- 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 second week of September.
What were Ian Duncan Smith’s ‘welfare reforms’ really about?. Guardian, Sue Marsh, spokeswoman and author of Diary of a Benefit Scrounger says the reforms are frightening the most vulnerable.
Hard evidence: are migrants draining the welfare system?. The Conversation. The evidence is to the contrary.
Patrick Kennedy: ‘Speak up’ for mental illness. Politico, A call to reassess mental injuries caused in military combat.
UN housing expert’s call to axe bedroom tax ‘a disgrace’ – senior Tory. Guardian, Bedroom tax. Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps takes issue with the UN special rapporteur’s views of the bedroom tax.
Ed Milliband to pledge crackdown on zero-contracts . BBC. In his address to the TUC, Ed Milliband will set out plans to tackle the spread of zero-hour contracts.
Child Poverty Action Group update: The reality of striving and surviving on benefits. Video with single parent, A Girl called Jack.
Europe could have up to 25 million ‘new poor’ if austerity drags on .Oxfam. The report states that damage caused by austerity measures will take at least two decades to reverse.
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.
These are some welfare links we found interesting during the second two weeks of August.
- Food bank Britain: life below the line: Guardian. The Trussell Trust opens three new food banks a week, finding not only those facing benefit cuts but also working families, are queuing up.
- Living standards crisis is a housing crisis. Channel 4. Faisal Islam; The daytrippers take in the sun on the south Devon coast. It’s the height of the summer holidays in Teignmouth. No one’s talking economics, but here in the district of Teignbridge, the squeeze is everywhere.
- Record numbers of care homes warned over illegally poor standards, Telegraph. Laura Donnelly; As warnings and standards reports become the norm, care homes come under fire, with figures out from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
- Bedroom tax forcing previously paid-up tenants into areas 24dash.com. In Newport and Monmouthshire 55% of tenants affected by the under-occupancy policy have fallen into arrears since its inception on 1 April.
- More Police forces trial ‘street triage’ mental health scheme. BBC; Five more police forces are to pilot a scheme whereby mental health nurses accompany officers on call-outs, the government has announced.
- Concern over possible outsourcing of disability social work service. Community care; Staff support for establishment of all-age disability service tempered by concerns over possible future sell-off to private sector or creation of social enterprise.
- Café run by young people offers mental health counselling . Guardian, social care network; The Yasp cafe offers a laid-back environment where young people can receive support or train as mentors.
- DWP is using your taxes to employ people on zero hour contracts. What Can I Do About It?
- Zero-hour contracts are inappropriate in the field of social work. Guardian, Homecare Hub; Contracts in which hours can be given or removed as reward or punishment make bullying easier and whistleblowing dangerous.
- Bank of America intern death sparks debate over hours. BBC. How much did overwork play a part in the death of an intern in London? The coroner’s report will be out in a month.
- Labour need to re-define what it means to be “Working Class”. And quick. Diary of a Benefit Scrounger blog. A passionate plea for the worker to be represented in 21st century Britain.
- The Secrets Cuts: part 4, Personal Independence Payments and part 6, How are those with mental health problems treated by Atos? New Statesman, Alan White.
These are some welfare links we found interesting during the first two weeks of August.
- YoungMinds comment on Prince’s Trust ‘Abandoned Ambitions’ report. Charity YoungMinds. “These figures highlight just some of the everyday pressures young people face”. Abandoned Ambitions (pdf)
- Interview with Jolyon Jones: the cuts from the barricade website runningwithscissors-brum. A Birmingham social worker and activist speaks about the cuts in children’s services.
- Music therapy helps children who have witnessed domestic violence Guardian. Professional, social care network. A call for innovation and a sharing of knowledge and experience amongst social care providers; Ashram Housing Association and music therapy.
- Benefit cap hits child households hardest. Children & Young People Now, website for those working in children’s services.
- Parents should pool resources to combat cuts in respite care. Guardian. New schemes approach ways of offering breaks for disabled children and carers as the need grows to make links with similar families.
- Coalition’s £1bn youth deal failing to create permanent jobs, Labour claims. Guardian, Society, Youth unemployment.
- The crisis in living standards and how to solve it. Economist Duncan Weldon, the touchstone blog. As we are seeing the longest squeeze on living standards since the 1870′s, policy needs to focus upon wages, not on inflation.
- Parents forced into debt to pay for school uniforms. Independent.
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.
“Disingenuous” is a word I find I only use and use a lot when talking about the DWP.
The thought about audio-recording a WCA cropped up over a year ago and immediately gained the support of the illustrious Professor Harrington. More recently, there has been a lot of upset due to confusion over how will it work, when will it be available etc. and it has been the source of several parliamentary questions from interested MPs to the equally illustrious the Rt Hon Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment. Continue reading
After the last few days of parlaying in the House of Lords, it has emerged that, after reversing some early defeats, a majority of 82 voted in favour of drastic Welfare Reform and a £26,000 benefits cap per UK household come 2013.
With an estimated £600m being saved for the taxpayer, the cost-cutting measures being introduced look set to shake things up for those who have come to rely most on benefits, particularly, as the article above explains, those in high-cost housing;
“The Department of Work and Pensions says 67,000 households will have their benefits reduced in 2013-14, losing £83 a week on average, while 75,000 will see a reduction in 2014-15″
(Large families will also be effected because “it is also argued that the £26,000 cap takes no account of how many children there are in a family”).
There are also whispers of a ‘couple penalty’ being created, because of how beneficial it will be financially to live seperately from a spouse or partner. There are also predictions of families living in smaller houses in increasingly surburbanised areas in order to decrease outgoings and survive on lower publically-funded financial support.
With such a relatively quick turn-around, there are great opportunities for public-driven data journalism to show the effects of the benefit cap, and this is something we’re, inevitably, very excited about.
Here’s an informative post by Jonathan Portes on a piece in the Telegraph by government ministers (and related report on the BBC) on the 371,000 migrants claiming benefits.
James Cattell has written a blog post outlining the idea behind using data skills to produce a benefits calculator. His point is simple: the benefits system is so complicated that even experts need constant retraining. Is this a problem that data journalism can help solve?