Tories’ Benefit Cuts – ‘Secret Plans’ Leaked – Awful Apprehension!

DISABLED PEOPLE, carers and parents could all bear the brunt of £12billion Tory welfare cuts according to leaked documents.

Department for Work and Pensions papers set out plans to save £12billion by restricting Carer’s Allowance to those on Universal Credit – meaning 40% of claimants would lose out.

Department of Work and PensionsDisabled people would be hit by a plan to tax Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments and Attendance Allowance – saving an estimated £1.5billion a year.

Documents, drawn up by civil servants for the Tories, also suggest limiting child benefit to the first two children and a benefits cap of £23,000.

And £1billion would be saved by replacing the Industrial Injuries Compensation Scheme with a company insurance scheme.

The DWP could save £1.3billion in 2018/19 by ending the contributory element of Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseekers Allowance, meaning more than 300,000 families losing about £80 per week.

But the DWP said the document obtained by the BBC was “ill informed and inaccurate speculation.”

It added: “Officials spend a lot of time generating proposals – many not commissioned by politicians.

“It’s wrong and misleading to suggest that any part of this is part of our plan,” said a spokesman for Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary.

The disclosure will pile pressure on David Cameron and George Osborne to set out how they will make their proposal £12billion of welfare cuts. But Tories refused to commit to publishing their plans before the election.

Mr Cameron has previoulsy praised carers and could face a major backlash ahead of the election if he  pushes ahead with cuts to the Carer’s Allowance.

Rosanna Trudgian of the charity Mencap, told the BBC: “Disabled people don’t choose their disability. They don’t choose to pay for these additional costs related to their disability.”

Labour’s Shadow Works and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves MP said; “The Tories now need to come clean about what cuts they plan to make and who will pay the price.

“If they are ruling out these extreme cuts, for the disabled and carers then it is clear they will be hitting the tax credits, and support for children, for millions of working families.

Beattie. J 2015 Daily Mirror 28th March 2015 P. 2

“How on earth do we allow our Government, get away with no confirmed details of where their £12bn of welfare cuts are going to come from, a month away from a General Election? – Unbelievable”

Welfare Benefits – Banardo’s say it’s no ‘Safety Net’

The benefits system is “no longer providing an adequate safety net” for the poorest families, with “devastating effects” for vulnerable youngsters, a children’s charity is warning.

In a report on recent changes to the welfare system, Banardo’s said an increasing number of families were being forced to rely on food banks and faced eviction as a result of benefits cuts.

The charity is calling for a review of the impact of welfare reform on poor families, with a relaxation of the “bedroom tax” listed as a minimum requirement.

Banardo'sIn a survey of 138 0f its centres nationwide, 60 per cent said welfare changes introduced by both the Coalition and the previous Labour governments, were having a “wholly negative” impact on the families and young people reliant on their services.

Among these, 64 per cent said they had seen a rise in the use of food banks among users of their services, while 47 per cent reported a rise in rent arrears and 20 per cent an increased threat of eviction.

“Many of our services are concerned that the net impact of welfare changes is that the system no longer provides an adequate safety net for “working age families” the report said. “the evidence in this report shows how cutting families’ incomes can have a devastating effect on vulnerable children and young people.”

Benefit sanctions, which can see welfare payments stopped for up to three years if claimants fail to abide by a wide variety of terms were the “biggest concerns”. The report said some families were being left with little or no income as a result of being sanctioned, and were turning to “very risky means” to support themselves.

The report cited the case of one family in the North-West who ended up owing £700 to a local loan shark to cover a £300 loan, after their benefits were stopped for six weeks as a result of one missed Jobcentre appointment.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The benefits system this government inherited was broken, trapping the very people it was meant to help. Our welfare reforms are transforming the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities… We continue to spend £94bn a year on a welfare safety net to support those who are on low incomes or unemployed.”

Banardo’s said the “bedroom tax” – which reduces monthly housing payments if claimants have a spare room – was preventing families living in emergency accommodation from getting a new home because of a shortage of smaller social housing units.

