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11/27/2014 2:30:47 PM

Attend our free Eastbourne intermediary workshops

Information about Turn2us free regional intermediary workshops


Are you working with people in financial need?

Would you like to know how you can use Turn2us tools and resources to help your clients?

Spaces are still available on our free regional workshops to be held in Eastbourne on Friday 5 December.

To book a place or for more information, contact: Michelle Brookes, Turn2us Training Co-ordinator, at email: training@turn2us.org.uk.

Read more about Turn2us free regional intermediary workshops

Date of publication: 27 November 2014

11/27/2014 10:19:27 AM

Benefits sanctions not helping single parents - new Gingerbread report

Gingerbread press release (27 November): Benefits sanctions system ‘broken’(link opens in a new window)


 

Tens of thousands of single parents are facing wrongful sanctions under a broken system too focused on sanctions at the expense of the practical support that would help single parents into work. This is the warning from Gingerbread in a new report which calls for any parent sanctioned to automatically be given hardship payments to ensure some minimum protection for children in families affected.

Cutting back on spending on essentials

Parents who are sanctioned, many of whom are already struggling to get by, are forced to cut back spending on the essentials of food and heating, which in turn affects their children’s health and wellbeing, reports the charity. What’s more, single parents who are sanctioned are less likely than other claimants to be told that they may be able to claim hardship payments.

Single parents more likely to receive 'non adverse' decision

Analysis in the charity’s new report, Single parents and benefit sanctions, has found that single parents are more likely to receive a ‘non adverse’ decision than other people referred for sanction or appealing a sanction, suggesting they are more likely to have been wrongly put forward for sanction in the first place. The latest government statistics show that two in five of sanction referrals and decisions against single parents are overturned. While sanctioned people wait for their sanction to be reviewed, their benefits remain blocked.

The government’s own research finds limited evidence that sanctions help people to move into work. Gingerbread argues that sanctions processes and appeals are diverting resources from providing the practical support single parents need, such as opportunities for work experience or training.

Comment from Gingerbread's Chief Executive

Gingerbread's Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “The high rate of overturned sanction decisions for single parents suggests that many should never have been referred for sanction. It is extremely distressing for any parent to be told that they are going to lose £290 for a month when they need that money to feed their children.

“Our report has found that the benefits sanctions regime is broken; precious time and resources that are being spent on sanctions are coming at the expense of action that would help people back to work. Single parents want to work [5] but they have to balance any job with caring for their children, we have found that many job centres are losing sight of this.”

Rules designed to protect single parents' caring responsibilities

Gingerbread has heard dozens of reports of job centre advisers failing to apply the rules designed to protect single parents’ caring responsibilities and wrongly threatening single parents with sanctions.

These include:

  • A single mother who was sanctioned for turning down night shifts because she couldn’t find anyone to look after her young daughter overnight
  • A lone parent who reported that she was sanctioned for missing a job centre appointment when her son was in hospital.

Under Universal Credit, many of the rules designed to protect single parents from wrongful sanctions are set to be downgraded from ‘regulations’ to ‘guidance’ for job centre advisers. Given evidence of widespread poor application of the current rules, Gingerbread is calling for the government to improve advisor training and ensure the protections are made into regulation and not left open to interpretation by overstretched advisers.

Tip of the iceberg

Fiona Weir continued: “The calls that we get are just the tip of the iceberg. We worry that parents who don’t know about the rules designed to protect them face being wrongly sanctioned or pressured into unsuitable jobs that they can’t sustain.

“Most single parents want to work.  Sanctions are getting in the way rather than helping. 

Source: Gingerbread press release (27 November): Benefits sanctions system ‘broken’(link opens in a new window)

Use Turn2us resources to find help

If you are from a single parent family on a low income, you can use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and the Turn2us Grants Search database to check your eligibility for a grant from a charitable fund. See also our information sections for Turn2us information for people expecting or bringing up a child and Turn2us information on Education costs.

Also in the news

Gas

Personal Independence Payment

Scotland

Date of publication: 27 November 2014

11/26/2014 11:10:22 AM

Universal Credit expands to families in six jobcentres

Turn2us Universal Credit information


 

From this week, Universal Credit is being opened up to families – couples with children and lone parents.

Claims for families started in North West England with six jobcentres on Monday 24 November with many more jobcentres planned to go live early in 2015.

