- Benefit sanctions hitting homeless people hardest. Homeless Link has commissioned a report called A High Cost to Pay (pdf) that highlights the difficulties of the most vulnerable people in attending benefit dependant interviews. There is a call for Jobcentre Plus advisors to better understand the predicament of homeless people. Homeless Link found that the sanctions are punishing vulnerable people for making mistakes.
- ‘Guaranteed safeguards’ are failing payday loan customers. Citizens Advice Bureau responds to the BBC article Payday lenders bite back: ‘Don’t call us loan sharks’ saying that the safeguards are not maintained. Not only that but the policy of collecting debts at source encourages unwise lending.
- Bedroom tax crisis: Ed Miliband commits to controversial benefit cut – if Labour wins the next election. Independent. Labour committed to ditching the benefit alteration.
- More than 50,000 people are now facing eviction after bedroom tax. Independent. False Economy provided the data to the Independent from their FOI requests. False Economy is an organisation believing that austerity measures are a false economy so will not solve the economic crisis.
- Free school meals: we are all socialists now. Guardian, Patrick Butler’s cutsblog. The decision to give 1.4m children free meals is a universal socialist policy rather than the haunt of the Lib Dems, who proposed it.
- You can starve on benefits in this country. A Girl called Jack. Blogger Jack Monroe, once a single mum on benefits, starts her column in the Guardian.
- I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life J K Rowling said. J K Rowling is the President of Gingerbread, the support organisation for single mothers.
These are some welfare links we found interesting during the first week of September.
- Britain 2013: children of poor families are still left behind.Guardian, Society, Poverty. Has Britain moved on since the Born to Fail? report of the early 70′s, or has the situation got worse?
- Food bank enquiries soar as further working class famlies slide into poverty. Guardian, Society, Food banks. Savings have run out, working families and those on benefit search for help to reach their next pay check. Citizens Advice Bureau reports.
- Why the UK’s recovery lacks a feelgood factor Guardian Economic growth. A thinktank report says any upturn won’t help the workforce ‘second division’, including women and the under-30s.
- Universal credit frontline: ‘I’m left with nothing’ Guardian Kiran Singh, part-time lecturer and sole parent of nine-year-old, dreading move to streamlined payments with universal credit.
- UN sends in special rapporteur Raquel Rolnik to inspect ‘bedroom tax’. Rolnik UN investigates the legality of the bedroom tax with a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council to report back on her findings.
- Welfare cuts: A tale of two food bank vouchers. Guardian Patrick Butler’s cuts blog. Why has the newer voucher removed the reason for referral?
- Debate today at 2pm Diary of a Benefit Scrounger website. The government’s decision makes it harder to appeal if a claim for Employment Support Allowance is rejected.
- Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms ‘given mauling’ by audit. Telegraph. The Coalition’s flagship scheme to overhaul the benefits system has been savaged by an official audit, which accused ministers of attempting the huge reform without a detailed plan.
- Moral certainty is not always enough in welfare reform Telegraph. Were the only people used on this project those prepared to say what those in charge wanted to hear?
- Hard evidence: are migrants draining the welfare system?. The Conversation blog. The only thing we can say for certain is that the concept that they are “costing the taxpayer billions of pounds per year” is pure speculation and is not supported by the data.
Keep your fingers on the keyboard to let us know if and how you use the data, or how we can improve by using the comment form below.
- Universal credit fears revealed through Citizens Advice survey. Guardian. Survey conducted by charity suggests 90% of benefit claimants will be unprepared for new single payment benefits scheme.
- Homeless households ‘off the radar’ of public services. Guardian. Hundreds of families are being moved out of London into Bed &Breakfast places around England without access to child protection or schools, a Guardian investigation reveals. Continue reading
These are the welfare-related links we’ve been looking at between January 26th and March 22nd:
- Jobcentre was set targets for benefit sanctions –
- DWP seeks law change to avoid benefit repayments after Poundland ruling –
- Local authority housing statistics data returns for 2011 to 2012 – Statistical data sets – Inside Government – GOV.UK –
- Social care reforms could trigger deluge of legal disputes, MPs warn –
- The spare bedroom tax: a mess of contradiction and impossibility | John Harris – And what of the chronic shortage of smaller properties in such places as Hartlepool? In response to this question, I get a remarkable reply: despite the fact that the same statement bemoans people living "in homes that are too large for their needs", it also acknowledges that "most people will not move" and claims that "there are other options available such as taking up employment, increasing hours worked or taking in a lodger".
