A Labour government would tackle the root causes of the increase in the use of food banks across the UK, with the party to pledge that they “can never be allowed to become a permanent feature of British society”.
Shadow ministers will promise to solve jobcentre benefit delays, halt the proliferation of benefit sanctions, and address low pay in a five-point plan aimed at reducing the number of people forced to turn to food banks.
They will cite Trussell Trust statistics showing that nearly a million people used food banks in 2013-14, figures that are generally assumed to underestimate the number of people who went hungry as a result of food insecurity over the period.
Labour will promise a cross-government approach to end what it calls the “chaos of food policy” under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, and will say that a Labour administration will make tackling food bank dependency a specific ministerial responsibility.
A target would be set to reduce the number of people who cite delays in benefits being processed as the prime reason for using food banks. Benefits typically take around 16 working days to process, although backlogs mean many disability benefit claimants have waited for several months.
Studies have shown that benefit sanctions – when payments are stopped for alleged rule infringements – are the prime reason for between 10% and 30% of food bank users being referred for food aid.
Labour says it will abolish jobcentre targets for increasing sanctions, and make hardship funds more quickly available for those who are sanctioned. The party has a longstanding commitment to abolish the bedroom tax, which is also driving food bank use in some areas of the UK.
It has also promised to address low pay, by raising the minimum wage to at least £8 an hour before 2020, promoting a Living Wage and ending zero-hours contracts, so that working people do not suffer the humiliation of being referred to food banks to put meals on the table.
The plan is a clear statement from Labour that it considers welfare reforms to be the biggest single driver of food bank use, a connection the government has always strenuously denied.
The shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary, Maria Eagle, will say in a visit to a London food bank on Wednesday:
“The Tories’ attitude to the relentless rise in hunger in Britain speaks volumes for who they stand up for. They refuse to accept any responsibility for it, despite the fact their policies are making it worse.
“Labour will take a strategic and joined-up approach to food policy to ensure that everybody has the chance to eat safe, nutritious and affordable food, now and in the future. Emergency food aid should remain just that – food banks can never be allowed to become a permanent feature of British society.”
Numerous studies by charities and academics in the past 18 months have linked welfare reform, austerity and the shrinking of the welfare safety net to the rise in poverty and food bank use. Food banks were practically unknown in the UK five years ago, when the coalition was formed.
However, ministers have insisted there is no robust evidence that social security policy has triggered the rise in food bank use. The welfare minister, Lord Freud, argued that food bank use had expanded because charity food parcels were “free”.
The Trussell Trust, which runs 420 food banks across the UK, is committed to reducing the number of people needing to use them, but its policy is to keep a “safety net” service in place in each major town.
Source – The Guardian, 25 Mar 2015
Esther McVey has once again refused to visit Holyrood to give evidence in support of cruel and callous benefit changes, it has been reported today.
It’s the third time the Tory Employment Minister has snubbed requests from the Scottish welfare reform committee to explain why the UK Government is “failing to support vulnerable people”, reports the Daily Record.
McVey’s excuse for failing to attend was that she was busy preparing evidence for a Westminster committee.
When she was last invited to give evidence to Scottish MSPs, cowardly McVey instead chose to send Neil Couling; who is now responsible for overseeing Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Universal Credit project.
The Daily Record says Iain Duncan Smith has also refused invitations from the committee on FOUR occasions, while welfare reform minister Lord Freud has rejected one request.
MSPs have accused Esther McVey of “running scared” of the committee, and not caring about people affected by welfare reforms and punitive benefit sanctions.
SNP MSP Christine McKelvie said it was “totally unacceptable” for McVey to refuse to give evidence before the committee, on how Westminster cuts “imposed on Scotland” are affecting Scottish families.
She added: “A Tory minister has been repeatedly invited to come to Scotland and appear before the welfare reform committee to provide answers on their track record of failing to support vulnerable people, but this invite, and seven previous invitations, have all been snubbed.
“This refusal sends a clear message that McVey and her Government don’t care about Scotland.”
McVey defended punitive benefit sanctions in a letter to the committee, in which she wrote: “It is widely accepted that they play an important role in the benefit system.
“They are effective in encouraging compliance and we continue to manage the process so they are only imposed as a last resort.”
> effective in encouraging compliance – is that a chilling statement or what ? Do what we say or we will make you destitute.
Figures show the number of people affected by benefit sanctions in Scotland has rocketed since 2009, with the biggest increases occurring under the new sanctions regime introduced by the UK Government in October 2012.
