Tagged: welfare reforms

60,000 Sign Petition Calling On The Government To Publish Benefit Death Statistics

More than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to publish statistics into the number of benefit claimants who have died after benefits were removed.

The number of signatories is growing fast and could force the government to come clean about the impact of welfare reforms on vulnerable people.

A number of attempts by journalists and campaigners, using the Freedom of Information Act, to force the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to publish the statistics have been rebuffed.

The government argues that drawing a direct link between the deaths of seriously ill people and the removal of benefits would be irresponsible.

Welfare Weekly reported last month that the DWP had been ordered by the Information Commissioner to disclose details into deaths related to welfare reforms, following a complaint by political blogger Mike Sivier. It is our understanding that this is currently being appealed by the DWP.

The petition, on the change.org website, claims that this appeal is a direct attempt by the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to block publication of benefit-related death statistics.

Full story:  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/88/calling-government-publish-benefit-deaths

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Mother sanctioned for taking four year old child to the toilet

Politics and Insights

430847_149933881824335_1645102229_n (1)A mother from Fife was left without money for a month because she stopped to take her four-year-old daughter to the toilet, making her 10 minutes late for an appointment.

The heartless benefit sanction has left a struggling mother unable to pay heating bills and relying on a food bank to feed her children.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s revealed the mum’s plight but have kept her personal details private.

Barnardo’s Mark Ballard said: “She was without money for four weeks and was unable to purchase fuel cards for her gas and electricity meters or feed her children.

A number of other household bills went unpaid and she had to borrow money from friends and relatives to survive. This put her further into debt and damaged relationships with people who were previously supportive.”

The Scottish Welfare Committee are investigating the impact of Tory welfare reforms on women. MSPs will hear from 12…

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Government Must Learn From Welfare Reform Mistakes, Say Auditors

The Government must use the “hard lessons” it learnt from welfare reforms which caused “significant financial and human costs”, says the National Audit Office (NAO).

In a new report published today, the NAO criticised the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “important and high profile failings” in implementing an unprecedented number of welfare reforms and employment programmes.

The report says the Government “relied too heavily on uncertain and insufficiently challenged operating assumptions, and did not have a sufficient understanding of its portfolio of programmes or overall capacity.”

It adds that the DWP has a “high-level vision but needs to think more strategically when considering how reforms will work in practice.”

“The Department has thought too late about the management information and the leading indicators it needs to understand progress and performance”, says the NAO. “This meant the Department took several weeks to identify backlogs in Personal Independence Payment claims.”

Auditors credited the Government for responding well “to uncertainty”, but added that it “should be able to set out plans with specific timetables, costs and impacts and reflect where flexibility is needed.”

“They should also have clear processes for revising plans against changing circumstances or expectations”, says the NAO.

The NAO criticised the DWP’s initial handling of the Universal Credit. The NAO says the department “held too rigidly to fixed deadlines and now has adopted a more flexible approach. It will need to reconcile this approach with the requirement to monitor progress against milestones.”

In implementing a significant welfare reform programme, the DWP “relied too heavily on reacting to problems and has not been able to anticipate possible failings or establish the principal ways in which performance and progress can be measured”.

The NAO called on the Government to “plan more openly for the possibility of failure, and build an integrated view of portfolio risks and capacity”.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said:

 “Any large portfolio of reforms will run into problems. The Department has shown a resolute approach to dealing with them. However, we think it has relied too much on dealing with difficulties as they emerge rather than anticipating what might go wrong.

“As a result it has had to learn some hard lessons with significant financial and human costs. It is important that the Department use these hard lessons to improve how it manages change and anticipates risk.”

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said the Government must learn from the mistakes of previous changes to welfare.

Citizens Advice has found that delays and problems with the delivery of reforms such as Employment and Support Allowance increased hardship and anxiety for many people.  Last year we helped people with almost two million benefit issues, more than any other type of problem.

“As Ministers look to make further savings from the welfare budget it is important they fully understand the impact proposed reforms have on people’s lives.

The Government must be certain that further cuts won’t just shift costs away from the welfare budget and into other areas such as health and social care.

Changes to benefits can have a far-ranging impact on people’s lives, so any reforms need to delivered at a safe and steady pace.”

