will only exacerbate.

“My chosen route to pay for energy is up front payments via Pay As You Go, I do not consent to any sum of money being added to my account that leaves me in debt for several years. I manage my poverty perfectly well without being indebted by you.

“Your government has a bitter record of forcing us into debt and hardship, whilst throwing billions of pounds at banks and corporations, I want no part of the imposition of this loan on ordinary people.”

These are very good points.

Will you be writing to reject Sunak’s plan to impose debt on you for years to come while enriching the privatised energy giants that a previous Tory government created – many of which are at least partly-owned by foreign governments?

Alternatively, you could report Sunak to the Financial Conduct Authority as he seems to be misrepresenting his squalid little loan as a “rebate” or “discount”:

Or will you just lie back and let him strip you of more self-respect?

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#ReesMogg is facing #sleaze #investigation by watchdog he tried to scrap

Shifty: Jacob Rees-Mogg is facing an investigation into his business practices outside Parliament – by a Standards Commissioner he tried to have abolished. Now, why would he have wanted to do that?

Karma comes around quickly these days, doesn’t it?

Remember how Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to shut down Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone after she found Owen Paterson guilty of corruption?

Now Ms Stone is investigating claims that he took £6 million of loans from his company, Saliston Ltd, between 2018 and 2020 – and failed to make an “open and frank” disclosure of them in the register of members’ interests.

The details are here:

It’s highly suspicious, isn’t it?

Rees-Mogg tried to have the Standards Commissioner’s role abolished, and is now being investigated by the Standards Commissioner.

Was he corruptly acting on his own behalf, rather than (as he undoubtedly claimed) in the interests of justice?

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Well done, Tory voters now on Universal Credit! You ASKED to be made poor

 

Tory voters who are employees really are the stupidest people on the planet. If that’s you, I’m very sorry but go and look in the mirror and understand that you’re looking at a fool.

You see, these people voted for a government that dumped around one and a half million of them onto Universal Credit – the so-called benefit that the Tories actually use to persecute people who have been plunged into poverty – as soon as the Covid-19 crisis hit.

Now 63 per cent of those people – and you can bet that many of them voted ‘Conservative’ like good little sheeple in December 2019 – are having cash removed from their benefit payments.

The money is being used to repay loans they took out – advances of their Universal Credit payments are loans, you see – to cover their living costs or outstanding debts while they endured the five-week delay the Tories impose on everybody who claims.

1,060,000 ‘Covid claimants’ have a deduction of some kind from their UC. Of those, 810,000 are repaying an advance only, 50,000 have a deduction for another reason and 200,000 have deductions to repay a UC advance and another debt.

It means a million people are trying to live on payments that are less than their assessed benefit need.

That is to say that the Department for Work and Pensions has worked out that they need a particular amount but is refusing to let them have it.

DWP officers do this on the orders of the Conservative government – voted for, most likely, by a majority of the claimants who are now being forced into poverty and starvation.

I wonder how Tory-voting UC claimants feel if they are also parents – knowing that their vote in 2019 is also forcing their children to go without.

(The information on the so-called “Covid claimants” has been compiled by Child Poverty Action Group for the Covid Realities research project).

The worst part of it is that these absolute dimwits are so tribal that they will almost certainly defend their 2019 decision and repeat the mistake, first chance they get. There is no reasoning with them.

Source: Over one million on Universal Credit have money deducted to repay debts

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Universal Credit is increasing debt and failing disabled people, says SNP

Protest: This is still the most appropriate image for the way the benefit system attacks people with disabilities. story below [Image: VoidOne.].

The SNP has renewed calls to make Universal Credit advance payments non-repayable grants instead of loans after new research showed the five week-wait and advance payments under Universal Credit are contributing to financial hardship and debt – particularly for disabled claimants.

The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) needs to do more to support vulnerable people and others claiming Universal Credit, revealing that disabled claimants and people on low incomes are more likely to claim advances and have other debts to repay.

Claimants and representative organisations told the NAO that the wait for the first payment contributes to financial hardship and debt, despite the availability of advances.

