Tag Archives: DWP

Prisoner benefit overpayments plummet – but DWP still missing £21m

Benefits paid to prisoners have declined by 96 per cent since 2007 – but almost £21m is still missing because only half the money has been recovered to the Department for Work and Pensions, an investigation by Help Me Investigate has revealed.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) centralised its benefits database in April 2012, prompting the decline in overpayments to prisoners: data provided in response to Freedom of Information requests shows that in 2007 the DWP paid prisoners £8.8m in benefits, but this figure dropped to £320,000 in 2013. Continue reading Prisoner benefit overpayments plummet – but DWP still missing £21m

Savage times, but food banks act to put bread on the table

Tescos collection Many supermarket customers dropped food donations into Tesco trolleys over the weekend for those UK people struggling with food poverty. The traditional habit of feeding the birds snippets seems to be replaced with more serious concerns.

The Trussell Trust’s national food collection across 3000 Tescos stores on the busiest weekend of the year meets an urgent need, as benefit changes continue to hurt vulnerable people. Rising living costs have pushed many over their financial limits.

Food banks are seeing a 7% increase in people coming with benefit-related issues

David McAuley, director of operations for the Trussell Trust, stopped at the Salisbury Tesco Metro. He said that since April their 400 food banks have seen a 7% increase in people coming with benefit-related issues.

With the need to remedy this as soon as possible, he said:

“The big thing at the minute is where is the Defra report on Food poverty?”

Mr McAuley was visiting stores across Hampshire and Dorset to see how the collections were going. Continue reading Savage times, but food banks act to put bread on the table

Useful links to August 30th: living costs crisis; intern death; DWP zero hours; modern workers

These are some welfare links we found interesting during the second two weeks of August.

DWP changes “open data” tool after Help Me Investigate raises concerns

The Department for Work and Pensions has promised a series of improvements to an online tool promoted as an example of “open data” after concerns were raised by Help Me Investigate.

Stat-Xplore was one of the case studies described in a DWP report on open data earlier this year. But on launch the site failed to meet basic open data principles listed by the Government’s own Public Sector Transparency Board (PDF), making it difficult for citizens and developers to use the data.

Continue reading DWP changes “open data” tool after Help Me Investigate raises concerns

Guide to deferring a mortgage-style student loan repayment

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%.

Deferring repayments

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.

Welfare-related links for December 21st through January 25th

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.

The Work Capability Assessment – Audio recording

“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 The Work Capability Assessment – Audio recording

Why doesn’t the DWP collect data on the accuracy of decision making?

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is the test through which the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) determines entitlement to Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). It was introduced in 2008 and has been the source of considerable controversy since.

DWP outsourced the expertise it thought it needed to perform WCAs from a private company, Atos Healthcare, who in turn have recruited large numbers of healthcare professions (HCPs) – a combination of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists.

Although Atos HCPs perform WCAs and make a fit-for-work (FFW) recommendation to DWP, its own team of Decision Makers (DMs) make the final ESA decision. There is an appeal procedure that ends up with the Tribunals Service (TS). Continue reading Why doesn’t the DWP collect data on the accuracy of decision making?

Testing the claims of politicians: the disability groups that Maria Miller ‘never met’

Thanks to L S McKnight in the comments for pointing us to this report from Third Force News on the Scottish disability charities who boycotted a meeting with disability minister Maria Miller after she falsely claimed to have previously met them. Continue reading Testing the claims of politicians: the disability groups that Maria Miller ‘never met’

Now DWP FOI response on “mandatory” placements disappearing too? – link

screengrab of Google search for document

Following Friday’s post about work experience guidance being altered, The Void blog reports on more curiosities from the Google cache: this time, an FOI response from December which listed private companies taking part in the work experience scheme:

“The document could previously be found at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/foi-3238-2011.pdf. Unfortunately it’s no longer there.  But that’s okay because good old google cache has a copy of this as well.

The FOI response – which can also be found here – describes the programme as “providing mandatory work placements”.

An older FOI response which lists the names of voluntary organisations taking jobseekers on work experience is still up.

Again, if anyone wants to get a response from the DWP, let me know in the comments.