The new benefit is already available to single and couple claimants in over 80 Jobcentres in England, Wales and Scotland and will be available in nearly 100 Jobcentres by Christmas.

National Audit Office warns of costs of further delays to Universal Credit

A new report from the National Audit Office finds that the Department for Work & Pensions has reset Universal Credit on a sounder basis but at significant cost - by extending the time for implementation and choosing a more expensive approach. It is now vital that the Department quickly establish clear goals for delivering the programme, in terms of cost, time and functionality, against which it can be held to account.

The timetable is challenging, with the Department planning to start to roll out its fully scalable digital service in just 18 months time. It expects significant savings from its digital service, but does not yet have a contingency plan should the digital service be delayed or fail. It has not evaluated whether it could use the live service instead. The NAO estimates that using live service systems, without further investment, could cost £2.8 billion more in staff costs. 

Find out more about Universal Credit

Read the Turn2us Universal Credit information

Sources:

Date of publication: 26 November 2014

11/26/2014 10:09:42 AM

Contact a Family launches campaign to help families with disabled children

Contact a Family 'Counting the Costs' campaign article (25 November 2014) (link opens in a new window) 

 

Contact a Family is calling on energy companies and the Government to address the sharp increase in families with children with disabilities going without heating and food - resulting in ill health. 

The charity, which helps families who have children with disabilities, has launched a new 'Counting the Costs' campaign following research involving a survey of 3,500 families.

Key findings

Of the families surveyed:

  • A third of families with disabled children are going without heating
  • The number of families going without food has nearly doubled in the last two years.

And of those going without and in debt:

  • 22 per cent say their child's health has worsened as a result
  • 64 per cent have suffered ill health as a result
  • 36 per cent have taken out a loan (up from 29 per cent in 2012)
  • A third are worse off as a result of benefit changes - nearly half by £1560 a year
  • 60 per cent see their financial situation worsening in the next year (up from 43 per cent in 2010).

Contact a Family's Call to Action

Contact a Family has written a template email with its findings and what the charity wants to see happen.

They are asking supporters to send this to their MP, asking them to:

  • Push the Government to increase access to financial support and work
  • Call on all energy companies to offer a fairer deal to households with disabled children
  • Tell families with disabled children about the financial help that's available.

Comment from Contact a Family's Chief Executive

Amanda Batten, Chief Executive of Contact a Family, says: "Increased living costs and cuts to financial support have left some families with disabled children reeling. The impact is affecting their health, relationships and in some cases is making their child's condition worse."

Use Contact a Family's template email to contact your MP about the Counting the Costs campaign (link opens in a new window)

Source: Contact a Family 'Counting the Costs' campaign article (25 November 2014) (link opens in a new window)

Use Turn2us services to find help

Turn2us exists to help people in these situations who are struggling financially to find help. We have just launched a new Grants Awareness campaign to highlight the help that can be available from charitable funds.

You can use our Turn2us Grants Search to search for help, based on your background, needs and services.

We also have a Turn2us Benefits Calculator which helps you check your entitlement to benefits.

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including

Find out more about the Turn2us Grants Awareness campaign

Date of publication: 26 November 2014

11/24/2014 12:10:22 PM

Go for a Grant campaign: How Shermin found help from Cavell Nurses' Trust

Turn2us Grants Search


When former Community Nurse Shermin was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure everyday life as she knew it suddenly stopped. Her devastating illness robbed her of a job she loved, financial stability and at times she barely had the strength to look after her family.

“It was a job I loved but it came to an abrupt end,” said Shermin, aged 51 who lives in Birmingham. “I had some blood tests and my GP told me I had end stage kidney failure. It was a great shock and I soon became very ill.”

With two sons, who were very young at the time, aged just 7 and 2, it put an enormous strain on Shermin and her husband Denniston, himself a healthcare assistant at a residential home.

A shortage of money meant the family was unable to replace three beds, two of them broken, plus new bedding was needed.

“I went from having a well-paid job to struggling financially and that affected me emotionally – I had always been a strong person, with everyone relying on me.

"It’s so hard to ask for help when you are so used to giving help.”

Cavell Nurses' Trust

It was Shermin’s support worker at Birmingham family support services who put her in touch with Cavell Nurses’ Trust. Cavell Nurses’ Trust gives welfare support to nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and student nurses who are suffering financial or personal hardship, often because of illness, domestic abuse or older age.