Types of student loans
If you took out a student loan while taking a university or college course that began before September 1998, you will have been given a loan known as a ‘mortgage style’ or ‘fixed-term’ loan. (Loans taken out after this point are known as ‘income-contingent loans’.)
Mortgage-style loans are paid directly to the Student Loans Company (SLC), the public-sector body that provides student loans, unlike income-contingent loans – for which HMRC collects repayments.
Interest rates on mortgage-style loans are typically higher than those for income-contingent loans because they are linked to retail price index (RPI) inflation. Interest on mortgate-style loans stood at 3.6% in January 2013, whereas interest on income-contingent loans in the same month was 1.5%.
You’ll usually have to repay mortgage-style loans through monthly instalments by direct debit. However, you may be able to defer repayments for one year at a time if you earn £27,813 or less per year, before tax or National Insurance are deducted from your pay. Repayments on income-contingent loans are deducted automatically from your wages and can’t be deferred.
If you’re eligible, you can defer payments by completing a form issued by the SLC and returning it by post. The SLC sends deferment forms directly to customers by post. If you have deferred another repayment at an earlier date, the SLC states that it will send you a form about two months before your next payment falls due.
What do you need to complete the deferment form?
The SLC requires you to complete, sign and date the form and post it directly to them with evidence of your ‘current means of subsistence.’ If you are claiming benefits, the SLC says that it will accept any one of the following pieces of evidence:
- A Benefits Agency/Jobcentre stamp on the deferment application form.
- A copy of a current benefit agency book confirming the customer’s name, address, date and the amount of benefit received.
- A Benefits Agency letter confirming the customer’s name, date, type and amount received.
- A recent bank statement showing benefits payments being made to the customer’s account.
The evidence needed if you are employed, self-employed, travelling, a student or living on unearned income is listed here. According to the SLC, you’ll automatically be sent a new deferment form if your application has an obvious mistake – alternatively, you can contact the SLC to request a new form on 0141 243 3902.
At the time of publishing the DWP had declined to comment.
These are the welfare-related links we’ve been looking at between December 21st and January 25th:
- Management in Practice – GPs could help save £190m in sick pay – Launching in 2014, the advisory service will allow GPs to identify employees who need support as well as issuing 'fit notes'. Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform said: "Long-term sickness absence is a burden to business, to the taxpayer and to the thousands of people who get trapped on benefits when they could actually work.
- The cost of government: what does the new transactions data really tell us? | News | guardian.co.uk – And the worst offender? The massive Department for Work and Pensions, which is Britain's biggest spending government department and administers benefits. So, for instance we have no idea how much it costs to process each of the 40m Jobseeker's allowance signing ons or to administer the benefit's 3.4m claims. The Department is responsible for 48,704,000 transactions in the high volume list alone – and we don't know the cost of any of them.
- Reasons to be fearful: Oakley & Policy Exchange, foxes in the benefits coop | skwalker1964 – To keep this post to a readable length, I won’t go into detail on some of the other proposals that Mr Oakley would like to see implemented, or wild opinions that he holds, but will just list some of them:
All assistance for unemployed people to find work provided by private/charitable providers
Time-limiting unemployment benefits
Cutting regional pay to fund infrastructure spending – thereby penalising those who are already disadvantaged in order to fund growth-measures, rather than taxing the wealthiest
Selling public housing in expensive areas to private owners, forcing social tenants out of ‘desirable’ areas
Claiming benefits leads to criminality
Re-distributing income to low-paid people is a bad idea, because it ‘does nothing to encourage progression and self-sufficiency‘.
- Request Initiative » Eleven work and pensions civil servants sacked for using Twitter or Facebook – The 11 sacked officials are among 116 DWP employees to have faced disciplinary action for blogging and social networking since January 2009, according to figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.
- What is George Osborne doing to benefits? | Society | guardian.co.uk – Let's imagine someone receives £100 a month, all of which is spent on goods and services (domestic heating, food, bills, etc). The current inflation rate is 2.7%, which means in a year's time buying the exact same things would cost £102.70. Under the previous system, this is what benefits would've risen to. But with the changes, they would now only rise to £101 – leaving the recipient £1.70 worse off. Given the changes will last for at least three years, this represents a cut in income of between 3% to 6%, depending what happens with inflation. In reality, the impact could be even worse, as research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests low-income households experience a higher inflation rate than richer ones.
These are the welfare-related links we’ve been looking at between September 6th and October 27th: Continue reading
These are the welfare-related links we’ve been looking at between June 20th and August 20th: Continue reading
Here’s a good example of following the money to see exactly where the priorities lie on two kinds of ‘benefit fraud’: fraud by benefit claimants, and fraud by the companies who get the contracts to run welfare services.