Tagged: Minister for Disabled People

Labour Blame Low Wages For Soaring Housing Benefit Bill

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.

 Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary will blame the soaring Housing Benefit bill on the tory-led coalition government for failing to tackle the scandal of low wages and poor working conditions.

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

http://welfarenewsservice.com/labour-blame-low-wages-soaring-housing-benefit-bill/

Benefit Reform “Shambles” Pushing Disabled People To Suicide, Says Whistleblower

Sick and disabled claimants are experiencing severe distress and some are even close to suicide due to botched disability benefit reform, an insider has revealed.

Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Britain’s sick and disabled, but the assessment process which should take no longer than 26 weeks is sometimes taking twice as long.

 The insider, or should we say whistleblower, is a call centre worker for the private contractor Capita, who together with the disgraced private healthcare firm Atos are responsible for assessing PIP claimants on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The two companies are set to make £540 million from the new benefit in the next five years. Atos will receive the larger share of around £400 million, despite heavy criticism and a poor record in delivering ‘fit for work’ tests for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), while Capita will make roughly £140 million.

PIP can be claimed by sick and disabled people regardless of their employment status.

Under the new disability benefit PIP, claimants are required to attend face-to-face assessments to determine their eligibility and the level of benefit they will receive. The whistleblower claims that mismanagement, IT problems and staff shortages are to blame for a backlog of 145,000 cases.

While waiting to be assessed for PIP, many sick and disabled people are often left penniless and unable to pay their rent, because their DLA has been stopped, the whistleblower said.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the whistleblower said:

I’ve had people on the phone crying their eyes out and saying they are going to commit suicide.

“On one occasion I had to call an ambulance because they said they had stopped taking their medication. Some people have been going for months and months without money.”

We’ve started getting calls from people saying their DLA will run out in a month’s time and they’ve not even got an appointment for an assessment.

“Others have been left with nothing because their DLA has been stopped. People have lost their home because they can’t pay their rent.”

She continued: “It’s a shambles. Day in, day out there are people ringing up to say, ‘Why is my appointment cancelled?’ I’ve seen appointments cancelled time and time again.”

According to the whistleblower, Capita call centre staff have been given instructions on what excuses to use when claimants ask why their PIP assessment has been delayed or cancelled. “I am having to lie on a daily basis about why things are taking so long”, she said.

Minister for Disabled People,  Mark Harper told the Daily Mirror: “By the autumn, we anticipate that no one will be waiting for an assessment for longer than 26 weeks.”

Capita said they would be hiring more staff to help reduce the backlog.

 Source – Welfare News Service,  03 Aug 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/benefit-reform-shambles-pushing-disabled-people-suicide-says-whistleblower/