Court told woman stole clothes to pay rent after benefits cut

Reposted from Ludlow Tenbury & Wells advertiser

… and fining this woman is going to help who exactly!!!

A Kidderminster woman cliamed she stole to pay her rent after her benefits were sanctioned because she failed to turn up for a job center appointment

A Kidderminster woman cliamed she stole to pay her rent after her benefits were sanctioned because she failed to turn up for a job center appointment

Posted in DWP | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Is this the end of National Insurance?

Reposted from the Telegraph

Now call me an old cynic, but is Gidiots’ plan to merge National Insurance and Income Tax  a vain attempt to minimise the savage staff cuts in HMRC. 

Does Gidiot not know that National Insurance is not a duty or a tax, that is why the recovery of it is treated as a civil debt through the county courts … and don’t even get me started on the IT system that would need to be put into place to support this plan (Universal Credit  Chaos anyone?)

 http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/02/universal-credit-staff-flagship-reform

Oh well, interesting times ahead!

National Insurance numbercard

Most employees and the self-employed pay National Insurance (NI) of up to 12 per cent on a huge chunk of their earnings Photo: ALAMY

Income tax and National Insurance could be merged under one of the biggest shake-ups of the tax system for decades.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, has commissioned a study into the reforms which could lead to the creation of a single “earnings tax”.

The system of national insurance contributions dates back to 1911 when it was established to help working people insure against illness and unemployment.

It was expanded after the Second World War to help fund the health service and wider social security programmes, and is now charged at 12p for every pound of income.

It has developed in parallel with income tax, but senior Conservatives believe that the distinction has become increasingly academic as general taxation also funds the NHS.

Mr Osborne considered merging the two taxes in the final Budget of the last Parliament but decided not to amid concerns about problems linking the two IT systems.

In a consultation paper three years ago, the Treasury said the parallel taxes created bureaucracy and added costs for employers.

It argued: “We believe greater integration of the two systems has the potential to remove economic distortions, reduce burdens on business, and improve fairness across individual earners.”

In a survey in 2011, the Office of Tax Simplification, which is part of the Treasury, found almost unanimous support for the idea.

After the Budget earlier this month David Gauke, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, wrote to the Office of Tax simplification requesting the review.

He said: “This is an area often cited as a major source of complexity for taxpayers. I would like the OTS to look at what the impacts, costs and benefits of closer alignment would be and to set out what the necessary steps would be to achieve closer alignment.”


The Chancellor, George Osborne

The Office of Tax Simplification will publish its report before the Budget next year.

National Insurance rakes in billions every year for the Treasury. Anyone who is employed and earns between £112 and £815 a week pays 12 per cent of their income in National Insurance. A further 2 per cent is paid on all earnings over that level.

People who are self-employed pay National Insurance at a flat rate or as a percentage of the individual’s annual taxable profit.

Tax experts have previously warned that while the concept of a single levy would be attractive, disentangling two separate payments with different rules would create practical problems.

But Mr Osborne has been sympathetic to the principle of the reform since his arrival at the Treasury, and supporters of the move believe the problem of incompatible computer systems could be overcome in time.

Previous Chancellors have baulked at merging the systems, not just because of the problem of how to protect the elderly from paying National Insurance contributions on their pensions.

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Department for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith tells furious MPs to stop ‘lecturing’ him for refusing to reveal benefits deaths

Reposted from the Mirror on line

The arrogance of this man and his sidekick beggars belief! A pox on them and their kind! Who the Fu8K do they think they are!

The good thing is, what with the Freedom of Information requests, the eruditness of Mike Sivier @ Vox Political, the petitions  and the public and political pressure being brought to bear on this odious little shit and his (let’s not put too fine a point on it) his murder/manslaughter of innocent and vulnerable citizens is now coming home to roost.

Debbie Abrahams … you are a legend.

Labour MPs want Iain Duncan Smith to reveal the truth – but they’ve been accused of  ‘chuntering away’ and ‘scaremongering about suicide’

Iain Duncan Smith has told furious MPs to stop ‘lecturing’ him for refusing to say how many people died after being declared fit for work.

The minister made his ‘insulting’ aside in a heated Commons debate – where he sent his deputy to confront Labour instead of doing it himself.

