Only 3% of the Welfare bill goes to the Unemployed

When only 3% of the welfare bill goes to the unemployed but 46% goes on pensions, it begs the question “How many pensioners are being referred to Food Banks to help them survive”?

The governments narrative, largely accepted, is that most of the huge welfare budget goes to the able-bodied, working-age unemployed. This is clearly untrue – but you won’t see this on your forthcoming annual tax statement. An annual tax statement that George Osborne has spent £5 Million of public money producing.

It is all very well knocking the unemployed but kicking them when they are down is not the answer. A fairer tax system, where the rich pay their way in our society is.

One in 10 English households is now living in fuel poverty

One in 10 English households is now living in fuel poverty according to stats released in May/June.
They show that in 2.28m properties, people are struggling to be able to afford to heat their homes. The Department of Energy and Climate Change predicts that the number will climb by 2014 to 2.33m.
Under the old measure, which included everybody who had to spend more than 10 per cent of their income to heat their homes properly, some 4.5m English households were in fuel poverty in 2012, a huge increase on the 3.2m homes in fuel poverty in 2011 and almost double the number included in the new measure.

To read the full story and see what charities say click here.

DWP – 26 Weeks To Deal With PIP Claims

The DWP quite openly state on their PIP (Personal Independent Paymemt) telephone helpline that it may take 26 weeks to deal with a claim.
26 weeks? 26 WEEKS???? That is 6 months!! Half a year!!

This is NOT just new claims but also those transferring from DLA to PIP.

This is outrageous and totally UNACCEPTABLE.

For once in my life I am totally lost for words. Gobsmacked.

This government cannot be serious. Why 6 months? Have they run out of the Private Detectives who spy on claimants or something? What is it … a case of … Die first and save the country money or give up waiting and save the country money by not claiming? Don’t worry Cameron – the agents on the helpline are terse and unfriendly, so no doubt your training on “How to be a miserable and nearely-rude telephone call handler” has worked and cut claims by at least 50% anyway.

So, for all genuine claimants who have possibly been diagnosed with a serious illness or have had a serious accident, I really don’t know what you are supposed to live on for 6 months. All I can say is God Help You.

DWP is Failing with the New PIP Benefit

DWP is failing with the new PIP benefit.

DWP statistics published earlier this month show that between April 2013 and March 2014 349,000 PIP claims were received. During that same period just 83,900 (24%) decisions were made. In addition, only 1,015 appeals had been heard by an independent tribunal, according to figures from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service. Since October, the new rule means that every person who has had a claim refused after a PIP assessment or a fit-for-work test, cannot appeal straight away to an independent tribunal. Now the case must first be returned to the DWP to be reconsidered. This new step in the appeal process for unsuccessful welfare benefit claimants is called a “mandatory reconsideration”. During this time the claimant receives no payments and there is no time limit for how long the reconsideration can take.

For more information and to read about claimants’ experiences click HERE

Malnutrition cases have Doubled and Rickets is also on the Up

Data collected in 2013 show primary and secondary diagnoses of malnutrition (caused by lack of food or very poor diet) rose from 3,161 in 2008/09 to 5,499 in 2012/13 according to figures released by the health minister Norman Lamb.

While the data does not include information on the circumstances of each diagnosis, the rise coincides with a dramatic increase in the cost of living, and a spike in demand for charity food hand-outs.

Rural areas suffered the most. Hospitals in Somerset saw the most cases, followed by Cornwall and the Scilly Isles.

Cases of Rickets, the disease caused by a deficiency in Vitamin D, is also on the rise from 561 in 2008/9 to 702 in 2012/13.

Whilst the government continues to deny the continued rise in the use of foodbanks is anything to do to Welfare Reform, it didn’t really offer anything in the way of a credible explanation for the rise in malnutrition and rickets, saying only ” The Government has taken action to help families, cutting income tax for 25 million people and taking 2.7 million out of income tax altogether – saving a typical taxpayer over £700 a year, freezing council tax for five years and freezing fuel duty. Our advice for a healthy diet is to eat the right number of calories for how active you are and to eat a wide range of foods to ensure that you’re getting a balanced diet and that your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.”

