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9/30/2014 9:35:39 AM

Freeze on working age benefits planned

Turn2us Benefits Calculator

 

Working-age benefits would be frozen for two years by a future Conservative government, George Osborne has announced as he set out some of the £25bn of spending cuts planned for the next parliament to tackle what he called Britain’s “dangerously high national debt”.

Mr Osborne said the proposed freeze would not include pensions, disability benefits and maternity pay.

About 10 million households would be affected, roughly half of which are working, the Treasury said.

The Guardian: George Osborne: UK working-age benefits to be frozen for two years (link opens in a new window)

Turn2us resources

If you are struggling to make ends meet, help may be available to you through benefits and grants, depending on your needs, circumstances and background.

Turn2us Benefits Calculator and Grants Search

Use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

Turn2us information pages

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. 

Also in the news

Pay

Universal Credit

Welfare reform

Date of publication: 30 September 2014

9/29/2014 11:38:26 AM

Public attitudes to poverty and how they have changed since 2008

Read the Joseph Rowntree Foundation 'Public Attitudes to Poverty' (link opens in a new window)


 

Harder views towards poverty remain among the public, but the economic circumstances of recent years have encouraged some people to reconsider who might be affected by poverty and its causes. This is one of the key findings of a new Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) report, 'Public Attitudes to Poverty'.

This report explores public attitudes to poverty and how they have changed since 2008. It also looks at how the public thinks poverty should be defined, what causes it and what kinds of policies might be effective in tackling poverty in the UK.

Main findings

Other main findings include:

  • Participants considered poverty to be about more than just income. They also questioned whether the term ‘poverty’ was appropriate in the UK context
  • JRF’s needs-based definition was viewed positively, although participants still felt that this did not fully encapsulate a life in poverty
  • The idea of the ‘undeserving poor’ created tension. However, people’s deeper attitudes were that personal choices are rarely the root cause of poverty.

Read the Joseph Rowntree Foundation 'Public Attitudes to Poverty' (link opens in a new window)

Turn2us resources

If you are struggling to make ends meet, help may be available to you through benefits and grants, depending on your needs, circumstances and background.

Turn2us Benefits Calculator and Grants Search

Use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

Turn2us information pages

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. 

Also in the news

Pensions

Welfare reform

Date of publication: 29 September 2014

9/26/2014 9:56:09 AM

Call for review in social security coverage for self-employed workers

Turn2us self employment and benefits information

 

The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has called on the Government to examine the balance in social security (benefits system) coverage – both in terms of entitlement and contributions – between self-employed and employed workers.

The Committee's report, 'Social security provision and the self-employed', published on 25 September, also looks at the incentives for so-called ‘false self-employment’ and considers how current Universal Credit regulations may affect the self employed.

Comment from the Social Security Advisory Committee's Chair

Social Security Advisory Committee Chair, Paul Gray, said:

"Our report highlights a number of differences in the treatment of self-employed and other workers within the current social security system. With the recent growth in self-employment, it is important for the government to review whether the right balance in the social security system is currently being achieved between those in self-employment and employment.

"We do not underestimate the challenge policy-makers face in assessing the respective interests of the self-employed, the employed and their employers. However, within that analysis it will be important to recognise some of the drivers for ‘false self-employment’. The position may be further complicated following roll-out of Universal Credit for the self-employed, and we therefore call on the government to establish an expert working group to look carefully at concerns that are emerging.

Read the Turn2us self employment and benefits information

Source: Social Security Advisory Committee press release: Social security and the self-employed: time for a review (link opens in a new window) 

Also in the news

Council Tax support

Energy

Illness and disability

Media and benefits

Public sector

Wales

Date of publication: 26 September 2014

9/24/2014 9:41:15 AM

Northern Ireland Assemby vote against motion criticising welfare reform

Read the NI Direct website guide to welfare reform in Northern Ireland (link opens in a new window)


 

Following a debate, Members of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly have voted by 54 to 36 against a motion criticising the UK government's welfare reforms.

The motion expressed "deep concern the disastrous impact of welfare cuts in Britain, particularly on the most vulnerable in society, including families on low income, those with disabilities and those who are unemployed; asserts that a modern, caring society should place the protection of its most vulnerable citizens at the very top of its agenda" and called on the Executive to oppose the Welfare Reform Bill. 

Northern Ireland's Welfare Reform Bill

The Northern Ireland Welfare Reform Bill has not yet been passed and the Northern Ireland Executive is facing a fine from the UK Government for the delay.

