Tagged: Department

Midwinter Greetings

Wishing our readers a happy midwinter festival of their choice (or none at all, if that’s your preference).

But don’t forget, Jobseekers, you’re still supposed to be looking for jobs today. It may be a public holiday but if you’re unemployed you are set apart from nice, hard-working people and deserve to be punished.

But while you’re busy chasing those non-exitant vacancies, have a listen to David Sedaris‘s account of his job as an xmas elf in a New York department store… and know that, yes, things really could be worse.

Art attack on Coalition policies that drive people to their deaths

Vox Political

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A UK artist has created an art installation as a memorial to the suicide victims of welfare reform.

Melanie Cutler contacted Vox Political regarding her piece – ‘Stewardship’ – a few weeks ago, asking, “Do you think I’ll be arrested?”

The response was that it should be unlikely if she informed the media. The artworks have been displayed at the Northampton Degree Show and are currently at the Free Range Exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery building in Brick Lane, London, which ends tomorrow (June 30).

Entry is free and the installation will be located in F Block, B5.

“I have become an artist later on in life,” Melanie told Vox Political. “I was a carer for my son and, a few decades later, my father. I have worked most of my life too, raising three children.

“Only recently, while studying fine art at University I found my health…

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Panellists hijack Question Time to attack Iain Duncan Smith

Vox Political

Finger-jabbing protest: Iain Duncan Smith talked over Owen Jones in his last Question Time appearance; this time the other panellists didn't give him the chance. Finger-jabbing protest: Iain Duncan Smith talked over Owen Jones in his last Question Time appearance; this time the other panellists didn’t give him the chance.

Around three-quarters of the way through tonight’s Question Time, I was ready to believe the BBC had pulled a fast one on us and we weren’t going to see Iain Duncan Smith get the well-deserved comeuppance that he has managed to avoid for so long in Parliament and media interviews.

There was plausible deniability for the BBC – the Isis crisis that has blown up in Iraq is extremely topical and feeds into nationwide feeling about the possibility of Britain going to war again in the Middle East. The debate on extremism in Birmingham schools is similarly of public interest – to a great degree because it caused an argument between Tory cabinet ministers. Those are big issues at the moment and the BBC…

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If DWP lawyers don’t attend tribunals it means benefit claimants AREN’T cheating, Daily Mail!

Vox Political

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The Fail has struck again with a comically inaccurate piece about benefit appeal tribunals.

“Benefits claimants cheats (sic) are able to keep money they are not entitled to because government officials fail to turn up to legal hearings,” thundered the piece by MailOnline political editor Matt Chorley, who should know better – both in terms of grammar and logic.

“The Department for Work and Pensions sent lawyers to just four per cent of tribunals held last year to rule on decisions to cut benefits.

“It means that in many cases people are able to successfully argue in favour of keeping their money, because the government has failed to turn up to challenge it.”

No – that’s not what it means.

If the DWP has made a decision not to send lawyers to defend the cancellation of a claimant’s benefit, it means they expect the facts to speak for themselves…

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Tax credit debt collection is a double-edged attack on the poor

Vox Political

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There’s more than a little of the piscine about the fact that our Conservative-led has set debt collection agencies onto poor families who have been overpaid tax credit due to errors made by HM Revenue and Customs.

Firstly, the move undermines the principle behind the tax credit system – that it is there to ensure that poorly-paid families may still enjoy a reasonable living standard. Tax credits are paid on an estimate of a person’s – or family’s – income over a tax year and the last Labour government, knowing that small variances could cause problems for Britain’s poorest, set a wide buffer of £25,000 before households had to pay anything back.

By cutting this buffer back to £5,000, the Conservatives have turned this safety net into a trap. Suddenly the tiniest overpayment can push households into a debt spiral, because their low incomes mean it is impossible to pay…

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‘Shoestring Army’ to battle government-imposed ‘slavery’ in the courts

Vox Political

Energising: Keith Lindsay-Cameron prepares to take his case to the police. Energising: Keith Lindsay-Cameron prepares to take his case to the police.

An activist from Somerset is raising his own ‘Shoestring Army’ to crowdsource funds and mount a legal challenge against the government’s new Claimant Commitment for jobseekers, after police said they were unable to arrest Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud for breaching the Human Rights Act.

Keith Lindsay-Cameron, of Peasedown St John, near Bath, was advised to obtain the services of a solicitor and raise a legal challenge in the courts after he made his complaint at Bath police station on Friday (May 2).

He said the conditionality regime that is part of the new Claimant Commitment will re-cast the relationship between the citizen and the State – from one centred on ‘entitlement’ to one centred on a contractual concept in which the government provides a range of support only if a claimant meets an explicit set of responsibilities…

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Sanction figures: Shurely shome mishtake?

Vox Political

There’s something not quite right about the DWP’s latest statistics covering benefit sanctions.

I’d go into it in detail but, in the spirit of the saying that a picture can tell a story better than a thousand words, let’s just have a look at this graph instead (courtesy of @UKJCP on Twitter).

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By my reckoning, somebody’s calculations started to go seriously amiss in November 2012.

What do you think has happened?

And who do you think is to blame?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Why is the DWP being so coy about the Work Programme?

The most successful thing about the Work Programme for me was the fact that they “lost” me and I didn’t hear anything from them for 10 months – almost half of my sentence. 🙂

Vox Political

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It’s amazing how the Department for Work and Pensions will bend over backwards to make it seem one of its madcap schemes has been successful.

It’s also amazing how little evidence DWP press officers will provide to support the claim.

Today we’re being told that more than a quarter of a million people have escaped unemployment via the Work Programme. The fiddle? This is an aggregate figure, including all placements – not people – since the scheme was launched in June 2011.

To register as someone who has achieved a lasting job through the programme, one must stay in work for six months or more (three months in “hardest to help” cases). A figure covering 33 months could include the same person five times over.

Never mind. How many people – who are currently in work as a result of time on this scheme – have, in fact…

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Coalition to impose sanctions on housing benefit

Vox Political

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Part-time workers who are judged to be doing too little to find full-time work could have their Housing Benefit sanctioned by the government when Universal Credit comes into full force, according to Inside Housing.

The revelation is the latest in a long line of benefit betrayals to be inflicted on the poor by the Coalition government. The new development also means landlords stand to lose out.

The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed to Inside Housing that under Universal Credit, where a tenant is working less than 35 hours per week at minimum wage and is not eligible for JSA or ESA, then the housing element can be sanctioned instead.

It seems clear that the government is determined that it should be able to take income away from everyone who is not being properly paid by their employer. Does this seem fair to you?

Under the present system…

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Cameron’s ‘mission’ is morally bankrupt

Vox Political

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When David Cameron stands up in all his hypocrisy and tells you that tearing apart the basic safety net that guaranteed people would not be left in hunger or destitution is part of his “moral mission”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the country has taken a turn for the worse.

When he defends an administration that has become so punitive that applicants who don’t get it right have to wait without food for months at a time, by claiming he is doing “what is right”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the man who claims he is Prime Minister has diverged from reality.

That is precisely what he has done, and you can bet that the Tory diehards will quietly go along with it because they think it is far better for other people to lose their lives than it is for their government to lose face.

Cameron has…

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