IDS AND DWP ARE ‘UNLAWFUL’ IN DELAY OF PIP PAYMENTS – HIGH COURT RULE

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Today,  a High Court judge ruled that Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions took an “unlawful and unacceptably long time” to pay new welfare benefits to two unnamed disabled people.

Personal independence payments (Pips) are replacing the disability living allowance (DLA) in a government overhaul of the benefits system. They are designed to help disabled adults meet the extra costs caused by disability.

The test case concerned two unnamed disabled people, who had to wait for payment of Pips.
Ms C’s case the delay was 13 months, from 9 September 2013 until the determination of her benefit on 24 October 2014. In Mr W’s case the delay was 10 months, from 3 February 2014 until December 2014.

Ms C, from Kent, has been diagnosed with ME and suffers from severe depression and other health problems. Speaking last month, she said: “The delay had a massive impact on my life. I applied for Pips so I could look after myself, but without it I could barely eat and only ever left my house for a weekly trip to a supermarket.

“I was completely isolated during the nine months I was waiting for my payments. While my wait came to an end, it is worrying that many, many others have still not received a decision.” 

There are currently 78,700 people waiting to hear if they can claim PIP, of whom 3,200 have waited more than a year to have their claims processed, and 22,800 have waited more than 20 weeks.

The judge said both cases had called for “expeditious consideration” as they both suffered significant disabilities. She said: “They were each to be regarded as the most vulnerable people in society.”

The judge added: “There is a high duty on local authorities to act promptly, consistently and appropriately to recognise social welfare benefits. There can be no public interest in delays such as was the case here.”

Elliot Dunster, speaking for the disability charity Scope, said: “This judgment demonstrates the importance of extra costs payments to disabled people. Life costs more if you are disabled. Scope research shows that this adds up to on average £550 per month. Extra costs can make it extremely hard for disabled people to pay the bills. Every day without them is another day unable to afford the essentials in life. It’s positive that delays have been dramatically reduced.

“As speculation grows about where the chancellor will find his promised £12bn savings from the welfare budget, disabled people are looking to him to protect the financial support they receive.”

Richard Kramer of the national deafblind charity Sense said: “The legal ruling gives a human face to the significant levels of stress and suffering felt by disabled people as a result of system delays. The case is a reminder that there is some way to go before the system can be regarded as fit for purpose and customer-facing for all disabled people.”

Anne-Marie Irwin, the specialist public lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who acted for the disabled claimants, described the ruling as “a significant legal judgment”. She said: “A huge number of vulnerable people have been left in the lurch as a result of unacceptable flaws in the Pip system, with public accounts committee chair Margaret Hodge in June last year calling the issues ‘nothing short of a fiasco’. 

“In February 2014, the National Audit Office found that the defendant had not fully assessed performance before starting national rollout of the new claims in June 2013. Today’s decision sends a clear message that the unacceptable delays faced by many people may also be unlawful. 

“While the decision is undoubtedly welcome and emphasises the clear failings seen with this scheme, attention must now turn to rethinking the planned wider rollout in October until reassurances can be provided that the delays seen in the past are not repeated in the future.”

Irwin added: “We are now hoping to begin discussions with the DWP to establish a scheme to ensure anyone who experienced a delay which could be deemed unlawful is able to receive some form of effective redress without the need to take court action.”

WEALTH OF RICHEST 1000 DOUBLES IN 10 YEARS AS THE UK BECOMES MUST UNEQUAL COUNTRY IN THE WEST!

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The Sunday Times rich list for 2015 reveals that the 1000 richest people living in the UK have doubled their wealth in the last decade and are now £547bn, not counting their bank accounts.

The list, includes 117 billionaires, up from 104 last year. They account for a total wealth of £325.131 billion and 80 of them are based in London. It means the capital has more sterling billionaires than any other city in the world.

To get on the rich list you must have a fortune of £100 million.
That is £15m higher than last year’s minimum, while in 1997 it took a personal wealth of ‘just’ £15 million to make the list.

The wealth of the richest, under the Conservatives government has risen by a huge amount.

The UK’s five richest families now own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population.

A report by The Social Market Foundation revealed evidence of Britain’s rapidly growing wealth gap.

It found that the average wealth of the best-off one-fifth of families rose by 64 per cent between 2005 and 2012-13 as they put more money aside as a buffer against future shocks. They have average savings and investments of around £10,000 compared with £6,000 seven years earlier.