Read the NI Direct website guide to welfare reform in Northern Ireland (link opens in a new window)

Read the Northern Ireland Assembly website page on the Welfare Reform Bill Northern Ireland (link opens in a new window)

Source: Rightsnet website article: Northern Ireland Assembly votes against motion condemning UK government’s welfare reforms  (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Legal cuts

Date of publication: 24 September 2014

9/23/2014 9:32:15 AM

Cabinet Office launches £1 million fund to support family carers

Cabinet Office press release: Cabinet Office launches £1 million fund to support family carers (link opens in a new window)


 

A new grant scheme has been launched by the Centre for Social Action (part of the Cabinet Office) for organisations in England who want to develop or extend social action projects to improve the lives of carers - individuals who look after, unpaid, a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.

Carers Social Action Support Fund

The Carers Social Action Support Fund is open to applications from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, public bodies and businesses that have a social mission or a clear objective in their corporate social responsibility policy towards increasing social action or are involved in the delivery of public service.

Organisations should have a strong track record of reaching and creating positive impact for carers; enthusiasm for measuring the impact of their services; and have the capacity to quickly build upon existing services.

How to apply

You will find the application form and guidance notes at the link below. Once you have completed the form, you should send it to satcorrespondence@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk by midday on Wednesday 22 October.

Gov.uk website: Carers Social Action Support Fund guidance notes and application form (link opens in a new window)

Comment from Minister for Civil Society

Minister for Civil Society, Brooks Newmark, said:

“There are 5.4 million carers in England and 1 in 3 of us will become a carer at some point in our lives.

“The new Carers Social Action Support Fund will enable organisations to harness the power of social action to support people who carry out this incredibly important role.

“I urge relevant organisations looking to build on, or adapt, inspiring social action projects for carers to apply.”

Source: Cabinet Office press release: Cabinet Office launches £1 million fund to support family carers (link opens in a new window)

Turn2us resources for carers

If you are struggling to make ends meet, help may be available to you through benefits and grants, depending on your needs, circumstances and background.

Turn2us Benefits Calculator and Grants Search

Use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

Turn2us information pages

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. This includes a Turn2us Carers information section and an Illness, Injury and Disability information section

Also in the news

Children

Debt

Energy bills

Northern Ireland

Winter Fuel Allowance

Date of publication: 23 September 2014

9/22/2014 10:28:45 AM

Waiting days for Universal Credit claimants: consultation announced

Information about the Social Security Advisory Committee's consultation on Waiting days for Universal Credit claimants(link opens in a new window)

 


 

The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has begun a consultation on proposals that certain Universal Credit claimants must wait seven days before they are entitled to benefit. The change is intended to commence in April 2015.

Concerns about the extension of waiting days

Announcing the consultation, Paul Gray, the Committee’s Chair, commented:

“The Committee has previously made plain its concerns about the extension of waiting days for anyone making a claim to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). While these proposals may seem to mirror those on which we have already commented, there are important differences which have the potential to cause significant financial difficulties for some claimants. These warrant closer scrutiny. For example, larger sums of money could be lost as Universal Credit includes an element for housing costs and children whereas ESA and JSA do not. This is further compounded by the fact that Universal Credit is paid monthly so claimants are generally waiting longer for their first benefit payment. We are keen to learn more about the impact of this proposal.

“The government has stated that the savings generated (estimated to be over £200 million each year from 2016/2017 onwards) will fund other initiatives designed to help people find work, for example by improving English language skills and providing support to lone parents.”

The evidence received by SSAC will help inform its report which will be submitted to the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in the autumn.

Participate in the consultation

SSAC would like to hear from any organisation or individual who has comments and possible evidence relating to the following specific aspects of these proposals:

  • The larger sums of benefit involved, since Universal Credit includes amounts for children, housing costs and child care costs
  • The fact that Universal Credit is usually paid monthly in arrears, meaning that claimants will generally wait longer for their first payment of benefit than they would have done under JSA or ESA
  • The additional numbers of people affected by this rule – what are the categories of people who would not currently claim ESA or JSA but who will need to claim Universal Credit and how will the waiting day period impact upon them in particular?
  • The appropriateness of the prescribed exemptions for certain categories of claimant? These are people who are:
    • terminally ill
    • recent victims of domestic violence
    • care leavers
    • 16 to 17 year olds without parental support
    • discharged prisoners
  • Linking will also provide an exemption for those with previous awards of Universal Credit or contribution-based JSA or contribution-based ESA

Participate in the consultation

Responses should be submitted to the Committee’s Secretary by 11.45 pm on 17 October:

The Committee Secretary
Social Security Advisory Committee
5th Floor
Caxton House
Tothill Street
London SW1H 9NA.
Alternatively they can be emailed to ssac@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Find out more about the Social Security Advisory Committee Waiting days for Universal Credit claimants consultation (link opens in a new window)

Source: Social Security Advisory Committee press release: Waiting days for Universal Credit claimants: consultation announced (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

National Minimum Wage

Date of publication: 22 September 2014

9/19/2014 9:17:45 AM

Scotland votes to stay in the United Kingdom

BBC News article on the Scottish referendum (link opens in a new window)

 

Scotland has voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. However, the Scottish Government will have new powers over tax, spending and welfare.

