BBC Panorama Highlighted some of the issues with Universal Credit with the focus on Housing Benefit Direct Payment process. While this may have been a overall a shock for those who watched the programme who may have never even heard of it, It wasn’t a shock to Disability Campaigners and those who need to make a claim! The Media has been in full swing recently highlighting the many issues this controversial benefit failings, forcing the Government to make significant changes to the managed migration process as MP’s,charities,many DPO’s including CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) and SSAC (Social Security Advisory Committee) all advising the Government that changes must be made before the next cohort is transferred Secretary of State Ester McVey made considerable concessions to appease the outrage,which combined with fact the UN Rapporteur Philip Alston was visiting the UK looking at Welfare Reform and Poverty felt like a PR stunt to fend off recent criticism.
They focused on 3 Groups of the many that will be affected Unemployed,those who are Sick, and Low Income families. Using Government rhetoric of ‘making work pay’ more than benefits which the government has successfully ingrained into the mindset of many in society through the scrounger rhetoric since 2010.
Anthony the first man lost his job is 63 so found that while he thought work was out there couldn’t secure employment and had 4K of rent arrears and had had been sanctioned losing 200mth just because for whatever reason he had failed to comply because no phone or computer skills to manage his claim, and facing eviction, and even when he did make contact was sanctioned again as the advisor was not in the Jobcentre. One can only assume while he was doing everything required to look for work this was due to failed appointments which are generally online or via text notifications. Many in society will most likely exclaim well he was smoking roll ups and not attract much sympathy such a sly move by BBC to present him in this manner, saying well he can afford fags although I’m certainly they will defend this as usual.
Second Guy James Dade was single dad reliant on the food bank for survival but very little was said about his circumstances.
We then saw a Councillor state when people have limited choices they will choose to feed their kids and stay warm than pay their rent nugget dropped into the programme implying reckless budgeting decisions. even though across the UK the average rent arrears is £663 compared to £263 on legacy benefits which on average is 2 and half times higher and recently over 1/2 claimants found online process difficult hinting yet again that its the claimants fault rather than a design fault.
The next couple Richard and Rita claimed the benefit as Richard had a car accident and consequently lost his job telling the public they were forced to sell things in the home to manage due to the fact the design features within the system were paying them less than they should have got, and being taken to court for council tax arrears while they tried desperately to sort their claim out leaving them in debt. they both eventually found Jobs.
Keith the next claimant was a fellow suffering depression who admitted he was hopeless budgeting relying on the local food bank had lost his job, and faced eviction in November,due to rent arrears and without support unable to cope with system.
Professor Paul Hickman was interviewed saying that direct payments to claimants rather than landlords as the previous system did was ignored by the DWP. Alok Sharma from the DWP was then interviewed spouting the same Tory script they must have learnt verbatim just like the actors they are, and displayed typical indifference to the plight of those on the receiving end of this vile policy claiming 90% of social sector will soon be signed up to the Landlord Portal which is being rolled out.
With 5821 evictions in the UK and many already homeless on the streets struggling we then had the council highlighting cuts from central government have left councils UK wide unable to pick up the slack and find homes due to lack of Social Housing properties that the country so desperately needs. Councils have seen their landlord lists plummet as many private landlords refuse to let to those on social security and those needing Alternative Payment Arrangements such as Domestic Violence victims unable to get this arrangement and councils unable to help as the agreement has to be done via the landlord not a third party.
This programme really barely scraped the surface of the design faults within this policy, many things are changed as an after thought because the policy wasn’t properly thought through and administration is so bad and training is so bad that even those who should be helping haven’t a clue about the constant changes and are mis -informing claimants causing further chaos with long waits on the phone which campaigners call the ‘Vivaldi Line’.
In July 2019 as the Government rolls out a pilot sample of approx 10,000 claimants with many transferring in November 2019 in tranches this chaotic policy is only going to cause considerable harm to many families across the UK. The government knows fine well many of these families will face hardship and tells them to stand on the beach looking at the wave that is a reality a tsunami waiting to hit them and their children. Yes done properly with support people could transition more easily hence the CAB contract of Universal Support recently announced will help many navigate the complex process of doing so, but support is soon going to be difficult to get appointments due to the volumes involved.
The most severely disabled will if they don’t have change of circumstances will start this process in 2020.
One thing is for certain is the noise about Universal Credit will get worse and louder as this government tries its best to hang on bloody mindlessly instead of scrapping it and admitting this policy should never have been introduced without making sure it was robust,practical to implement and the structure was sound. Now it is only fit for the waste basket of many government projects which has wasted Billions of Taxpayers money while UK citizens find themselves back in Victorian times and seen by the elite as undeserving and feckless poor who situation is their fault, absolving themselves of any responsibility for this total failure ,while the architects have long since retired with a golden peerage and a hefty financial handshake.
If you missed it here it is;