Shermin had been a nurse for 27 years – training as a State Enrolled Nurse at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, working her way up to Registered General Nurse status, then district nurse and finally as a carers’ coordinator, supporting terminally ill people and their carers.

A grant of £1,300 put that right and paid for a short break for the family to enjoy some much-needed time together, away from the stresses of everyday life.

Faith and voluntary work

Shermin’s life-long Christian faith helps her to see the support she receives as a blessing and realise the importance of accepting help from others. Shermin helps out with the local children’s ministry through her church and she has just been appointed as a volunteer bereavement support worker, a role where she is looking forward to using her professional expertise.

'Go for a Grant' campaign

Earlier this week, Turn2us launched our campaign ‘Go for a Grant’ encouraging people in financial hardship to check their eligibility for grants and other support.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of our users told us that before they found help, they’d had to rely on financial help from family and friends - and over three-fifths (64%) had been forced to cut back on food and heating.

Use the Turn2us Grants Search

Find out more about the Turn2us 'Go for a Grant' campaign 

Acknowledgement

Thanks to Cavell Nurses Trust' for Shermin's story and the photograph.

Date of publication: 24 November 2014

11/24/2014 10:31:50 AM

Dramatic change in who is most at risk of poverty

Joseph Rowntree Foundation press release (24 November 2014): Young, working and renting: Report reveals changing picture of UK poverty (link opens in a new window)


There has been a dramatic change in who is most at risk of poverty compared to 10 years ago, according to the latest Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report, written by the New Policy Institute (NPI) for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Published today, the new report shows a big rise in the proportion of adults aged under 25 who are in poverty with a big fall among the over 75s.

More people in poverty are living in working families - as many are now in working families as workless ones.

A bigger percentage of people living in poverty are privately renting - as many are now in private as social rented accommodation.

Significant change in the labour market

The labour market has changed significantly in the last ten years with a enormous increase in insecure work – zero hours contracts, part time work and low-paid self-employment – which means that getting a job does not necessarily mean getting out of poverty.

The report shows: 

  • Two thirds of people who moved from unemployment into work in the last year are paid below the Living Wage
  • The long term prospects for people in low paid work are not good either: only a fifth of low paid employees have left low paid work completely 10 years later
  • The average self-employed person earns 13% less than they did five years ago
  • There are around 1.4m contracts not guaranteeing a minimum number of hours, and over half are in the lower-paying food, accommodation, retail and admin sectors.

Positive and negative news

On the positive side, there has been a vast reduction in pensioner poverty (which is now at the lowest on record) and the employment rate in the UK is close to its historic high.

On the negative side:

  • Incomes are lower on average than a decade ago and the worst off have seen the biggest falls – nearly 10% lower than a decade ago
  • Average wages for men working full time (in real terms) have dropped from £13.90 to £12.90 per hour between 2008 and 2013
  • For women (whose employment rate has never been higher) wages fell from £10.80 per hour to £10.30 in the same period
  • For the lowest paid quarter of men, hourly pay fell by 70p per hour; for women, 40p per hour. 

Housing market's impact on people in poverty

The report highlights the way the housing market has had a negative impact on people in poverty.

  • There is not enough social housing, which means more people in poverty are living with insecure tenancies in the private rented sector
  • The number of private landlord repossessions is now higher than the number of mortgage repossessions (17,000 compared to 15,000 in 2013/14)
  • The end of a private rented sector tenancy is now the most common cause of homelessness (indicator 18B). The number of Housing Benefit claimants has risen by over a million in the last 10 years (indicator 12A), and despite an overall drop in the number of claimants in the last year, there was an increase in working people claiming Housing Benefit and the average amount they claim is rising.

Welfare and public services not delivering as well as they should be

The research found that the welfare system and public services are not delivering as well as they should be - and can vary vastly from one area of the country to another:

  • In some English local authorities, three quarters of children eligible for free school meals do not get five ‘good’ GCSEs 
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants are now more likely to be sanctioned for not attending the Work Programme than to get a job through participating in the scheme.
  • Over 60,000 disabled people had to wait for more than nine months for their employment support allowance claim to be assessed.

Comment from Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Chief Executive

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of JRF, said:

“This year’s report shows a real change in UK society over a relatively short period of time. We are concerned that the economic recovery we face will still have  so many people living in poverty. It is a risk, waste and cost we cannot afford: we will never reach our full economic potential with so many people struggling to make ends meet.

