New tactics from the DWP workers. 

Originally posted on The poor side of life:

Every week we hear new stories of how the DWP workers try to trick people into receiving a sanction. We aren’t easily shocked anymore but if you haven’t heard of these tactics in your area please watch out for them. Here’s a few read and note. These aren’t unusual but it’s good to highlight them every now and then.

Only apply for jobs that you know you will be successful in getting on the universal job match website. Now we know that most of these jobs are fake jobs but yes this was a nugget of advice given yesterday. If you apply for jobs that you won’t get then we will sanction you. It’s a no win situation for the client and he got illegally sanctioned. Don’t fall for this one folks unless you possess some kind of clairvoyant ability then how would you know if you are going to…

View original 387 more words

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21 days to go

5 more years!?

David Cameron thinks that saying “think of all the things we’ve done in the last five years” is a boast. But when people do think about the last five years, they remember a hike in VAT, the bedroom tax, a tax break for millionaires, food banks, a crisis in the NHS, tripling tuition fees, a cost-of-living crisis…I could go on.

And what will happen after five more years of David Cameron and George Osborne? We don’t need to guess — we just need to look at their record.

Posted in General Election 2015 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Victory for sanctions enquiry

Reposted from Change.org

Few of us, I am sure, can forget the tragic and appalling death (by DWP sanctions) of  David Clapson

https://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

His sister, Gill Thompson took to Change.org to petition David Cameron for an enquiry into the benefit sanctions that killed her brother.

Whilst dealing with her own grief, Gill amassed a huge 211,821 signatures for her petition, the result of which informed the DWP select committee enquiry (see link to report below)

It is interesting to note, that the Labour party have committed to accept all the recommendations in the DWP select Committee Inquiry report.

14 Apr 2015 — Dear All,

On 24th March the DWP Select Committee Inquiry’s findings and recommendations were officially published.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmworpen/814/814.pdf.

There are also attachments to the witnesses’ written evidence including David’s story.

It proves a rather hard read with page 56-62 listing the recommendations (26 in total).

I record below some of the highlights of the report which I found of some comfort which I hope that many others will too.

3. Providers’ ability to accept “good reason”
…”we believe that DWP should take more urgent steps to ensure that a more common-sense approach is set out in guidance”. We recommend that DWP’s guidance to contracted providers makes clear that discretion can be applied where providers’ staff are confident that a claimant’s failure to meet a mandatory condition was due to extenuating circumstances beyond the claimant’s control”.

13. Drawing on specialist advice from health experts
“We recommend that DWP, drawing on specialist advice from health experts, develop guidance on vulnerability which is specifically intended to assist JCP staff in identifying vulnerable JSA claimants”

25. DWP should make hardship payments available from day one of a sanction period in all cases.
The fact that in January 2015 the most recent data on hardship payments were from 2010–11, which the Committee found highly regrettable, they recommend that DWP publish, on at least an annual basis.

26. Investigate deaths of benefit claimants.
“We ask that the Department set out the number of peer review cases where the claimant was subject to a benefit sanction at the time of death and the results of any such reviews in terms of policy changes. In addition, DWP should seek to establish a body modelled on the Independent Police Complaints Commission, to conduct reviews, at the request of relatives…”

The Labour Party have committed to accept all the recommendations in the DWP select Committee Inquiry report.
The DWP has made an initial response to the report but it’s disappointing that it made no reference to the select committee’s recommendations which would help protect vulnerable people from the inappropriate use of sanctions. In contrast Labour have already said they would accept all the select committee’s recommendations.

The DWP said:
“As the report recognises, sanctions are a vital backstop in the welfare system and are only used in a small minority of cases where claimants don’t do all they can to look for work.
“Every day Jobcentre Plus advisers work hard to help people into jobs, and we continue to spend around £94bn a year on working age benefits to provide a safety net that supports millions of people.” Jobcentre advisers make it very clear to people when they first claim benefits what is expected of them, and what the consequences are if they don’t play by the rules. More than 70 per cent of claimants say they are more likely to follow the rules if they know they risk having their benefits stopped. Benefit sanctions are not new – they have been in effect for decades under successive governments and are a vital backstop of the benefits system, encouraging people to engage with the support on offer”.

The Trussell Trust stated over 900,000 people are relying on their food banks (1.4 % of population). Whilst the government maintains the economy has improved – ….. job seekers is down, employment up, a better life for all and sanctions are a last resort – with over 3 million sanctions have been issued so far – it is some last resort!

