From The Independent: The poorest and most vulnerable in society will be hardest hit by Tory Government changes to tax, social security and public spending reforms, a major report has revealed.
The head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Housing writes in the Guardian: “A year on from the introduction of the lower benefit cap, its abiding legacy is to push people closer to homelessness.
“The cap, introduced on 7 November 2016, reduced the total amount any family can receive in benefits from £26,000 to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside the capital, leaving families with significant shortfalls between the benefits they get and the cost of their housing.
“In our most recent research we spoke to 18 families with capped benefit across the UK and each time we heard a familiar story – one of stress, struggle and a daily fight to remain in their home.
“Half of those families said they had gone without food, fuel or were otherwise in debt as a result of the cut. Among a raft of other hardships a third said they had been forced to use food banks.”
“Forcing people into hunger does not incentivise work”: Mhairi Black’s Commons speech on Universal Credit goes viral
SNP MP’s Mhairi Black’s fierce speech in the House of Commons on Universal Credit has gone viral on social media, with over 9 million views on Facebook alone.
“Plunging people into debt does not incentivise work. Forcing people into hunger does not incentivise work. Causing anxiety and distress, and even evicting some families from their homes, does not incentivise work.”
From the Guardian: Theresa May will not reduce the six-week delay faced by many Universal Credit claimants despite being warned by Conservative MPs that the policy is hurting vulnerable families, sources have told the Guardian.
On Wednesday, Labour will reveal new figures, that suggest Universal Credit cuts could push 1 million more children into poverty by 2020. Read more
From Southwark News: Demand at foodbanks in the London Borough of Southwark has surged due to waits of up to three months for people starting on Universal Credit to get their first payments, it has been claimed.
More than 4,000 Southwark residents have joined the Universal Credit system since it was introduced at local Job Centres in early 2016. Labour councillor Fiona Colley said claimants have “dropped off a cliff” for periods of twelve to thirteen weeks, forcing them into rent arrears.
Universal Credit (UC) – which groups six types of benefit into one payment – was touted as the Conservative Party’s big hitting welfare reform after they came to power in 2010. Read more
A DWP manager writes in the Independent: “Many of my colleagues feel out of their depth with the quantity of claims they manage, resulting in a vast amount of crucial work never being completed until claimants contact us when their payments are inevitably paid incorrectly or not at all.”
Tory Cabinet Minister is ill-informed and dismissive when questioned about the 55p-per-minute Universal Credit helpline
From The Independent: Liz Truss, the Tory minister who thought Britain’s level of cheese imports was a ‘disgrace’, had a paltry answer when it came to charging welfare claimants 55p-per-minute to call the government helpline.
The BBC’s Andrew Marr asks Theresa May about the rollout of Universal Credit, which is denying many destitute people any money at all for six weeks: “How are people going to eat?”
To paraphrase May’s rambling response: “We’re looking at it.”
Britain under the Tories. A Prime Minister unable to answer the question: 'how are people going to eat?'
Posted by Durham Miners' Association on Sunday, October 1, 2017
Kelly tells the BBC she applied for Universal Credit two weeks ago, and has been told her first payment will be on 28th October. She has no money at all. She says: “It’s a lot of weeks to wait. I’m relying on food banks. My friends have had to wait 12 weeks.”
Gail says: “I knew that it would be at least six weeks before I got any money. I knew I’d be without money… [Debt] ruins your life. It spirals out of control so fast when you’re in debt.”
A personal story sent in over the recent Bank Holiday weekend by a Stop the Tories Channel who doesn’t want to be named…
“I’m on universal credit. I’m currently unable to work, same with my partner, and we have a 3-year-old son and are expecting our next just after Christmas.
“We only get £723 in benefits between the three of us for a month. We tend to spend that on food, gas and electric for the month on the day we get it and are usually left struggling by the last week or so before our next benefit payment.
“I’ve recently had to sell most of my possessions just to get us through those last weeks. We’ve got nothing left to sell and our refrigerator broke down during the night on Monday. We were able to salvage the frozen food but all fridged goods were lost. As a result we currently haven’t eaten [for nearly three days] (we have food for our child). Read more
Dr Maureen Tilford and Rev Paul Nicolson write on the Guardian letters page: “There has been a massive increase in calls to the Metropolitan Police involving mental health problems, with as many as one every five minutes.
“Psychiatric conditions not only occur at higher rates in the poorest areas, but also cluster together, usually in disintegrating inner-city communities… Poverty can be both a cause and a consequence of poor mental health.
“Poverty and social inequality have direct and indirect effects on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of an individual. It is clear that poverty and inequality are closely linked and that income inequality produces psychosocial stress.”
From The Guardian: Poundland has been criticised for employing jobseekers, without pay, for up to two months under a deal with the Tory government.
Several of those who have wo rked on the scheme told the Guardian they had worked up to 30 hours a week for at least three weeks stacking shelves in Poundland. They were told that the work experience was voluntary but one said: “I had no say in it really.”
“Considering it is supposed to be work experience you’d think they would teach you how to work the till. But we have just been stacking shelves all day,” one person on the scheme told the Guardian.
Poundland paid no wages and made no other contribution. Participants said they were not provided with any paperwork to record the time they had spent in a store.
From The Independent: A bed-ridden stroke victim was told to use food banks after an administrative error left him and his wife facing extreme poverty.
Millions of poor UK households face massive cuts to their incomes under Tory benefit cuts, warn researchers
From The Independent: Nearly 3m working households with children on tax credits would be an average of £2,500 a year worse off under Conservative benefit cuts in the pipeline, independent researchers warn today.
From The Canary: Tracey Culham said using food banks is “the most degrading thing”, especially when “you’ve worked all your life”. Her intervention on national television is a glimpse of the reality for many under the Conservative austerity programme.
The Conservative government is directly responsible for pushing ordinary people into food poverty. The number of three-day food packages sent out by the Trussell Trust alone increased from 40,898 to 1,182,954 between 2010 and 2016-17. That’s a record-breaking increase of 2,792% since the Conservatives came to power.
But it’s worse than that. A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger estimates that over half the emergency food issued comes from organisations independent from the Trussell Trust’s figures. This means the real numbers are much higher.