Tag Archives: UC

Work and Pensions secretary LIED: Universal Credit claimants must work an extra DAY to make up for loss of ‘uplift’ £20

Therese Antoinette: £20 per week means very little to her, because she is a member of Parliament and has been receiving enormous pay rises ever since she was elected there. The situation is very different for the people whose benefits she has been deliberately cutting.

Tory parasite Therese Coffey has been caught in a huge – and hugely significant – lie while trying to justify the cut in Universal Credit.

While trolling through the morning media round yesterday (September 13), she claimed that the loss of the Universal Credit uplift means claimants would have to work only two hours more to make it back, at minimum wage.

It is a particularly nasty double-lie.

Firstly, for many claimants the minimum wage (what the Tories mockingly call the National Living Wage, even though you can’t live on it) is not £10 an hour as she was claiming, but £8 and change.

Secondly, the 63 per cent “taper rate” on Universal Credit means for every hour’s money earned above the basic amount of £293 a month, claimants take home just £3.30.

They would have to work more than six hours – nearly an extra day – simply to make up the £20 loss.

And then they’d have to pay National Insurance – which is increasing, of course, and they would also have to find ways to pay for other goods whose prices are increasing because of Conservative incompetence in government.

Do you think that’s fair?

Here’s Peter Stefanovic to explain the situation on video – and he doesn’t pull his punches!

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which works to solve poverty, has demonstrated that cutting £20 from Universal Credit will make a mockery of Boris Johnson’s claim to be “levelling up” the UK and of his ambition to “build back better”:

Particularly worrying is the fact that none of the TV or radio presenters interviewing Coffey had the presence of mind to point out her error.

Were they not properly briefed – or were they specifically told to ignore any such lie and let the public think the liar was telling the truth?

At least ITV’s Paul Brand managed to make one decent point:

Yes indeed. And carers aren’t the only ones propping up a UK economy that is overbalanced in favour of the rich by working far too hard.

Her excuses

Perhaps the main problem is simply that Coffey does not understand the value of £20, being – as she is – an overprivileged Tory lackwit.

Personally, This Writer is looking forward to seeing a motion in Parliament, tabled by any of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition parties, to establish that Therese Coffey would reasonably have known that she was providing false information and should retract and correct it – publicly, in the same places she told the lies (because that’s what newspapers have to do when they publish false information).

It’s what Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has demanded, after refusing to accept that legislation is required that would impose harsh penalties on any government minister found to be knowingly misleading.

After a few dozen such motions (per week?) he’ll get the message and we might see the change we need.

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Help for benefit claimants as DWP changes tune on hardship payment clawback

Benefit claimants facing poverty because the DWP is threatening to claw back hardship payments they claimed – after being sanctioned – have a ray of hope after a recent court case.

The Department for Work and Pensions has now admitted that any action to take back these payments is discretional and it may waive its right to do so.

The DWP has written an open letter to explaining how Universal Credit (UC) claimants can apply for recoverable hardship payments after a sanction, and the process by which claimants can request that hardship payments are waived.

The change follows a successful judicial review by a client of the Public Law Project (PLP).

The organisation explains the main points of the new process, with important points from DWP’s letter in bold, and PLP’s additions in italics:

  1. When a sanction is imposed the DWP should inform the individual of the details of the sanction(s) in a letter uploaded to the UC journal, along with the option to claim hardship payments. If the individual thinks the sanction is wrong, they can request a mandatory reconsideration from the DWP. If that is unsuccessful, the claimant can appeal the DWP’s sanction decision to the tribunal. There is guidance on challenging a sanction from Citizens Advice and Mental Health & Money Advice
  2. A claimant that receives a sanction can apply for hardship payments by calling the UC helpline. On the call, the DWP official will ask about the individuals’ living costs, so the individual should make a note of these in advance. The individual will need to explain why the sanction has made it hard for them to meet their basic needs (such as food or utilities costs) and what they have done to find other sources of financial support. Citizens Advice have published useful guidance on getting a hardship payment.
  3. Hardship payments are recoverable (meaning the DWP can ask for them to be repaid), and when a claimant applies for a hardship payment the DWP official will ask them to agree a ‘declaration’ that they will repay it once their sanctions are lifted. If  a claimant’s application for hardship payments is refused, this decision can be challenged by making a mandatory reconsideration request to the DWP. 
  4. Once the claimant’s sanction has ended the DWP will take steps to recover the hardship payment by making deductions from the individual’s UC. However, importantly, DWP does have a choice not to recover hardship payments. This choice applies in all cases, including where the individual’s sanction has been subsequently overturned, for example following mandatory reconsideration or a tribunal appeal.
  5. If the claimant cannot afford to repay the hardship payment they can ask DWP for the deductions to be reduced and / or request that the hardship payment be waived in full. This is not affected by the fact that the claimant has agreed a declaration that they will repay the hardship payment.

