Category: Damien Green

Autumn Budget Benefit Increases.

Hunts Budget A Budget For The Rich.

On the day of yet another budget announcement, Hunt has just released the details of the governments latest budget proposals. Here are some of the highlights.

Means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit, will rise in line with September’s inflation figure of 10.1% from April 2023.

The National Living Wage will be increased from £9.50 an hour for over-23s to £10.42 from April 2023.

Additional payments of £900 will be paid to those on means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit, £300 will be paid to pensioner households and £150 to people on disability benefits.

Pensions are to go up by 10.1% in line with inflation along with benefit payments.

Rent increases in the social rented sector will be capped at 7% in the next financial year in England.

Energy firms will now pay a windfall tax of 35%, up from the 25%.

The point at which the highest earners start paying the top rate of tax is being lowered from £150,000 to £125,140.

Electric vehicles will no longer be exempt from vehicle excise duty from April 2025.

People claiming legacy benefits won’t fully transfer to Universal `credit until 2028 rather than 2024.

Along with the budget announcements came the Autumn Statement which announced that approximately 600,000 people that claim Universal Credit will effectively be forced to work apparently despite their ability to do so. No mention was given as to how this was going to be done and how they plan to do this.

Considering that the employment rate for people claiming Universal Credit was 41% in June 2022, how are these people going to be able to commit to this?

Are they sick and or disabled?

Do they have caring and childcare commitments?

What real life skills do they have to enable them to find a suitable job?

As of`July 2022, 2.4 million Universal Credit recipients are working.

1.7million are disabled with no work requirements.

1.4 million are searching for work.

400k are preparing for work.

The real problem isn’t unemployment, one of the real problems is instead low wages that don’t pay enough to live off thus the need to be topped up by Universal Credit.

The language that the DWP and government uses towards Universal Credit claimants is also questionable.

The DWP say that ‘Claimants will be asked to attend a meeting with a work Coach’. However they don’t mean ask, they mean must attend despite whatever commitments a person might have and their ability to do so.

As I’ve stated many times in this blog a failure to attend will result in a sanction being given to the claimant which always results in any benefit payments that they receive.

Another reason as to why some people, mostly women can’t find a suitable job is the cost of childcare.

At the time of writing childcare providers are shutting at high levels. Last year a total of 4,000 childcare providers couldn’t afford to keep their doors open and were forced to shut. Undoubtably this will increase in the coming year this will result in fewer available childcare places and increasing costs.
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For two thirds of working parents the cost of childcare outstrips their rent or mortgage payments. Research undertaken by the Women’s Budget Group has found that over the last decade childcare fees have steadily increased at twice the rate of wages.

What is needed is more investment in childcare and childcare providers. This would provide three times as many jobs and if done correctly could potentially boost the economy by £28bn.

Childcare as well as being essential pays for itself It essentially will gain increased tax revenues and reduced benefits expenditure, but still there no mention of this.

Rather expectedly nothing that was announced in Hunts budget will target the richest. Yes freezing thresholds are expected to hit middle income households and cutting spending will hit lower income households the hardest. As they say, it’s expensive being poor.

Where is the increased tax burden on high income households? Why aren’t wealthy households being taxed more?

Why isn’t there an increase to capital gains tax rates, income tax, inheritance tax or stamp duty?

Once again the poorest and most vulnerable will pay the highest price whilst the richest will escape unscathed, ready to profit off the backs of those much worse off.

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UK Social Security Rates Amongst The Lowest

New DWP Boss Mel Stride Happy With Universal Credit Sanction Rates.


The new DWP minister Mel Stride recently announced that he is happy with the levels of UC (Universal Credit) sanction rates.

Upon taking his new job as secretary of state for work and pensions (DWP), Mel Stride, quickly proved that he will not be making any changes in any harshness inflicted upon the most vulnerable at the hands of the DWP.



Upon answering MP’s questions on the 31 October 2022, Stride made it very clear that he’s happy hat the level of UC sanctions is now double the rate it was before the pandemic.


Stride went on to say “People are sanctioned only if they fail to attend appointments without good reason, and fail to meet the requirements that they have agreed to meet.”




However stride failed to offer any acknowledgement nevermind explanation as to why claimants are now twice as likely to break claimant commitment agreements than they were two years ago.



Upon questioning Stride ignored yet another request to publish a DWP report on the effectiveness of sanctions.

