Category Archives: Uncategorized

A guide to completing additional questions for Personal Independence Payment

Follow this link for a very comprehensive PIP guide  which focuses on examples that you could for the additional information boxes.

Often people with disabilities or long term illness get so use to living with pain and discomfort that they do not realise how much their disability affects they everyday life.

Please share as widely as possible

capture

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwHO3oy8n8DONjB6c09JSGQ3UEE/view?usp=sharing

 As this guide is a PDF, below are the writable additional information sheets from the Appendix for you to copy and paste:

Name………………………….

National Insurance Number………………………..

Q2 About your health condition and disabilities

Q2a

Q2b

 

 Q3 Preparing Food

Q3a

Q3b

Q3 Additional Information Preparing Food

 

 Q4 Eating and Drinking

Q4a

Q4b

Q4c

Q4 Additional Information Eating and Drinking

 

Q5 Managing Treatments

Q5a

Q5b

Q5 Additional Information Managing Treatments

 

Q6 Bathing and Washing

Q6a

Q6b

Q6 Additional Information Bathing and Washing

 

Q7 Managing Toilet Needs

Q7a

Q7b

Q7 Additional Information Managing Toilet Needs

 

 Q8 Dressing and Undressing

Q8a

Q8b

Q8 Additional Information Dressing and Undressing

 

 Q9 Communicating

Q9a

Q9b

Q9 Additional Information

 

Q10 Reading

Q10a

Q10b

Q10 Additional Information

 

 Q11 Mixing with other People

Q11a

Q11b

Q11 Additional Information

 

Q12 Making decisions about Money

Q12a

Q12b

Q12 Additional Information

 

Q13 Going Out

Q13a

Q13b

Q13 Additional Information Going Out

 

Q14 Moving around

Q14 a

Q14b

Q14c

Q14 Additional Information

 

 Q15 Further Additional Information

 

 

 

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DWP Ordered To Apologise To Sister Of Tim Salter

Same Difference

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

The DWP has been ordered to apologise to the sister of a vulnerable claimant who committed suicide after his benefits were cut, according to the Guardian. The case bears a striking resemblance to others in which the DWP have failed to follow their own guidelines and also ignored coroner’s prevention of future death reports.

Physiotherapist assessment for mental health
When Linda Cooksey found the body of her brother Tim Salter in his home in September 2013, there was no food in the house, no money in his bank account and a letter from his housing association threatening him with eviction.

Salter had been left partially sighted following a previous suicide attempt and had mental health conditions including agoraphobia. In spite of this, and references to suicide in his claim for ESA, he was found fit for work and had his benefits drastically…

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My challenge to Lord Freud, Minister of State for Welfare Reform: Can you live on 63pence per week for nearly seven weeks?

freud

If the answer to that question is No, then why are you imposing a policy on Universal Credit claimants that achieves just this?

For those of you who have not yet heard of Universal Credit (UC) and there are thousands of you out there that have no idea of the future, especially those who are currently claiming Tax Credits (TC)

Universal Credit is the Government’s New Flagship Benefit that, for the first time in Social Security history, brings part-time workers, the sick, the disabled and the unemployed under one set of rules.

I recently wrote to you voicing my concerns regarding the policy of Repayable Hardship Payment Loans, as these loans must be repaid immediately meaning that the financial penalty of a 4 week sanction is effectively extended to a period 7 weeks.

 CPAG have stated that a 13 week sanction effectively means a financial sanction for 33weeks and there are more examples here in section 5 of the report (link below).

 I have calculated that a the person with repayable hardship repayments of £2000 noted in this report – section 5, will take 70 weeks to repay

You can read more here: http://www.welfareconditionality.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/WP-UC-Inquiry-WelCond.pdf.

More to the point you stated that, “The Universal Credit Hardship provisions aim to ensure there is financial protection for those who need it to meet their immediate, basic and essential needs because their payment is reduced by sanction….”