Getting hardship payment debt waived

PLP has produced a note on how to request a waiver of hardship payment debt and what to do if the DWP refuses.

Source: DWP publishes letter on Universal Credit hardship payments – Public Law Project

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Freebie-guzzling Tory couple spark fury over poverty wages

Philip Davies and Esther McVey: they’re raving it up on the profits firms have made by paying employees practically nothing.

Tories Philip Davies – the Friday morning filibuster king who takes joy in “talking out” legislation, not because it is bad but because it doesn’t come from the Conservative government – and Esther McVey – whose attacks on benefit claimants are notorious – have come under fire because of the free perks they have taken for themselves.

They have claimed £18,000 worth of VIP goodies on top of their £82,000 salaries (plus expenses).

And they were among 65 Tory MPs who have taken the bulk of freebies available – £160,000 worth between May and July alone.

In contrast, 23 Labour MPs have taken nearly £32,000. That puts Davies and McVey’s greed in context: between them they have claimed more than half as much as all the Labour MPs put together.

Among the gifts are several from gambling firms, coming at a time when the government is reviewing betting laws, provoking speculation on whether they came with strings attached.

Davies should be even more embarrassed because some of these gifts came from Entain, a company for whom he was paid almost £50,000 as an advisor last year, when it was known as GVC Holdings.

Here are the details:

Now you know the story, here comes the fury as people responded to this astonishing display of scrounging by members of the party that accuses people in extreme poverty of scrounging:

How indeed? Davies said his contract with GVC Holdings explicitly stated that he must not lobby on the firm’s behalf while employed by it – but he isn’t employed by it any more. And in any case, RD Hale’s comment shows that others would be imprisoned simply for accepting corporate gifts. Why not Davies and McVey?

Others have focused on McVey’s pronouncements on people who have to claim benefits in order to make ends meet because their wages don’t cover their costs – meaning that the government pays a de facto subsidy to under-paying employers.

Remember:

So the benefits paid to working people in extreme poverty are intended to help business bosses profit – not the struggling workers. Meanwhile MPs’ salaries have nearly doubled in the last 25 years:

So MPs are on an extremely good screw – and those like Davies and McVey are scrounging more freebies out of corporations (that may even be profiting by paying low wages and expecting their employees to claim benefits). Meanwhile the same MPs are happy to demand that benefit claimants must take the worst-paying jobs available, or lose those benefits:

Now, of course, the government is preparing to remove the £20 “uplift” that was provided to UC claimants during the height of the Covid-19 crisis.

Let’s put this in a little more context:

ToryFibs is slightly mistaken; making the £20 uplift permanent would not cost any money because there are hidden costs associated with cutting incomes to a point where people cannot afford the cost of living.

But we can see that the UK’s billionaires are raking in the cash as a result of not having to pay a living wage to employees.

And saying that the “uplift” costs a huge amount of money is a handy propaganda tool – that, it seems, has been used to good effect by certain news reporters…

… who are also doing very well for themselves.

And the assumptions about the amount that people need, in order to meet their living costs, has raised questions about other government payments. So the government’s claim to have legislated to ensure that people receive a “National Living Wage” has come under attack, not just because it isn’t enough, but because it reflects badly on the UK’s woefully low state pension:

So you can understand why people are furious at Davies and McVey.

While most of us struggle to survive in jobs that force us to claim benefits that still won’t cover our living costs after the Tories cut the uplift, in order to subsidise big businesses that are raking in the profits, the same firms are handing out free luxuries to these hugely well-paid Tory MPs. And when we retire we will have to try to survive on even less.