As previously reported in an earlier blog his predecessor also refused to do so.



Stride also claimed there “is a long tail” of 2.5 million long-term sick claimants who want to return to work and that it will be “a prime focus” for the DWP to “support them back into the workplace.”



It’s no coincidence that this figure is exceedingly similar to the total number of claimants that are long-term sick, the majority of whom are not able to work because their condition makes it impossible.



It appears that like his predecessors Stride is either mistaken or believes that every long-term sick person could be moved into work.



Whatever happens there appears to be no plans to treat claimants better, I suspect it will become worse.

A new DWP minister certainly doesn’t bring any changes for the better and until there’s a change of government I very much doubt that there will be.

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Thousands Unable To Go Into Work Over Hygiene Poverty Shame.

A recent report undertaken by the charity Hygiene Bank shows that approximately 3.2 million UK adults are affected by hygiene poverty, 12% of these stating that they have avoided going into work because of this.

In the original report published by the BBC, Hygiene Bank chief executive Ruth Brock said it was a “hidden crisis”.

“It’s much more widespread than we feared, it’s increasing, and it’s disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable,” she said. 

Hygiene Bank is one of many charities that supplies food banks, homeless shelters, schools, and other organisations with personal hygiene products including but not exclusively toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, nappies, period products and laundry detergent. 

Hygiene poverty often falls under the radar with issues such as fuel and food poverty coming first leaving many unable to access essential hygiene products. The reality is that once a person is dependant upon food banks they have already stopped being able to purchase said items with priority going to heating and eating. 

“I think it just doesn’t occur to people in the same way that fuel and food poverty do,” said Ms Brock. 

In a survey undertaken by Hygiene Bank that questioned approximately 2,200 people, with the assistance of polling company YouGov it suggests that the amount of people impacted by hygiene poverty equated to 6% of all UK adults, rising to 13% from lower-income households and 21% of disabled people. 

People experiencing hygiene poverty are most likely to go without shaving products, laundry detergent, household cleaning items, and deodorant, the survey found. The survey also reports that a quarter of respondents said they had gone without toilet paper or soap or shower gel, while three in ten women did not buy period products. 

The survey also reveals that people are being forced to shop local thus costing more because they can’t afford to travel to a larger shop or supermarket.

A woman that the charity has worked with described how she is forced to dilute products to make them last longer. She also has resorted to tying up her hair in a certain way to hide the fact she often had not washed it for weeks at a time. 

She also reported that she feels that she has to keep a distance from people for fear that she smells with many unable to afford to buy period products thus making them feel ashamed to go out

Hygiene Bank’s Ruth Brock is quoted as saying said that such accounts of peoples experiences may “seem counterintuitive” to some also saying: “But it’s so insidious, you kind of cut yourself off.”

The report found that 62% of people experiencing hygiene poverty with dependent children said they have had to choose between buying products for themselves or their children. 

It’s a choice that shouldn’t have to be made, families are made to feel ashamed to leave their home and avoiding social contact at schools because they feel ashamed because of their situation. 

“This is why we have mums telling us about being ashamed to leave the house and not seeing anyone for weeks on

It’s important to remember that the data in the report draws on surveys conducted between October 2021 and February 2022, before the recent surge in the cost of living. As a result the everyday pressures upon those in need are undoubtably going to worsen with more people being forced into this situation.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics the price of shampoo has increased by 8% in the last year and shower gel is up by 11%.

The price of toothpaste has risen 6%, and the price of deodorant is up 5%.

Hygiene poverty is also affecting students such as Adam, a college student whose attendance had fallen to 18%, in part because he could not afford basic hygiene products. This inevitably resulted in his grades suffering as a result. 

According to the original report by the BBC his support worker approached Hygiene Bank in the summer of 2020 and they were able to provide deodorant and shampoo. Adam’s attendance rose to 100%, and he is now attending university. 

“Hygiene is important enough,” says Ms Brock. “But the follow-on effects of making that change for people also mean that they can then start to access their life chances.”

Undoubtably hygiene poverty is having a detrimental affect on many and at the time of writing it appears to be unspoken about by many. We need to make this a very important topic of conversation both with the public and opposition MPs, after all Tory MPS are very unlikely to do so.

For anyone that can afford to as well as donating food products to food banks it’s also important to remember that donating hygiene products is also vitally important along with pets food and suchlike.

