Tag Archives: lord freud

The Chilling Truth About Universal Credit: Bosses To Be The Gate-Keepers Of Benefits

lord-fraud-freudEmployers failing to provide tax information on time or going out of business could lead to vital in-work benefits going unpaid Lord Fraud confirmed in a speech this week.

When Universal Credit is finally introduced (stop laughing) it will replace almost all current in-work benefits including Child and Working Tax Credits, along with Housing Benefits.

Unlike the current system, benefit rates will be calculated monthly based on tax information sent to the DWP by employers.  This had led to concerns that if employers fail to send in PAYE information on time, or go out of business, then benefits will go unpaid or be paid at the wrong rate.  Lord Fraud confirmed that this would be the case in his speech this week when he said:

“the new PAYE in real time system has been designed to support Universal Credit payments. 99% of employers are now reporting their PAYE in real time every month. Not only does it prevent fraud, it ensures that every person who is in work on Universal Credit has their award automatically adjusted every month, based on these returns. So it’s absolutely crucial that you as employers report this accurately, as this will affect the payments of claimants.”

So should you have a dispute with your employer, or get the sack, then your boss will have the power to fuck up your claim for benefits.  For those with the most unscrupulous employers the implications are terrifying. Join a union, or complain about working conditions, and your employer will soon be able to stop your Housing Benefit and make you homeless.

Not to worry though because Lord Fraud suggested that under Universal Credit people could have multiple zero hours contracts instead of real jobs.  According to the minister these kind of contracts: “support business flexibility, they provide entry to work for young people and give people the flexibility to combine work with other commitments”.

In-work conditionality rules under Universal Credit will mean part-time workers face Jobcentre harassment and benefit sanctions to force them to constantly look for a better paid job or more work elsewhere.  They could even be sent on workfare in the hours they aren’t working.  This would make accepting many zero hours contracts – which require staff to be available for work at any time and at short notice – impossible for claimants.  Lord Fraud’s answer to this particular fuck up – which could see people sanctioned for failing to apply for a zero hours position, and then sanctioned again when they get the job and can no longer meet their claimant commitment – is that people can have more than one zero hours contract.  Which of course doesn’t solve anything, but Lord Fraud is hoping no-one notices.

The real reason for Universal Credit, which is to create a flexible, casualised workforce, was at the heart of Lord Fraud’s speech this week.  The new system will make it “easier to recruit – particularly when it comes to part time positions or for temporary work” and allow employers to find “more people willing to take on irregular work”.

Universal Credit is a blueprint for exploitation, forcing all low paid employees into a desperate competition for worst kind of insecure, casual work.  Step out of line for a second, and you will be sanctioned and face absolute destitution.  Despite the endless propaganda, this is not just an attack on those out of work, it is an attack on everyone’s pay and conditions.  As Lord Fraud’s speech confirmed this week, this is welfare reform designed to help your boss, not you.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Hostels and Women’s Refuges Still Under Threat As Lord Fraud Dithers

lord-fraud-freudWomen fleeing abusive relationships could be faced with the stark choice of sleeping on the streets or returning to a violent partner due to the benefit cap a leading charity has warned.

Meanwhile Lord Fraud’s dithering means that many women’s refuges and homelessness hostels may be forced to close when the benefit cap is introduced in July.  The cap on benefits, set at £500 a week for families, or £350 for single people, includes housing benefits which in some cases meet the cost of supported accommodation.

Last year Women’s Aid issued a stark warning that this change could potentially close every single one of their refuge’s for those fleeing domestic violence.  Homelessness hostels are also under threat.  Hostels and refuges charge high rents to pay for the cost of support staff, with most supported housing having 24 hour staffing cover and specialist support workers.

Astonishingly neither bungling Lord Fraud or Iain Duncan Smith appeared to know this.  In a panicky response the Government hastily u-turned, saying that the benefit cap would not apply to “supported exempt accommodation”.  Ministers also claimed that when Universal Credit is introduced, the system of Housing Benefits, administered by local authorities, would remain in place for this type of housing.

The problem is that the legal definition for “supported exempt accommodation” is several years old and does not apply to much of the supported housing available today.  This also seemed to come as a shock to Lord Fraud, who was forced to write charities promising not to worry,  he would have it all sorted out soon.

And that appears to be the last anyone has heard from the bungling old toff.  An important piece published on The Guardian website by Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, warns that with just one month to go until the benefit cap is launched nationally, many women’s refuges are still facing closure.

The charity also warns that many women who have already been housed after moving on from a refuge are likely to be affected by the cap and may “face eviction and be left with an impossible dilemma either to sleep rough or return to their violent partner”.