The same figures also show a 65% rise in the number of sick and disabled Scots having their benefits slashed by sanctions.
Opponents of the new sanctions regime claim too many unemployed and vulnerable people are being sanctioned for punitive and unfair reasons. Such as turning up five minutes late for a work focused interview, even though they had informed the Jobcentre that they had a hospital appointment.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 07 Jan 2015
This article was written by Patrick Butler, social policy editor, for The Guardian on Wednesday 19th November 2014
The government has been accused of ignoring evidence of the distress caused by its welfare reforms following publication of a report which directly links cuts to benefits with a massive rise in food bank use.
The study found that cuts and changes to Britain’s increasingly threadbare social security system are the most common triggers of the acute personal financial crises that drive people to use food banks..
At least half of all food bank users are referred because they are waiting for benefits to be paid, because they have had benefits stopped for alleged breaches of jobcentre rules or because they have been hit by the bedroom tax or the removal of working tax credits, it finds.
The study, the most extensive research of its kind yet carried out in the UK, directly challenges the government’s repeated insistence that there is no link between its welfare reforms and the huge increases in charity food aid.
The study was commissioned by the Church Of England, the Trussell Trust food bank network, Oxfam and Child Poverty Action Group.
It calls for urgent changes to the “complicated, remote and at times intimidating” social security system to stop people falling into poverty, including a less punitive sanctions system and speedier processing of benefits.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) dismissed the report, claiming the research was inconclusive.
“The report itself concludes it can’t prove anything – it uses self-selecting data and recognises there are complex underlying issues. We have a strong safety net in place, spending £94bn a year on working-age benefits, and we provide a wide range of advice and assistance for anyone in need of additional support.”
But the report was welcomed by Jeremy Lefroy, the Conservative MP for Stafford, who hosted its launch at the House of Commons on Wednesday. He said it was an important study that chimed with his experience as an MP in his surgery. He said its recommendations for change, including a review of sanctions policy, would make a practical difference to the lives of many of his distressed constituents.
“There is no doubt from this report that there are certain elements of welfare that make things more difficult, without doubt. These are not the headline things like the benefit cap, but things like sanctions, the smaller things that go below the radar where people cannot get any kind of help.”
> Blimey ! Even tory MPs are starting to notice !
The report’s lead researcher, Jane Perry, an independent social research consultant and former DWP official, defended the scope and methodology of the research, which she said accorded with official government social research quality standards.
The bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, said he was disappointed by the DWP’s dismissal of the report, which he described as “an appeal to people of goodwill” to address an important social issue. He urged dialogue with ministers over the problems the report highlights and added: “I think they [the DWP] possibly need to read the report.”
It is understood the DWP was offered a seat on the study’s advisory committee prior to the research but declined. The department was shown a draft copy of the report a month ago but did not raise any objections to its methodology.
In another twist, a DWP minister, Steve Webb, whose officials had apparently agreed for him to respond in person to the report at the launch, pulled out at the last minute, without giving a reason. David McAuley, the chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said he was frustrated that the DWP had not attended, and accused them of not wanting “to hear the story.”
The study says it wanted to examine practical ways of preventing the further expansion of food banks, and warned the government against reliance on charity food to fix holes in the welfare state.
“The promise of a social security safety net that is there to protect people at times of crisis is something that can and must be preserved and protected. Food banks, whilst providing a vital and welcoming lifeline to many, should not become a readily accepted part of that formal provision,” the report says.
> But surely that’s exactly what they do want – Cameron’s Big Society (remember that ?) seemed to be all about charities and individuals doing the work for nothing, allowing public money to be diverted to more important things…such as into the pockets of the already-rich.
There are no official statistics on the use of food banks, but the Trussell Trust, which runs more than 400 food banks in the UK, says 913,138 people were given food parcels by its volunteers in 2013-14 – almost a threefold increase on the previous year, and likely to be a fraction of the total numbers of people experiencing food insecurity.
The research, which examined why people were referred to food banks, combined 40 in-depth interviews with clients at seven UK food banks, analysis of data collected on 900 clients at three of those food banks and a caseload of 178 clients at another.
The authors accept that the research, while wide-ranging, cannot prove definitively why people use food banks or how many use them, but argue that it provides an initial indicator of the scale and prevalence of issues leading people to accept charity food, and call on ministers to commission more authoritative data on food insecurity, as happens in the US and Canada.