The SMF found the poorest 20 per cent are less financially secure than they were in 2005, with their net wealth falling by 57 per cent and levels of debt and use of overdrafts increasing.

In a report, a Tale of Two Britains, Oxfam said the poorest 20% in the UK had wealth totalling £28.1bn – an average of £2,230 each. The latest rich list from Forbes magazine showed that the five top UK entries – the family of the Duke of Westminster, David and Simon Reuben, the Hinduja brothers, the Cadogan family, and Sports Direct retail boss Mike Ashley – between them had property, savings and other assets worth £28.2bn.

Oxfam’s director of campaigns and policy, Ben Phillips, said: “Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, while millions of families are struggling to make ends meet.

“It’s deeply worrying that these extreme levels of wealth inequality exist in Britain today, where just a handful of people have more money than millions struggling to survive on the breadline.”

Oxfam said that for the first time more working households were in poverty than non-working ones, and predicted that the number of children living below the poverty line could increase by 800,000 by 2020. It said cuts to social security and public services were meshing with falling real incomes and a rising cost of living to create a “deeply damaging situation” in which millions were struggling to get by.

The IMF recently released research showing that the ever-greater concentration of wealth and income hindered growth and said redistribution would not just reduce inequality but would be economically beneficial.

“On average, across countries and over time, the things that governments have typically done to redistribute do not seem to have led to bad growth outcomes, unless they were extreme”, the IMF said in a research paper. “And the resulting narrowing of inequality helped support faster and more durable growth, apart from ethical, political or broader social considerations.”

Phillips said: “Increasing inequality is a sign of economic failure rather than success. It’s far from inevitable – a result of political choices that can be reversed. It’s time for our leaders to stand up and be counted on this issue.”

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Under the Conservatives, we have seen Tax cuts for the wealthest , huge corporations paying low wages, making huge profits and paying no Tax in the UK.

The Tories have made massive cuts to the Welfare budget.

They have forced thousands of people into Workfare, meaning massive companies get free labour and get paid by the government to ’employ’ these people.

The Conservatives have allowed Workers to be paid very low wages by big business and used Tax payers money to make up the difference with Welfare, so workers can pay bills and rent, costing the Country £11bn a year.

Over a million people used food banks in the last year.

If the Tories are elected for another 5 years, they plan to cut a futher £12bn of Welfare, cut 30% to all government departments, cut the top rate of Tax for the richest.

They have to be stopped.

Vote on 7th May.

THE TRUE FIGURE FOR PEOPLE USING FOOD BANKS COULD BE OVER 2 MILLION

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Today’s headlines are truly shocking.

BUT fail to reveal the whole story of use in food banks in the UK, in the last year.

‘More than a million people have used food banks in past year’ – The Guardian

‘Food banks: over one million people seek emergency help’ – Channel 4

‘PM defends poverty record as one million use food banks’ – ITV news

‘Record one million using foodbanks’ – Daily Mail

The true figure for the number of food parcels given out by food banks across this country in the last 12 months, on a conservative estimation, could be over 2 Million.

HOW DO YOU GET TO THE FIGURE OF 2 MILLION?

Todays data is based on figures released by the Trussell Trust, the country’s largest provider of food banks, but theTrussell Trust represents only 45% of all food banks in the UK.

So it is logical that the figure of one million can be doubled and might be even higher than two million because food is also given out by soup kitchens and ‘meals on wheels’.

Trussell Trust UK food bank director Adrian Curtis said: ” It’s difficult to be sure of the full extent of the problem as Trussell Trust figures don’t include people who are helped by other food charities or those who feel too ashamed to seek help.”

Hannah Lambie-Mumford, a research fellow at the University of Sheffield and a food bank specialist, said: “As data is not collected on the numbers of people experiencing food poverty, it is impossible for us to draw any conclusions about wider experiences from these statistics; that said, they are very likely to represent just the tip of the iceberg – with many more people experiencing food poverty than reflected in these figures.”

The use of food banks in the UK is a sad and tragic indictment on the record of the Conservative led Coalition’s five years in power and how their policies have effected the poorest in socierty.

Using the data from the Trussell Trust, you can see the changes that have happened over the last five years.

🔴 In 2009 Trussell only had  56 food banks in 2009 to 445 food banks in 2014.

🔴 The Trust served 29 UK local authorities in 2009 but that number increased to 251 by 2013.

