Earlier this month (May) the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) released their latest Universal Credit sanction statistics. The statistics reveal that 541,000 UC claimants were sanctioned in the year to January 2023.
The greatest majority of those (530,000) were shown to have been sanctioned for failing to attend or failing to participate in a mandatory interview.
However these figures represent a very small fall from the previous peak sanction rate and the number of claimants sanctioned is shown to be still more than double the figures pre-pandemic.
In January 2020 18,462 claimants were sanctioned.
In January 2023, the figure was 44,888.
However the non attendance of mandatory interviews are mostly for genuine issues such as not recieving a letter or notification of having to attend an interview, I’ve blogged about this many times.
Other reasons for non attendance can be Not being able to get to their nearest Jobcentre for their interview because of cost, illness and appointments clashing with childcare obligations.
It is then that the claimant is left to the discretion of their work coach as to if they’re sanctioned or not.
This is incredibly worrying especially because the DWP is now planning to give work coaches the power to decide who is capable of work. Please see my previous blogs for details about this.
Please note that as already blogged it is planned that medically unqualified work coaches could be given the responsibility of making life changing decisions on behalf of UC claimants.
Decisions such as if a disabled or ill claimant is in their opinion able to take part in work-related activities.
Based upon their decision they could be given the power to recommend sanctions and suchlike.
As a result of not being medically qualified such decisions will be based purely on opinion and not fact.
Upon being sanctioned a claimant can try to show their work coach good causes for not attending a planned meeting. They can also do this if their work coach decides that even though they’ve attended a meeting but have failed on their eyes to participate as well as expected.
This can be for many reasons such as their disability preventing them for doing so or illness.
However the work coaches decision is purely based upon their decision or mood so it’s clear that unfair sanction decisions can be sent to the decision maker leaving the claimants payments being sanctioned.
Sanction decision can be appealed and their is an appeal process. Whilst the majority of appeals are successful the whole process is very long and extremely stressful, leaving the claimant in great distress and under enormous financial pressure.
The whole benefit sanction process is heavily biased against claimants, the balance of power unfairly being in the hands of work coaches and decision makers.
Once a sanction has reached the end of the appeal process and a decision made in the claimant’s favour the damage has already been done and many claimants never fully recover both mentally and physically from this.
Sadly this won’t be changing for the better any time soon and it would be nieve to expect this.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts. Every share makes a huge difference in raising awareness of issues such as these.
Thanks to everyone that shares, reads and supports my blog and campaign. I’m trying to get more content out there and making it of better quality also.
If you like my work and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
An ever increasing number of children are now living in poverty as a result of the cost of living crisis, increasing energy costs, result of parents losing their jobs and DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) issues such as benefit sanctions.
As we are seeing this huge increase of people living in poverty little has been said about the effects of hunger upon children and their learning abilities.
It sounds like commonsense that childhood learning and hunger are both interconnected issues that are faced by many children in the UK. If you’re hungry it’s very hard to concentrate on anything else.
Recent studies have shown that hunger and malnourishment can have a severe impact on a child’s mental and physical development, which can ultimately affect their academic performance and life opportunities.
According to the End Child Poverty coalition, 4.2 million children in the UK are living in poverty, 2.4 million of whom are living in severe poverty. Poverty is a significant driver of hunger and food insecurity, with many families struggling to afford and find healthy and nutritious food.
Research by the Trussell Trust food bank network found that over 1.2 million emergency food supplies were given to children in the UK in 2020. This highlights the extent of hunger faced by children in the country and the need for action from the government.
The effects of hunger and malnutrition on a child’s learning can be very profound. Children who experience hunger often find it difficult to concentrate and focus, affecting their memory and cognitive abilities.
This can also lead to behavioral issues, affecting their interactions with others and their overall development.
Moreover, poor nutrition can significantly affect a child’s physical development, leading to a lack of energy, poor growth, and an increased likelihood of illness.
One recent study found that children who experienced hunger were more likely to have lower academic performance and to struggle with basic literacy and numeracy. Children who eat more healthily and more varied diets also have better cognitive abilities, and in many cases have better academic outcomes.