The government has struggled to explain why food bank use has risen, though its has denied that welfare cuts are a factor. Lord Freud, the welfare minister, notoriously insisted that demand for food had risen because it was free, while the former education secretary Michael Gove suggested people turned to food aid because they had poor financial management skills.
However, the study found that in most cases people used food banks because they were tipped into financial crisis by events that were outside their control and difficult or impossible to reverse, such as benefit cuts and delays, bereavement or job loss. Most people said they used food banks as a desperate and shaming last resort.
Almost a third of food bank users interviewed for the study who had experienced problems with the benefits system said they had been sanctioned by social security officials and left penniless for weeks on end, while a further third were left unable to put food on the table because of lengthy delays in benefit payments. The report says the current sanctions policy is causing hardship and hunger.
The government has self-imposed targets for processing benefit claims within 16 working days. However, the report says this period is too long a wait without income for vulnerable people, and in practice many claimants wait longer than this. There are concerns that the five-week delay before jobless people can sign on under a future universal credit system will cause hardship.
Formal state crisis support available to people who are left without income because of bureaucratic delays in the processing of benefits was often inadequate or non-existent, the study found. As a result, many people entitled to state help were forced to sell possessions, go without food, or take out expensive credit to buy essentials such as food and rent.
Many people who used food banks lived in or were close to poverty and were attempting to cope with the “ongoing daily grind of living without sufficient income to make ends meet each month”. Many worked, but in jobs that were low-paid and insecure. Often they were also coping with mental and physical ill health and bereavement.
Alison Garnham, the chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:
“Food banks have boomed not because they‘re an easy option but because people haven’t got money to eat – often because of problems with claiming and the payment of benefits.
“A delay in a benefits decision or a period pending a review can force hunger and humiliation on families, leaving them no option but the food bank. Rather than protecting these families from poverty at the time when they most need help, the system leaves them with almost nothing to live on.”
“This new evidence brings into sharp focus the uncomfortable reality of what happens when a life shock or benefit problem hits those on low incomes: parents go hungry, stress and anxiety increase and the issue can all too quickly escalate into crippling debt, housing problems and illness.”
The study will feed into an all-party parliamentary group inquiry into hunger and food poverty, chaired by the Labour MP Frank Field, which is expected to report before Christmas.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 20 Nov 2014
Universal Credit claimants who fall behind on rent payments could see up to 20% of their monthly allowance redirected to landlords, the DWP has announced.
The move comes after housing organisations raised concerns that the previous amount of just 5% could result in increased arrears and possible evictions.
Universal Credit brings together six different benefits into one monthly payment and the housing element will, in most cases, be paid directly to the claimant – rather than their landlord.
The new system is designed to “encourage financial responsibility”, says the Department for Work and Pensions. However, some housing organisations and charities are concerned that vulnerable claimants – which may include people with learning difficulties or debt problems – may struggle to manage their finances and fall into rent arrears.
The DWP say “work coaches are being trained to assess a claimant’s financial capability and will refer to personal budgeting support where appropriate”.
Where Universal Credit claimants need additional support to help keep up with their rent payments, the DWP may make rent payments directly to landlords, and deduct additional amounts from a claimant’s monthly Universal Credit payments if requested by landlords.
Communities Minister Kris Hopkins said:
“Universal Credit helps claimants and their families to become more independent through simplifying the welfare system. I welcome this initiative to help social landlords and tenants prepare for Universal Credit.
“I’ve been impressed by the work I’ve seen that social landlords do in supporting their tenants and it’s clear to me they have a vital role to play in helping them to make this change. A large number of social housing tenants will over time move onto Universal Credit so I would encourage landlords to get involved.”
In a ‘support pack‘ published for housing organisations, the DWP said:
“The amount that can be deducted from a claimant’s universal credit if they fail to pay their rent, has been increased from 5% to an amount of up to 20% of the universal credit standard allowance, which will ensure claimants are back on track with payments quicker. The minimum amount that will be deducted is 10%.”
If a claimant accumulates a months worth of rent arrears it will trigger “early intervention” by the DWP, who will review a tenants financial status and may consider making rent payments directly to landlords where appropriate.
Should a tenant accrue two months of rent arrears, the DWP will step in immediately and divert the housing element of Universal Credit to a claimants landlord.
