Universal Credit – Reasons to be Tearful.
A compendium of comment, analysis, advice, information, and the government’s doubleplusgood press releases on Universal Credit
The nature of this blog will in some way be defined by my technical inability to refine it as I might like, so, new stuff will be inserted at the top, in the “Breaking, Breaking, This Just In” section till it becomes old stuff. I will try to keep what I see as the most informative and important items for claimants fixed after that at the start. This will inevitably lead to a fractured narrative flow but hopefully it will still be a helpful resource for anyone trying to negotiate their way through Universal Credit, a government initiative that has every chance of becoming one of the most monumental welfare cluster fucks of the modern era.
Breaking, Breaking, This Just In:
Children’s Society Report on how Universal Credit Penalises the Poor:
Child care component – unclear, unfair, unworkable…
Esther McVay on Benefit Sanctions:
Esther McVey says on benefit sanctions “What does a teacher do in a school? A teacher would tell you off or give you lines or whatever it is, detentions, but at the same times they are wanting your best interests at heart. They are teaching you, they are educating you but at the same time they will also have the ability to sanction you.”
So giving a child lines is equated to removing their ability to buy food for their children, heat their home and fund transport to look for work to name but three. Its hard to tell if this is satire or reality. (oh no its not satire – its from the mouth of a Tory) So stop peoples benefits to make them get a job? Surely they are more likely to spend their time queueing in a food bank – or walking everywhere – stopping peoples money does not make them more employable, nothing like starving for 3 days to put you in the right positive frame of mind to impress at a job interview. This really is the most idiotic thinking I have ever seen by a government.
STOPPING BENEFITS JUST MAKES PEOPLE FEEL DESPERATE, DEPRESSED AND UNEMPLOYABLE YOU FOOLS!
House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts
Universal Credit: early
There have been thousands of words written about the immense waste of public money, the abysmal management of the IT, the blame game that followed, and the “quiet man” turning the volume from down to completely off. Well nothing quite delivers the truth in all its raging glory better than the original report which available from the link below.
Sadly it seems the mainstream tv news channels did not seek to expose his staggering hypocrisy and ineptitude that would have got anyone else the sack.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubacc/619/619.pdfMore on the subterfuge and possible cover up of the Universal Credit IT fiasco:
Iain Duncan Smith’s second epiphany: from compassion to brutality
Of all the great comment on this subject, this perhaps captures the mendacious pernicious inhumanity visited upon the claimant than this by Poly Toynbee:
A New Government Infographic About Universal Credit:
This is actually such an appallingly oversimplified depiction of reality it is actually funny, anybody know how James eats, lives and looks for work in the six weeks it will take him to get his first payment of Universal Credit?
Safe pair of hands not looking quite so safe:
More from Computer Weekly here:
Universal credit: £120m could be written off to rescue welfare reform
Labour says ministers in disarray as leaked documents reveal two options for saving project to merge benefits and tax credits
Anyone who has looked at the criteria (further down page) for claiming UC in the “rollout” zones will have to have concluded that it is hard to see how it is anything but a “rollout” in name only, with only the most simplistic of cases being dealt with by UC – one can almost see each claim being supervised manually to ensure it does not add to the huge maladministration statistics of the DWP.
Almost worth a caption competition?
“Well minister can you show us how far Universal Credit is from total disaster?”
Guardian Editorial Comment on the above revelation.
The audacity of Arrogance:
An insight into why this blog is here, how UC is already affecting the most vulnerable in our society:
This is initially just a collection of links, with a human intervention to avoid the repetition one normally gets from google searches – hopefully containing a synopsis of their content, or just a little snark and bile. There are some brilliant articles about this monumental change to the delivery of Social Welfare payments and effects that it may have. I intend to try to link to both government “information” publications and any media coverage or comment. I will endeavour to try to avoid repetitive and/or tautological links to debate or comment. Though that is possibly unavoidable at times. It is not historical due to the constraints of time so is hopefully current from the beginning of November 2013. PLease feel free to post in the comments anything I have missed – and most importantly feel free to use anything on here for any article, tweet, blog or whatever. Iain Duncan Smith is spearheading this, a man whose tongue is so forked he has a cutlery tray where most of us have a mouth – everything said about UC needs to be forensically examined and discussed. Any legal challenges need to be publicised – anyone victimised by UC needs to know there are commentators watching that can publicise their situation. It appears to me that it is not the Devil that is in the detail – but the multifarious spawn of Satan. There are many deeply flawed hidden changes in the legislation – that appear to be being slowly and surreptitiously revealed. I hope this blog will do a little to shine some light into the dark dank corners of this legislation.