Apps. P 2015 The Independent Daily Briefing 16/03/2015 P. 5

“Banardo’s reporting this, and, the Chancellor after another £12bn in welfare savings if re-elected!  This government is only concerned with reducing ‘the deficit’, while people in the UK are dying because of it.”

Father hanged himself after benefits cut

The Daily Mirror reports that a father-of-three killed himself after his benefits were cut and he was threatened with eviction.

Benjamin McDonald, 34, who had suffered from depression for 11 years, was found hanging in the fields where he played as a child in Nelson, Lancashire, an inquest heard.

Coroner Richard Taylor, returning a suicide verdict, said: “He had no form of income and was threatened with eviction – matters that can play on your mind.”

Suicidal manA spokesman for mental health charity Mind said: “It would be helpful to see what could be going wrong in the benefits system that leads to these tragic situations.”

“We can plainly see what is wrong with benefits system – the so-called safety net to assist vulnerable people is leading them to kill themselves. Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP should answer for this as Mr McDonald is not the first and certainly won’t be the last.”

Universal Credit Bill Exceeds £700 Million

The Government’s flagship Universal Credit has come under fresh attack after MPs said “very little progress” had been achieved though £700 million had been spent on the scheme since it began five years ago.

The Public Accounts Committee said that by October last year fewer than 18,000 people were claiming the credit, which replaces six mean-tested benefits, out of about seven million expected in the long term just 0.3% of the eligible population.

Universal CreditsThe committee made a series of recommendations, including urging the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to set out clearly what it has gained from it’s spending so far.

The MPs noted that the DWP had justified spending such large amounts on the promise of future benefits, such as higher employment.

A DWP spokesman said: “Universal Credit” is on track and we are making good progress – almost 64,000 people have made a claim and this time next year UC will be in very Jobcentre in the country. Using existing IT ensures value for money and will save the taxpayer over £2bn.”

Jones. A 2015 The Independent 25/02/2015 P. 6

“It would be nice to see the components of the £2bn savings”

IDS Says His Welfare Reforms Will Save Taxpayer £50Billion?

James Chapman reports in the Daily Mail –  Iain Duncan Smith will today say Britain’s benefit system is growing at the slowest rate since the inception of the welfare state.

The work and Pensions Secretary will point to almost £50billion  of savings for the taxpayer thanks to government reforms.

He will hail a ‘momentous reversal  of Labour’s reckless spending’ and claim that the lives of hundred of thousands of people have been ‘transformed’ by pushing them into work.

Despite Labour’s claim that austerity measures would cost a million jobs, there are 1.75million more people in work, and 700,000 fewer people in workless households, he will say.

Mr Duncan Smith will attack the ‘accepted wisdom of the Left: that poverty is solely about money, and more state money solves it’.

Iain Duncaan SmithThe Work and Pensions Secretary’s intervention comes as the election battleground moves on to welfare and with Labour’s work and pensions spokesman today accusing the Tories of failing on the issue.

Rachel Reeves will claim stagnation of wages over much of this parliament has meant more people in work reliant on the state.

She will say that by 2020, the number of working people depending on housing benefit to meet the costs of their home will have more than doubled, at cost of over £14billion.

Former Labour work and pensions secretary David Blunkett is expected to unveil his own proposals for welfare reform, including curbs on benefits paid to better-off pensioners.

But Mr Duncan Smith, speaking at the free market think-tank Reform, will attack Labour for opposing every one of the Government’s  measures to cut the welfare bill.

Labour allowed welfare bills to ‘spiral out of control’ having rocketed by 60 per cent in real terms he will say.

‘Now, welfare spending is under control, seeing the first real terms fall for 16 years. The Independent Institute  for Fiscal Studies estimates the cost of welfare next year will be nearly £17bilion lower thanks to our reforms.’

Controversial measures introduced by the Coalition include freezes on uprating of benefits, tax credits and public sector pensions to the less generous CPI measure of inflation, the removal of child benefit from better-off families and a £26,000 household benefit cap.

Mr Duncan Smith’s analysis suggests £50billion will have been saved cumulatively over the course of this parliament from 2010 to 2015.