Mirror Online has told how his Department for Work and Pensions is fighting a legal battle to keep the number of deaths secret.

Instead it is planning to publish ratios by this autumn that won’t reveal the actual number of deaths – saying real numbers could be too misleading and ’emotive’.

The scandal was raised in the Commons today by Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, who demanded to know how much public money has been spent on the legal fight.

Smug: Iain Duncan Smith sent employment minister Priti Patel, left, out to bat for him

She declared: “Now is the time to deliver.

“Be open and transparent and publish the numbers the public and Parliament are asking for. Without this it brings the house into disrepute.”

But Mr Duncan Smith simply attacked Labour over its time in government, saying: “Don’t lecture us about it, you never publish a damn thing.”

And employment minister Priti Patel didn’t agree to publish full death figures – instead accusing Labour of ‘chuntering away’ and ‘scaremongering about suicides’.

This week we told how diabetic dad David O’Mar, 58, died just two weeks after being declared fit for work, a case Labour’s Kate Green raised at the despatch box.

Matthew HorwoodDavid O'Mar of Fairwater has collected thousands of football kits to give to children in Eastern Europe
The Commons heard David O’Mar was declared fit for work – and died two days later

Yet Ms Patel said: “I think it’s quite audacious from the party opposite. They’re the government that never published any information.”

She said the data, which it’s not thought will include actual numbers of deaths, will be ‘published very soon, no later than the autumn’.

The hot-headed minister was attacked from all sides by MPs including the Commons’ longest-serving MP Sir Gerald Kaufman – who told her to be more polite.

Labour shadow work and pensions minister Kate Green told her: “The shenanigans in the DWP around the release of the statistics are concerning and puzzling if the department has nothing to hide.

“Why is it taking so long? On what grounds are the DWP appealing publication?

Attack: Ms Patel accused Labour MPs of ‘scaremongering about suicide’

“There’s a fear that by the time this procrastination has finally ended in it being published, it’ll be so out of date as to be useless.”

Ms Patel said: “Unemployment benefits have always been conditional and benefit sanctions have been part of that for four decades and that’s right and proper.

“We have nothing to hide.”

Yet Labour MP George Howarth told her: “The reason we aggregate and analyse that data is to see if a pattern emerges.

“Won’t she accept that as long as she drags her feet on this issue people might conclude the government has something to hide?”

Campaign: Labour MP Debbie Abrahams shook her head as she was berated

Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “Accusing the people on this side of the house of scaremongering is hugely insulting to those constituents who’ve contacted us.

“For them the government looking as though it’s hiding information is enforcing concerns that this is a punitive regime designed to hurt disabled people.”

And Labour’s Andrew Gwynne asked her simply: “Why won’t the minister just do the decent thing?”

More than 240,000 people have signed a petition calling on Iain Duncan Smith to release the figures.

The last figures were released by the DWP in 2012 after a Freedom of Information campaign by the Mirror’s investigative team.

They showed 1,300 ESA claimants died within six weeks of being placed in a ‘work-related activity’ group between January and November 2011.

Push: More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition

The figures prompted outrage and since then the DWP has released no more, insisting it’s ‘irresponsible’ to suggest stopping benefits can kill someone.

In April the DWP was ordered to release the figures by the Information Commissioner watchdog.

So it’s appealing to a tribunal with a letter that says the real number of deaths is ‘likely to be misinterpreted’.

The document declares: “Incorrect conclusions were likely to be drawn as to causal links between assessment outcomes and mortality.

“Such misinterpretations would be contrary to the public interest, particularly given the emotive and sensitive context of mortality statistics.”

Posted in DWP | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

why are all these lawyers on strike?

Reposted from Channel 4 fact check

As someone who represented themselves as a litigant in person in a civil action against the police, I can tell you it was far from easy.

I class myself as reasonably intelligent, but it was like teach yourself law in 6 weeks!

In fact, at one of the hearings, the district judge, in frustration, because I wasn’t getting my point across quickly enough for him, shouted “why haven’t you got a solicitor!” 

I responded with ” because I can’t afford it Sir” 

Solicitors have been picketing courts since the beginning of the month over government cuts to the legal aid budget. Barristers are due to join in strikes from Monday.