“A comprehensive strategy is needed to tackle poverty in the UK. It must tackle the root causes of poverty, such as low pay and the high cost of essentials. This research in particular demonstrates that affordable housing has to be part of the answer to tackling poverty: all main political parties need to focus now on providing more decent, affordable homes for people on low incomes.”

Comment from New Policy Institute's Research Director

Tom MacInnes, Research Director at the NPI, said:

“This report highlights some good news on employment – but earnings and incomes are still lower than five years ago, and most people who moved from unemployment into work can only find a low paid job. Government has focussed its efforts on welfare reform, but tackling poverty needs a wider scope, covering the job market, the costs and security of housing and the quality of services provided to people on low incomes.”

Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation press release (24 November 2014): Young, working and renting: Report reveals changing picture of UK poverty (link opens in a new window)

Use Turn2us services to find help

Turn2us exists to help people in these situations who are struggling financially to find help. We have just launched a new Grants Awareness campaign to highlight the help that can be available from charitable funds.

You can use our Turn2us Grants Search to search for help, based on your background, needs and services.

We also have a Turn2us Benefits Calculator which helps you check your entitlement to benefits.

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including

Find out more about the Turn2us Grants Awareness campaign

Date of publication: 24 November 2014

11/24/2014 9:49:00 AM

Attend our free Eastbourne intermediary workshops

Information about Turn2us free regional intermediary workshops


Are you working with people in financial need?

Would you like to know how you can use Turn2us tools and resources to help your clients?

Spaces are still available on our free regional workshops to be held in Eastbourne on Friday 5 December.

To book a place or for more information, contact: Michelle Brookes, Turn2us Training Co-ordinator, at email: training@turn2us.org.uk.

Read more about Turn2us free regional intermediary workshops

Date of publication: 24 November 2014

11/20/2014 2:54:16 PM

'Go for a Grant' campaign: Jayne's story

Turn2us Grants Search


Earlier this week, we launched our campaign ‘Go for a Grant’ encouraging people in financial hardship to check their eligibility for grants and other support.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of our users told us that before they found help, they’d had to rely on financial help from family and friends - and over three-fifths (64%) had been forced to cut back on food and heating.

Jayne's story

One of the people we’ve helped is Jayne.

“My financial problems started when my marriage broke down," she says, "and I had to move to a new area, away from my family and friends.

"After my divorce I was living on a limited income and money was very tight. I couldn’t afford furniture for my new flat.

"Luckily my parents and a friend kindly helped me by providing some second hand furniture, but I could barely afford to cover my bills each month so things were a struggle.

"When my old sofa broke, I had no money to repair it or buy a new one. I did my best to cover it up with a cushion and carry on using it. However, after it became more damaged, I knew it needed to be replaced.

"I tried searching online for help that might be available and came across Turn2us. I used the Grants Search to see whether I might be able to get a grant to pay for a cheap second hand sofa bed I’d seen in a local charity shop.

"I managed to make a successful application to the Charity for Civil Servants as I had worked in the Civil Service previously. I was so surprised to receive a lovely letter and a grant to pay for a new sofa bed - and a bit extra to help to pay my bills - which really helped me out.

"It seems ridiculous to say it changed my life but it really did. Since receiving this help I have found a new lease of life. I can now invite my friends and family to stay with me overnight and it’s great to know I’ve got that.

"I’d recommend anyone else in a situation like mine tries using the Grants Search – it comes up with all sorts of things you would never have thought of. It’s great that there are organisations out there that are willing to help.”

More 'Go for a Grant' stories to follow

Throughout the ‘Go for a Grant’ campaign, we will be sharing more of our users’ stories. Look out for them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Find out more about the Turn2us 'Go for a Grant' press release

Check your eligibility for support from a charitable fund through our free Grants Search.

Date of publication: 20 November 2014

11/20/2014 10:15:28 AM

'Emergency Use Only' Report: Understanding and reducing UK food bank use

Turn2us Help with food costs news article

 


Issues with the benefits system, such as delays and gaps, and lack of awareness about the financial support available in a crisis are key causes of people using food banks, new research commissioned by Oxfam, Child Poverty Action Group, the Church of England and the Trussell Trust has revealed.

Dramatic rise in use of emergency food aid

Use of emergency food aid in the UK has dramatically increased over the last ten years.