Welfare

BBC News outlines the proposed changes to welfare in Scotland, which has a political aspect, as follows:

"Labour is proposing that control over a number of welfare benefits be given to the Scottish Parliament.

"These would include control over Housing Benefit - enabling Scotland to get rid of the spare room subsidy or "bedroom tax", a policy favoured by the Scottish National Party.

"It has also proposed devolving the Attendance Allowance - paid to disabled people over the age of 65. Scotland would also control the Work Programme, used to help people find jobs.

"The Conservatives agree on devolving Housing Benefit and Attendance Allowance, but the Liberal Democrats believe both should still be controlled by Westminster."

Timetable

  • A command paper would be published by the present UK government setting out all the proposals by the end of October.
  • A white paper would be drawn up by the end of November, after a period of consultation, setting out the proposed powers.
  • A draft new "Scotland Act" law would be published by Burns Night (25 January) 2015 ready for the House of Commons to vote on.
  • However, with a UK general election due in May 2015, the legislation would not be passed until the new parliament began.

England, Scotland and Wales

David Cameron has also promised voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that they will have a greater say in the way they are governed.

Sources: BBC News article: Scotland votes 'No': The changes to tax and benefits in Scotland (link opens in a new window) and BBC News article: Scotland votes 'No': What happens now? (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Digital services

Date of publication: 19 September 2014

9/18/2014 9:43:01 AM

PIP delays 'unacceptable': Minister for Disabled People

Turn2us Personal Independence Payment information


The delays facing some Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants are "unacceptable", the Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper, has admitted. Data released this week by the Department for Work and Pensions showed that of the 529,400 cases registered for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) between April 2013 and the end of July this year, just over 206,000 (less than half) had been cleared by being awarded, declined or withdrawn.

Wait is too long

The figures do not reveal how long individuals had been waiting within that 16-month period, but Mark Harper accepted that for some it had been too long.

In an article, published in The Guardian, he said: "Unlike the old system, PIP includes a face-to-face assessment and regular reviews to ensure support goes to those who need it most.

"Today's figures show just that, with nearly 23% of people getting the highest level of support, compared with 16% under Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

"We accept that the delays faced by some people are unacceptable and we are committed to putting that right.

"Between May and July we have doubled the number of claims processed and we are working hard to continue to make further improvements.

"By the end of the year we expect that no-one will be waiting for an assessment for longer than 16 weeks."

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) awards

According to the statistics, PIP has been awarded to 51% of new claimants since April 2013.

Since October 2013, it has been granted in 72% of reassessments of people previously claiming Disability Living Allowance.

Read the Turn2us Personal Independence Payment information

Read the Department for Work and Pensions Personal Independence Payment statistics April 2013 - March 2014 (link opens in a new window)

Source: The Guardian article: Delays to welfare payments for disabled people 'unacceptable' admits minister (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Mental health

Scotland

Victims of crime

Wales

Date of publication: 18 September 2014

9/17/2014 9:23:09 AM

Local Welfare Provision in England: Government to review decision to abolish

Turn2us Local Welfare Assistance information


 

The Government is to reconsider its controversial decision to scrap a £180m-a-year welfare hardship fund used to provide emergency support for some of England's poorest people.

This follows ministers' unexpected announcement earlier this year that they would abolish local welfare assistance funding in April 2015, just two years after it was introduced as a replacement for Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants from the Social Fund.

Judicial review and consent order

Following a judicial review, the Government has signed a consent order (a legal document setting out what has been agreed between parties in a legal case) stating it will review the commitment to scrap local welfare funding rather than contest a judicial review of the decision.

The Order requires the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to:

1. Complete the on-going review of local welfare provision

2. Conduct an “appropriate” consultation

3. Consider the impact on equality and discrimination

4. Make a new decision on funding for local welfare provision for 2015/16.

The above steps must be completed by the time of the provisional local finance settlement (i.e. December 2014).