 I would challenge this statement and have set out my arguments and further calculations below:

Repayable Hardship Payment Loans (RHPL)

Single Non Disabled Person receiving £73.10pw

  • Every claimant must comply with conditionality for 7days before being able to claim (RHPL), which includes the sick, disabled and vulnerable, so they receive nothing for the first week .
  • A 4 week sanction is extended financially to 6 1/2weeks as RHPL are immediately repayable at 40%
  • This averages out to £28.12pw for this whole period.
  • In my home town, the cheapest rent (shared accommodation) I could find was £100pw, while the LHA is £82.46, leaving a shortfall of £17.54pw
  • Council Tax is still payable each week @ £3.95pw
  • Utilities/Water rates are between £6 – £8pw
  • Total of priority outgoings £27.49pw

This leaves claimants with 63pence per week to live on for this period nearly seven weeks

  • During this period if Council Tax is not paid and court action is taken, another debt will be incurred of £100 – £120 on top of accrued arrears.
  • Many court orders for CT are passed to Bailiffs for non payment for which there is yet another financial cost.
  • As housing costs are now included in the one UC payment, here is a great chance that rent arrears will accumulate, with eviction being the end result
  • Another Priority debt is the Television License fee of £5.60pw, without which claimants are liable to a criminal record and fine
  • I have calculated that clearing debt built up due to arrears could take at least another 8 – 10 weeks, meaning that a four week sanction can have an adverse financial impact for up to six month at the very least.

Lord Freud, it is plain to see that “basic and essential needs” are not being met, far from it claimants are falling into debt, going without food, heating, electricity and losing their accommodation all over the country

I would also like to say to you, that people who commit heinous crimes have their” basic and essential needs” covered. At a minimum they are fed and housed but claimants who are sanctioned are not afforded these basic needs.

Sanctions, before the introduction of repayment hardship payments have already caused many deaths, so I would urge you to act now, so that we do not need to mourn the first Universal Credit death due to this harsh and unnecessary policy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This week at Dundee buroo

scottish unemployed workers' network

IMG_2410

Whilst it was quite busy ootside Dundee buroo earlier this week, it was much quieter today, which suggests that us being there coincided with the Connect team being on duty inside the building – as regular readers will be aware, Dundee buroo is one of the only jobcentres anywhere, that we are aware of, where welfare rights officers dispense advice to jobcentre ‘clients’, or, as everyone else would call them, unemployed people.

We have noticed increasing numbers of cases of people being bumped from ESA and onto JSA, and this week was no exception. We met Emily, a nineteen-year-old woman with ADHD, and suffering from extreme anxiety, who had recently failed her Work Capability Assessment (WCA), and had also been refused PIP when she failed to turn up to her PIP medical assessment. Emily could not tell us precisely when she had received her award letter telling her that she…

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August 18, 2016 · 11:35 pm

Raise your banners

We are proud to be included in this blog

Shoddy exhibition

Political banners, with their traditions reaching back through the labour movement, have something in common with the Shoddy exhibition. Being fabric-based is the obvious connection, with a skillful use of embroidery, appliqué and painting to convey a strong message. Banners often carry a message of protest or resistance, but are as often about identity, pride, unity and justice.

DAN banner on the right, the only photo I can find of it. Photo: Tony Baldwinson

We are familiar with trade union banners, the banners of the women’s suffrage movement and, of course, banners that are carried on demonstrations –  sometimes quickly and roughly made, but with something to say and aiming to grab your attention.

The disabled people’s movement has created some wonderful, attention-grabbing banners over the years, including the legendary banner that accompanied DAN, the disabled people’s direct action network, on actions during the 1990s. The slogan “to boldly go…

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Universal Credit: Sanctions and The Horror of Repayable Hardship Payments

 

 

It took me a while to get my head around the new policy of Repayable Hardship Payments and how it extends  a four week sanction to seven weeks due to these payments being repayable!

Under the current JSA sanction policy Hardship payments do not have to be repaid, so as soon as the sanction period ends claimants go back to receiving their full benefit.