The research report, 'Emergency Use Only' report examines:

  • Why people are turning to food banks
  • How food bank use fits with their wider coping strategies
  • What might be done to reduce the need that leads to food bank use.

The study is based on 40 in-depth interviews with Trussell Trust food bank users, supported by information collected from more than 900 recipients to give a moving insight into the reality of poverty and why food banks are needed. 

Key findings

  • Food banks were predominantly a last-resort, short-term measure, prompted by an ‘acute income crisis’ – something which had happened to completely stop or dramatically reduce their income
  • Income crisis could be caused by sudden loss of earnings, change in family circumstances or housing problems. However, for many people the immediate trigger for food bank use was linked to problems with benefits (including waiting for benefits to be paid, sanctions, problems with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)) or missing tax credits
  • Many food bank users were also not made aware of the various crisis payments available in different circumstances, and even fewer were receiving them
  • 19-28% of users for whom additional data was collected had recently had household benefits stopped or reduced because of a sanction and 28-34% were waiting for a benefit claim which had not been decided
  • Many food bank users faced multiple challenges, including ill-health, relationship breakdown, mental health problems or substantial caring responsibilities.  Many were unable to work or had recently lost their job.  The frequency of bereavement among food bank users was also a striking feature.

 

"The frequency of bereavement among food bank users was a striking feature of this research. Death of a loved one can have a direct financial impact, through loss of income from the deceased but also job loss (because of time taken to care for the dying person or because the emotional impact on the bereaved partner means they are unable to work). Bereavement can also have an indirect effect through its impact on a range of other previously established networks and survival strategies."

 

'Emergency use only' report

 

Recommendations

The report makes several recommendations of actions that might prevent people from using food banks:

  • Improve access to short-term benefit advances: increase awareness, simplify the claim process
    and improve data collection to identify support needs.
  • Reform sanctions policy and practice: increase access to hardship payments, clarify
    communications about sanctions, mitigate the impact whilst a sanction is being reconsidered
    and address issues for Housing Benefit
  • Improve the ESA regime: ensure claimants are not left without income whilst challenging a
    decision made because of missing medical certificates or missed appointments
  • Sustain and improve access to emergency financial support through Local Welfare Assistance
    Schemes and the Scottish Welfare Fund
  • Ensure Jobcentres provide an efficient and supportive service for all clients
  • Improve Jobcentre Plus Advisers’ awareness of, and ability to respond to, mental health problems
  • Improve access to appropriate advice and support.

Comment from the Trussell Trust's Chief Executive Officer

David McAuley, the Trussell Trust's Chief Executive Officer, said: “This new evidence brings into sharp focus the uncomfortable reality of what happens when a ‘life shock’ or benefit problem hits those on low incomes: parents go hungry, stress and anxiety increase, and the issue can all too quickly escalate into crippling debt, housing problems and illness. The Trussell Trust has consistently said that too many people are falling through gaps in the social security system. The voices of food bank users heard in this report have informed the united call from four respected anti-poverty bodies to implement simple fixes to the welfare system. We welcome the opportunity to engage positively with politicians of all parties in order to work together to enable solutions for the poorest in the UK.”

Use Turn2us services to find help

Crises, bereavements and/or changes in life situations were key factors in the need for people to use food banks - as well as lack of awareness of the help available through benefits and other financial support.

Turn2us exists to help people in these situations who are struggling financially to find help. We have just launched a new Grants Awareness campaign to highlight the help that can be available from charitable funds.

You can use our Turn2us Grants Search to search for help, based on your background, needs and services.

We also have a Turn2us Benefits Calculator which helps you check your entitlement to benefits.

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.

See also the Turn2us Help with food costs news article

Read the Turn2us Local welfare assistance information

Find out more about the Turn2us Grants Awareness campaign

Sources:

Date of publication: 20 November 2014

11/17/2014 11:08:48 AM

Attend our free Reading intermediary Turn2us workshop

Information on Turn2us regional workshops


Are you working with people in financial need in the Reading area? 

Would you like to know how you can use Turn2us tools and resources to help your clients?

Turn2us is running a free half-day intermediary workshop in Reading, this Thursday, 20 November, from 9.30 am -12.30 pm at  QV Offices, 25-27 Queen Victoria Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 1SY. Participants must bring their own laptops/tablets.

To book a place or for more information, contact: Michelle Brookes, Turn2us Training Co-ordinator, at email: training@turn2us.org.uk.

Date of publication: 17 November 2014

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