The SNP said the solution is to turn advance payments into non-repayable grants once the claimant has been deemed eligible for Universal Credit.

This would remove the need to reverse the five-week wait, which the DWP has said would be “operationally challenging”, and minimise the risk of fraud – the reason given by the UK government for not implementing grants instead of loans.

The architect of Universal Credit, Iain Duncan Smith, has admitted that keeping Universal Credit advance payments as loans instead of grants “is a policy decision, not a structural issue, so whatever the Government decides to do it is wholly feasible to do it.”

“The Chancellor’s statement was a missed opportunity to put building a fairer society at the heart of the recovery, with no measures to put cash in the pockets of those who need it most and lift people out of poverty,” said the SNP’s Neil Gray.

“And the Tories are missing another opportunity to address rising debt issues by refusing to make advance payments grants instead of loans.

“Addressing this issue is not an impossible task, as the SNP and leading anti-poverty organisations have repeatedly made clear by proposing a simple solution. The Tory government’s decision to keep advance payments as loans – which are pushing people into, or further into, debt – instead of making them non-repayable grants is a political decision, and nothing to do with operational or fiscal challenges.

“There is overwhelming support for the UK government to implement our proposal, and with unemployment rising and incomes being cut back, it is more critical than ever that the UK government starts taking serious action to address rising poverty and rising debt.”

According to the NAO Report – “Universal Credit: Getting to first payment” – 80 per cent of claims by low-income households, 67 per cent of claims including someone who has limited capability for work because of a disability or health condition, and 70 per cent of claims including a disabled child had a deduction applied to their first payment to cover advances repayments or other debts. This compares with 61 per cent of all claims.

Around 57 per cent of households making a new claim take a Universal Credit advance payment to help them manage during the five-week waiting period until their first payment.

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Suspend benefit cap to protect disabled people in coronavirus crisis? It’ll never happen under Tories!

She’ll never support it: Therese Coffey’s record suggests she is not sympathetic to disabled benefit claimants.

It’s a good, solid, practical suggestion: with disabled people most at risk of financial loss during the coronavirus crisis, the government should suspend the penalties it has imposed on them in the last 10 years.

These include the benefit cap and the “two-child policy” for benefits relating to children.

Also suggested by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is conversion of the Universal Credit advance loan into a non-repayable grant.

In fact, the DBC requests the suspension of all debt repayment deductions from UC.

And the organisation calls on the government to suspend work-related conditionality and associated sanctions for those receiving benefits.

Other proposals include a call to give higher priority to resolving technical and capacity issues in the benefits system, as well as providing clear guidance for making both a digital and non-digital claim for UC. This is practical as the Department for Work and Pensions has been swamped with claims after the coronavirus lockdown began.

And there is absolutely no hope that the government will grant – or even seriously consider – any of these requests.

The Tories have turned the benefit system into a very efficient device with which to persecute people with disabilities.

They seem to see the coronavirus as a handy aid to this cause, with hospitals already being told to ration ventilators to those with a better chance of surviving – which is prejudicial against the disabled.

In fact it would be easy to see the crisis as providing the Tories with an opportunity simply to continue their hate campaign by other means.

When the final figures are summed up, it will be interesting to see what proportion of the dead happen to be disabled.

Source: Coronavirus: Suspend the benefit cap during crisis to protect disabled people, charities ask – Mirror Online

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Tories took £50 million from Britain’s poorest families in one month

Cash bonanza: The DWP is bringing loads of money back into the Treasury – by forcing Universal Credit claimants into poverty.

It’s wilful impoverishment of the needy.

The Tories have been working hard to force poverty-stricken families further into destitution, clawing back £50 million in Universal Credit loan repayments in a single month.

The punitive new policy demands that claimants must wait five weeks before receiving a penny of their regular payments – but they may take out an advance in the form of a loan.

This is then repayable, from the regular payments, in the future – meaning already-poor claimants and families are plunged even further into poverty and debt.

And the Tories absolutely love it!

The fact that so much money – £50 million – was taken from claimants by the Tories indicates that the policy doesn’t work.