The whole system reeks of corruption and Davies and McVey stink worst of all.

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More than 300 terminally ill people died PER MONTH after DWP denied them state benefits

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

Once again the Department for Work and Pensions has been caught lying about the support it provides to people who are terminally ill.

This Site reported, many years ago, on the scandal when it was discovered that – despite having a policy to put people likely to die within six months on a fast track for benefits – many benefit claims were refused, leaving these people to die in appalling conditions.

So then-Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd announced in 2019 that there would be a “fresh and honest” re-evaluation of the way these benefits were awarded.

It is now two years later, and two charities – the Marie Curie Trust and the Motor Neurone Disease Association – have drawn public attention to official data showing that the DWP is rejecting benefit claims by more than 100 terminally-ill people, every month.

Worse still, the official figures also show that an average of 315 people are dying every month*, never having been able to secure the fast-track benefits that are supposed to help them pass away with dignity.

This is damning:

They say there are “serious concerns” over the government’s “six-month rule” – under which people must prove they have six months or less to live to access fast-track benefits support.

They said there were red flags in the DWP’s ability to recognise when a claimant was approaching the end of life.

I think that is very… charitable.. of them.

It is far more likely that the DWP is simply ignoring the facts in order to avoid paying out the benefit money – knowing that these people will soon be dead; they can’t complain or appeal and expect justice before their condition kills them.

This in turn suggests that nothing at all has changed and that Amber Rudd’s “fresh and honest” review was nothing of the sort.

Here’s some evidence in support of that conclusion:

The charities say that the findings of the review are “being withheld”.

So, after 11 years of Tory control (and it wasn’t much better under neoliberal New Labour) we can say with confidence:

The Department for Work and Pensions intentionally harms people claiming benefits by depriving them of their payments in order to hasten their deaths.

No wonder we all hate having anything to do with that vicious, poisonous arm of the Tory government.

No wonder millions of people suffer anxiety attacks whenever they see an envelop marked “DWP” in their letterbox.

No wonder I said, years ago, that the DWP is not fit for purpose and should be scrapped.

But I’ll tell you why it wasn’t:

In killing thousands of people every year, the DWP is doing exactly what Boris Johnson and his Tories want.

*1,860 people over six months.

Source: Over 1,000 terminally ill people rejected for benefits and Universal Credit each year – Mirror Online

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Treasury turned away disabled people’s pleas because UC ‘uplift is for WORKING people’

As empty as his head: Rishi Sunak’s Budget contained nothing for people with disabilities – possibly because the Treasury had turned away a final attempt to make him see evidence of the way he is persecuting them, only days before.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to accept pleas from people with disabilities to extend his Universal Credit uplift to legacy benefits.

His reason was made clear by Martin Lewis on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (March 7), when he said the Chancellor had told him, “this is targeted at working people, helping working people through the pandemic”.

The implication is clear: people with disabilities who don’t work simply don’t deserve any help to overcome the extra costs piled onto them by the Tory government’s response to Covid-19.

Members of campaign group DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) had tried to apprise Sunak of the costs they face on March 1 – two days before his Budget speech – when they sent nearly 200 envelopes containing testimonies and concerns about the government’s failure to extend the uplift.

Also brought to the Treasury’s door was a wheelchair with items attached that represented essential items that people with disabilities were having to go without.

These included a blanket (heating); an incontinence pad (bathing, laundry and medicines); a face mask (PPE); an empty packet of cuppa soup (nutritious food) and an empty purse (enough money to live on).

All these things – the wheelchair with its attached items and the testimonies – were turned away. Neither Sunak nor anybody else at the Treasury could be bothered to pay attention to the plight of these people.

Similar deliveries were also rejected by 10 Downing Street and the Department for Work and Pensions, although the DWP did accept a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, with a copy of a document published today by DPAC collating testimonies from benefit claimants and key findings from recent reports evidencing the need to retain and extend the uplift.

According to DPAC,

Given the disproportionate mortality rates for disabled people from COVID, many have been shielding for close to a full year now. This has driven their costs up considerably.

The Department for Work and Pensions has said there is no need to apply the uplift to legacy claimants because benefits will be increased by 37p per week in April 2021 and because they have the option of moving over to Universal Credit.