Some lawyers are refusing to take on any new legal aid work, leading to long delays as duty solicitors appointed by the court are swamped with new cases.

Why is the legal profession up in arms?

22 legal fc r FactCheck Q&A: why are all these lawyers on strike?

What is legal aid?

Legal aid was introduced in 1949 under Clement Attlee’s expansion of the welfare state. It covers criminal and civil cases.

Everyone who is arrested for an alleged criminal offence and taken to a police station has the right to free legal advice. But once defendants are charged with a crime they may or may not have their fees paid for by legal aid, depending on their means.

Legal aid budget is also used to help some claimants fight civil cases. There is also a means test and the number of cases that attract aid has shrunk dramatically.

What is the government doing?

The Conservative-led coalition announced a string of reforms designed to bring down the cost of legal aid.

The total bill to the taxpayer was about £2.2bn in 2009/10 and is now expected to fall to around £1.5bn by 2017/18.

The biggest changes are the withdrawal of aid for whole areas of civil law, with some exceptions for the most serious cases.

Civil legal aid has been scrapped for:

– Family cases (except domestic violence, forced marriage or child abduction)
– Immigration (not asylum or detention)
– Housing and debt (where a home is not at risk)
– Benefits cases (except some appeals)
– Most clinical negligence cases
– Most employment cases

The other big cut is to the fees paid by the government to solicitors and barristers for taking on criminal legal aid work.

Lawyers’ fees are incredibly complicated and vary according to the type of hearing, the complexity of the case, the amount of work done and the number of hours worked.

The government has cut solicitors’ fees by 17.5 per cent in total, and barristers’ fees by 6 per cent. Solicitors say the fees have not risen with inflation for decades, so the cut is much greater in real terms.

Other reforms including cutting the number of contracts awarded to law firms who provide duty lawyers for people detained in police stations or appearing at magistrates courts from 1,600 to 527.

This move has attracted bitter opposition from the legal profession, but it does not necessarily mean that the number of lawyers on duty will fall.

Is this really necessary?

The government says we are spending too much on legal aid, compared to other countries.

The latest statistics – commissioned by the Ministry of Justice – show that England and Wales spends £38 per head on legal aid compared to £7 or £8 in Ireland, Canada, New Zealand or Australia.

In another comparison taking in most large EU states, Northern Ireland tops the league table of legal aid spending as a percentage of GDP, followed by England and Wales then Scotland. Most other countries spend significantly less:

22 moj fc use FactCheck Q&A: why are all these lawyers on strike?

Differences in legal systems make it hard to be absolutely fair when comparing spending.

On the other hand, legal aid spending in England and Wales has fallen since 2003, giving the lie to the suggestion that it is “out of control”.

The criminal law caseload has fallen steadily in recent years, as recorded crime has fallen.

And of course it’s not all about money – there’s an argument about whether the cuts will undermine the chance of justice being dispensed fairly and speedily – a principle spelled out in the Magna Carta and in Article 6 of the Human Rights Act.

Who still gets free representation?

As we have seen, the number of civil cases eligible for legal aid has shrunk (here’s an online checker, if you want to find out whether you qualify).

People who want to claim civil legal aid must have a gross monthly income of £2,657 or less.

In criminal cases the eligibility criteria are looser. It must be in the “interests of justice” for a defendant to get representation – a test which covers most serious cases.

And you will only be asked to contribute to the legal costs if you have a disposable income (that’s income minus outgoings like housing and childcare) of £37,500 a year or more.

People claiming certain benefits usually get free representation both in criminal cases and in the remaining civil cases still covered by legal aid. Under-18s also qualify automatically for criminal legal aid.

The proportion of people eligible for civil legal aid had already been falling for decades – from 52 per cent in 1998 to 29 per cent in 2007. It’s not yet clear what that percentage will fall to now

The government insists its reforms won’t affect access to legal representation for the vast majority of people accused of crimes.