There is evidence, however, that basic interventions can help address these issues. Breakfast clubs at schools have been shown to improve pupils’ behaviour and academic performance. This is particularly noticeable with children that come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Whilst charities and organizations are also working to provide food parcels and other forms of support to families and children who are struggling with hunger, the food offered to them are usually of low nutritional standards but they do quench their hunger.
Childhood hunger and malnutrition in the UK continues to have a huge impact on a child’s learning and development.
Whilst there are interventions such as breakfast clubs and food banks that can help alleviate these problems, and it is vitally important for policymakers, schools, and charities to work together to ensure that all children have access to the resources they need to thrive.
Sadly at the time of writing the government is very reluctant to help at all. Instead the cost of living crisis and rising energy costs are continuing to increase plunging more children and their families further into poverty.
Is the government doing this purposely? It certainly makes me suspect this. The health and wellbeing of working class children appears to be unimportant to them and the less they learn the better for them.
DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) minister Tom Pursglove admitted that claimants are waiting over half an hour on average for PIP and DLA helpline calls to be answered.
He also claimed that he is going to recruit extra staff to cope with the volume of calls on the helplines but gave absolutely no indication of how many are being employed and for how long they’ll be employed.
Nor has he confirmed if the extra staff he plans to employ are qualified to do so.
At the time of writing the average wait for a PIP enquiry to be answered is 37 minutes and for DLA enquiries it is 33.5 minutes.
However it is imperative that Tom Pursglove reveals the amount of callers that don’t get an answer at all because their calls are disconnected.
Earlier this year the DWP revealed that in March almost 90% of half a million callers to the Future Pensions Centre were faced with being call-blocked because they couldn’t cope with the rising call demand.
Implementing Call-blocking results in calls not being allowed to go on the call waiting queue because the queue is too long and they get cut off.
This is also happening to callers contacting the PIP helpline as reported to Benefits And Work by claimants trying to contact the said helpline.
We cannot ignore the fact that the claimants trying to contact these helplines are all vulnerable and are in great need of getting their enquiries answered.
The question also needs to be answered as to how many of these vulnerable people have given up trying to contact the departments. This could in some circumstances result in their payments being stopped leaving them more vulnerable than they already were. .
There’s no excuse for the DWP’s lax attitude towards the whole situation.
It’s clear that they don’t care about how this can impact upon the claimants lives and it is totally unacceptable.
Thanks to Benefits And Work for disclosing this information.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts.
Every share makes a huge difference in raising awareness which is vitality important. Thanks to everyone that has done and does this.
I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and I’m finding it a huge struggle at the moment.
If you would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
Back in the day I remember when the UK had a fully functioning NHS dentistry system that many in the UK were entitled to be given treatment by an NHS dentist.
People are still entitled to this and are dependent on certain benefits, pregnant women, women who had recently given birth and some pensioners had access to the NHS free service.
As a whole the system worked well and appointments to see a dentist and to get treatment was fairly easy. If you had a toothache or dental abscess it was also easy to get a dentist to treat you before complications set in.
Roll forward to 2023 it’s near impossible to find a dentist that’s willing to take on NHS patients and a person’s condition isn’t taken into account.
Many NHS dentistry patients have also found themselves taken off their dentists patient lists. This happened to me, if you get a toothache like I get often or a dental abscess it’s tough and difficult to cope with.
Finding an NHS dentist is near impossible though.
Most doctors and a&es won’t treat people with dental problems and trying to find a local dentistry hospital can be near impossible.
It’s become very clear that the government is actively destroying the few NHS dentistry services that are still available. They clearly don’t care about the public’s health.
Basically as stated by George Monbiot the state of our mouths truly does reflect the state of the nation.
Many people find themselves without an NHS dentist because their circumstances change such as house moves and relationship changes and dentists take NHS patients off their lists.
I live in an area of the UK where there are hardly any, if any at all dentists accepting adult NHS patients I was lucky enough to find a dentist to treat my teenage daughter who needs extensive surgery in the near future. My fear is that she’ll age out before any date for the operation becomes available. She was one of the lucky ones.
Currently at the time of writing 80% of practices in the UK are no longer taking on new child NHS patients, and about 90% are refusing new adult patients.
Sounds horrific doesn’t it and it gets worse. Some dentists do offer a waiting list for NHS appointments but they’re years long and of no use for urgent appointments.