20% of a claimants ‘standard allowance’ could be deducted and diverted to landlords to clear rent arrears as quickly as possible. The DWP had consulted with charities and experts on deducting as much as 40% from a claimants standard allowance.
However, like many others, The Money Advice Charity described this amount as “excessive”, which “could ultimately compound the financial difficulties that led to the arrears building up.”
Responding to the consultation (pdf) the charity said:
“A maximum deduction rate of 20% for housing-related arrears would strike a more appropriate balance between increasing repayments and ensuring that these repayments do not have unintended negative consequences.”
Social landlords are being encouraged to identify tenants who may be struggling to keep up with their rent payments under Universal Credit.
Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform said:
“Social landlords have been playing a vital role in welfare reform and supporting tenants who are already receiving Universal Credit. There is great work happening in the sector.
“Universal Credit is now available in 1 in 10 Jobcentres and will be in almost 100 by Christmas, with national roll-out beginning early next year – so now is the ideal time to boost preparation activity.
> Didn’t they say that last year ?
“For the first time many tenants will be paid their Housing Benefit directly and I would encourage landlords to think about identifying tenants who need support to prepare for this, and put those who are ready onto a direct payment early.”
Universal Credit has been beset with delays and costly IT problems. The DWP has already written-off £40 million failed IT system with a further £90 million predicted to be thrown away over a five-year period.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith originally promised that 1,000,000 households would be on Universal Credit by the end of 2014. However, DWP figures show that less than 18,000 households were claiming Universal Credit by 9 October.
The national roll-out of Universal Credit is expected to be fully completed by 2018.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 13 Nov 2014
The councillor at the centre of the row over David Freud’s comments about disabled people and the minimum wage owns a property in Tunbridge Wells, which he rents to people with learning disabilities via a charity. He receives housing benefit payments from the local authority.
At the Conservative party conference, Councillor David Scott told Lord Freud:
“The other area I’m really concerned about is obviously the disabled. I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the minimum wage, but want to work. And we have been trying to support them in work, but you can’t find people who are willing to pay the minimum wage.
> You can’t find people who are willing to pay the minimum wage to fully fit workers either – all those employers taking part in Workfare for example – the real something-for-nothing society : cheapskate employers.
“We had a young man who was keen to do gardening; now the only way we managed to get him to work was actually setting up a company for him, because as a director in a company we didn’t have to pay the minimum wage, we could actually give him the earnings from that.”
> In the wake of dubious self-employment schemes, will this be the next scam to reduce the unemployment figures ?
Become the director of your own company ! Earn £2 an hour !
Councillor Scott, along with his partner, is the director of or has an interest in several limited companies. They also own several properties in Tunbridge Wells.
One of these properties is a house in Cadogan Gardens, known as Scott Properties, of which Councillor Scott is both the joint owner and landlord.
According to Zoopla, the average value of a property in Cadogan Gardens is over half a million pounds.
Rooms in the house are ‘Rented to disabled persons directly or through Pepenbury, a registered charity.’
According to their website, Pepenbury:
“. . . provides high quality care and support for adults with a learning disability and complex needs, some of the most vulnerable people in society. We give them choice and control over how they live their lives and believe that every individual has the right to live an independent and rewarding life, whilst feeling safe and supported.”
Councillor Scott told Benefits and Work that the young man he told David Freud about has never lived at Cadogan Gardens, has never worked at any property owned by Councillor Scott and has also not worked at any property connected with Pepenbury.
Councillor Scott has also talked to his local newspaper about the issue, saying:
“If you have got some gardening work to be done you won’t pay someone for four hours when you could pay someone else for half an hour to do it. If you have a lawn in the garden and you employ a person who is doing it with support from somebody else there, you know you can employ them and it could cost you £10 to do it.
“If this person is going to take four hours to do that, would you be willing to pay £40? If you do not give them £40 you are not paying them minimum wage.”
When asked who the ‘we’ referred to in his discussion with Lord Freud was, Councillor Scott told us that it was:
“People working with my daughter when she was alive.”
Benefits and Work also contacted Pepenbury for a statement about whether the young man was one of their service users, but we have not yet received a response.
Source – Benefits & Work, 16 Oct 2014
> In late 2006, Freud was appointed by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to provide a nominally independent review of the British welfare to work system.
Freud acknowledged that he “didn’t know anything about welfare at all”.
Despite the great complexity of the welfare system Freud came up with a draft plan for reform within three weeks of his appointment.
And that, folks, is what happens when you allow talentless, unelected knobheads to get their hands on power.