In the Daily Mail of 8th April George Osborne spoke more on austerity savings, stating by 2017-18 aims to cut a further £12bn from the Welfare Bill, yet just £5bn on clamping down on tax avoidance.

How much more can they punish the poor, vulnerable and innocent?
This is not a numbers game, our loved ones are not statistics, and we must never lose sight – or let the government lose sight – of all the suffering since the new sanctioning regime was introduced in 2012

Thank you again, it would not be possible to get this far without all your help and support and now we must ensure that not only are “lessons learned” but the next government hits the ground running and follows through with the recommendations and stop any further hardship placed on the sick and vulnerable in our society – or we will continue the campaign until it does.

If you wish to write to me direct please do so at gill.a4u@outlook.com

My deepest thanks,

Gill

Posted in Benefit sanctions | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

The election helpline

just a little bit of fun …

It’s the early hours of the morning. In number 10 Downing Street, just call me Dave picks up the ‘phone. His hand shakes as he nervously dials the number …

A calming female voice says, “Good morning. Thank you for calling the election helpline. Please note that all calls are recorded for security and training purposes. Calls from a BT landline cost 10 pence a minute (plus VAT) calls from mobile networks may be higher”.

Music plays … Always look on the bright side of life by Monty Python

https://youtu.be/jHPOzQzk9Qo

The female voice speaks again. “Thank you for holding, your call is important to us”

More music…

Then another female voice speaks. This one is NOT calming. This one sounds like … Margaret Hodge.

“If you are the candidate for a marginal seat, press 1″

“If you are the present incumbent of Number 10, press 2″

“If you are Nigel Farage please call the Home Office Immigration number”

“If you are Nick Clegg… F**K off and stop calling”

“for anything else, press 3″

Just call me Dave presses 2.

“Hello, Election Helpline, Chantelle speaking. Can I help you?”

Just call me Dave (JCMD) “Hi, Hi Chantelle. I’m Dave”.

Chantelle (C) “OK what can I do for you Dave?”

JCMD “Well, I’m worried about my election campaign. I can’t understand why I’m not beating Ed in the polls and I can’t understand why the electorate don’t get it that wealth trickles down ”

C – “Shall we just go through the checklist Dave?”

JCMD – “OK”

C – “just answer yes or no”

C – ” 1. Mentioning disabled relative at every opportunity” JCMD – “yes”

C – “2. Being economical with the truth and/or telling outright lies about the state of the economy” JCMD – “yes”

C- “3. Giving tax advantages to your millionaire mates” JCMD – “yes”

C- “4. Shafting the poor, disabled, vulnerable and ill” JCMD – “yes”

C- “5. Selling off the public sector to your millionaire mates” JCMD – “oh yes”

C – “Well Dave, you scored 100% I’m afraid”

JCMD – “100% brilliant!”

C -“No Dave, 100% is not good, you should only be scoring 10 or 20%”

There is a deathly silence.

C – “are you still there Dave?”

Posted in General Election 2015 | Tagged , | 10 Comments

George…I think I’ve found out where the moneys coming from.

Reposted from Commons debate – Daily Hansard

Take it away Lisa …

UK Poverty

[Mr David Crausby in the Chair]

2.30 pm

Lisa Nandy (Wigan) (Lab): It has been almost five years since the coalition Government took office, so we are far beyond the time when it was even remotely credible to claim that everything that has happened in this country is the fault of the previous Government. The truth is that the choices that we make as a country have an effect. With a few months to go until the general election, this is a good time to assess the Government’s impact on the most vulnerable people in this country and to look again at the Prime Minister’s claim, five years ago, that he would not balance the books on the backs of the poorest. What a joke that statement now seems.

The rise in food banks has been the most visible sign of the devastation caused to towns such as mine, Wigan. In the past three months, my local charity, the Brick, has handed out more than 1,000 food parcels to families who cannot afford to eat. The first thing I want to say is this: be in no doubt that the situation has become much worse under this Government. Ministers have constantly said that food banks are the fault of the previous Government, but let me give them the facts. There were 3,000 food bank users in 2005, and 40,000 by 2010. By 2012, that had exploded to 128,000 people queuing for food parcels in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Under the Labour Government, food banks fed tens of thousands of people a year; they now feed a quarter of a million people in this country, and the numbers are rising.

