The SNP manifesto, published yesterday, proposes a number of pro-claimant policies that set it apart from any of the main parties at Westminster.
The SNP’s benefits pledges include:
- increases of at least the cost of living in welfare benefits
- halting the roll out of both Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Universal Credit
- reversing the replacement of Disability Living Allowance with PIP
- people already supported by the Independent Living Fund will continue to be supported.
- an urgent review of the system of assessments for disability benefits.
- increasing the universal credit work allowance, to boost to the incomes of people moving into work
- overhauling the Work Capability Assessment.
- urgently reviewing the conditionality and sanctions regime, taking particular account of the needs of people with mental health issues. and recognising that the removal of cash benefits should be a last, rather than a first, resort.
- Increasing Carers’ Allowance so that it matches Jobseekers’ Allowance.
- not supporting attempts to restrict housing benefit for 18 to 21 year olds
- stop war disablement pension being treated as income in the assessment of entitlement to other benefits.
It seems likely that there will be many sick and disabled claimants south of the border who will read these policies and regret that they don’t have the opportunity to vote SNP.
Source – Benefits & Work, 21 Apr 2015
Plans leaked to the BBC reveal that the Conservatives are considering cuts of up to £80 a week for sick and disabled claimants if they win the election.
The leaked documents show that the Conservative party commissioned research into how much could be saved by measures including:
Taxing disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payment (PIP) and attendance allowance (AA), saving a predicted £1.5 billion a year.
Abolishing contribution based ESA and JSA entirely, so that only claimants who pass a means test can claim these benefits. According to the BBC, DWP analysis suggests 30% of claimants, over 300,000 families, would lose about £80 per week, saving a predicted £1.3 billion a year. In fact, some families would lose more than £80 per week if these benefits were abolished.
Cutting the number of people getting carer’s allowance by 40% by only awarding it to those eligible for universal credit (UC), saving a predicted £1 billion.
Limiting child benefit to the first two children, eventually saving £1 billion but very little in the short-term.
Other plans include replacing industrial injuries benefits with an insurance policy for employers, regional benefit caps and changes to council tax.
The Conservatives deny that these proposals are party policy.
A spokesperson for Iain Duncan Smith told the BBC that:
“This is ill informed and inaccurate speculation.
“Officials spend a lot of time generating proposals – many not commissioned by politicians.
“It’s wrong and misleading to suggest that any of this is part of our plan.”
However, the Conservatives still refuse to say what benefits they will cut.
Earlier this week Benefits and Work suggested that working age claimants would lose an average of £19 a week under Conservative plans. We pointed out that some would lose less and some might lose much more – but we hadn’t realised quite how much more.
Would you be affected by these cuts and could you cope financially if they were imposed?
Source – Benefits & Work, 27 Mar 2015
Millions of Britain’s poorest and most vulnerable people are being “fleeced” by rip-off 0845 helplines, it has been reported today.
According to a report by the Daily Mirror, figures uncovered by Labour MP Frank Field show than pensioners, carers and benefit claimants are still being charged for higher rate calls, despite promises from the government two years ago that it would phase out 0845 helpline numbers.
Since 2012, the Pension Service has received around 12 million 0845 prefix calls, including 2.5 million over the last year.
2.9 million 0845 calls were made to the Carer’s Allowance helpline, while more than 530,000 people called for advice about Winter Fuel Payments and 360,439 higher rate calls were made about Bereavement Benefits.
0845 calls can cost anywhere from between 1p and 12p a minute from a landline and from 5p to 40p if calling from a mobile phone.
Callers spent a combined total of £56 million from using 0845 helplines in 2012 alone.
Frank Field said:
“At the very point in their lives when millions of people are most in need, they are being fleeced by the Government and the phone companies.
“Ministers promised over a year ago that these rip-off lines would be scrapped. Might they now sanction such a move as quickly as they sanction claimants?”
The Cabinet Office issued guidance in 2013, stating it was “inappropriate” for “vulnerable and low-income groups” to pay “substantial charges for accessing core public services”.
Two years later the Department for Work and Pensions is still “in the process of replacing all its 0845 number prefixes in use for its national helplines”.
A DWP spokesperson added:
“We introduced 0345 numbers for DWP national helpline service numbers – this is alongside an 0845 option, which can currently be cheaper for some dependent on their telephony provider.”
Soure – Welfare Weekly, 23 Mar 2015
From the Facebook page Atos Miracles,8th March 2014
My sister was sanctioned on her first signing date reason being she had only applied for jobs only off the Internet? She never received any jsa , she was also caring for our Mum and was told to try for Carers allowance so she went to her jobcentre to enquire and the adviser the one that sanctioned her said “get someone else to look after her” Mum is 91 and is bed ridden with a stroke, the adviser said if you can care for your Mum you can get a proper job as a carer. My sister did not appeal she was to upset and reckons you have no chance against the system.