Under Universal Credit hardship payments MUST BE REPAID once the sanction period has been completed. In effect, the sanction period is extended until the hardship loan has been repaid.

I have calculated the figures below as weekly amounts, as it is easier to explain, although Universal Credit is paid monthly.

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid at a rate of £71.30 for adults over 25.
  • Hardship Payments are paid @ 60% or £42.78
  • Hardship Repayments are repaid at a rate of 40% or £28.52
  • Hardship can be claimed on the 15th day of a sanction if the claimant is not in a vulnerable group
  • The most common benefit sanction is 4 weeks

 

Number of Sanction weeks Hardship payment per week (£) Hardship debt accrued each week (£)
1 0 0
2 0 0
Hardship Payments can be awarded from week 3
3 42.78 42.78
4 42.78 85.56
SANCTION ENDS

 

  • At the end of a 4 week sanction the Repayable Hardship Payment debt is £85.56
  • As stated above Hardship Repayments are repaid at a rate of 40% or £28.52 pw.

 

Number sanction weeks Jobseeker’s Allowance minus hardship repayment (£) Repayment Hardship at £28.52 each week Balance Outstanding
5 42.78 £28.52 57.04
6 42.78 £28.52 28.52
7 42.78 0

 

The debt of £85.56 takes an extra three weeks to repay

so effectively the sanction has been

SEVEN WEEKS!!!!

 

AND

The longer the sanction the longer it takes to repay the debt!

 

Case study: One in-work UC claimant reported being sanctioned for long periods after missing multiple Jobcentre Plus appointments because of unpredictable working hours and variable care demands…

I’m on my court order for the eviction plus because of my arrears… I kept thinking, ‘Why is this happening? Why is this?’… I really was struggling. I fell behind on a lot especially because with the sanctions and then when I got poorly and I wouldn’t work and, because of the sanctions, I still wasn’t getting my main allowance. I was still getting only hardship of £100 odd and I still had to pay the £100, so I was very, very struggling with that… I just asked them, ‘Can you please explain what my money is because I really don’t know? I’ve never had a proper payment and just explain like am I still sanctioned?’ They said, ‘No, your sanctions have now come up’ but now every month I’ve had the hardship, I now have to pay all them back. So, I think it was like £2000 something that they’d actually given me over the year in hardship payments, so I’m still currently paying them off now… You’re in a rut like I’ve been with the bailiffs… I’ve never really been in a debt like that and for it to still carry on now to this day escalating, it’s not nice for people. It doesn’t give you much confidence. It doesn’t really make you want to go into work all happy and carrying on, do you know? It knocks you down and down and it wears you out.

 Read more at Welfare Conditionality

 

It will take 70 weeks to pay back this loan back!

 

How Repayable Hardship Payments effect The Under 25’s

 “If, for example, an individual was in receipt of universal credit at a rate of £249.48 per month (the standard allowance of under 25s), she might receive hardship payments of approximately £149.57 per month during the 13 week sanction period. If s/he then had to repay this at a rate of 40% of the standard allowance rate per month, the period during which her income was reduced by 40% would thus be extended from 13 weeks (the sanction period) to 32 weeks (the sanction period plus the period during which the hardship payment”

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) briefing in advance of the second reading of the Benefit Sanctions Regime (Entitlement to Automatic Hardship Payments) Bill 2015-16

 

I do not think that the consequences of this policy was fully understood when this legislation was passed into law but is an unforeseen consequence, never the less this situation needs to be remedied immediately:

I will be asking my MP to write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb MP to ask him to halt the trial of Repayable Hardship Payments that is taking place in Scotland immediately, and to ask him to look at the unintended consequence of this policy and change legislation as necessary.

If you feel as strongly as I do please email and or tweet Your MP

http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/

and Stephen Crabb:

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Tel:      020 7219 6518

Email: stephen.crabb.mp@parliament.uk                 Twitter: @scrabbmp

 

 

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Universal Credit : In work, part time claimants sanctioned for taking holidays and …… for working!