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Only 1 in 3 will get the full £148-a-week new state pension despite ministers’ promises it was for everyone

Reposted from Money Mail

New pension was unveiled as a way of ending unfairness and complexity,
But figures imply 100,000 fewer people than expected will get the maximum
30,000 who it was thought would qualify in the first year will get far less

Government figures imply 100,000 fewer people than expected will get the maximum state pension in the first ten years of the new deal

Government figures imply 100,000 fewer people than expected will get the maximum state pension in the first ten years of the new deal

Just one in three workers will receive the full £148 flat-rate state pension next year — far fewer than first estimated, Money Mail can reveal.

Government figures imply 100,000 fewer than expected will get the maximum in the first ten years of the new deal.

This includes an estimated 30,000 people who it was thought would qualify in the first year but will now get far less.

In total, just 222,000 of the roughly 600,000 people who will hit state pension age in the 12 months from April 2016 can claim the full amount.

It is a new blow to a generation of savers who were told everyone would get the flat-rate pension if they had paid their National Insurance contributions.

Malcolm McLean, senior consultant at actuarial firm Barnett Waddingham, says: ‘Some politicians, who should have known better, said we would have a more generous and simpler flat-rate pension scheme,

‘Clearly, the new deal is neither of those things, at least not in the early years. It is unfortunate this has not been properly explained and expectations have been raised that can’t be fulfilled.

‘Many of the people affected will be extremely disappointed. The fact is it will take ten or maybe even 20 years for things to even out and for most pensioners to receive the full flat-rate pension.’

The new state pension was unveiled as a way of ending the unfairness and complexity of the current system.

The Government promised that anyone who had 35 years of National Insurance contributions would qualify for the full £148.

And in 2013, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The single-tier pension will mean people have certainty in what they can expect from the State.

Thirty-five years’ worth of National Insurance contributions will mean a full basic state pension.’

However, Money Mail reported in May last year this would not be the case and hundreds of thousands would lose out.

The problem generally affects employees, who, at some point in their working life, opted out of receiving extra benefits such as the state second pension. In exchange, they were allowed to pay a reduced rate of National Insurance. This was called contracting out.

Typically, they had generous final salary pensions. However, some workers in stock market-linked company pensions were also encouraged to contract out.

Now the Government has decided because they paid lower NI contributions and are likely to have built up extra pension elsewhere, they should lose some of their new state pension.

Following the Money Mail probe, former pensions minister Steve Webb apologised and admitted only 42 pc of those retiring in the first year of the flat-rate pension would get the full payment.

This data given to us in June last year projected the number of pensioners who would qualify for the full amount every year until 2040.

It revealed that only from 2018 would more than half of new pensioners receive the full amount.

But current pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann has revealed this estimate was too high.

We have seen Department for Work and Pensions figures which show just 37 per cent will be able to claim the full amount, meaning 30,000 more than first thought will not.

In the third year of the new state pension, the Government had estimated 52 pc of savers would qualify for £148 a week. Now it says the figure will be just 46 per cent, meaning an extra 36,000 who retire from April 2018 will not get the higher rate.

In total, between 2016 and 2026, 102,000 extra savers will miss out.

There is some good news for those in their 50s, however. Initial estimates of those who would claim the full amount are too low and 10,000-15,000 a year more may now qualify.

But by 2060, an estimated one in seven retiring that year still won’t qualify for the full amount.

Experts said the miscalculation may be due to the fiendish complexity involved in working out who is entitled. Initially, it was thought the deduction for contracted-out years would only equal those in which the reduced rate of NI had been paid.

So someone who worked 35 years but contracted out for five would be left with 30 years of full contributions.

And someone who had contracted out for five years, but had 40 years of full-rate contributions, could still claim the full amount.

But it has emerged this is not the case. Instead, the Government is assuming a certain amount of pension has been built up with the money that would have paid the extra NI contribution. It is then using a set of assumptions to deduct this from the full state pension.

The Government promised that anyone who had 35 years of National Insurance contributions would qualify for the full £148

The Government promised that anyone who had 35 years of National Insurance contributions would qualify for the full £148

Many in their early 60s have found they will get far less than expected.

Some have the 35 full years of NI contributions but face deductions to their state pension despite contracting out only briefly.

The DWP seems to be assuming that if someone contracted out, they did so for the rest of their career. It says those who contracted out benefited from lower NI payments and could make provision for their retirement elsewhere.

Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, says: ‘The link between the National Insurance contributions people pay into the system and their impact on the new flat-rate state pension entitlement appears to be very tenuous.’

