Posts Tagged ‘benefit’

MSPs refuse changes to the UK benefits system.

MSPs have formally protested against changes to the UK benefits system.

SNP and Labour members of the Scottish Parliament took the unprecedented step of voting against a Westminster “consent” motion.

It is important to be aware that whilst Holyrood cannot prevent Westminster changing the welfare benefits system. The UK government needs Holyrood to allow it to change the law so its reforms would fit the Scottish system.

  • The UK government explained that the Welfare Reform Bill would save billions of pounds by replacing Disability Living Allowance with a personal independence payment and replacing a range of other benefits with a single universal credit.

The changes will have a knock-on effect for devolved services such as social care and devolved entitlements such as free school meals.

MSPs voted to turn down Westminster’s consent request in favour of making the necessary legal changes themselves.

It is the first time Holyrood has refused Westminster legislative consent.

SNP and Labour MSPs voted 100 to 18 to refuse to back the necessary legislative consent motion on parts of the UK government’s Welfare Reform Bill where the Scottish Parliament has legislative competence.


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Universal Credit… the warning

According to the Shadow Employment minister Stephen Timms, the current tax credit system was better at supporting people who wanted to escape unemployment by setting up their own business.

However, Labour has claimed that the Government’s Universal Credit could hit small business start-ups, .

During Work and Pensions Questions in the Commons Stephen Timms said:

“The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group has said tax credits today support self-employment much better than the proposals for universal credit will in the future. This is because universal credit will assume people are earning at least the minimum wage which is completely unrealistic in the early years of self employment.

He asked the government to look again at this particular issue with universal credit, at least for the first year or two of self employment…

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

We will be monitoring very carefully how decisions we take around Universal Credit work.

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The Times & Telegraph report of a backlog in the benefits system

The Times & The Daily Telegraph have reported today that the backlog of appeals by welfare claimants against the removal of their benefits is now long enough that the government has had to hire 84 new judges to deal with it.

Both the Times and the Telegraph write that for the first time extra posts have been needed since 2007, when only ten Social Entitlement Chamber judges were recruited to oversee welfare appeals. In recent months 84 have been hired to help to deal with the caseload, at a pro-rata salary of £101,000 per year.

Under the programme to check whether all 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit are actually fit to work about 11,000 claimants a week are being reassessed. Judges have warned about the growing queue of people appealing against being taken off benefits.

In 2010-11 the number of appeals in the Social Entitlement Chamber, where welfare appeals are heard, were 23 per cent higher than the preceding year and 72 per cent up on 2008-09.


On one level it is clearly showing that the government is serious about reform and that it is having a real affect. Others will argue however that this shows that the government is getting it seriously wrong

…….maybe the truth is somewhere between these two stools… no pun intended

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Duncan-Smith reveals housing benefit “Adjustmemt”

Unemployed people will not face a 10% cut in housing benefit, it was disclosed today.  The Welfare Reform Bill, published today, was amended to ensure those out of work for more than a year will not be penalised.  The cut had been proposed by the Chancellor, George Osborne, during the government’s emergency budget in June.  The omission of this proposed sanction has been deemed the second U-Turn of the week for the government as the coalition was forced to repeal its plans to sell-off forests in England.

yesMinister sees this as evidence that the Government is really listening!

Mr. Duncan Smith explained on the Today Programme:

“You won’t see this (10% housing benefit cut) in the bill for one very good reason – the more we looked at this, the more we reviewed the interplay between that reduction at 12 months and the Universal Credit and the Work Programme, it meant that all of those people were going to move on to the Work Programme anyway, so they would be having intensive help to get them back to work.”

The Guardian has reported that the housing benefit cuts were withdrawn under the insistence of the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP, who, along with his Liberal Democrat colleague was concerned the proposal would hit the poor twice.  There were also doubts as to whether private landlords would consider renting to those claiming jobseekers allowance, a provision that would be dramatically reduced had the original government proposal gone through.  However, Mr. Duncan-Smith has refuted the suggestion that the cuts were omitted due to opposition from his coalition colleagues, stating “I am fully at one with Nick on this.”

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne commented:

“Labour has consistently called on the Tory-led government to abandon this change so we welcome their U-turn.  They need a Plan B for the economy and a bigger welfare to work programme. At the moment they have neither.”

Not sure that the opposition has much credibility in this area as many see the current abuse of the benefit system as being  caused by their very relaxed approach to welfare.


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In Scotland

In April, 55,000 households will be given nine months to either lose housing benefit or move out of their home. It will affect households who already pay the average price of rent in their area and will now need to find available accommodation in the bottom third bracket of rental prices.

7,500 young people, 25 – 34 year olds, are set to lose nearly £55 a week from April when they will no longer receive support for their own homes and will be forced into shared accommodation.

In the coming weeks, the UK government is also set to publish a Welfare Reform Bill which is expected to propose further extensive cuts and changes to welfare and benefits.

The Scottish Government said today that an expert group will be established in response to the impending and proposed changes.

The group of Scottish Government, local government, charity and third sector organisations will share knowledge of local impacts to take the strongest possible case for stopping some measures to the UK government.

The Scottish Government will also press for the devolution of powers on welfare and benefits.

Read more….

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George Osborne (Chancellor of the Exchequer) has announced that the coalition will be introducing a maximum threshold on the amount of benefits that a single family can claim.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference Mr Osborne said that the benefits limit would be set at the amount that “the average family gets for going out to work”, which is approximately £26,000 a year.

Under these new plans local authorities will be asked to assess the total benefit income from 2013 of all the new and existing housing benefit claimants, reducing the benefit if necessary and ensuring that it remains within the limit.

The proposed cap on benefits will apply to the total received from jobseekers’ allowance, employment support allowance, income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit, child benefit, child tax credit, carer’s allowance and industrial injuries disablement benefit. The cap will not apply to households with a disability living allowance claimant or war widows.

Around 50,000 households are expected to be affected by the benefits limit, which is scheduled to come into force in 2013.


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“The state-must not compensate the poor for their predicament ……..”

This is the bold and controversial statement from Nick Clegg as he signals his support for benefit cuts.

In this mornings Times newspaper he argues that the ballooning benefits bill under Labour from £63bn in 1997 to £87bn was nothing more than a giant cheque written by the state. (Agreed)

Rather than it being an engine of mobility and change it was a safety net rather than a trampoline.

On the day that JSA figures increased: this will send a sobering signal to millions of Britain’s who now find themselves jobless, – some- hopeless and overs staring redundancy in the face.


As you know, I’m not one for making comments, espousing value judgements or indeed suggesting that one or other view is flawed, baseless, insensitive and/or misinformed.
(… I see your smile…)

But on this occasion I will break with that tradition!!!

Firstly, many of us are indeed disgruntled at the inbuilt unfairness in our benefits system that:

  • you can pay into it for years but when you need to draw on it it is like extracting teeth, not only do you need to prove that you exist, but the process is often soul destroying and demoralising.(I hear)
  • on the other hand we see people willy nilly living on and drawing on the system that we have so diligently paid into. Many recipients are in no hurry and have no sense of their duty to contribute to society. (allegedly)

There are however those on the other hand for who finding work and reducing their dependency on state would cause more problems due to health, familial, caring and other reasons.

This is the group that Nick needs to be mindful of and careful not to badge as benefit scroungers and the undeserving; because some of these people are

• People like me
• People like you

Etcetera… Etcetera….. Etcetera…. Etcetera….

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