Source – Welfare Weekly, 29 May 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/government-must-learn-from-welfare-reform-mistakes-say-auditors/

Welfare Reforms Are Main Cause Of Homelessness In England, Study Finds

Welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax, sanctions and housing benefit cuts are fuelling England’s rapidly worsening homelessness crisis, according to an independent study.

The government’s welfare policies have emerged as the biggest single trigger for homelessness now the economy has recovered, the study says, and they look likely to increase pressure on vulnerable households for at least the next two years.

London has become the centre of homelessness, the study says, as high rents, housing shortages and welfare cuts force poorer people out of the inner city to cheaper neighbourhoods. Those who lose their homes are increasingly rehoused outside the capital.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, said the report revealed the true scale of homelessness in England. “Rising numbers [are] facing the loss of their home at a time when councils are being forced to cut services. This is a desperate state of affairs.”

Official figures show that homelessness is rising – up by 12,000 in 2013-14 continuing an upward trend since 2009-10 – with rough sleeping also on the increase, and soaring numbers of homeless families in temporary accommodation.

But the study argues that these official figures underplay the scale and complexity of homelessness in England because they do not capture the hundreds of thousands of people in housing crisis who are given informal help by authorities.

Although latest government statistics show 52,000 households were formally recorded as homeless in 2013-14, a total of 280,000 families were given some sort of assistance by authorities because they were at risk of losing their home.

Local authorities are increasingly using informal homelessness relief to keep at-risk families off the streets by providing financial support and debt advice or by mediating with landlords, none of which appears in the headline statistics.

“Taking these actions into account, we see that the number of cases of people facing or at serious risk of homelessness rose sharply last year. Yet this alarming trend has gone largely unnoticed by politicians or the media,” said the study’s lead author, Prof Suzanne Fitzpatrick of Heriot-Watt University.

The Homelessness Monitor 2015, an annual independent audit, is published by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The housing minister, Kris Hopkins, said the study’s claims were misleading. Local authorities had a wide range of government-backed options available to help prevent homelessness and keep people off the streets, he said.

This government has increased spending to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, making over £500m available to local authorities and the voluntary sector,” he said.

Hopkins added that the government had provided Crisis with nearly £14m in funding to help about 10,000 single homeless people find and sustain a home in the private rented sector.

Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:

“Homelessness can be catastrophic for those of us who experience it. If we are to prevent a deepening crisis, we must look to secure alternatives to home ownership for those who cannot afford to buy: longer-term, secure accommodation at prices that those on the lowest incomes can afford.”

The study finds:

  • Housing benefit caps and shortages of social housing has led to homeless families increasingly being placed in accommodation outside their local area, particularly in London. Out-of-area placements rose by 26% in 2013-14, and account for one in five of all placements.
  • Welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax contributed to an 18% rise in repossession actions by social landlords in 2013-14, a trend expected to rise as arrears increase and temporary financial support shrinks.
  • Housing benefit cuts played a large part in the third of all cases of homelessness last year caused by landlords ending a private rental tenancy, and made it harder for those who lost their home to be rehoused.

The study says millions of people are “hidden homeless”, including families forced by financial circumstances to live with other families in the same house, and “sofa surfers” who sleep on friends’ floors or sofas because they have nowhere to live.

Official estimates of rough sleeper numbers in England in 2013 were 2,414 – up 37% since 2010. But the study’s estimates based on local data suggest that the true figure could be at least four times that.

Source – The Guardian,  04 Feb 2015

Welfare Study: Poverty And Stress ‘Reduces Chances Of Getting A Job’

This article  was written by Patrick Butler, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 2nd December 2014

The Coalition’s “indiscriminate” welfare cuts have created a climate of fear among benefit recipients, reducing rather than improving their chances of moving into work, a study has found.

The latest instalment of a two-year qualitative research programme finds that rather than providing an incentive for unemployed individuals to find a job, the squeeze on benefits is more likely force them to retreat into day-to-day “survival mode”, unable to seize opportunities to find employment.

Even those who were in work felt trapped in poverty as a result of low wages, zero hours contracts and cuts to housing benefit and tax credits. Many felt that they did not feel financially better off as a result of having a job.

The study concludes:

Our research found that the changes brought about by welfare reform did not have a considerable impact on respondent’s attitudes to work, or indeed the likelihood of them finding work.

It adds:

Work did not seem to enable people to escape the negative impacts of welfare reform or poverty.