Unlike Zac and Sarah, Helen is a real person.

A Lone Parent working hard and doing the right thing.

This is Helen’s Story!

 Helens storyShe also says: I had a phone call last week saying that there is a new rule coming in and that even though I am working 30hours a week I have to start going to the job centre weekly again to “help” me find a second job to get me off credits altogether  if I don’t attend these meetings I will be sanctioned and penalised again! I have lost around £300 per month since I got swapped over to UC already and just feel like the government just don’t care about the stress they are putting on working families

Figures published in Nov 2105 show that 144000 claimants are now signed onto Universal Credit. 32.5 % are in work, that’s some 45827 people who are at risk of being sanctioned for taking a holiday……..

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/474720/universal-credit-statistics-to-29-oct-2015.pdf

That is if they can afford one. It took Helen two years to save up for her well deserved break

This is an article from RightsNet

Universal Credit (UC) is a very important policy development because it significantly broadens the reach of in-work conditionality.

Those affected include low paid and/or part-time workers who would not previously have had contact with Jobcentre Plus.

In-work conditionality means that those who are already working still have to comply with the 35 hour perweek job search requirement, ie, if a claimant works 20hours per week, they must attend Jobcentre Plus and provide evidence of 15 hours’ jobsearch.

In practice, this means looking for multiple jobs or increased hours from current employers.

Jobcentre Plus appointments are still mandatory, backed with sanctions for non-attendance.

Someone in work and receiving Tax Credits or Housing Benefit at the moment and therefore not subject to conditionality, would be able to go away on holiday without a second thought.  In fact they would expect, given their rights within employment law to holidays, that this is considered normal.”

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, from 1 April 2009, most workers have a statutory right to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday. Some workers may be entitled to more than the statutory amount of holiday. This depends on the worker’s contract. If the worker’s contract gives her/him less paid holiday than the statutory entitlement, the statutory entitlement applies. Even if the worker signs a contract which states that s/he is only entitled to, for example, three weeks’ paid holiday per year, this does not take away her/his statutory entitlement to 5.6 weeks’ paid leave from 1 April 2009.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/rights-at-work/holiday/holiday-pay-what-youre-entitled-to/

EU Directive 2003/88 provides that the purpose of paid annual leave is not just a perk of employment, it is to enable a worker to enjoy rest, relaxation and leisure for the protection of health and safety, both for their own benefit, and potentially that of their colleagues. A 52 week per annum full-time jobsearch requirement would undermine this objective.

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:32003L0088

David Cameron said in a speech in 2010 that he was “backing those who work hard and do the right thing”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/9354163/David-Camerons-welfare-speech-in-full.html

If this is the case then why are people like Helen being denied their statutory right as someone in work to take a holiday, indeed the government is not only denying her right to a holiday but sanctioning her from exercising that right.

In a freedom of Information request on this issue dated Nov 3rd 2015

The DWP stated:

“Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 23 October 2015. 

You asked: 

I wish to ask what approach the DWP will take as and when a claimant on Universal Credit requests to take any kind of holiday.

There are provisions in the existing Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations in which a person may be treated as actively seeking employment but there appears to be no such provision in the Universal Credit Regulations.

How does DWP propose to deal with exactly the same issue under UC? What variations will
be allowed in conditionality, under what circumstances and for how long?

If someone is working but still subject to work conditionality, will the leave provision in their
contract of employment be taken as a basis for allowing time off? “

And this the DWP’s response:

“Under JSA rules, a claimant can go away within the UK for up to two weeks but cannot usually leave the UK or their claim will be closed. The claimant still needs to comply with the rules of JSA and can be asked to look for work whilst they are away.

Under Universal Credit a claimant can go abroad for a period of a month for any reason, a longer period of up to six months temporary absence abroad is also allowable for reasons of medical treatment. However, if a claimant chooses to go on holiday in Great Britain or abroad they must continue to carry out the work-related requirements as set out on their Claimant Commitment.