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DWP Admits Repeatedly Breaching Equality Act

In a report recently published by Disability News Service the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) have admitted repeatedly breaching the equality act by failing to follow guidelines by repeatedly ignoring a man’s disability requirements.

In the report it states that a legal document describes how a disabled man from east London had been ignored on multiple occasions by DWP staff both on their helplines and in Jobcentres.

However the DWP has now been forced to admit that they have repeatedly discriminating against him by ignoring his needs.

The truth is that thousands of disabled people are being discriminated against on a daily basis. Claimants disability and communication requirements are often ignored. Indeed I have encountered this many times whilst helping disabled people with their claims.

One such claim that I helped with being a man registered as blind being sent paper letters despite the fact that he couldn’t read them and the DWP being informed about this. Sadly this is one account of many.

This blatant discrimination can cause great distress and anxiety with many disabled peoples claims either being sanctioned or closed because they can’t respond as required.

The truth is the Universal Credit system has more flaws than a fishing net has holes, rules are broken all the time with the DWP not being held accountable for their actions and no recompense given to claimants.

In many cases requests to DWP staff to take disability into account are blatantly ignored proving that whilst the government declared that Universal Credit is tailored to fit each claimant and easier to claim is also a lie.

In the original report by Disability News Service it states that for more than two years this man and his carers requested on multiple occasions that the DWP communicate with him by phone. They ignored this and continued to communicate through his online Universal Credit journal.

After many requests DWP staff failed to put important markers on his universal credit account to show other DWP employees that he was a vulnerable claimant and that reasonable adjustments needed to be made for him.

Upon applying for Universal credit he was told incorrectly that he could only apply for Universal Credit digitally and not by telephone. This left him unable to apply himself and had to seek help from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Requests for support were ignored or refused.

Despite making multiple attempts to complain about how poorly he was treated, most of them were ignored and not investigated.

The report by Disability News Service went on to say that the DWP admitted liability in a county court discrimination case taken by the gentleman concerned and he is seeking compensation up to £25,000 in damages for their failure to acknowledge his disability and the impact that this treatment has had on him. and although George is seeking up to £25,000 in damages, the department is disputing the amount it should pay in compensation for its failures and the impact they have had on him.

Despite this court case I’m certain that the DWP will continue to discriminate against disabled people and many will continue to undergo the same treatment as this gentleman, driving many to live in distress.

The truth is that the DWP don’t care and won’t ever care. The governments remit is to take as many people off social security as possible despite disability and vulnerability .

Good luck everybody and seek help and advice before making a Universal Credit claim this can make the world of difference and can help to alleviate distress and anxiety.

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You can read the original report by Disability News Service here http://disabilitynewsservice.com

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Dear readers and subscribers I desperately need your help!!

I started blogging over 8 years ago and have done so on a weekly basis, sometimes more. I don’t receive any payment for the work that `I do or the help that I freely give to others.

The reality is that my web hosting fees are due on Tuesday and I can’t afford to pay for them. I’ve thought of everything but I just can’t do it, so this weeks blog might be the last one for a long while because of my financial situation.

This is very upsetting for me because I blog to help others and to inform people of the DWPs awful treatment towards disabled people, unemployed people and people working and claiming social security.

I really don’t want to say goodbye and I can’t change web host either. This one suits me well and it does everything that I need it to easily and without stress.

If you are able to and would like to help me to continue to blog and help others theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Theres also a donate button on the top bar of this website.

I wouldn’t ask but I’ve exhausted all other options.

My hosting bill comes to a total of £109 and it has to be paid by Tuesday.

If I can’t afford to renew my fees I’ll blog again before Tuesday then I don’t know when after this.

Thank you xx

DWP Lie About Why They Lose PIP Appeals

For a long time now the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) have been lying about why they lose so many PIP (Personal Independence payments) appeals at the time of appeal.

The DWP cite that the only reason why claimants win their appeal at the hearing stage is as a result of the claimant has submitted new evidence that the DWP were unaware of.

However this is a lie.

According to the team over at Benefits And Work and through my experience of representing people it is clear to see that the claimant hadn’t submitted any new evidence, but instead were given the opportunity to tell the panel exactly the same details that they’d produced in their application and subsequently their PIP assessment.

It’s clear to see that the main difference is that the claimant was given a good and fair chance of describing their situation and that their statements weren’t falsified as is often the case during their original assessment.

Figures given by the DWP in response to a parliamentary question prove further that they were lying.