And also flags up the difference between Labour and Tory when it comes to dealing with those nasty poor people… there isn’t any. Labour allowed this prat to set the ball rolling, Tories have allowed him to continue.
Comedy toff and Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Fraud stopped being funny a long time ago. Of all the blundering fucking idiots in the DWP, this failed banker, who cost investors millions due to a series of bungled deals, has shown the true face of the out of touch gilded elite that dominate all of the main political parties.
This is the man who thinks people queue up in foodbanks just for a laugh and not because they are hungry. The same prick who threatened every Women’s Refuge in the country with closure and wanted to charge the very poorest benefit claimants to have banks manage ther personal finances. The clown who doesn’t even know how much the dole actually pays despite being in charge of reforming it.
His recent comments at the Tory Party Conference, where he agreed…
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In two months time the traditional doctor’s note excusing you from work will start to cease being valid if you are still sick after four weeks.
Just before Parliament went into the summer recess welfare reform minister, Lord Freud, announced that a US multinational company,Maximus, which also operates in Canada and Saudi Arabia will take over running the new Health and Work Service for England and Wales.
My report in this week’s Tribune reveals that up to one million people will be affected by the change which appears to be aimed to save the government money.
Maximus runs call centres, occupational health programmes, child support and job seekers programmes abroad and in the United Kingdom.
The programme is to be rolled out from November to next May aims to save up to £165 million a year by getting people back to work faster as part of Lord Freud’s welfare…
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Cash-strapped North councils have diverted more than £300,000 of funds to top up Government help for those left reeling by the bedroom tax.
Welfare reforms have seen changes made to benefits which have forced many to seek smaller housing while scores of others struggle to pay their rent.
Thousands applied for Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) cash payments to get by, but now many councils have spent over the amount allocated by Government and have had to find extra funds from elsewhere.
Fears are also spreading the situation could get worse as authorities may be even more out-of-pocket next year when the Government will cease to offer DHP funding.
Hartlepool Council had one of the highest deficits – £115,239 – with the total spent on DHP hitting almost half-a-million pounds.
In Gateshead, the overspend was £90,000, after the authority spent £583,000. Chiefs will now bid for extra DHP cash as the council foresees a further shortfall.
Sunderland City Council spent £690,000 and had a shortfall of £32,000. North Tyneside Council reported an underspend while Durham County Council was granted additional DHP funds to cope with demand.
In Middlesbrough the figure was £37,420, Redcar and Cleveland spent £5,000, while Stockton was the lowest over their allocated funds at £932.
Both Hartlepool and Middlesbrough councils said they met the shortfall by using money from the Local Welfare Provision (LWP), which can also be used to help people struggling with welfare reforms.
But the LWP will also be removed by the Government from April 1, 2015.
South Tyneside Council was left with a shortfall of £8,000 after granting £314,000 worth of DHP applications.
Meanwhile Newcastle City Council – which by far paid out the most DHP grants at £1.5m – was granted an additional £861,000 in DHP cash from the Government to cope with almost 3,000 applications.
Coun Dave Budd, Middlesbrough’s Deputy Mayor and executive member for resources, said: “The Coalition Government’s welfare reforms have placed a great many people in real hardship.
“From a very early stage we have been working with many partners – including local housing providers and the Citizens Advice Bureau – to address issues which can have a devastating effect on people’s lives.
“With the removal of the funding for the Local Welfare Provision from April next year, it will become even tougher to help those most in need. However, we will continue to do everything in our power as a local authority to mitigate those impacts.”
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Redcar Anna Turley highlighted the situation, saying: “David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s bedroom tax has been a disaster for the hundreds of thousands of people hit by the cruel levy and it has come at a huge cost for local taxpayers.”
However, the DWP says more than £20m specifically earmarked to help people adapt to welfare reforms was not spent by UK local authorities last year.
Figures show almost two-thirds (63%) of councils paid out less than their total DHP allocation to tenants.
A spokesman for Hartlepool Council said: “The council recognises the significant detrimental impact that the bedroom tax is having on households and as a council we are doing everything possible to ease the pain for residents.
“In 2013/14, the Government’s introduction of the bedroom tax resulted in reduced housing benefit entitlements in Hartlepool of over £1m and affected over 1,400 households.”
Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, said: “We tripled support for vulnerable people to £180m last year to ensure the right help was in place during our far-reaching welfare reforms.