It warns that many families are “living on a cliff edge” financially and are affected by increased anxiety and stress. The study argues that current welfare reforms will lead to increased costs to the state as it picks up the bill for poverty-related ill-health and homelessness

The study, by the charity Community Links, is based on in-depth interviews with 20 people in the London borough of Newham. It aims to assess the impact of welfare reform on individuals, in particular whether it can change “behaviour” and get people into work.

The cohort is divided between those in part-time or low paid work and those on benefits. Monthly income ranged from £200 a month to £1,500. All were affected by at least one cut, and most were hit by a combination, including the bedroom tax and reductions in tax credits.

Although the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has claimed that his reforms provide an incentive to unemployed people to move into work, only one interviewee, a mother who was threatened with the benefit cap, said the prospect of losing income had motivated her to get a job.

The majority of unemployed interviewees reported that the cuts had overwhelmingly negative consequences for them, making them feel stressed and insecure and vulnerable to even tiny changes in income. Some had defaulted on rent and bills and had been threatened with eviction, while others “coped” by cutting back on food and heating, or going into debt.

The study reports a “culture of fear”, especially among those with serious disability or illness who were unable to work and so felt powerless to escape or offset the financial losses causes by welfare cuts.

It says:

The continued squeeze on incomes is forcing people into survival mode: having to deal with incredibly stressful situations day-to-day and unable to focus on the longer-term. People feed their children and go without themselves; wash clothes by hand if their washing machine breaks; walk miles to work in the early hours of the morning; they just about get by. But only just.

The sheer scale and speed of the cuts to state support left interviewees with “almost no flexibility to live with any comfort”. It meant some of those interviewed were barely surviving

Most people told researchers they both wanted to work and saw benefit in working. It calls on ministers to provide more help in getting people into work, and criticises the “lack of compassion” in the implementation of the reforms.

Some of those who were keeping their head above water could only do so because they received transitional support from the local authority in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments. But these were temporary, the study points out, and:

It is highly likely that as Local Authority budgets reduce and thus become naturally more restrictive, that many people who have been temporarily protected from hardship will find themselves suffering again

Community Links is a pioneering and respected charity based in Newham, east London, once praised by the prime minister David Cameron as “one of Britain’s most inspiring community organisations.”

The charity was co-founded by David Robinson, a social activist who abandoned his initial support for the Coalition’s Big Society project in protest at the damage inflicted on the UK’s poorest neighbourhoods by what he called the government’s “barrage of unsustainable cuts”.

It is likely that the Department for Work and Pensions will draw attention to the small size and geographical reach of the research and suggest that it is not a representative analysis. But the study points out:

In the absence of an official cumulative impact assessment, this report makes a crucial contribution to our understanding of the impacts of the Coalition’s welfare reforms.

> Well ? Does anyone feel these conclusions are not representive of the UK as a whole ?

Source –  Weekly Welfare, 02 Dec 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/welfare-study-poverty-stress-reduces-chances-getting-job/

Government Dismisses Study Linking Use Of Food Banks To Benefit Cuts

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.

He added:

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.”

McAuley said:

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

http://www.welfareweekly.com/government-dismisses-study-linking-use-of-food-banks-to-benefit-cuts/

Cameron setting the scene for more slave labour

Order Of Truth

camsslIn his continued quest to place the majority of the British population into economic slavery, Cameron announced his intention to tighten welfare reforms which would force people to take low paid jobs.

Having not quite grasped the fact that many of his government’s welfare reforms so far have placed working people into very difficult economic situations – often costing them their homes and responsible for breaking up families – deluded Cameron thinks that further tightening of the welfare system, as well as controlling immigration, is a good thing.

We have already seen the way ‘employment figures’ have been manipulated by the government. The so-called jobs they say they have created are often on zero-hour contracts, part time, or minimum waged positons. It is fact that Cameron and his cronies have done nothing to create a sustainable environment where there are real opportunities for people seeking work.

In real terms the…

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North councils left with funding shortfall after those left reeling from bedroom tax cry for help

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

300,000 Unemployed People Each Month Face ‘Five Week Wait’ For Benefits, New Research Shows

New research published  by the TUC reveals the future impact of a controversial new welfare reform – the five-week wait – on workers in North West England, with 39,000 newly unemployed people set to be hit each month.