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. She may not be aware that we had never had a food bank in Oldham until 2012. In that year, 849 food parcels were delivered; last year, 5,000 people ended up receiving support, including 1,500 children. The numbers are going up inexorably. Would my hon. Friend like to comment on the suffering that those people are experiencing?

Lisa Nandy: That experience is mirrored in my constituency. The Brick gave out 6,097 food parcels in Wigan last year. I spent a day helping its volunteers to do that. Many of the food parcels were cold boxes—I had never heard of a cold box before I spent the afternoon at my local food bank—for people who cannot afford the gas or electricity required to heat up some soup or a tin of beans. Our credit union, Unify, the charity Compassion in Action and Citizens Advice have given out loans, furniture and fuel payment vouchers in increasing numbers in the past four years. Yet people were told by the Conservative hon. Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard) that unfortunately their food bank use has become a habit. How utterly offensive.

The real causes are obvious. In my constituency, one can track almost exactly when the cracks in the community started to show. In October 2012, the Government introduced a new sanctions regime that affected nearly

4 Feb 2015 : Column 102WH

6,000 families in my borough alone. It had an immediate impact. In early 2013, the manager of the Brick, Trish Green, said:

“We have been operating since 2008 but recently we have seen more families, more young people and people who have lost their jobs using the service…It also affects every part of the borough and we distribute food parcels throughout different communities, not simply the more deprived areas.”

That is mirrored across the region: as pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams), between 2012 and 2014, the number of people accessing food banks in the north-west exploded, growing by 238%. That was not, as the Conservative Minister for Business and Enterprise, the right hon. Member for West Suffolk (Matthew Hancock) said, because

“more people know about them”.

The vast majority of food bank referrals were because of benefit sanctions, although delays, debt, low-paid work, loss of job and family crisis were all common reasons.

Most of my constituents who have used a food bank were referred to it after being refused help by the jobcentre. A quarter of them had been told that they had not participated in an employment programme, and a fifth had been told that they had failed to attend an adviser interview. Let me give the Minister an example. Just yesterday, a man got in touch with me who had taken on temporary work over Christmas. He had notified the jobcentre of the start and finish dates of that temporary work, but was told that he had missed an appointment with the jobcentre to give the information that he had already provided. He was sanctioned. The jobcentre was closed on the day when he was supposed to have attended an appointment, so he was paid just 1p for the whole of January. He found out yesterday that he has been given £26 for the whole of February. Will the Minister tell me how someone in this country is meant to live on a penny a month?

Quite separately, two other people got in touch with my office, one a woman, the other a young man. Both had been sanctioned in the past few months for attending the funeral of a family member. In both cases, the individuals had notified the jobcentre of the reason why they could not turn up to sign on. I was thinking about what on earth people are supposed to do in that a situation. It reminded me of a line from Kafka, which states that

“it is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.”

When death is not a good enough reason to change the rules, what sort of society have we become?

We find increasingly that people are sanctioned for being just a few minutes late for appointments to sign on. My local councillor, Jeanette Prescott, said that

“several times this year I have had to refer a gentleman with learning difficulties to Denise (the local Reverend) for food due to him having sanctions on him for turning up late (once by 4 minutes). The gentleman can’t tell the time and is a recluse. He has been found sitting in his flat in the dark with no electric or gas. He won’t ask for help. Only for the old neighbours watch out for him and contact myself heaven knows what would of happened to him. I was informed he has to get a letter off the doctor for an electric card…The lad turned up at my door the other night. He hadn’t eaten for 5 days. He looked like he was dying.”

4 Feb 2015 : Column 103WH

Mr Mark Spencer (Sherwood) (Con): I hope that the hon. Lady appreciates that people who work very hard, and who might be earning very small amounts from working 50 hours a week, have to turn up to work on time. If they are late for their employment, they might be sanctioned by their employer. It is important that those who are seeking employment learn the discipline of timekeeping, which is an important part of securing and keeping a job.

Lisa Nandy: I must say to the hon. Gentleman that taking that sort of patronising tone towards people is exactly why people throughout the country are so angry with the Government. While he was speaking, my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) made the point that two Conservative Members turned up minutes late for this debate, but they will still be allowed to participate if they wish to do so. I will come on to the example of a working couple who got in touch with me recently and who have had real problems with the system. Nevertheless, I am happy to give way again if the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr Spencer) wants to come back on this point: what would he expect someone with learning difficulties, who cannot tell the time, to do in that situation? He has no one to turn to for help and was sanctioned for being four minutes late.