Often accessing emergency services requires finding a dentistry hospital, being able to travel a long distance and being able to afford to do so.
Idon’t know anyone can afford to pay for private treatment. Those that have in the past can’t afford to do so again.
However the reasons why dentists are refusing to treat NHS patients are pretty simple and it’s easy to understand why.
When dentists treat patients on the NHS, they actually lose money, because the government funding package doesn’t cover their costs of doing so.
Since 2006, dentists have worked for the NHS under contracts that are shockingly designed to fail NHS dentists.
Dentists undertaking NHS work are paid in units of dental activity’ which is shortened to(UDA). This method of payment doesn’t take into account the cost of treatment which bears no relation to the costs of treatment. Under this system treating a patient earns a dentist three points regardless of the length and expense of each procedure.
Under this contract each and every NHS dentist also has to meet annual UDA targets
Absolutely no regard is given to dentistry prevention work which is in great need.
Dentists are paid at the UDA rate no matter how skilled they are and their experience.
Add the above to the government cuts that are hitting hard.
In reality NHS dentists as well as other health systems The NHS as a whole requires approximately 4% a year to keep up with it.
However NHS dentist services receive 1.2%. Add this up that they are requiring 4% to function but funding for NHS services have been cut by 4% a year.
It’s also important to take into account rising costs of energy, , energy, wages and materials which accounts to about 11% a year.
Dentists working for the NHS simply cannot stay in business unless they use their income from private practice to subsidise their public practice.
Parliament’s health and social committee stated in 2008 “it is extraordinary that the public health department did not pilot or test the UDA payment system before it was introduced.”
Rather typical isn’t it.
Since then successive governments have apparently tried to change an already broken system but haven’t made any improvements.
In 2022, the government produced a so called reformed contract in England which apparently is supposed to allow better access to NHS dental services. This however hasn’t prevented the decline of NHS dentistry because they’re still going to be losing money when treating NHS patients.
Rishi Sunak recently told parliament that there are now more NHS dentists across the UK with more funding, making sure people can get the treatment they need.
He’s got the nerve to even suggest this. The number of NHS dentists is decreasing daily. If you need a dentist you’ve got virtually no chance of seeing one.
As a result of this most if not all dental practices treating NHS patients have found themselves unable to reach NHS contract targets. . If dentists deliver fewer than 96% of UDAs that they are contracted, they find themselves in a position similar to being fined by the government.
It look’s as if they will take a record hit. The dentists undertaking NHS work were forced to pay back as much as £400m from a total English dentist budget of some £3bn. This is effectively destroying remaining NHS dentistry, obviously they can’t afford to work at a loss and on top of having to pay back the government.
It’s hard to believe that as the UK is in one of richest nations that people can’t access dentistry services.
It’s horrific that people are so desperate to get rid of their pain they’re resorting to pulling their own teeth out, buying temporary fillings and suffering in pain.
People are also accidentally overdosing on painkillers which is very dangerous both to health and life. We must also take into account the adverse health effects of dental abscess and suchlike which at worse can cause death.
Cruelty is what the conservative government does best though, most of their systems are designed to punish working class people for their very existence. How dare they ask for dental treatment.
Something needs to change and soon before more people suffer and also unfortunately die.
Will this happen though? No not a chance and it’s pointless trying to appeal to them for sympathy and help because the government clearly don’t care.
This is Mike’s comment about his quest in finding an NHS dentist.
There are two dentists where I live but, after extracting all of my own teeth and wanted dentures, I could only find one NHS dentist within 20 miles that accepted new patients. York and Leeds are both within 20 miles! Reason I wasn’t previously registered was returning from Australia where I didn’t need to register.
Thanks for telling me about your experience Mike and for your continued support of my blog also sharing it. I appreciate it.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts, this makes a massive difference in raising awareness!
If you like my work you can subscribe to my blog which is free. You’ll then be notified of any new articles that I write.
I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and it’s a massive struggle.
If you would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going and can afford to do so there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
It’s a real struggle for me at the moment and every penny or share helps.
According to new DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) plans existing PIP (Personal Independence Payments) claimants may lose their right to be in the support group.
Under these new plans they could also lose their LCWRA ( Limited capability for work and work related activity) status and be transferred to the universal credit health element.