‘We had to get spending under control – for under the last Government, welfare expenditure had increased on a trajectory that was entirely unsustainable by 2010, costing every household in Britain a an extra £3,000 a year,’ Mr Duncan Smith will say.

‘Yet it was not enough simply to top-slice the budget. To do so would be equally unsustainable in the long-term, for problems would simply accumulate further down the line or emerge elsewhere – with consequences for the health system, the justice system and more.

‘Rather in its true sense, welfare reform is about transforming the life chances and outcomes of those on benefits – bringing down the cost of social failure in the process.’

The Governments reforms have been designed so the state is ‘no longer just putting money in, maintaining people in dependency’, but tying spending to improved outcomes.

Back-to-work providers are paid by results, depending on how long someone moving from benefits into a job keeps it.

And the new Universal Credit, which is gradually replacing all the major out-of-work benefits and tax credits, is designed to bring about ‘a complete shift in welfare culture’.

It ensures it always pays for people to move into a job and take more hours, while allowing the state to place new requirements on claimants.

‘Gone are the days when it makes more sense to sit on benefits than enter work,’ Mr Duncan Smith will say. A welfare system that ‘can catch you when you fall, lift you when you can rise’ is the ‘strongest statement yet of this Government’s commitment to helping people get on’, he will argue.

Despite the progress, Mr Duncan Smith will warn that the ‘disparity between the top  and bottom of society is in many cases larger than it has ever been’.

‘We have a group of skilled professionals and wealth creators at the top of society who have little or no connection to those at the bottom,’ he will say.

‘Yet in so many cases what divides the two is little more than a different start in life. I believe social investment gives us an opportunity to lock not just wealth back into our most disadvantaged areas – but something else as well.’

Mr Duncan Smith will urge the wealthy and big firms to put money into ‘social enterprises’ in deprived neighbourhoods.

Miss Reeves is expected to say: ‘The Government’s failure to make work pay has meant they are struggling to keep social security spending under control.

‘Last week the IFS confirmed that, for all David Cameron and George Osborne’s rhetoric, social security spending will be no lower next year than it was when David Cameron took office.’

“With the Chancellor (G.Osborne) not giving details of more massive welfare cuts to come, if the Tories are re-elected?  – lets hope the purge on the disadvantaged in our society is bearable. Think I’ll watch a Bond Movie tonight – “Licence to Kill” seems favourite!”

PIP extends further into England and Scotland

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is being further rolled out to working age Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants in more postcode areas.

From 26 January 2015, PIP will be extended to the following postcode areas:
• G – Glasgow
• NE – Newcastle
• WA – Warrington
• WN – Wigan
• DH – Durham
• SR – Sunderland
• IV – Inverness.

Claimants in these postcodes will be invited to make a claim for PIP where:
• Their existing DLA award is fixed term and is coming to an end;
• They are approaching their 16th birthday;
• DWP has received information about a change in their care or mobility needs;
• Someone chooses to claim PIP instead of DLA.

This follows on from the rollout in November 2014 when PIP was extended to a number of postcode areas including Manchester (M), Liverpool (L), Chester (CH) and Huddersfield (HD).

As part of the on-going drive to improve the PIP process, DWP carried out a small pilot to test the effectiveness of phone calls to claimants whose claims had been disallowed or whose benefit had been reduced.

The pilot showed that most claimants had already received and understood the written notification before being called by DWP and that some of them did not need or want further explanation of the decision.

Department of Work and PensionsAs a result DWP is now leaving it to claimants to get in touch if they need further information.

The first independent review of PIP, carried out by Paul Gray, was published on 17 December 2014. This explored how PIP is operating and the effectiveness of the assessment and made a series of recommendations based on the information that was gathered throughout the review.

These focus on three main areas:
• Improving the experience for claimants;
• Clarifying and improving the collection of further evidence;
• The overall effectiveness of the assessment.

The Government has welcomed the review and will publish a detailed response in due course.

The latest set of experimental official statistics on PIP, up to October 2014, was also published on 17 December 2014 which included detailed breakdowns of people’s medical conditions for the first time.