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Latest press reports on UC

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ClairemHodgson
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some letters highlighted in this morning’s guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/14/universal-credit-is-an-ill-conceived-shambles

including from a retired tribunal judge

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Observer ran this piece yesterday, as the good news keeps on piling up.

Millions to lose £52 a week with universal credit, report shows

Based on a report by a group called Policy in Practice, which estimates that ”...almost two in five households in receipt of benefits would lose an average of £52 a week.

They include a million homeowners currently receiving tax credits, 750,000 households on disability benefit and some 600,000 working single parents.”

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Also came across this from the (obviously not entirely disinterested) Resident Landlord Association in Inside Housing, which reports that their research has “found that 61% of landlords that let to tenants on Universal Credit have experienced their UC tenants going into rent arrears in the past 12 months. This is over double from 27% of landlords in 2016, and a significant increase from the previous year where it was 38% of landlords.

We found that the amount owed by Universal Credit tenants in rent arrears has increased by 49% in comparison to the previous 12 months. This has increased from £1,600.88 in 2017 to £2,390.19.”

Nearly two thirds of PRS tenants claiming Universal Credit in arrears

INVESTIGATING THE EFFECT OF WELFARE REFORM ON PRIVATE RENTING

Jo_Smith
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Blimey, where’s Woodie Guthrie when you need him?

Universal credit will drive left-behind Britons to the far right

John Birks
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This contains much more realistic analysis (IMO)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45878014

BC Welfare Rights
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Frank Field has taken exception to the latest UC advertising campaign

“These so-called “facts” about Universal Credit are nothing of the kind. Large numbers of low-paid workers are not paid monthly. And no one has their wages paid to their partner. The only “mirror” here is the looking glass that Ministers and officials have surely stepped through, into Wonderland. They need urgently to set about rebuilding trust in our benefits system, by giving Universal Credit the flexibility it needs to reflect the reality of how people live, work, and budget – not playing them for fools with disingenuous ads like these.”

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2017/universal-credit-17-191/

shawn mach
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Former Universal Credit case manager Bayard Tarpley writes about his experience working in its Grimsby call centre for two years.

“Have you ever wondered if the service person on the end of the phone is being deliberately being obstructive?

Well the answer is yes. And I should know - I worked as a Universal Credit case manager where agents were trained to get people off the phone without answering their query ...”

https://news.sky.com/story/i-was-trained-to-get-universal-credit-claimants-off-the-phone-11535770

 

Andrew Dutton
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Peter Turville
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Mike Hughes
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 18 October 2018 10:53 AM

Blimey, where’s Woodie Guthrie when you need him?

Universal credit will drive left-behind Britons to the far right

Currently on the CD player. Never more appropriate.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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A benefit system shake-up is having a “devastating impact” on people in Flintshire, a council boss has warned.

It was the first Welsh county to see the introduction of universal credit.

Flintshire’s head of revenue collection David Barnes said average rent arrears have risen four-fold since the money is now paid to claimants, not landlords.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the proportion of people with arrears fell by a third after four months on universal credit.

Universal credit’s ‘devastating impact’ in Flintshire

shawn mach
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People have to go online to keep their financial lifeline open, but computers need electricity – and with universal credit leaving a £465 monthly budget to stretch the three people in Michael’s family (about £5 each a day), they can barely afford it with the meter ticking.

“I have to be quick doing my universal credit because I am that scared of losing the electric,” he said ....

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/nov/08/life-on-the-poverty-frontline-un-turns-its-gaze-on-uk

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Want to see how poor journalism in this country has become???? Read this pile of absolute toss….

Waiting times for millions of people claiming universal credit payments have been slashed to three weeks, the government has confirmed, as part of measures to ease pressure on the troubled welfare scheme.

Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, said struggling families would no longer have to wait five weeks to get their first payment on the new scheme, which rolls six working-age benefits into one.

Universal credit: Waiting times slashed to three weeks for millions of claimants to ease troubled roll-out

Andrew Dutton
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https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/nov/12/universal-credit-will-cost-more-than-system-it-replaces-study-shows

The usual DWP waffle and boasting is present but not very correct.

I note that DWP is not keen to mention that the run-on of benefits doesn’t apply for the best part of two years…..‘waiting times slashed to three weeks’ (see above).....but you’ve got to, er, wait for it…..

Andrew Dutton
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Andrew Dutton
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and a BBC report - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45893616

Alok Sharma seems to be the designated Minister for Denying Everything.

Summary of a recent radio appearance:

Interviewer: Mr Sharma, there is said to be a culture of denial at the DWP…

AS: No there isn’t!

NAI
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Andrew Dutton - 12 November 2018 01:09 PM

and a BBC report - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45893616

Alok Sharma seems to be the designated Minister for Denying Everything.

Summary of a recent radio appearance:

Interviewer: Mr Sharma, there is said to be a culture of denial at the DWP…

AS: No there isn’t!

Be a bit more festive. After all it is pantomime season. Oh no it’s not! :-)

Andrew Dutton
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Andrew Dutton
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https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/universal-credit-report-benefits-rent-arrears-dwp-a8658846.html

Universal credit is ‘broken’ says report highlighting alarming rent arrears

Andrew Dutton
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https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/communities-will-go-under-universal-15506751

‘Communities “will go under” if the Universal Credit roll-out isn’t stopped’

shawn mach
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Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd in the Times:

- She is a supporter of universal credit but admits there are “serious things” wrong with it that must be put right.