The figures released show that in 2021 the main reasons that PIP claimants successfully won their PIP appeals are as follows:

New written evidence provided at the hearing: 1%

Cogent oral evidence: 32%

Reached a different conclusion on substantially the same facts: 59%

Other: 7%

Once again the DWP have been caught lying which sadly isn’t unusual.

The stress of applying for PIP, being refused and taking a claim to appeal can be too much for many to endure. A claimant can be waiting for a substantial amount of time until their appeal date thus resulting in many giving up their claim which is understandable.

It is however worth remembering that if a claimant goes through the appeal process they do stand a chance of being successful proving it to be worth enduring this cruel process.

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Thanks to the team over at Benefits And Work for providing this information.

Thanks to everyone that reads and share my blog posts every week, it makes a huge difference and raises a lot of awareness!

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Kwartengs Mini Budget Declares Class War Upon The Poorest

The news of todays mini budget and the latest increase in interest rates has left me feeling rather anxious for the well-being of the lesser well off, disabled and elderly.

Introduction

Household budgets for the poorest are already stretched to the point of breaking by the ever increasing cost of living and as usual the poorest are paying the highest cost as a result.

Please note, I’m not just writing about working people as most journalists reporting on this appear to be doing. I’m including everyone that is unable to work for whatever reason that may be albeit disability or commitments and so on.

Everyone matters not just the few.

Bank of England increases interest rates.

Today the Bank of England has increased UK base rates by 0.5% points from 1.75% to 2.25% making it the highest that it’s been since 2008. The effect of this will be felt by everyone that are already struggling financially.

At the same time the government has announced that they’ve removed the cap for bankers bonuses therefore enabling the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.

It’s incredulous that despite the amount of proven evidence, the Bank of England is still refusing to believe that those making obscene profits need to be dealt with to bring down inflation.

Those making such profits can very easily afford to do so, but instead the burden of inflation is being put upon the shoulders of those that are already struggling to cope financially.

The Bank of England not only has a duty to sustain and build an economy but this needs to be a priority.

It’s essential to the well-being of the UK to have a healthy economy, an economy that financial investors, businesses and organisations from around the world want to invest in. This is common sense, it keeps things going. Without this it stops, everything stops, leaving the UK a bad place to invest in which is what we are seeing at the moment.

Brand UK is rendered completely toxic leaving it the economic pariah of the western world.

Tackling Increasing Costs.

So far this year an excess of £15 billion in profits has been made by the energy sector alone. This profiteering off the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable needs to stop now. Instead the profits should be used to bring energy prices down and adequate financial help given to everyone struggling with these costs.

For example, back in June Rishi Sunak announced that households on Universal Credit will be given £1,200 a year extra to cover the increasing fuel bills and increasing cost of living. Whilst he failed to tell the public that he’d already stripped £1,000 a year away from them.

Benefits increased for some by 3.1% but at the same time inflation had already risen by 10% so this was of no real benefit for those in desperate need. It’s the same old Tory tactic of giving in one hand whilst taking with the other at the same time.

Sunack might have fooled some and I bet he felt very pleased about this, however it hasn’t been ignored by financial campaigners, the public and opposition MPs and politicians.

Fuel Bills

The government announced that there will be freeze in the cost of energy bills, trying to paint themselves as the good Samaritans, that they’re doing their best to help the public.

They deliberately omitted to announce that the average person will become £1,450 a year worse off unable to keep up with the increased costs. This will come as a shock when people see the reality that instead of a freeze or rollback they will be faced with a 25% rise in energy costs in October.

At the same time the help so far offered by the government won’t even come close or anywhere near to help tackle this, it’s an insult. The low paid will get £550 in financial help from the government, despite facing a £1,300 rise in fuel bills and increasing cost of living expenses.

Disabled people will suffer the most and yet the help offered to them is of no consequence and won’t make a difference.

Children, adults, disabled people and the elderly will be faced with spending the winter unable to heat their homes and feed themselves. This will undoubtably result in illness and even death, thus increasing the burden upon our NHS.

Stamp Duty

Whilst lower paid workers struggle to buy a house and pay their mortgages the government announced today that they’re getting rid of stamp duty on homes worth £250,000 and more. This will have no benefit whatsoever for the public except the rich.

Wealth doesn’t trickle down, it stays at the top leaving only the wealthiest to profit.

Mortgages

Fixed rate mortgages will remain the same until the fixed rate changes.

