Archive for the ‘Housing’ Category

The Death of the Welfare State-Joining the Dots Series -Part 2


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Blueannoyed  and Paula Peters

So lets look at the next stage of where it all went badly wrong and joining up a few more dots.

Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes were introduced to the UK under the John Major Government in the 1990s, with the first project Skye Bridge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDDTu7kZUjA .Tony Blair’s New Labour Government significantly expanded PFI as a convenient way of funding public infrastructure “off balance sheet.” Despite frequently calling for an end to “Labours flawed PFI program” whilst in opposition, in 2011 Chancellor George Osborne re-branded and continued the PFI gravy train under the “PFI 2” banner. NHS Trusts owe £80bn in PFI loan repayments and “unitary charges,” the technical term describing the extortionate ongoing running costs of maintaining PFI hospitals via PFI – where private contractors are granted 30-year monopoly rights to deliver maintenance and services.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/joel-benjamin/seven-things-everyone-should-know-about-private-finance-initiative

In recent years reform of the welfare system in Britain began with the introduction of the New Deal programme  introduced by the Labour government in 1997. The aim of this programme was to increase employment through requiring that recipients make serious efforts to seek employment. The Labour Party also introduced a system of tax credits for low-income workers. The Welfare Reform Act 2007 provides for “an employment and support allowance, a contributory allowance, [and] an income-based allowance.”. The objectives of the Welfare Reform Act of 2007 were to increase the employment rate to 80% from 75%, to assist 300,000 single parents find employment, to increase the number of workers over 50 by 1 million, and to reduce the number of people claiming incapacity benefits by 1 million.

In the 2009 Welfare Reform Bill This welfare reform proposed an increase of personal responsibility within the welfare system. The reform eliminated Income support, and allocated funds over to the Jobseeker’s allowance, to encourage employment. It also encouraged increased parental responsibility by amending child support laws, and requiring births be registered jointly by both parents. This is basically how we got to David Cameron In power with the help of the Lib Dems. Building on Thatchers Legacy they all equally promoted on the capitalist world stage.

Disability campaigners saw this coming this is how the main groups in 2010 like DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) Black Triangle Campaign in Scotland and Spartacus Campaign,Pats Petition,WOW Debate MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network)and many others were created to fight against the forthcoming erosion of the welfare state and austerity measures in the pipeline that was to be foisted onto the most vulnerable in society in the hope there would be little opposition, well they got that wrong! Disabled people started to take to the streets warning of what the end game was yet they were often dismissed as scaremongering by the general public but that did not deter them. When people start to die you just cannot sit and do nothing and boy did they take to social media too,  all working together behind the scenes collectively to raise awareness of what was happening to people under these new reforms .  The campaigns that hit headlines were Spartacus twitter  campaign ‘I Am Spartacus’, DPAC ‘s  Independant Living Campaign (ILF) 2010  one thing for sure disabled people were not going to suffer in silence they were going to take this fight to the government and still are! DPAC disruptive direct actions are notorious and they took their concerns to the UN over deaths that were occurring as people slipped through the cracks, while others produced hard evidence of what was going wrong and how to fix it by lobbying ministers to their plight.

ATOS  was the main contracted  outsourced provider of new Biopsychosocial model assessment regime designed by the likes of Mansell Aylward , Gordon Wadell,  (The biopsychosocial approach systematically considers biological, psychological, and social factors and their complex interactions in understanding health, illness, and health care delivery.)  Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud,Frank Field et al  grabbed this flawed research with gusto and turned it into something brutal and unrecognizable removing the safety net of the welfare state for those who need it. This government have created a hostile environment for anyone who needs state support with lies about claimants taking taxpayers money while they are working hard to pay taxes. The demonisation started by IDS et al all feeds through to the general public  via the media that those needing support via his scrounger rhetoric, lazy ,feckless , money for nothing,hard working people are just a few of the soundbites used harking back the the victorian days of blaming the person rather than state failures to provide jobs in a failing economy since the 2008 global crash.

 

Iain Duncan Smith (Center for Social Justice)  -Between 1997 and 2001, he was Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security and then Secretary of State for Defence. From 2001 to 2003, he was leader of the Conservative Party and then from 2003, having stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party, he set up the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). The CSJ was an organisation dedicated to focussing on the problems facing those in the lowest income groups in society. It published a series of reports, perhaps the most significantly, “Breakthrough Britain: Ending the Costs of Social Breakdown”, focusing on the five pathways to poverty and a Conservative way to implement social justice and improve the quality of the poorest in society. It is also worth noting that in 2013, the CSJ published the paper on modern day slavery, “It Happens Here: Equipping the United Kingdom to Fight Modern Slavery”, which subsequently led to Theresa May enacting legislation on this matter. In 2010, Iain Duncan Smith became Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a position he held until he resigned in a dispute with the Chancellor over his determination to reduce his expenditure on disability benefits by over £1 billion. During his time as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, he undertook the most significant programme of welfare reform in modern times, transforming the benefit and pension systems, as well as employment services and support. Perhaps the most significant reforms were the introduction of Universal Credit, (bringing together the six unemployment and sickness benefits), the Work Programme, for the first time bringing together private and voluntary sectors to get unemployed people back into work, and the introduction of the Single Tier Pension simplifying the State Pension.

https://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/

 

Many battles have been fought since then and the Labour Government started to listen and ministers started to support disabled people in their fight and Ministers from all parties started to have their surgerys full of cases where this regime change was causing preventable harm. Meanwhile the Tories continue to ignore it and dismiss it as ‘work as a health outcome’ and disabled people as scaremongering despite extensive evidence to the contrary.

Further reading:

https://dpac.uk.net/research/

http://www.welfareconditionality.ac.uk/2017/07/demonising-disabled-people-public-behaviour-and-attitudes-during-welfare-reforms/

https://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/killed-by-the-state/

https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/campaigns-and-policy/facts-and-information/independent-living-social-care-and-health/ilf-one-year-on/

https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/rogue-company-unum-had-a-profiteering-hand-in-the-governments-work-health-and-disability-green-paper/

https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/a-brief-history-of-social-security-and-the-reintroduction-of-eugenics-by-stealth/

Spartacus Reports:

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/search/node/spartacus?fbclid=IwAR0oZ4h1GCEG62yOm4M1V8ir_UnEPN-Oq0jJuhlXBpzLHIPgxko3Luy4H6U

https://spartacusnetwork.wordpress.com/?fbclid=IwAR1uGHwGNaggW9dMo7cbdG1WCT33SJK979fd99uQ4lENhKvi1v5bW-KLA3E

 

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Panorama -Universal Car Crash


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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;

 

Universal Credit and Housing


Universal Credit is confusing many people especially around housing, so I have managed to put a simple powerpoint together so you get the basics. Hope this helps?

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