🔴 In 2009  Trussell helped 41,000 people, now it is helping nearly 1.1 million. A 19% year-on-year increase.
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WHY IS THERE SUCH A INCREASE?

The Conservatives claim that the main reason for the spike in use of food banks is down to people being more informed that they exicist.

George Osborne said: “I think one of the reasons that there has been increased use of food banks is because people have been made aware of the food bank service through local jobcentres.”

The Trussell Trust say that people referred to food banks by Jobcentres are only a small percentage of total referrals. 

Todays figures from the Trust show:

🔴 44%, of food bank referrals last year  were triggered by people pitched into crisis because their benefit payments had been delayed, or stopped altogether as a result of the strict jobcentre sanctions regime.

🔴More than a fifth, 22%, of food bank users were referred because of low income – meaning they were unable to afford food due to a relatively small financial crisis such as a boiler breaking down or having to buy a school uniform.
This group includes people in low-paid, zero-hours or part-time work who were forced to turn to food banks.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This should make all of us ashamed, particularly those who claim we have a strong economy and everyone is sharing in the recovery.

“It tells us that the Government has done grave damage to the welfare safety net. Of course we should deal with those who abuse it, but vicious sanctions and benefit cuts – even for those who paid in all their working lives – are destroying the support any of us might need if we lose our job or have an accident.”

Unite general secretary Len McClusky said: “The UK is the sixth richest country on the planet so something has gone grotesquely wrong when so many people, in and out of work, have to turn to charity to feed their children.

” It is no longer enough to say that we need to make hunger history – we need to make the government that supercharged this need history once and for all.”

Dr John Middleton, vice president of charity the Faculty of Public Health said: “The rising number of families and individuals who cannot afford to buy sufficient food is a public health issue that we must not ignore.

“For many people, it is not a question of eating well and eating healthily, it is a question of not being able to afford to eat at all. UK poverty is already creating massive health issues for people today, and if we do not tackle the root causes of food poverty now we will see it affecting future generations too.”
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“WE PROTECTED THE POOREST” – CAMERON

After five years of a Conservative led Coalition government, which has brought in Welfare reforms that have seen huge cuts in the Welfare budget.David Cameron last week gave an interview to ‘The Independent’. in which he said: “I haven’t changed. I am a compassionate Conservative”, “We had to make difficult decisions”, he said:. “I would argue that this has been done in a compassionate way. We protected the poorest.”

Well lets look at the facts of how the “poorest” have fared under the his “compassionate” austerity.

The poorest people in the UK (living below the poverty line) one in five of the population – have faced 39% of all cuts, including to social care and community services,Disabled people have borne 29% of the cuts, making them nine times more likely than the average person to have been affected.Children have faired no better,with 3.5 million now living in poverty,that’s 27% or more than one in four and 93,000 children are now living in temporary accommodation.Over a million people used a food bank last year.5 million people now claim housing benefit,which has risen by £650m a year on average since 2010 and 1.8 million people are now on waiting lists for social housing.

The “Compassionate” Conservatives have been more than happy to continue the myth that all people claiming benefits are “skivers”, which has fed into sensational stories appearing in the right-wing press on a daily basis, about benefit cheats or poor families with hundreds of children, happy to ‘milk’ the system! This has allowed Iain duncan Smith to introduce a limit to how much can be claimed in benefits, £500 per week for single parents and couples with children and £350 for a single person.The cap has disproportionately affected lone parents and those on the ‘children in need’ register ( children,who are at risk of abuse or neglect, or disabled) an estimated 175,000 children.Since the welfare cap has been introduced it has only saved 0.05% of the welfare budget

The irony of the ‘Benefit skivers’ myth, is that in the last year over 5.3 million working people, 22% of all working people have claimed in-work benefits, costing £11bn a year, due to low wages.The number of ‘hard working’ people claiming housing benefit has more than doubled under the Coalition to over a million claimants.The majority (59%) of children living in poverty live in a household where at least one adult works.

So what does “Compassionate” Dave have in store for ‘protecting’ the poorest next,if he is elected Prime minister?

The Conservatives have already said that a further £12bn will be cut from the welfare budget,but will not say where the cuts will fall.The benefit cap will be lowered to £440.79 per week, leading to over one million men,women and children evicted from social housing and being moved into temporary accommodation and Child poverty will continue to rise.to an estimated 5 million children by 2020,The Housing benefit bill will hit £25bn by 2017.

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