“The figures also show that recent scare stories about councils running out of money were grossly exaggerated.
“Our vital reforms are fixing the broken welfare system by restoring fairness for hardworking people and making sure work always pays, as part of our long-term plan.”
> The long-term plan evidently being to return Britain to being a feudal society…
Source – middlesbrough Evening Chronicle, 31 Aug 2014
The Housing Benefit bill is set to spiral out of control due to low wages and rising rents, official figures suggest.
Between 2010/11 to 2018/19 the amount spent on helping struggling households to keep roofs over their heads is set to rocket to a staggering £12.9 billion, or £488 for every household in the UK.
The figures obtained from the Commons Library also show that Housing Benefit paid to people in work is set to more than double, from £2.4 billion in 2010/11 to £5.5 billion in 2018/19.
Stagnating wages will also have a knock on effect on how much is spent supporting low-income households with tax credits. Currently the UK spends £21.2 billion on tax credits, but this is forecast to rise to £23.7 billion by 2018/19.
Speaking in Pudsey, West Yorkshire, Rachel Reeves is expected to say:
“The number of working people claiming housing benefit is set to double because the Tory Government has failed to tackle low pay, insecure work and the cost-of-living crisis.
“Labour will raise the minimum wage, introduce living wage contracts and get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020 to tackle the bill and ensure working people can make ends meet.”
She will also say that Labour may withdraw its support for Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Universal Credit scheme, unless “urgent action” is immediately taken to prevent “more money being wasted” on the crisis hit programme.
Ms Reeves will say: “Today I want to make a direct appeal to David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith.
“Labour wants Universal Credit to work. But we won’t accept more taxpayers’ money being wasted. It is in crisis and needs urgent action.”
> Yes, Rachel, but what you need to understand is that the problem with Universal Credit is not just that it’s a money pit. Its also the way in which it makes life so much more difficult for people who already have more than enough problems to be going on with.
Are Labour going to deal with those aspects ? Nothing seen so far suggests that they would anything except continue with more of the same.
Earlier this year, Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud described the write-off of a failed £40 million IT system for Universal Credit as “deeply regrettable”.
He insisted that the programme would be delivered on time and within its £2.5 billion budget and that the scheme would benefit taxpayers to the tune of £35 billion.
Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper MP, told the Daily Mirror that the government had “inherited an out-of-control housing benefit system from Labour”.
He added that the government were working to “build a welfare system that provides a safety net for those in need, while rewarding the willingness to work”.
Source – Welfare News Service, 05 Aug 2014
> More smear tactics, courtesy of the Daily Excess – “hunt down” all those benefit fraudsters who are the real cause of all ills. You know it makes sense (to Excess readers, anyway…)
The Government has brought together officials from the Department of Work and Pensions, the tax office and local authorities to tackle the crime.
The streamlined approach goes hand-in-hand with powers unveiled earlier this year to clamp down on benefit fraud, including using bailiffs to confiscate high-value possessions from convicted benefit cheats.
> Now there’s a tactic which would work better against all those tax-cheating individuals and companies… but somehow they never get around to them.
Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: “Reducing benefit fraud and error in the system is a crucial plank of our welfare reforms to make work pay and the system fairer for everyone.
“By bringing teams from local authorities and HMRC into our investigation service we will be able to build on the hard work we’ve already done to crack down on benefit fraud.
“Alongside this change, Universal Credit is expected to reduce losses due to fraud by £1billion in five years when it is fully in place across the country.”
> Ha ha ha – Universal Credit is the biggest benefit fraud of all, millions spent on it and it still doesn’t work. If they’d not embarked on it, there’d be plenty of money for benefits.
The new service went live in nine local authority areas on Tuesday July 1 and will be rolled out across the country in the autumn.
It started in Corby, Cornwall, Cardiff, Southampton, Oldham, Hillingdon, Wrexham, Blaenau Gwent and East Ayrshire.
Joint investigations between local authorities and the Government have already led to a string of convictions, including Alycia Mallett from Broxbourne in Hertfordshire who admitted falsely claiming £35,700 in benefits while working as an escort.
She was given eight weeks’ custody suspended for 12 months in April at Stevenage Crown Court.
Source – Daily Express, 04 July 2014
> NOT included in the Excess article –
Fiction: People believe that some 27% of the Welfare Budget is claimed as a result of fraud
Fact: The actual figure is 0.8 % whilst tax avoidance and evasion is estimated at anywhere from £30bn to £120bn.