Currently most workers who lose their job have to wait two weeks before they get their first benefit payment. But under new Universal Credit rules for assessing unemployment claims, most people will face a wait of more than five weeks before they get any money. This could mean going two months into rent arrears before any cash support arrives.

Across the UK, almost 300,000 people will be hit each month by the five-week wait. Despite this, recent polling by YouGov for the TUC has revealed that fewer than one in seven people (13 per cent) say they have heard of the plans. Seven out of ten people (70 per cent) say that they would be worried when asked to imagine losing their job and not being entitled to receive any benefit payments for five weeks. More than half (52 per cent) say it makes them think less favourably of the government’s welfare reforms.

The TUC’s new research reveals the monthly average number of newly unemployed people broken down by region, local authority (county and unitary) and constituency. This indicates how many people can be expected to be hit by the five-week wait when Universal Credit replaces workers’ current safety net benefits.

Across the region, Lancashire is the most affected local authority where over 5,000 people each month are expected to be hit by the five-week wait, in Manchester more than 3,600 people will be affected whilst in Liverpool just under 3,500 people will be affected.

These local authorities are amongst the biggest affected in the UK, ranked 4th, 9th and 11th respectively. The DWP’s own analysis suggests that the measure may increase claimants’ reliance on short-term loans.

The TUC has launched a new campaign, Saving Our Safety Net, to highlight the five-week wait and other welfare reforms that cut safety net protection for working people.

North West TUC Regional Secretary Lynn Collins said:

We know workers in the North West have suffered cuts in real earnings over the last 5 years, and will have relied on savings to get by, which means that many workers have no financial buffer if they lose their job. Help should be there when it is needed, but instead people will be left to rely on food banks and pay day loans to see them through the wait.

“Welfare reform is one thing but the five week wait is a collective punishment for anyone who loses their job. People need to focus on finding new work, instead of being stressed-out about how they will pay the rent, feed the kids and keep the heating on.

“Job security has got worse since the recession. Government ministers are out of touch and fail to understand the anxiety many people feel not knowing if they’ll still have work next month. If your job goes, the five-week wait puts you at greater risk of a downward spiral where you’re trapped in debt, lose your home, become ill from the stress and fall too far to climb back again.

“With these escalating bills, worsening job security and only a limited recovery in the jobs market, a 5 week wait could easily push many more families into poverty through no fault of their own. These people have paid for, and deserve, a safety net.

“We are launching the Saving Our Safety Net campaign to expose government welfare plans for what they are – cuts to the National Insurance safety net we’ve all paid into on the understanding that it will be there when we need it.”

Source – Welfare News Service 07 Aug 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/unemployed-people-each-month-face-five-week-wait-for-benefits/

Police chiefs blame welfare cuts for rise in shoplifting

Police chiefs have blamed savage welfare cuts for a sharp rise in shoplifting figures.

Ron Hogg, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Durham, claims people are “stealing to live” after a 35 per cent rise in his force area in shoplifting cases.

Despite not having direct evidence to back up his claim, Mr Hogg says people are turning to crime as they do not have enough money to feed themselves after the Government’s welfare reforms.

He said: “Shoplifting is up 35 per cent year on year and an awful lot of people are stealing to live.

“We predicted this would cause massive problems for some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“With more welfare reform yet to be implemented the situation will only get worse.”

Mr Hogg’s claims were echoed by Barry Coppinger, the PCC for Cleveland, after a 7.3 per cent hike in his force area.

He said: “Deep and relentless welfare reforms have a knock-on effect on other crimes, particularly shoplifting, as families turn to the black market to buy food and items they can’t afford.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said there was no evidence linking reforms to increased crime.

He said: “Ending the spare room subsidy was absolutely necessary in order to get the soaring housing benefit bill under control, returning fairness to the system and making better use of social housing stock.

“These rules already applied to the housing benefit claimants in the private sector – introduced by the previous Government.”

A recent DWP report found 522,905 households were affected by the so-called bedroom tax by last August and nearly a fifth of claimants had registered an interest in downsizing.

More than half of claimants had cut back on household essentials, a quarter had borrowed money and three per cent had taken pay day loans.

Mr Hogg and Mr Coppinger advised people who have found themselves struggling financially to use credit unions.

Source – Hartlepool Mail,  07 Aug 2014