No allowances are made within the conditionality regime for claimants going on holiday.  For example claimants within the All Work-Related Requirements Group with no restrictions on their availability will still be expected to be immediately available to attend a job interview or take up an offer of employment, even if this means cutting short a holiday. They are also required to attend their normal appointments and failure to do so will incur a sanction.

Being on holiday would not be considered by a DWP Decision Maker as good reason for not carrying out any work search or availability requirements.

Regulation 11 of the Universal Credit regulations 2013 sets out that a person on Universal Credit is able to leave the UK for a period not exceeding a month (or not expected to exceed a month). This can be extended in certain exceptional circumstances. However, this provision
does not exempt a claimant from work related requirements as set out on the Claimant Commitment  Here is a link to the regulation:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/376/regulation/11″

I will repeat that: “Being on holiday would not be considered by a DWP Decision Maker as good reason for not carrying out any work search or availability requirements.” and they seem to be sticking to that rule!

A person has a 28 day sanction decision because he was on holiday for a week and could not meet his work search requirement.

The holiday in question was booked before he became unemployed and he was away for a week, in Portugal and had no way of searching for work while he was there.

He accepts and knew that he would not be entitled to UC for the period he was away but is understandably annoyed at the 28 day sanction.

He asked for a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) (where the decision is looked at again by a Decision Maker)

The MR stated that a holiday where the work search requirement cannot be fulfilled is not allowed and the sanction stands…..

RightsNet 2016

Sanctioned for working :

“One interviewee who had an appointment at the Jobcentre, but got called into work. He phoned up the JobCentre to rearrange his appointment, they told him it couldn’t be rearranged and then he was sanctioned because he didn’t go. “So he was actually working and they took £70 off him because he wasn’t there.”

Another has said:  ‘I was working at the time…it was something like,‘we’re going to charge you £10 a day for seven days’ and I said, ‘What, you’re going to fine me £70 for missing an appointment that I couldn’t even ring you to tell you that I’d be late?’ (UC recipient)

Sanctioned, then threatened with eviction

Yet another case involved a woman who was struggling with debt after being given multiple sanctions as she tried to juggle Jobcentre appointments with working part-time and caring responsibilities. She ended up being threatened with eviction from her home.

She said: “It doesn’t give you much confidence. It doesn’t really make you want to go

into work all happy and carrying on, do you know? It knocks you down and

down and it wears you out.”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14242638.Revealed__the_Tories_new_plan_to_squeeze_the_working_poor/

You can read the report here:

http://www.welfareconditionality.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/WP-UC-Inquiry-WelCond.pdf

And …. Hardship Payments under Universal Credit:

David Webster, an Honorary Senior Research Fellow (Urban Studies) at the University of Glasgow has stated that:

“The UC regime has similar lengths of sanction to those of JSA for the various ‘failures’, but there are some critical differences.

  • Sanctions are lengthened by being made consecutive, not concurrent.
  • Under Universal Credit hardship payments become repayable. Given that repayments are made at the rate of 40% of benefit – the same as the amount by which a hardship payment is lower than the benefit – this means that for claimants receiving hardship payments, UC sanctions are in effect 3½ times as long as their nominal length.
  • All sanctioned UC claimants must also demonstrate ‘compliance’ for 7 days before applying for hardship payments, and must reapply for each 4-week period.
  • The 80% hardship rate for ‘vulnerable’ claimants is abolished.”

http://www.cpag.org.uk/david-webster (Feb 2016 briefing)

In a recent interview Iain Duncan Smith said that there were no sanctions for people in work, well it seems that although he didn’t know about in-work sanctions under Universal Credit, his Department of Work and Pensions did.

So I am calling on Stephen Crabb to stop sanctions for in-work claimants immediately, investigate why hard working people are being “fined” and explain why this government deems it necessary to make the sanction regime ever more savage than it is already, when so many people have suffered and died.

https://mzolobajluk.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/the-increasing-death-toll-due-to-the-loss-of-benefits/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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