Mr Spencer: I think that that emphasises the importance of the education system in solving the challenges that we face as we move forward. We must try to ensure that the employees of the future are in the best place to be able to take on a career and move forward with a job.

Lisa Nandy: The man I am talking about is the fourth case of someone with learning disabilities being sanctioned that I have come across in my constituency office this month. The Minister’s Department holds the responsibility for people with disabilities. I hope that she has listened to the comments made by her colleague and will take the opportunity to condemn them. I also hope that she will ensure that in future no one will be sanctioned for having learning difficulties that prevent them from being able to tell the time.

Debbie Abrahams: I am sure that my hon. Friend will want to take the opportunity to mention the fact that the universal credit regulations include the potential for introducing in-work conditionality for people who are in work but on low pay. The hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr Spencer) should be careful in what he says. Also, people are sanctioned who have done nothing wrong. We repeatedly hear examples of people who did not know that they had appointments because they were made without their knowledge. Of course, they did not turn up to those appointments, so they were sanctioned.

Lisa Nandy: Absolutely. I could not agree with my hon. Friend more.

I want the Minister to understand the complete nonsense of the system. Another of my local councillors, Lol Hunt, got in touch with me last week to help a 53-year-old woman. That woman was awarded maximum points for ESA last year; she got no points at all this year. Absolutely nothing in her health or circumstances has changed. Councillor Hunt said that

4 Feb 2015 : Column 104WH

“she has very little food in her cupboards and is cancelling her direct debits this week for rent, gas, electric, phone etc. as she simply cannot pay.”

That is just the tip of the iceberg as to the stupidity of the sanctions regime.

The single biggest reason that my constituents were given for being sanctioned last year was that they were supposedly not seeking work. For example, in one family, a couple with two-year-old twins, one of the partners worked as a home care worker on a zero-hours contract—I am sure all Members are familiar with the situation of the many people who work in the home care industry on low pay and with insecure conditions. The hours that she was given were so few that the pay did not even cover the bus fare to work.

The wider family tried to help out, but the stepfather is out of work and the grandmother on a small pension. They were even refused a doorstep loan. The twins were living on a tin of beans and a few potatoes a day, while the adults went for days on only tea and the occasional biscuit. Relatives of mine remember such conditions in our family a few generations back, but that was before the war. One of my constituents—one of the parents—told me that

“asking for food was so humiliating but the alternative was to go hungry. We were so grateful for the help of the Brick and they made us feel like it is not something to be ashamed of.”

Contrast the actions of that local Christian charity with the words of Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, who said that

“food from a food bank…is a free good, and by definition there is an almost infinite demand for a free good.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 2 July 2013; Vol. 746, c. 1072.]

How utterly insulting to a family such as the one I am describing. They had built up £1,000 in rent arrears, because they were not earning enough even to cover the bus fare to work. At a loss as to how to help them, the only advice that a local charity could give them was that the partner should leave her job, because it was pushing them further into debt. Reluctantly, they went to claim jobseeker’s allowance, but were told that she had left the job voluntarily and were sanctioned for three months. The mother said:

“We were receiving 15 minutes of work a day that is around £1.10 a day. If this…wasn’t a good reason for leaving a job, I truly do not understand what is.”

That is not an accident of the system, that is the system.

The level of confusion in the Government is astonishing. The Department for Work and Pensions website states:

“We expect claimants to do all they reasonably can to look for and move into paid work. If a claimant turns down a particular vacancy (including zero-hours contract jobs) a sanction may be applied, but we will look into the circumstances of the case and consider whether they had a good reason.”

Only a couple of weeks ago, however, I had a letter from the Minister stating:

“It may be helpful to explain that Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants are not required to apply for a zero hours contract job and cannot be sanctioned for refusing to accept employment under a zero hours contract or for leaving such employment voluntarily.”

She even went to the trouble of underlining some of the words in that sentence. When she responds to the debate, will she tell me how that fits with what happened to my constituents only recently? Will she tell us what the policy is? Perhaps she would like to explain it to people who are trying to navigate the system and work within it, but who find that there is no safety net.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 105WH

Mr Spencer: Surely the hon. Lady has to accept that in a complicated welfare system, with officers working in jobcentres, on occasion a mistake will be made. That may happen at times. The question is, how do you put that problem right? If the rules are being set by the Government, but sadly on occasion being misinterpreted or misunderstood, we have to find a system that puts that right. Accidents will happen, but it is a question of how we put them right quickly.