A DWP spokesman says: ‘We revise these figures each year to reflect latest assumptions.

‘However, what people get from their state pension does not give the full picture.

‘People who spent time contracted-out either paid NI contributions at a lower rate, or some of the NI contributions they paid were used to contribute to a private pension, which they will also benefit from when they retire. Both state and private pensions need to be taken into account.’

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Debunking the myths on Commons procedure and the Welfare Bill part two – Peter Kyle MP

Originally posted on Politics and Insights :

Many thanks to Peter Kyle MP for this explanation of his decision to abstain on a vote for the second reading of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.


The Welfare Bill

Last night I abstained on a vote for the Second Reading of the Welfare Bill. I did this after a lot of thought and I want to explain why. There’s already some myths about what was being voted on last night and also misunderstanding of parliamentary procedure and I want to tackle all these issues, too.

When I first read the Bill it became abundantly clear what the government was up to. They had lumped together measures that Labour – and many of you – would wholeheartedly support with other policies that we would rightly hate. These are the games they are playing simply to divide the left – that’s right, they’re playing…

View original 1,784 more words

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Bedroom tax “saints” take fight to the Court of Appeal

Reposted from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
//

  • poll_tax_bedroom_tax.jpg

Two grandparents and their severely disabled grandson hit by the bedroom tax won the right today to take their case to the Court of Appeal. The Court ruled that the Rutherford family, who appeared on the BBC documentary Saints and Scroungers, should have their appeal heard before the end of the year.

They argue that the bedroom tax unlawfully discriminates against seriously disabled children requiring overnight care.

Their case will be heard at the same time as another appeal, brought by a victim of domestic violence known only as ‘A’ in order to protect her identity. Her appeal concerns the effect of the policy on women living in ‘Sanctuary Scheme’ homes – properties which are specially adapted because of risks to the lives and physical safety of women and children who live in them.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, unsuccessfully argued that the appeals should not proceed at a hearing which took place earlier this month (2nd July), before Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Stanley Burnton. Today, the Lord Justices handed down their judgment rejecting the Secretary of State’s arguments and ruling that the appeals are arguable, that they raise points of significant public importance and must be considered at a full Court of Appeal hearing as a matter of urgency. The case will be heard quickly so that it can be joined with other test cases due to be heard by the Supreme Court in March next year.

The Rutherford family’s appeal

Warren, who is aged 15, suffers from Potokoi-Shaffer Syndrome, a very rare genetic disorder which causes him grave cognitive and physical disabilities. He requires 24 hour care by at least two people at all times. His grandparents Paul and Susan Rutherford, who both suffer from disabilities themselves, struggle to look after him alone and need the help of paid carers who can stay regularly overnight. The family live in a 3-bedroom bungalow that has been specially adapted to meet Warren’s needs. Paul and Susan share one room; Warren sleeps in another and the third room is needed for the carers to stay overnight and to store Warren’s equipment. Without the help of overnight carer workers Warren would have to go into residential care, at substantial extra cost to his local authority.

As a result of the restrictions on the size criteria in social tenancies, introduced in April 2013, the family was deemed to be “under-occupying”; their housing benefit was reduced as a result. The regulations currently allow for an additional bedroom if the claimant or their partner “require overnight care”, following the decision of the Court of Appeal in Burnip v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. However, there is no provision for children who need an overnight carer. The family has been granted discretionary help from their local authority to make up the shortfall, but this is due to run out next March.

The family’s legal team (the Child Poverty Action Group, Richard Drabble QC of Landmark Chambers and Tom Royston of Garden Court North Chambers) have argued that the regulations discriminate against disabled children contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Conventions on the rights of disabled people and children.

CPAG’s solicitor Michael Spencer said:

“Paul and Sue Rutherford work round the clock to care for their severely disabled grandson Warren. Without carers who can stay overnight they just wouldn’t be able to cope and Warren would have to go into care, at substantial cost to the taxpayer.”

‘A’ is represented by solicitor Rebekah Carrier, Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors, and barristers Karon Monaghan QC, Matrix Chambers, and Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O’Byrne, Doughty Street Chambers. For further details see Hopkin Murray Beskine’s press release.

END

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