- Her first priority is “getting cash into people’s hands earlier”. She wants to change the rules to make it easier for payments to be made fortnightly rather than once a month, which would mean people no longer have to wait five weeks for the first payment.

- She is concerned about the potential impact on domestic violence victims of the single household payment.

- The housing element of the benefit should also more regularly be paid directly to landlords to avoid “the fear people have of not being able to pay their rent at the end of the month,” she suggests.

- She is reviewing the welfare system to ensure that lone parents and working mothers “don’t lose out” … “There are many ways of having families. I don’t want us to be preaching to people about how they run their lives, I just want us to be there to support them.”

- Her first call after she was appointed last month was to the chancellor. She has asked him to find the cash to lift the welfare freeze in April. “I want to see benefits rising so we can help people.”

- “In the spending review I will be looking at how we can get more money into universal credit,” Ms Rudd says. Bringing housing benefit up to a more realistic level is also on her “shopping list”.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/9fd65b2a-fa6a-11e8-83e5-4dc2d31f2a89

Andrew Dutton
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shawn mach
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Islington becomes first council to pass a motion of no confidence in Universal Credit, calling for the new benefits system to be scrapped

https://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/politics/islington-becomes-first-council-to-vote-for-universal-credit-system-to-be-scrapped-1-5811115

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Pretty damning report in Inside Housing from UC flagship council Southwark.

Last month, the council published its second report, produced together with the Smith Institute, looking at its tenants’ rent payment behaviour as they transition onto Universal Credit.

Researchers found that tenants were falling increasingly into arrears as time passed, and that those who had made multiple claims due to changing work circumstances were likely to find themselves even more in debt. The researchers’ analysis of Southwark’s rent accounts also found that overall arrears under Universal Credit are significantly higher than they were under the previous housing benefit system.

One alarming measure of the situation in Southwark is the council’s increasing use of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), which can be given to tenants struggling to pay rent.

In 2017/18, the council spent nearly all of its £1.2m DHP allocation from the government, with nearly 1,200 of its 1,800 applications receiving money. It is on track to exceed its £1.3m allocation for the current year, having already handled more than 1,200 applications.

The council insists that it will not evict anyone who is in arrears directly as a result of Universal Credit, but it has no control over private landlords. Ms Cryan claims that only about one in four of these in the borough now take on tenants claiming benefits, while there has been what she describes as “a huge increase” in Section 21 – or so-called ‘no fault’ – evictions. She says there has been more than 250 of these in Southwark already in this financial year.

All of this is having a financial impact on the council itself.

Southwark has called on the government to freeze the roll-out of Universal Credit to its residents, but the strain is already telling.

“It’s adding costs onto the council not just because of the arrears,” Ms Cryan continues. “It’s also [about] other services that might be used: mental health and well-being, adult care services. There are knock-on effects for the local authority, not just because of the rent.”

The Smith Institute report found that arrears could cost the council £6m a year once all claimants are on the system. That’s a not-insignificant amount for a local authority under pressure.

A rock and a hard place: the Universal Credit frontline

shawn mach
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Apparently, the Sun has launched a ‘Make Universal Credit work’ campaign:

The Sun wants to see Brits get paid quicker, for claimants to keep more of what they earn, and for parents to be helped to work by proper childcare allowances.

This will help millions of Brits across the country who are set to be on the new benefits system by the time it’s fully rolled out in 2023.

We want ministers to act now, before it’s too late, to make sure that the system helps Brits who most need it and to make it easier to get people back into work.

MPs know this is a vital issue for their constituents and the Tories could be punished in the polls if they don’t get it right.

New DWP boss Amber Rudd told us she’s listening to Sun readers and she is “committed” to tackling the issues.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7968318/sun-make-universal-credit-work-campaign-backed-mps/

Benny Fitzpatrick
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shawn - 17 December 2018 11:28 AM

Apparently, the Sun has launched a ‘Make Universal Credit work’ campaign:

The Sun wants to see Brits get paid quicker, for claimants to keep more of what they earn, and for parents to be helped to work by proper childcare allowances.

This will help millions of Brits across the country who are set to be on the new benefits system by the time it’s fully rolled out in 2023.

We want ministers to act now, before it’s too late, to make sure that the system helps Brits who most need it and to make it easier to get people back into work.

MPs know this is a vital issue for their constituents and the Tories could be punished in the polls if they don’t get it right.

New DWP boss Amber Rudd told us she’s listening to Sun readers and she is “committed” to tackling the issues.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7968318/sun-make-universal-credit-work-campaign-backed-mps/

Is this the same Sun that has spent the last 8 years serving as the Tories propaganda unit, castigating benefit claimants as “feckless” and “scroungers”? The hypocrisy is staggering!

Peter Turville
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https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/17/amber-rudd-urged-to-make-benefits-system-more-humane-for-christmas

Including the classic ” .... but many disabled people on universal credit will be better off on average by £100 month than when they received ESA.” The old ones are the best at Xmas!

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Peter Turville - 18 December 2018 09:10 AM

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/17/amber-rudd-urged-to-make-benefits-system-more-humane-for-christmas

Including the classic ” .... but many disabled people on universal credit will be better off on average by £100 month than when they received ESA.” The old ones are the best at Xmas!

Really can’t get my head around why this Universal Credit scraps Christmas bonus story is gaining traction. I had a debate with someone a few days ago on Twitter who said this and I pointed out they were incorrect.

Since then, it’s been picked up as a live issue by the Mirror, the i and now the Guardian, as well as the Daily Record in Scotland. There’s a lot wrong with UC but this isn’t something that makes any sense at all.

Andrew Dutton
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