Once there they may be required to carry out work-related activities, as early as 2026.
The government also announced plans in March to axe the work capability assessment (WCA).
Under the new proposed plans, claimants who get any element of PIP and who claim UC will automatically be eligible for an additional health element.
Sounds good doesn’t it…..
Shockingly at the time of writing the new system won’t automatically recognize any claimant as being unable to carry out any work-related activities.
Claimants might find themselves forced to undergo voluntary and mandatory work-related requirements by an appointed work coach.
Once there they could be subject to benefit sanctions if they don’t meet the mandatory requirements as set by their work coach.
At the time of the new plans announcement the government made a statement that current claimants would not begin being transferred to the new system until 2029 at the earliest.
Apparently only new claimants were said to be affected initially, with the system being rolled out by geographical area between 2026 and 2029.
Despite this announcement evidence given to the commons work and pensions committee by the DWP contradicted the above claim.
Conservative MP Nigel Mills asked: “What happens if I get a called for a new PIP assessment every couple of years and I get one of those in 2027? Does that drop me into the new rules or do I stay under the old ones?”
A senior DWP official responded:
“With the way we will roll this out, we start from 2026 with new claims only, but we will do it in a geographical, staged way. It would depend which area you were in in 2027. Yes, some people might come in under the new rules, and that means they would automatically get your UC health payment and would automatically get the support.”
As an ever increasing proportion of England and Wales will be moved to the UC health element beginning in 2026.
This suggests that thousands of existing PIP claimants when subjected to a review of their award will find themselves being forced onto the UC health element earlier than 2029.
So once again the DWP are lying.
However this does give us time to start campaigning against the new proposals but this needs to start now.
We need to prevent the DWPs plans to subject existing claimants to the attention of work coaches with targets to meet even though they deny this.
The government and their hench people will never stop persecuting disabled and poor people for their very existence.
Many have the view that they deserve to be persecuted like this. They’ll never change their opinions but we can fight them all the way.
Huge thanks to everyone that reads and shares my blog posts. This makes a massive difference in making people aware of matters such as this.
If you haven’t subscribed to my blog it’s worth doing. It’s free and you’ll be alerted to all new blog updates etc.
I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do.
If you like my work and would like to donate to keep my blog going there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
After many months of waiting and pressure from organisations and campaigners the DWP finally relented and published the secret sanction report that I’ve reported on previously.
This report concerned itself into the effectiveness of DWP (Department of Work and Pension) sanctions, afterall it’s a cruel tool used by them for a long time.
However in true DWP style they released it hours before the UK was closed to business for the Easter bank holiday.
The report shows that sanctioned claimants do take longer to move into paid employment and when they do so they’re most likely going to accept lower paid jobs than claimants that haven’t been sanctioned.
It also reveals that there’s no evidence that sanctions are effective in any way at all.
According to the report claimants that have been sanctioned also have 8% shorter UC claims than claimants who were not sanctioned.
The report proves that the majority of claimants with shortened claims disappear, they do not move into paid employment which is very worrying.
Claimants who are sanctioned and who eventually move into PAYE work then take longer to do so than those were not sanctioned and earn an average of £34 a month less than those not sanctioned.
The DWP rather unexpectedly argue in a ‘context note’ within the report that the research cannot be relied upon because it did not take into account the value of the ‘deterrent effect’ of the sanctions regime.
The DWPs ongoing theory is that claimants are more likely to meet their obligations because they fear being sanctioned thus sanctions are an effective tool.
In the three years since the draft report was created the DWP have chosen not to commission any independent research to test the truth of their deterrent effect theory.
Instead they intend to introduce a much harsher sanctions regime, when the only hard evidence they have about sanctions proves that they don’t work.
DWP Sanctions can and should be appealed however this takes a great deal of strength and determination of which not many have due to being completely worn down by the system.
So there we have it, the DWP once again ignoring important information that have a direct negative effect upon sanctioned claimants and their well-being.
The amount of people that decide to take themselves off the system when sanctioned is very concerning.
Don’t expect the DWP to care though, this is exactly what they want to happen and a claimants well-being isn’t even thought about let alone be a concern.
How many more deaths will there be as a result of being sanctioned before the cruel sanctioning system is forced to stop.