It should not be necessary for claimants to have to ask for so much in advance.

And the fact that they have to pay it back puts them at a serious disadvantage.

It forces people to the food banks.

But then, Work and Pensions secretary Therese Coffey seems to think that is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Source: DWP clawed back £50million in Universal Credit loan repayments in just one month – Mirror Online

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Did the DWP’s cruel trick force a man into crime?

Faceless: The DWP has developed an attitude in which its employees don’t care what happens to the people relying on them. They just process the numbers.

I don’t think Carl Poynton’s story is unique. The DWP is supposed to help people survive but since the Tories took over this has become a cruel pretence.

Released from prison on Christmas Eve, he applied for benefits – but the length of time it takes the Department to process an application meant he was sure to run out of money long before any payment arrived.

So he applied for the short-term benefit advance loan that is offered to claimants in dire need, even though it meant he would have to pay the money back from any benefit award he received.

The DWP said he was eligible for such a loan…

… and then offered him eight pence.

He was left with no alternative – as far as he could tell – other than shoplifting.

A man who needed money until his benefits were sorted was offered a loan of 8p by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). This is Lancashire reported that Carl Poynton ended up in court for shoplifting after the DWP’s decision.

The Canary story quotes a report by the Prison Reform Trust that says nearly half of adults are convicted of another offence within a year of release.

With government help like this, is it any wonder?

Source: The DWP agreed a man needed money until his benefits were sorted and then offered him 8p | The Canary

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DWP persecutes claimants rather than scammers over ‘industrial scale’ benefit fraud

Despair: It seems the DWP’s plan to tackle Universal Credit fraud is to prosecute the victims, rather than the criminals.

Only one scammer has been prosecuted by the Department for Work and Pensions in connection with a fraud that has cost the nation an estimated £150 million per month.

The 145 dedicated staff hired by the DWP to investigate seem more interested in prosecuting genuine benefit claimants – with one already convicted and 28 facing prosecution.

Doesn’t that seem the wrong way around?

The scam works because people who need to claim benefits have been made increasingly desperate by the economic conditions created by the Conservative government.

Here’s how I described it, back in July:

“The scammer approaches the victim – a person in need of quick cash – and offers to get them a government grant or a payday loan for a small fee. They demand the victim’s identity details.

“The scammer then simply goes online and makes a Universal Credit claim in the victim’s name, demanding an advance loan in the process.

“The DWP’s online system automatically approves the claim because it doesn’t know any better and transfers the money into the victim’s bank account – from which the scammer then takes a huge amount of the money that has been handed over.

“The victim is left with a small fraction of the loan, but owing the entire amount back to the DWP. Not only that, but any other benefits they may have been claiming will have been cancelled.

“So the victim is left much worse-off – and the government department doesn’t care. It will pursue them for the full amount.”

This is what we are seeing now – the DWP is apparently pursuing the victims, rather than the perpetrators.

“It seems the scam works because of Universal Credit’s ‘digital by design’ nature; the computerised system automatically approves the application, no matter how bizarre the claims in it.

“So thousands of pounds have been given in response to claims on behalf of (allegedly) a 19-year-old with six blind children, people with children called Lisa, Bart and Homer – or indeed Ha, Ha and Ha – and people claiming “Harry Kane” is their landlord.

“Apparently 100,000 or more such advances are being paid every month. At up to £1,500 a go, that’s a lot of money.”

It seems the DWP’s 145 investigators are currently looking into 85,000 cases, with the caseload increasing all the time.

Has anything been done to stop the computerised Universal Credit claim system from automatically allowing these scams? If not, why not? Do the Tories see it as another way to persecute the vulnerable?

It seems to This Writer that there is only one way to stop the scammers from exploiting the vulnerable – and to stop the Tories from persecuting them.

Elect a Labour government that will end Universal Credit and implement a fair system in which people won’t be pushed into the arms of criminals.

It’s that simple.

Source: DWP: Just one scammer prosecuted so far for snaring people in Universal Credit fraud – Mirror Online

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