Neither of these options help address the situation.

The 37p increase is designed to reflect higher costs of living due to inflation, not the pandemic. It represents a mere 0.5% increase while state pensions will rise by 2.5%. It isn’t enough even to buy a single protective mask.

As the DWP knows, many disabled people are financially worse off on Universal Credit due to the removal of the Disability Premia which have been the subject of judicial review. They would lose out by a move to UC.

There is also the question of how disabled people without access to the internet or support to navigate the benefit system are supposed to move over to UC with the operations of welfare advice and community support organisations so heavily restricted by the pandemic.

Next time someone like Sunak or Boris Johnson turns up on your TV, telling you they are “protecting the most vulnerable”, remember that you know the truth:

This Johnson government is ignoring the most vulnerable people. Johnson doesn’t want to protect them and neither does Sunak. They want the most vulnerable people to die.

Source: Treasury blanks disabled people – letters to Chancellor telling of financial hardship turned away – DPAC

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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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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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Is Boris Johnson really facing a backbench revolt over Universal Credit cut – or is it a smokescreen?

Manipulative? Is Boris Johnson trying to distract us again with a false threat to take away the £20 Covid uplift in Universal Credit?

Is it just another distraction?

According to The Independent, Boris Johnson is facing a possible rebellion from backbench Tories over a plan to end a £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit.

The boost was granted to help people on the benefit cope during the Covid-19 crisis.

So doesn’t it seem strange that Johnson is now suggesting it should be withdrawn, before the crisis is over?

The story states that Johnson has made repeated U-turns over everything from free school meals to the immigration health surcharge, when faced with a backbench revolt.

Some of us see this as a sign of weakness but it is possible that diehard Tories think it indicates a huge streak of generosity – so a last-minute policy reversal could be exactly what Johnson needs to boost his sagging reputation.

To This Writer, there seems little reason for the plan to cut the payment at the end of March, when the current English lockdown is set to end – although experts say Covid-related restrictions are likely to continue for some time afterwards.

The only sense I can make of it is if it has been set up to give Johnson an opportunity to seem magnanimous.

Cynical. The question is, is he the cynic or am I?

And – again – a huge distraction for the public.

But from what?

A Tory revolt is threatening Boris Johnson with defeat over his controversial plans to cut up to £1,000 a year from universal credit payments.

The 50-strong Northern Research Group (NRG) of MPs is calling for the continuation “until lockdown is lifted” of the emergency increase that was brought in to help poorer families cope during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The support for maintaining the payments beyond March comes just days before Labour stages a Commons vote – putting pressure on the prime minister to rethink the cut.

It would hit 6 million families and push 200,000 more children below the breadline, the Child Poverty Action Group is warning.

Source: Tory revolt threatens Boris Johnson with defeat over £1,000 a year cut to universal credit | The Independent

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Tory message to people on benefits: have yourselves a MISERABLE little Christmas

Therese Coffey: computer says no.

The worst part of this is that Therese Coffey probably didn’t even think about the consequences of her actions.

It is doubtful she gave a moment’s consideration to the fact that the Tory government’s so-called “grace period” exempting many people who claimed Universal Credit due to the Covid-19 crisis from the benefit cap will end this month – right before Christmas.

The number of households affected by the Benefit Cap has doubled since the Covid-19 crisis started – to 170,000. And a further 160,000 will reach the end of the nine-month grace period in the remaining weeks before Christmas.

How nice for them to have to work out how to make up the sudden shortfall just when they are likely to need more!

Still, it could be worse – they could be claiming Employment and Support Allowance, like many people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

These people were diddled out of a £20-per-week rise in benefits that was given to people on Universal Credit. Coffey babbled a bobbins “computer says no” claim – that changes to computer systems could take months.

For UC claimants, the increase will last at least until next April, although there are demands for it to be made permanent, in the light of increasing uncertainty about the nation’s economic future.

ESA claimants are already £660-a-year worse-off – each – because of Ms Coffey’s computer-illiteracy, and this could almost double to £1,000 if they don’t see the rise in April.

Now for the most insidious part: Ms Coffey hasn’t ruled out the possibility that ESA claimants may get their benefit increase in the future.

