The National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers has provided evidence to the ‘Welfare safety net inquiry‘, that the DWP ‘helpline’ are deliberately using “deflection” to stop EEA nationals making appeals* against Universal Credit decisions to refuse or close claims.
EEA nationals have to undertake an Habitual Residence Test (HRT) to decide if they are eligible” and the DWP has no system in place to use data from legacy benefits** to fast track eligibility. HRT decisions can take 4-8 weeks and claimants cannot claim payments or advance loans “whilst their entitlement is in doubt” and the DWP are also stopping legacy benefit entitlement before undertaking a HRT. The DWP also use a “culture of disbelief” expecting claimants to “to prove everything with documentary evidence” to deny and frustrate claims for Universal Credit.
“Because of the excessive delay, with inability to access any other funds, NAWRA members report that EEA nationals are experiencing extreme hardship including –
Having to use foodbanks as only source of food Increasing debt due to the need to borrow – particularly from family or loansharks Inability to pay for gas or electric
Threats of, or actual, repossession or loss of home due to lack of means to pay rent
Deteriorating physical and mental health. Lack of access to prescriptions
Costs to other statutory and local authority services e.g. through rental debts and additional costs to social services.”
NAWRA – written evidence| PDF version (PDF112 KB) – 06 Feb 2019
‘Deflection script’ used to get Universal Credit claimants off the phone emerges – 1/2/19
‘Whistleblower reveals DWP deflection script to get Universal Credit claimants off the phone‘ – 25/10/18
FOI request: ‘Document: ‘Promoting the UC Digital Channel (Deflection Script)‘ – 1/2/19
* Mandatory Reconsiderations
** Housing Benefit
income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
Child Tax Credit
Working Tax Credit
This satirical post has been expunged….
*This is satire.
Actor or not, the DWP video is a shameful attempt to gloss over the cruelty of universal credit
“Ultimately, there is no evidence that Charlie didn’t claim universal credit. According to his Instagram, it seems that he does now work as a personal trainer, which is consistent with his story in the video. It could be that he was not paid for his acting work, or that someone else helped to pay for his holidays. In any case, why shouldn’t he – or any other benefits claimant for that matter – spend their money on holidays? And who among us isn’t guilty of making life look a little rosier, while editing out challenging times, on apps like Instagram? After all, it’s hardly the custom to post photos with the hashtag #benefits or #universalcredit, is it?”
Related post: ‘#BenefitSanctions are not Unfair, Unjust, Exploitative or Punitive…‘
“We believe there is an alternative approach that can be taken to reform and improve the UK’s social security system, ensuring that the most vulnerable in society have a voice and access to support rather than punitive sanctions for those who find themselves in difficulty.” (emphasis added)
Parliamentary launch for PCS booklet on future social security system – 09 Jan 2019
On January 22nd 2019 the PCS Union launched it’s pamphlet case for “radical” change to Social Security. One core aspect of this change is a call for ‘support not sanctions‘ and highlighting the Labour Party 2017 manifesto (pdf) promise to scrap:
. . . . . “the Conservatives’ punitive sanctions regime”
The PCS pamphlet edits this promise to say “ending the sanctions regime”, removing references to “the Conservatives” and “punitive”. Consequently neither PCS or Labour are calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exception, they are just a rehash of the view that sanctions can be fair and just. IE: non-punitive?
In the context of benefit sanctions, PCS use of the word ‘radical’ is meaningless and is just another mealy mouthed justification for benefit sanctions that can somehow be “non-punitive?”
You can view statistics for benefit sanctions (regimes) since 2008 on Stat-Xplore.
 Scotland has devolved Social Security powers, whilst Westminster retains control over sanctions and conditionality policy for likes of Universal Credit.
The Withdrawal Agreement provides for rules on social security coordination in relation to the beneficiaries of the citizens’ part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and to other persons who at the end of the transition period are in a situation involving both the United Kingdom and a Member State from the social security cooperation perspective.
Those persons will maintain their right to healthcare, pensions and other social security benefits, and if they are entitled to a cash benefit from one country, they may be able to receive it even if they decide to live in another country. The social security provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement will address the rights of EU citizens and UK nationals in social security cross-border situations involving the UK and (at least) one Member State at the end of the transition period. Those provisions can be extended to cover “triangular” social security situations involving a Member State (or several Member States), the UK and an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). This will allow the rights of EU citizens, UK nationals as well as EFTA country citizens who are in that type of triangular situations to be protected. For this to be operational, three different agreements need to be applicable: an article in the Withdrawal Agreement protecting EFTA nationals, provisions protecting EU citizens in corresponding agreements between the UK and the EFTA countries, and provisions protecting UK nationals in corresponding agreements between the EU and the EFTA countries. Only if the two latter agreements are concluded and applicable, the article in the Withdrawal Agreement protecting EFTA nationals will be applicable as well. The decision on the applicability of this article will be taken by the Joint Committee created by the Withdrawal Agreement.”
Background: #UniversalCredit: DWP deny release of its Citizens Advice blood-money contract for Universal Support
“Universal Support is not mandatory. Claimants are not sanctioned for
failing to attend Universal Support”
DWP FOI reply: ‘Universal Support: £39 million for Citizens Advice‘ – 8/11/18
FOI request and reply
*Worth £51 million and done without any competitive tenders. A request for unredacted grants has been made.
“The gap between the Department’s original vision for Universal Support, and the meagre offer it now funds, is vast. The Department envisaged providing ongoing help Universal Credit’s most vulnerable claimants, ensuring they can make the most of the new benefit. In reality it offers a single session of Personal Budgeting and Digital Support, restricted to the first three months of a claim. The current service is almost solely focused on getting new claims up and running. The new contract with Citizens Advice will not substantially diverge from this approach. This may help the Department progress with the roll out, but it is likely to fall far short on helping Universal Credit achieve its wider objectives. In its current form, Universal Support is far from “universal”, and all too often offers only very limited support both budgeting and digital skills.”
Source: ‘The Universal Support Offer‘ – Work and Pensions Committee – 28 October 2018
[ Contract docs released ]
Despite widespread concern (public interest), today the DWP denies release of it’s Universal Support contract with Citizens Advice, saying it needs more time to consider ‘commercial interests’. In the meantime the DWP continues to use Citizens Advice as it’s ‘patsy‘ for the myriad of Universal Credit failures.
Follow @charlotteh71 and @RespectIsVital for real life testimony on Universal Credit.