Lest We Forget the Man With The Plan:
So to start a brilliant analytical briefing paper on Universal Credit in pdf form.
It explores the potential effects on the self employed, in a most insightful and detailed way, and the main reason I am writing this now, it is an essential read for anyone with even a general interest, it points out many of the problems deep with in the legislation that will affect all UC claimants – and the first place where I have see many of these flaws identified:
Great facebook page with many informative links about Universal Credit and the self-employed:
The Government Information Sheet on Universal Credit and self-employment
and a more accurate assessment:
Latest government fact sheet about other changes to other benefits as well as UC:
Next a lovely government information sheet that actually demonstrates how far they are from fully implementing it .
Crisis, what crisis? I have to cut and paste one part of this just so it does not get missed. It is called eligibility, there should be a prize if you can guess how many people are able to claim once all these caveats have been negotiated – not many I would think. Remember this when we hear talk of a successful trial:
To be eligible to claim Universal Credit (as opposed to existing benefits), you must:
• live in a specified postcode area but not be homeless, in supported or temporary
accommodation nor a homeowner
• be single, with no dependent children, a British citizen and aged between 18 years and 60
years and 6 months
• be fit for work
• not have a claim to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance
(ESA) that ended in the last two weeks, except where ESA ended due to a decision that
you no longer have limited capability for work
• not be pregnant nor have given birth within the last 15 weeks
• not be receiving existing benefits (JSA, ESA, Income Support, Housing Benefit) or Tax
Credits nor awaiting a decision on, nor be appealing against, a decision not to award any
• not be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment
• not have savings in excess of £6,000
• not have any caring responsibilities
• not be self-employed, in education nor have a person acting on your behalf over your
• have a valid bank account and National Insurance Number.
If you are in employed work and do not have take home pay over £270 per month (if aged
under 25) or £330 per month (if age 25 or over), you may also be eligible to claim
above quote from this document here:
The most recent Lords debate:
it appears that if you can get a building project completed on time you can oversee the biggest change in welfare ever seen and deal with its manifold I.T. complexities: “We now have Howard Shiplee on board, and he is immensely experienced. He produced the olympic Park” Oh, so thats ok then, I feel completely at ease now.
The Lords live, UC from 21 minutes in:
Lord Freud providing the perfect exemplar of “mealy mouthed”
Reservation about UC from Chartered Institute of Taxation:
Reservations from The Work and Pensions Committee:
Good blogs highlighting some potential hidden problems:
Gingerbread find much of concern: “It’s worrying to see that single parents will, on average, be worse off under universal credit than they are now,”
The Gingerbread report in full:
A detailed report on the impact of Universal Credit from the Social Market Foundation:
“Our findings – set out in Chapters 4 and 5 – indicate that some
aspects of the Universal Credit are likely to prove unhelpful for a
significant number of claimants. In particular the monthly payment
and the payment of Housing Benefit to social tenants will require
behavioural change if the new system is not to cause serious
problems for many.”
A useful, but very lengthy document, (2,165 pages to be precise) the decision maker’s guide, could be very useful if considering an appeal ( a sample: “A decision not to revise is not appealable, but its effect may be to renew the appeal rights arising from the original decision”)
Advice for Decision Making (ADM) provides guidance on the following benefits
introduced in April 2013:
Universal Credit (UC)
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
New-style contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in accordance with the
Welfare Reform Act 2012
New-style contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in
accordance with the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
What the National audit Office said:
( I’ll give you a clue “The programme suffered from weak management and ineffective control.”)
No one is safe – actors to be hit by UC changes:
Good commentary on IDS and interesting FOI request in this blog:
The Claimant Commitment & Sanctions Section:
“When you claim Universal Credit you will need to accept a Claimant
Commitment that sets out your responsibilities. You may be required
to look for work, prepare for work, or to increase your earnings if you
are already working.” by
“You will work with your Universal Credit adviser who will help you to assess your skills and
get training that will improve your chances of finding a job.”
The very same people who are in the jobcentre now: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
I can see the Claimant Commitment part of Universal Credit becoming a separate blog article but for the moment it will have to sit at the bottom of this one. It looks to be a small alliterative phrase that is going to become a huge bone of contention.. There are 2 excellent blog articles at the end of this paragraph and also a Guardian piece about the amount of job vacancies relative to those seeking work. (quite why this is never mentioned when Gideon starts ranting about feckless workshy individuals i’ll never understand.)
Brilliant blog detailing what ludicrous reasons are already being used to sanction people, I defy anyone to read this and not get hugely angry:
just a few of the reasons people have had their only source of income stopped:
Been told you have to give a phone number or an email address or get sanctioned?
What your MP gets told about the housing benefit component”