Variable mortgages will increase by £25 per month per £100,000 of the mortgage.

These changes will be implemented in the near future.

Kwartengs mini budget is a budget created for only the top 1% of this county, it’s cruel beyond belief and it’s abhorrent that they’re implementing this at the time of a national cost of living crisis.

The UK is broken, toxic to most of the western world.

The poorest are getting poorer, poverty levels are increasing at astonishing levels, charities and organisations left to pick up the pieces whilst at the same time struggling to survive.

This is a direct announcement of class war at a scale that hasn’t been seen before in modern times.

Instead of blaming the poorest, all blame needs to be directed at the government. It’s essential that we all join together working and not working and declare that enough is enough.

The UK is broken and we need to get it back.

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Thanks Mike for being the inspiration for this blog post x.

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Rule Changes For Working Universal Credit Claimants To Start Next Week

***Mention Of Suicide***

As from next week the DWP are set to make changes for working Universal Credit claimants These rules if applicable could well see already working claimants being forced to undergo more job searching commitments and to look for a better paid job.

From the 26th September 2022 onwards there will be an increase in the Administration Earnings Threshold (AET). This threshold ultimately decides which work search group people that claim Universal Credit are placed in. This then results in decisions being made as to how many hours they are required to look for work whilst already working. This also applies to job seekers not working but placed in the intensive work search group.

It is estimated that around 114,000 people will be moved from the ‘light touch’ work search group to the ‘intensive work search’ group. From September 26, the earnings rate is being increased from £355 to £494 per month and from £567 to £782 per month for joint claimants

If their working income total is above these rates the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) will move working claimants into the ‘light touch’ work search group.

If a claimants working income total falls below these thresholds, they will be placed into the ‘intensive work search’ group. Whilst in the intensive work group they will undoubtably be put under more pressure to find more work and ask for more hours, if they don’t do as is asked of them this can result in their Universal Credit payments being sanctioned.

Each person that is moved into the intensive work group will then be informed about the amount of hours they will be expected to search for more work and they will also be asked to show evidence of their job searching and what is expected of them

Then Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said the new approach will “help claimants get quickly back into the world of work while helping ensure employers get the people they and the economy needs”.

Unbelievably Coffey makes the above statement ignoring the fact that these working Universal credit recipients are already working extremely hard, often with more than one job. They don’t need introducing to the ‘world of work’ they’re already aware, they’re in it.

Coffey went on to say “Helping people get any job now, means they can get a better job and progress into a career. Way to Work is a step change in our offer to claimants and employers, making sure our Jobcentre network and excellent work coaches can deliver opportunities, jobs and prosperity to all areas of the country.”

Her statement proves that she has absolutely no idea of what the ‘world of work’ is really like. Employees can’t ask for more hours and receive them easily like she says.

Most low paid work is now part time, full time work is very hard to find. This inevitably results in people forced to work two or even three jobs to get more hours to reach the targets expected by the DWP. Coffey also omits to say that many employers also can’t afford to increase wages and employees work hours.

Universal Credit claimants are paid poverty wages hence why they have to apply for Universal Credit to top their wages up in the first place, they do essential jobs that the rich wouldn’t do and are often overlooked. Most are already working the maximum amount of hours that they already can work and to expect them to find more work immediately is completely unreasonable and is unrealistic.

Universal Credit recipients can’t drop prior commitments whenever the DWP requests them to find more work, it’s an impossibility for them to do so. Commitments are largely based around care for children or a loved one and the physical ability to be able to work, they’re already doing as much as they can physically do for very little, if any financial reward.

Whilst typing this I’m reminded of a conversation that I had a few years ago with a man that was told to search for more work and to commit to the job search rules. He was working difficult shifts, both night and day shifts and was exhausted.

Sadly he fell asleep whilst sat looking for work on his computer and his work coach sanctioned him for being a hour short of his job search commitments. This resulted in him loosing everything and eventually his life.

I don’t need to tell you that this shouldn’t be happening. I fear that this is yet another tactic employed by the government to unfairly push people away from claiming social security, to punish them for being poor. After all they don’t have any regard for their wellbeing this has been proven time and time again.

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Good Law Project To Sue Ofgem

I’m a bit late publishing this my apologies.

I wish the Good Law Project every success. Ofgem have acted terribly and have failed in their duty to protect the consumer and to file important reports that should have been submitted before their announcement last week.