But (firstly) she hasn’t said anything about whether they’ll have the rise backdated to cover all the time they’ve had to cope without it.

And (secondly) there’s an enormous orange elephant sitting in the middle of this room: people on Employment and Support Allowance die. One could say it is what they are best-known for.

The most common reason they die, that is known to those of us who check, is lack of money. ESA claimants need more cash because their medical conditions mean their lives are more expensive than those of people who are able-bodied.

And here the Tories have said they are deliberately denying sick people the extra cash that they have said everyone else needs to cope with the extra costs of Covid!

I fear that, for many, that is the equivalent of writing a death warrant.

And, given the Tory record on these matters, I fear that death is exactly what Ms Coffey is hoping will happen to these people – whose only crime is failure to be a “functioning work unit” (as Tory jargon describes the rest of us).

AFTERTHOUGHT: Shortly after I posted this, I received the following comment on Twitter, which I think makes a very good point:

And this:

Source: Two million disabled people set to lose £2 billion in Tory benefits freeze – Mirror Online

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Thousands of disabled students could get Universal Credit after woman wins legal fight

Tactical cruelty: perhaps DWP bosses realised they were going to lose a court case so they changed the law in order to ensure that disabled students would continue to be unable to claim Universal Credit.

This is good news for many – but not for everybody:

Tens of thousands of disabled students could qualify for Universal Credit after 22-year-old mostly-blind Sidra Kauser won a legal victory over a loophole saying she could not claim Universal Credit.

To receive the benefit, she would have had to take a work capability assessment – but the DWP’s rules contained a bizarre ‘Catch-22’ that she could not take the test, because she is a student.

As a result, she could not be found to have limited capability for work, and therefore couldn’t receive the benefit.

The High Court has quashed the DWP’s decision, saying it breaches the Tory-run government department’s own regulations, dating back to 2013 – and ordered it to pay Ms Kauser’s legal fees.

But this fight is not over because the Tory government changed the law on August 5, ensuring that disabled students claiming Universal Credit after that date would not be invited to a work capability assessment and therefore would not be eligible for the benefit at all.

That will have to be challenged in a future court case.

But this is another victory for crusading lawyers Leigh Day, who explained the case:

Sidra Kauser, aged 22, from Halifax, is visually impaired and is currently studying for a masters degree at York University.

She received Personal Independence Payment (PIP) but that, combined with a student loan, was not enough to provide her with an acceptable standard of living. After payment of her rent, she had £120 a month to live on.

She applied for universal credit, but because she was a student, she was refused a Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which meant she was effectively disentitled from claiming universal credit.

Sidra applied for a judicial review of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) policy (which stated that disabled students shouldn’t be invited to a WCA), arguing that the law required the DWP to conduct a WCA to determine whether she had limited capability for work, in which case she would be entitled to universal credit.

Now, after the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, told the court in July, 2020 that she would not be defending Sidra’s claim, a high court judge has ruled that the SSWP had acted unlawfully and has quashed the decision to refuse Sidra’s claim for universal credit.

Sidra will now be given a WCA, and if she is deemed to be unable to work, she will be entitled to make a claim for universal credit.

The court ruling also has an impact on those disabled students whose applications for universal credit had previously been unsuccessful because they had been refused a WCA.

However, on 5 August the DWP changed the law so that other disabled students who made a claim for universal credit after that date would not be invited  to a WCA and would not therefore be able to establish their limited capability for work.

Ms Kauser said: “I am glad I decided to take a stand and pursue my claim for judicial review of the DWP decision to refuse me a WCA. Hopefully other students will benefit from the court ruling.”

Leigh Day solicitor Lucy Cadd added: “Sidra made a brave stand against the decision to refuse her a WCA and it has proved successful. It has been estimated by the charity Disability Rights UK that the Secretary of State’s unlawful policy, which has been in operation since 2013, could have adversely affected 30,000 disabled students. Other disabled students who were refused a WCA prior to 5 August 2020 and therefore lost out on their claim for universal credit, should ask the Secretary of State to revise her decision.

“Although the DWP has callously changed the regulations to prevent more disabled students being entitled to a WCA, there may be scope for legal challenge to the new regulations.”

Source: Disabled student wins right to be considered for universal credit