Hmmmm ….

51% rise in People Using Foodbanks

The Trussell Trust said that there was a “shocking” 51% rise in clients to established food banks. It said benefit payment delays were the main cause.

They also said benefits payments had been a particular problem since welfare changes were introduced just over a year ago. Some 83% of food banks reported that benefits sanctions – when payments are temporarily stopped – had resulted in more people being referred for emergency food. And more than 30% of visits were put down to a delay in welfare payments.

An additional problem since April 2013 has been the abolition of DWP-funded crisis loans, designed to cover short-term emergencies.

Responsibility for these loans has been devolved to local authorities, which can make them harder to access.

The government said there was no evidence of a link between welfare reforms and the use of food banks.

ATOS bows out

So ATOS the IT company that currently has the task of assessing whether benefit claimants are fit to work are in discussions with a view to ending their contract early.

An Atos spokesman said the company would not walk away from the contract and it would continue to provide a service until new contractors had been appointed.
“For several months now we have been endeavouring to agree an early exit from the work capability assessment contract which is due to expire in August 2015,” the spokesman said. “Despite these ongoing discussions, we will not walk away from a front-line service. Our total focus remains on delivering the services we are contracted to provide in a professional and compassionate way until a new service begins.”

Atos recorded around 163 incidents a month last year of people assaulting or abusing its staff either in person or online. Examples on Facebook were said to include: “Murdering scum … won’t be smiling when we come to hang you bastards.”
These persistent death threats and abuse have helped the company reach this decision about ending its contract early.

People on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will not be automatically retested until another firm can be brought into help, a leaked memo has revealed.

It doesn’t really matter who wins the next contract (God forbid it goes to G4S), the people who work for the company will still be obligated to do exactly as the DWP wants.

Heat or Eat?

It is of no great surprise to read that some food banks are giving out “kettle boxes” (rations that only need boiled water to become edible e.g. pot noodles etc) and “cold boxes” (rations that do not need any heat added to them e.g. orange juice and rice pudding etc). Click HERE to read the full story.
Many many people, no matter whether employed or not, are struggling to pay their energy bills. For those on a prepayment meter the situation is often far worse. Energy companies whack up the cost of gas or electricity with these meters. Prepayment meters are supposed to help the poorest amongst us but it is increasingly becoming acknowledged that in some cases it does just the opposite.
Someone I know, has prepayment meters for both gas and electric. They were already in the property when this person moved in. The home is a small one bed-room flat. No central heating just warm blow air. Now my energy bills are around £100 per month. I have central heating and live in a two-bedroom property. This person is £150 a month into these prepayment meters. I know – I’ve seen the receipts. This is outrageous. This person doesn’t even have a cooker and all food is either microwaved or eaten cold anyway. The energy supplier wants £62 just to take away one meter but the person can’t afford this because of the amount of money they are having to put in the meter to start with. Again, this is outrageous.
A vicious circle for those poorest people among us.

The Fear of Eviction

Millions have started 2014 in fear of eviction. 4000 people were surveyed and one in 11 say they will find it hard to find enough money to cover their housing costs. Nearly two thirds say they are in danger of falling behind with rent or mortgage payments.
The charity Shelter, found that families with children are finding it the hardest to cope. Seven in ten said that they find it tough to cover their rent or mortgage.
Shelter, who commissioned the survey said the crisis is due to a combination of high housing costs (including the “bedroom tax”), wage freezes, increases in food prices and high energy costs.

DWP Sanctions

Please ensure that if you visit a food bank and have been sanctioned (for whatever reason) that you appeal against the decision. If you don’t know how, please go to the CAB or Shelter.

This is a message from a member of the Facebook page which can be found HERE.