I predict thousands because not one political party is willing to campaign against this and apart from a few good MPs such as Debbie Abrahams they’re silent
Sanctions do kill and this report needs to be acted upon ASAP. One death is a death too many.
No one should be forced to suffer in this manner it’s inhumane and cruel.
Please read, share and tweet my blog posts. This helps enormously in raising awareness and I can’t thank everyone that does enough.
I really couldn’t do this without you though. To say I’m struggling at the moment is an understatement.
If you like my work, would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going and can afford to do so there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
I’ve got my internet bill to be paid as well as my top up for my mobile phone that I rely upon to help people.
This week I’ve heard some truly awful stories of people suffering and I’ve done everything I can to help those that need it.
Fitch Ratings a top credit ratings agency has warned the government that mortgaged homeowners in the UKare now more at risk of falling into arrears than in any other major developed country.
They also warn that the share of mortgaged homeowners missing more than three months of mortgage payments is most likely to double in 2023 to 1.5% as a result of high rates being charged to borrowers.
These figures are based upon the current number of residential mortgages in the UK which adds to approximately 135,000 households facing mortgage repayment arrears.
Research conducted by Fitch reveals Thar banks in the UK are more exposed to the housing market than in any of the 10 developed markets ranked by Fitch which include Canada, the USA, Germany, Australia and Italy.
A statement issued by Monsur Hussain at Fitch reveals “The UK scores the worst in terms of borrower risks.”
Fitch have also forecasted that the Bank of England will most likely raise the Bank Rate to a peak of 4.75%, up from 4% currently by May this year.
Jessica Hinds, director of economics at Fitch, said: “We have seen much bigger increases in mortgage rates, the Bank of England started tightening much earlier, and we have shorter mortgage terms than in other countries.”
Rather shockingly British borrowers fix for short periods of time either two or five years, buyers in the US commonly fix for around 25 years.
Mr Hussain from Fitch went on to say that in the year to November 2022 the average mortgage rates in the UK jumped by 4.5 percentage points compared to 3.5 points in the US.
As a result of this the UK’s housing market has come under immense pressure after mortgage rates increased dramatically when Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget was revealed inciting chaos in financial markets.
Even though rates have since started to fall concerns about the cost of living crisis and ever increasing energy bills have deeply impacted employment stability and less money available to pay mortgage and everyday household costs.
This has already had a massive effect upon mortgage repayments and is undoubtedly resulting in many being forced to sell their homes with many being repossessed and then becoming homeless.
Although this might not be seen as an important issue for some it is indeed a massive problem for not only people becoming homeless but for local authorities that are already massively underfunded being forced to bear the burden of this.
I can’t see this getting better and a housing recession could well be on the cards in the near future.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts. It helps enormously to raise awareness.
Thank you to everyone that reads, shares and subscribes to my blog. Subscription is free and it enables you to be alerted every time I publish a new article.
I don’t get paid for any of the work that I do and if you would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going or would like to buy me a coffee you can find a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
According to statistics released by the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) the rate of universal credit recipients hit an all-time high of 6.86% in October 2022.
This total decreased slightly to 6.51% in November 2022.
The statistics released by the DWP show that sanctions have risen by 4.16 percentage points in the last 12 months.
Sanctions given to universal credit recipients can be and are not excluding other reasons for failure to attend or participate in a mandatory interview, failure or inability to complete their online journal or being seen as not to be looking for work enough in their time allotted to do so.
Over the last year over half a million claimants were sanctioned which includes a total of 98.4% of all sanctions given for not attending an in-face or telephone interview.
Needless to say most universal credit recipients do not purposely miss important interviews and there is usually a good reason for doing so which are often not taken into consideration by the DWP.
At a time when most people are struggling because of the current cost of living and energy cost crisis the DWP continues to financially punish the most vulnerable.
It’s abhorrent that the DWP continues to do this, they extend a person’s punishment to such an extent that they can’t see a way out.
It needs to stop before even more people die as a result of the DWPs actions and decision making.
Please read, share, tweet and email this blog post. Every share makes a massive difference in raising awareness!
A huge thanks to everyone that does this!
A huge thank you to everyone that reads, subscribes to and supports my blog and the work that I do.
I really couldn’t do this without you and I can’t thank you enough.
If you like my work and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.