Lisa Nandy: The hon. Gentleman does not seem to be listening: the rules are the problem and make no sense. I have just quoted two examples, one from the Minister and one from the Minister’s departmental website, that contradict one another. Neither makes any sense in the context of what happened to my constituents. I have written back to the Minister to ask what on earth is going on, though I have not had a reply yet. I hope that I will get a reply, and that all the people stuck in the same situation as the one my constituents just went through will get any reply at all.

In “The Trial” by Kafka, the hero of the novel, K, said:

“But I’m not guilty…there’s been a mistake. How is it even possible for someone to be guilty?”

The priest replied:

“That is true…but that is how the guilty speak.”

That is exactly what is happening to people in the system. There is nowhere to turn, there is no way to fight their way out of the system. That is not an accident of the system, that is the system, and it is time that the Government did something about it.

The saga for the family in my constituency continued—that was not the end of it. After the sanctions were lifted, they were told that they had to sign on every day at an unpredictable time, and that for a family with two-year-old twins. One of the parents said that once her partner

“had to take our two sick, contagious children who were suffering (from hand, foot and mouth disease) with her to a job centre appointment as the adviser said you must come in, bring them on the bus with you. Even when we replied but they have a temperature of over 40 degrees his response was if you don’t come in we will have to issue a further suspension. We live in fear that our money will be stopped and this hell will never end.”

That is indeed a hell.

Margot James (Stourbridge) (Con): I have great sympathy for some of the individual cases that the hon. Lady has talked about, but I want to introduce a note of perspective based on my own constituency experience. The last time I checked with my jobcentre, just before Christmas, fewer than 5% of all the people seen there had been sanctioned over the previous 12 months. We are talking about a minority, and she is talking about a very tiny minority of an already small minority. I also want to put in a word for the sanctions regime, because from the experience of what I have seen, the threat of sanctions has been of assistance in galvanising people to maintain their appointments and genuinely to seek work.

Lisa Nandy: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for trying to bring statistics to the debate, but they do not reflect the reality. Glasgow university has found that across the country, one in five have been sanctioned, and 6,000 families in my borough alone. In the past few

4 Feb 2015 : Column 106WH

weeks, research from Oxford university shows that the majority of people who have been kicked off benefits due to sanctions have not gone into work. So it is simply not true to say that we are talking only about a minority.

Furthermore, although I know that the hon. Lady fights for people and against injustice—I have seen her do so on behalf of her constituents—if such things happen to families, they must be stopped. We should not tolerate what happens to families who are trying to find work and do their best. They might have to drag ill two-year-old twins across town because of the inflexibility and inhumanity that we have somehow managed to build into the system. It is a hell of low-paid jobs, zero-hours contracts and rising living costs. Frankly, the system lacks any compassion or understanding.

Can the Minister comprehend the social isolation being caused? A 39-year-old mum got in touch with me. She is struggling to walk because of spina bifida, which has deteriorated in recent years, and she has three kids. She applied for a personal independence payment, but was told—this is common—that it could take a year. She said:

“We don’t leave the house and I need help.”

A local reverend contacted me about a parishioner who had been sanctioned. She told me:

“He was living on one bowl of porridge a day and glasses of water to stave off the hunger. He sold his TV and most of his valuables. He’s a very gentle man who cannot understand how this has happened to him.”

I was contacted by a woman who took a cleaning job for 25 hours a week in Warrington, involving two buses, a train journey and a four-mile bike ride simply to get to work. It was a minimum-wage job and the travel alone came to £45 a week. When money was missing from the first pay packet—a common experience for many families who work in that industry—she was hit with rent arrears and threatened with eviction. She said:

“We only have £3 a week after out bills are paid meaning we can’t afford any shopping or gas once again.”

People are trying, but their Government quite simply are not on their side. When they ask for help, they are sanctioned. Nothing is done to stamp out the scourge of exploitative zero-hours contracts. There is no action on low pay; the Minister’s own Department accounts for more than half of the directly employed or contracted Government workers who earn less than £7.65 an hour. What could be more symbolic than the fact that her own Department has one of the worst records in Whitehall on paying the living wage? This crisis is of the Government’s own making.

We know what the real problem is: the lack of good, sustainable jobs that command decent pay. But because the Government have absolutely no answers to that problem they hit people hardest. Instead of tackling underemployment, they hit the underemployed. Instead of tackling low pay, they hit the low paid. They pick off those people who are least able to complain and while doing so they haemorrhage money on contracts to the private sector that do little to get people into work but create the living hell that my constituents have written to me about.

