Tagged: state pension

Level Of UK Benefits Inadequate, Says Council Of Europe

This article was written by Owen Bowcott, for The Guardian on Wednesday 29th January 2014

The level of UK benefits paid in pensions, jobseeker’s allowance and incapacity benefit is “manifestly inadequate” because it falls below 40% of the median income of European states, according to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

The finding in an annual review (pdf) of the UK’s adherence to the council’s European social charter is likely to provoke a fresh dispute between the government and European legal structures. Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, dismissed it as “lunacy”.

> Can a man increasingly suspected to be more than a little insane himself comment on lunacy in others ? Discuss…

The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states, said the conclusions were legally binding in the same way that judgments relating to the European convention on human rights had to be applied by member states.

However, the DWP suggested the findings merely had to be “taken into account” by British courts when assessing claims. The difference of interpretation is likely to lead to lengthy disputes when ministers attend the next round of meetings in Strasbourg.

In the report’s most critical section, the council’s European committee of social rights said: “Even if the minimum levels of short-term and long-term incapacity benefits, state pension and jobseeker’s allowance satisfy the requirements of the European code of social security, they are manifestly inadequate in the meaning of article 12§1 of the charter as they fall below 40% of the Eurostat median equivalised income”.

It added: “The committee notes … that short-term incapacity benefit stood at £71 (€85) and long-term incapacity benefit at £94 (€112) per week. ESA and jobseeker’s allowance stood at £67 per week (around €321 per month). As regards the state pension, it stood at £102 (€490 per month).”

Britain was one of 38 countries criticised by the committee on Wednesday, all of whom were found to have violated the regulations in some manner. Other countries were deemed to have made more breaches.

Duncan Smith said: “This government has made great strides in fixing the welfare system so that spending is brought under control. It’s lunacy for the Council of Europe to suggest welfare payments need to increase when we paid out £204bn in benefits and pensions last year alone.

“Whether for short-term needs or longer-term support, millions of people find that the welfare system provides a valuable and fair safety net when they need it most. And thanks to the triple lock, pensioners are now benefiting from a state pension that represents the highest share of earnings in over 20 years. This is meaningful support helping people every single day.”

> It’s interesting to speculate about whether IDS actually believes the stuff he spouts. He certainly seems to get very touchy when anyone contradicts him.

I suspect he currently falls into that grey area of insanity – not quite insane enough to be sectioned, but on the other hand, if he was already inside an institution, they wouldn’t let him out.

Source –  Welfare News Service  29 Jan 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/level-uk-benefits-inadequate-says-council-europe/

Is this the worst time ever to be young?

Successive Government policies that unfairly target the young are making this the worst time to grow up in decades, campaigners say.

High levels of youth unemployment, increased university tuition fees and the difficulty of getting a mortgage have been cited as problems affecting young people, along with changes to the benefit system and cuts to youth support services.

People working with young people in the North East say they are being disproportionately targeted in the Government austerity cuts so that Ministers can protect older people who are statistically more likely to vote.

And there have been warnings that the situation is creating a “a generation without hope” who do not feel part of society.

Liz Emerson, co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, a national charity set up to ensure fairness between the generations, said: “This is the first period in recent history where children will have worst standards of living than their parents and their grandparents.

Successive Governments have put the interests of older generations before the interests of younger ones. They’ve taken away the EMA, they’ve taken away Sure Start schemes for young people, they’re taking away their travel concessions.”

Concerns about the young being unfairly targeted came earlier this month when Chancellor George Osborne signalled benefit cuts for the under-26s just a day after Prime Minister David Cameron said he would “triple lock” the state pension, which accounts for half of all welfare spending.

Jeff Hurst, who runs the Newcastle YMCA and is vice-chair of the city’s children’s trust board, said: “I was brought up in a generation where anything was possible and everything was positive. Now we are creating a generation without hope.

“What I see is fantastic young people who are motivated, who are clever, who are innovative who are able, but who are very frustrated.”

Mr Hurst said the combined effect of higher pension ages, more graduates, and a flood of axed public sector workers were squeezing the young out of the labour market until far into their twenties.

The situation is particularly acute in the North East, which has the highest rate of youth unemployment at nearly 24% and the worst score of any region on the Intergenerational Foundation’s age fairness index.

Geoff Mount of the charity Barnados, which has a number of youth projects in the region, said: “Times are tough for young people. Funding for courses is being cut, young people now are having to take out loans, and EMA has been taken away. We’ve got a bursary scheme in place but that doesn’t meet in my opinion the needs of those young people in greatest financial need. There are fewer job opportunities out there than ever before.”

Workers also cited a squeeze on housing, with last week’s ONS figures showing a quarter of 34-year-olds are now living with their parents.

The number of “boomerang children” has soared by 25% in the last 17 years, despite the youth population remaining the same, with under-24s in the North East the least likely in the country to have a mortgage.

Source – Newcastle Journal, 27 Jan 2014