Campaign and judicial review

The campaign to save local welfare funds had won support across the political divide. Campaigners including Islington Council and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) helped to lodge a judicial review of the decision in July on behalf of Christopher Jump, a disabled Cheshire resident. They argued that cutting the fund could "seriously harm local authorities' efforts to support residents in genuine need".

They also said the Government had failed to:

  • conduct an equality impact assessment of its decision,
  • consult local authorities properly
  • keep to its own promise to formally assess the scheme before making a decision about its future.

Decision to stop funding taken several months before review was set up

During a 2012 parliamentary debate, ministers agreed that they would review local welfare in order to "help inform future funding levels". However, the decision to stop funding was taken several months before the review was set up.

In papers submitted to the court, CPAG said several councils had warned that without central government funding they would no longer be able to keep their local welfare scheme going after 2015. At least two councils, Nottinghamshire and Oxfordshire, have already ended theirs.

Child Poverty Action Group Chief Executive's comments

Alison Garnham, CPAG's chief executive, said: "We welcome that the Government has recognised the importance of local welfare assistance schemes and has committed to undertake a thorough review and consultation before deciding how the schemes will be funded in future."

Government spokesman's comments

A government spokesman said: "We must be very clear that this was never about abolishing support. This government is giving councils more control because they understand best their local area's needs.

"This is in contrast to the old centralised grant system that was poorly targeted. Councils can now choose how best to support local welfare needs – because what is right for Croydon will not be for Cumbria."

What is local welfare assistance (also known as local welfare provision)

More than 150 English councils currently receive an annual grant to provide crisis support for residents in serious hardship, including women fleeing domestic violence, homeless people, pregnant mothers, disabled people and families suffering poor health or financial crisis as a result of flooding or natural disasters. It replaced Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants previously provided by the Social Fund in April 2012.

There are national schemes in Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland still has Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants although a new Discretionary Support Scheme is likely to be introduced when the Welfare Reform Bill for Northern Ireland is passed.

For more information, see the Turn2us Local Welfare Assistance information

Source: The Guardian article: Local welfare funds: government to reconsider scrapping of £180m grant (link opens in a new window) and Child Poverty Action Group article: Saving the safety net - Judicial review against funding cut for Local Welfare Assistance Schemes – CPAG intervention (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Poverty and pregnancy

Welfare reform

Date of publication: 17 September 2014

9/16/2014 9:42:02 AM

Turn2us joins organisations calling for publication of income statistics

New Policy Institute press release: Government urged to release official income statistics ahead of general election (link opens in a new window)


 

Turn2us has partnered with research institute the New Policy Institute (NPI) along with charities and universities to call on the Department of Work and Pensions to publish official household statistics before the next election.
Traditionally, the Households Below Average Incomes (HBAI) publication is released every March and is a crucial indication of how welfare and tax changes are impacting on households and what steps is being taken to deal with these changes - such as seeking employment.

Why the HBAI is important

Over the last five years, publication of the HBAI has been increasingly delayed, slipping from March to June last year. What’s hugely important about this year’s publication is that it will highlight the impact of the landmark welfare changes which started in April last year, including the spare room subsidy (the so-called ‘bedroom tax’), council tax support and the changes to income tax personal allowance. In addition, with much talk about an improving economy, this publication will help to identify what effect this is having on households.

Turn2us were joined in signing the letter, addressed to Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith, by Trust for London; Toynbee Hall, the University of Bristol and the Young Foundation.

Turn2us on previous statistics

Commenting on the previous HBAI publication last year, Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us, said:

“We are particularly concerned that there has been a significant rise in the number of children living in absolute poverty,  especially as the Institute of Fiscal Studies predicts that it is likely to continue rising over the next five years. It is unacceptable that increasing numbers of families have to go without basic life essentials. Research by the End Child Poverty Campaign has shown that the public believe tackling child poverty should be a priority with action needing to be taken urgently.

“Sadly, as the full impact of the recent welfare cuts start to be felt and with household costs continuing to rise, the picture looks set to get worse. In these economic times, it is more important than ever that people in financial need can access support through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. We would urge them to check their eligibility on the Turn2us website to find out what help is available.”

NPI comments on the call for publication

Commenting on the letter, NPI Director Dr Peter Kenway said:

“The April 2013 changes were very controversial but by the general election they can start to be judged on their longer term effects. The signatories to this letter, a mix of researchers and respected charities, are urging Mr Duncan Smith to publish the household income statistics by March so that what is sure to be an impassioned debate is also an informed one”.

To view the letter, see the New Policy Institute press release: Government urged to release official income statistics ahead of general election (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Charitable funds

Energy bills

Payday loans

Poverty

Social care

Wales

Date of publication: 16 September 2014

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