We are storing up so many problems for the future. The situation is pushing more and more people in my community into debt, and one of the biggest causes of that debt is the bedroom tax, which affects 4,500 households

Rest of debate here

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150204/halltext/150204h0002.htm

Posted in Benefit sanctions, Commons debate, Debbie Abrahams, foodbanks, Hansard, Lisa Nandy, Poverty, Welfare reform | Tagged | 8 Comments

So, where’s the money coming from George? (part 2)

The meek  Rich tory supporters shall INHERIT the Earth

First the science bit, courtesy of HMRC …

Inheritance Tax is paid if a person’s estate (their property, money and possessions) is worth more than £325,000 when they die. This is called the ‘Inheritance Tax threshold’.

Let’s turn now to average house prices in the UK:

According to data from the Land Registry, the average UK house price is £182,252

The BBC reports:

If the Conservatives win the general election, then from April 2017 parents would each be offered a further £175,000 “family home allowance” to enable them to pass property on to children tax-free after their death.

This could be added to the existing £325,000 inheritance tax threshold, bringing the total transferable tax-free allowance from both parents in a married couple or civil partnership to £1m.

The full amount would be transferable even if one spouse had died before the policy came into effect, the Conservatives say, and so would benefit existing widows and widowers.

For properties worth more than £2m, the new allowance would be gradually reduced so that those with homes worth more than £2.35m would not benefit at all.

So the £8 billion spending pledge for the NHS certainly won’t be coming from Inheritance Tax then.

The IFS say that this tax cut will “disproportionately benefit the wealthy”

https://www.politicshome.com/home-affairs/articles/story/tories-inheritance-tax-plans-will-benefit-wealthiest-ifs

and, will push up house prices.

It seems that the tories would rather get their money from the poor, vulnerable and disabled; because in the words of that other prize tory pr*ck

“Poor people should be prepared to take more risks because they have the least to lose”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9698985/Lord-Freuds-welfare-lifestyle-comments-show-nasty-party-is-back-say-Labour.html

Posted in Inheritance Tax | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

So, where’s the money coming from George? (Part one)

Reposted from PCS website

The PCS ‘Out of the mouths of babes’ campaign to end child maintenance charges got a step closer to its goal when Labour pledged to bring forward a review of the policy.

Charges introduced by the Tory-led government include a £20 application fee (with no certainty of receiving any payments at the end of the process), a deduction of 7% from the resident parent’s payment (which had previously gone in its entirety to the child), and a charge on the non resident payment of20% of their maintenance payment, on top of the maintenance itself.

On average, families will loose out by £70 a year. This money could make all the difference – winter coats for the cold weather or food on the table rather than going to the government.

Labour’s review was originally scheduled to begin in 2016 but the party pledged yesterday that it will now start immediately if it is elected at the 7 May general election.

Financial struggle

About 60% of single parent families report they already struggle financially and almost 20% of parents are lifted out of poverty by the maintenance they receive. The government estimates 100,000 families will stop using the scheme as a result of the charges.

When a child is raised in poverty their health outcomes and life prospects plummet dramatically. In 2013 a Child Poverty Action Group report estimated that the direct cost of child poverty to government was £20.5 billion resulting from costs such as additional demand for services and benefits.

PCS reps have met several times with Labour shadow ministers and their staff, and supplied compelling evidence to show why the principled position of ending charging for use of the child maintenance system made sense.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka welcomed Labour’s announcement and added that “PCS still believes the principle of charging for the system is morally wrong. Child maintenance staff know the harm this punitive policy does to children and parents, particularly those on low incomes. The money families are having to pay out could otherwise be spent putting food on the table, paying bills or sending their children on school trips.”

Extract from Gov.UK

Fees

On 30 June 2014 the Child Maintenance Service

introduced application fees and enforcement charges.

From 11 August, if you decide to use the Collect and Pay service,

you’ll also have to pay fees for collecting and paying

out child maintenance.

You won’t have to pay any fees if you choose a family-based arrangement.

I’m sure women (or men) who have been subjected to domestic violence

would find it difficult to deal with their ex – partner by way

of the family based arrangement (see link above) and so will either

have to pay the fee or just struggle on and not bother with the CSA

or CMEC or whatever they’re bloody calling themselves this week.

Because lets be honest, it’s difficult to be amicable with someone

who’s had their hands round your throat isn’t it!

Posted in Child Support Agency | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments