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Showing posts with the label welfare state

End of a Dream

Workers living on state benefits are well aware, it is quite impossible to put a little by for a rainy day, for every day is forecast as a downpour, and trying to keep your head above water is a constant problem. And for those who are wholly dependent on benefits as their only source of income, their whole lifestyle is dictated by their resourcefulness in eking out their pittance from one day to the next. Yet the ConDem government is planning to make things worse.

Changes to a single universal benefit – bringing together income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment support allowance, housing benefit, and child and working tax credits – follow the cuts in child benefit voted through at Westminster last week, aims at reducing the UK’s welfare benefits bill. The universal credit is an attempt to simplify the complex benefits system into one new single payment.

A report, by public policy expert Dr Jim McCormick, says the new universal credits system, to be introduced over the next two…

A reality check

All working-age benefits, including tax credits and child benefit, will only go up by 1% a year – less than half the rate of inflation – for the next three years. A cut, in other words, that will be worth £3.75 billion a year to the Treasury, in addition to all the previously announced cuts and freezes. The poorest 30% will be made to bear most of Osborne's budget cuts in the age of austerity.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation explained that as things stand – which is to say, before the next round of cuts – out-of-work benefits cover 60% of the minimum income standard for couples with children, and 40% for single adults.  It is calculated simply by asking ordinary members of the public what they think is "an essential minimum standard of living".

28% of workers engaged in the Scottish private sector earn less than £7.20 an hour. 17% of Scots are stuck in relative poverty – defined as having a household income of less than 60% of median household income. 

Six out of 10 chi…

Hitting the vulnerable

Tens of thousands of sick and disabled people in Scotland face being forced on to unpaid work programmes under threat of losing their benefits from tomorrow. People with a range of physical or mental health conditions could find themselves stacking shelves in high-street stores such as Tesco and Poundland, or cleaning private homes, under the new proposals. They are to be told that they must take unpaid positions or risk losing up to 70% of their employment support allowance. 

 Across the UK, some 340,000 disabled people have been placed in the work related activity group (WRAG), which means they must undertake a range of activities to help them get back to work, including training, job-hunting – and now mandatory work placements.

 Most disabled people welcome support to get into the labour market, but compulsory placements rarely work, says Richard Hamer, director of external affairs at Capability Scotland. "When disabled people get forced into jobs, they tend to be …

Exposing the ethics of the Co-op

On Thursday 22nd a dozen people, including members of benefit claimants' groups Black Triangle and the Crutch Collective, Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World, Glasgow Anarchist Federation, Glasgow Solidarity Federation as well as other individuals took part in the hour long picket of the Co-Op Bank and supermarket on the same street in central Glasgow.

They gave out leaflets to Co-Op customers and the hundreds of people going pass on their way home from work. The leaflet highlighted the Co-Op's four year occupational health contract with Atos. Atos continue to make huge profits by continuing to assess most sick and disabled benefit claimants as fit for work, ignoring contrary medical evidence, to comply with Government targets for benefit cuts. The cuts are being imposed to make the poor pay again for the latest crisis in capitalism caused by the rich. They asked people to contact the Co-Op to tell the company, that sells itself as ethical, tha…

The Black Triangle Badge

It was a badge used by the SS guards to mark prisoners as “workshy” in Nazi concentration camps. Now the “black triangle” symbol has been adopted by a group of campaigners fighting the so-called “fit-to-work” assessments implemented by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in a bid to stamp out benefit fraud.

Set up Edinburgh campaigners 18 months ago, the Black Triangle Campaign was launched in memory of Edinburgh writer Paul Reekie, who took his own life – allegedly after having his benefits cut during a bout of serious depression. Reekie did not leave a suicide note, but he laid out two letters on his table, found after his death. One was notifying him that his housing benefit had been stopped. The other was informing him that his incapacity benefit had been stopped.

Leith GP Dr Stephen Carty stands up for his patients when he discovered many were being told they were fit for work after passing a number of tests that did not involve consulting medical experts.

“I have grave concer…

The crack-down

Under the new rules, claimants face a tougher medical test, existing claimants are being re-tested, there are new requirements to engage in work-related activity, and the entitlement to non-means tested benefit is time-limited.

115,000 Scots will lose their incapacity benefit. 65,000 people in Scotland will be pushed out of the benefits system altogether, forcing a big increase in reliance on other family members and will add 35,000 to the number of those seeking Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Glasgow will be hit hardest. The report estimates that more than 22,000 people are likely to lose their incapacity benefits and more than 12,000 will be denied benefits entirely. Other hard-hit areas have been identified as Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire and Clackmannanshire.

Professor Steve Fothergill, who co-wrote the report, said: the reduction in the numbers did not mean there is currently widespread fraud or that the health problems and disabilities were “anything less than real”.

http://www.heraldsco…

heartless system

Deaths of people who were waiting for appeals to be heard against the loss of benefits has prompted calls for a fairer assessment system. The claimants from West Dunbartonshire, died from the conditions which caused them to claim Incapacity Benefit (IB) while waiting for appeals to be heard against cuts to their benefits.One was deemed fit for work during a work capability assessment, despite having a deteriorating chronic illness, and lost both incapacity benefit and disability living allowance. When his support worker appeared at the appeal tribunal she had to report her client could not be present because he was dead. The appeal was upheld and the backpayment will become part of his estate.The other had a congenital condition which caused difficulty in walking but was assessed capable of work and his incapacity benefit was withdrawn. He was waiting for a date for an appeal tribunal when he died.

A third person, again from West Dunbartonshire, died recently after winni…

Malnutrition in the UK ?

“We think we are heading towards malnutrition happening here in the UK.” - Save the Children’s Colette Marshall told the BBC. "Benefits simply haven’t been enough and with rising food costs it means that families cannot afford to give children proper decent food. "

Children are being deprived of dietary staples and instead are being raised on cheap packaged food high in fat, salt and sugar. The Grocer magazine shows food prices rising by almost a fifth over the past year, with basic essentials such as rice and milk among the worst hit.

The Affluent Society ?

A single person living in Britain needs to earn at least £13,400 a year before tax to afford a basic but acceptable standard of living, research claimed

The "minimum income" is enough to cover needs like food and warmth, as well as the occasional film ticket and simple meal out.

The study found that a single person without children needed to spend £158 a week, while a couple with two children needed £370 a week, excluding rent or mortgage.To afford this budget on top of rent on a modest council home, a single person would need to earn £13,400 a year before tax and the couple with two children £26,800.

The report said families without a working adult received about two thirds of the minimum budget in state benefits.Single people without work received less than half of the minimum budget in benefits. The basic state pension gives a retired couple about three quarters of the minimum income, but claiming the means-tested Pension Credit could top their income up to just above the m…

A caring society ??

THE number of Scottish children in care is at its highest in two decades and youngsters are being pushed on to the streets at just 16, leaving them vulnerable to addiction, violence and homelessness a new report from Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People .

The report highlights the gulf between children brought up with their families – who are increasingly staying at home until well into their twenties – and those who are in care.Although Scottish Government policy dictates that children should leave at 18, six times as many are leaving at 16, often coerced by social services.The report found that children with "challenging behaviour" are those under most pressure to leave. More than one in 10 reported episodes of homelessness. Some were sent to bed-and-breakfasts - at least one youngster had to share accommodation with a convicted murderer. Senior social work sources said 16-year-olds were being squeezed out to make way for an army of needy children

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Old and out of the way

Just how society treats our elderly is becoming cruelly more and more apparent . We had this report , a 108 year old woman having to wait a year and half for a hearing aid to improve the quality of her short remaining life and now we read about this care home evicting an 103 year old woman because she is requiring too much care , or so they say , in a squabble over how much she has to pay for the nursing care . Abbeymoor's owner, Mark Sutters, told the Nottingham Evening Post that the home could not continue to "subsidise" Mrs Collins's care.

Local authority and care services minister Ivan Lewis said " I am deeply concerned at the attempt by the home owner to use Mrs Collins as a pawn in a funding dispute. Whatever the difficulties, such treatment of a 103-year-old cannot be tolerated in a modern care system which has dignity and respect for older people at its heart."

Esme Collins was told to leave after 10 years at Abbeymoor nursing home in Worksop, becaus…

The State of the Welfare State

Councils in England are restricting access to social services such as home care, day services and respite care. The Commission for Social Care Inspection warned this was happening by default, and without debate.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection chairman Dame Denise Platt said many people were being left to make their own arrangements because access to services was being tightened to include only those deemed to be in the most serious need.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said the system was in crisis, and accused the government of being unwilling to provide sufficient funds to help people with serious medical conditions.

Age Concern's director general Gordon Lishman said: "This is a damning indictment of a social care system that is failing older people. Not providing services for people with so-called moderate needs causes much anguish for the individual - but can also result in much higher and more expensive care needs in the future."

Da…