The truth is that the majority of those paying high rents and affected by the benefit cap are not people living it up in Chelsea mansions as the right wing press has attempted to portray.  In many cases they are people whose life has taken a desperate turn and who have been forced to take any housing they could find in an emergency.  Often this housing, despite being expensive, is sub-standard with grasping landlords charging a fortune for properties they couldn’t get away with renting to anyone who had a choice about where they lived.

The benefit cap is a truly nasty policy which punishes tenants for the greed of slum landlords.  A DWP impact assessment suggested almost 200,000 children could be made homeless due to the cap.  It is unlikely to even save any money.  All it will achieve if the expulsion of poor, often genuinely vulnerable families from rich local authorities into areas where councils are already struggling to pay the bills.

The end result will be lower council tax for the rich and cuts to public services for the rest of us.  And this, some would claim, is the Tory’s most popular policy.  If that is true then a lot of people need to have a serious fucking word with themselves.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Picket Lord Fraud In Manchester – 27th June

lord-fraud-freudMinister for Welfare Reform Lord Fraud and Housing Minister Mark Prisk will both be speaking at the national exhibition and conference of the social housing industry, Housing 2013, in Manchester on 27th June.

Manchester Against The Bedroom Tax have called morning picket to greet the Tory filth outside Manchester Central Conference Centre from 9am.  Facebook event 

A protest has also been called earlier in the week on the 25th June to Lobby the Landlords, the social housing providers who will be present at the three day beano.  Facebook event

Those not in Manchester can join in on twitter, where the conference organisers will be tweeting from @CIH_Housing2013 using the hashtag #housing2013

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Thatcher Death Party, UK Uncut and DPAC Make It Personal

dpac-idsUp to 3000 people from across the UK flocked to Thatcher’s Death Party in Trafalgar Square last night for a boisterous celebration despite the pouring rain.

The long awaited party finished off a day of anti-Tory action which also saw the street containing Lord Fraud’s posh Highgate townhouse occupied whilst Disabled People Against Cuts took the fight against welfare reform to Iain Duncan Smith’s front lawn (pictured above).

Not to be outdone, George Osborne’s constituency office was picketed in Cheshire whilst protests also took place in Brixton, Chelmsford and Birmingham.  Meanwhile anti-workfare protesters took on Homebase over their continued use of unpaid labour with protests outside their stores in London and Bristol.

A theme of all these events is accountability, whether that be taking companies to task for exploiting government policies to get free labour, or personally challenging the politicians who made those policies.

For too long a barely elected political class have remained immune to the consequences of their actions.  Hidden away in their countryside mansions, they barely ever meet the victims of their policies.  The national joke which is the House of Commons resembles little more than a public school debating society.  When a simpering idiot like George Osborne condemns millions to poverty he should be stricken with terror that a member of the opposition will leap across the house and stove his head in with the mace.  Instead Ed Balls makes silly gestures with his hands and his chums gaffaw at the hilarity of it all.

And then they all have drinkies, in the same bars and the same clubs, safe in the knowledge that they are with people just like them.

UK Uncut and DPAC made it personal yesterday and helped to burst the bubble of privilege that politicians have come to take for granted.  The Thatcher Death Party showed that even in death they will be held to account.

Much of the media – who drink in the same bars and clubs as MPs and went to the same schools and universities – have played down last nights raucous events in Trafalgar Square.  Yet three thousand people coming out onto the streets at short notice in the pouring rain to celebrate the death of a former Prime Minister is unprecedented in modern history.  And despite some petty police provocation, the event remained what it was intended to be, a celebration of the end of a rancid tyrant’s life.

The handful of EDL stragglers called out by the Daily Telegraph failed to make an impact on the festivities whilst any attempts at aggressive policing were firmly dealt with by the crowd.  But this didn’t spoil the mood and the drink flowed until late into the night until the constant rain caused even the hardiest to head for the pub.

As austerity really begins to bite this year, it will be Thatcher’s legacy, not her corpse, that draws mass protest and civil disorder.  But for all who suffered under her government, it was good to know that even in her passing she was still despised.

There’s more action to come this week aimed at stopping welfare reform, with a protest against the benefit cap in Stratford tomorrow (Monday 15th) whilst Liverpool begins a week of action against workfare.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Telling Truth About Universal Credit Would Be ‘Mental’ Admits DWP Chief

universal-credit-shambles“I’m not going to give you anything other than the official line. I’m not mental.” Graham Mowat from the DWP Universal Credit directorate.

A senior member of the DWP team currently bungling welfare reform suggested he would be ‘mental’ to say anything other than the official line when questioned whether Universal Credit would really be rolled out in October this year according the public sector website 24dash,

Mowat made the shocking statement whilst speaking at the National Housing Federation Finance Conference. People with mental health conditions are likely to be some of those worst affected by the new social security regime as the use of ever more punishing benefit sanctions are inflicted on those judged not trying hard enough to find work. Mowat’s choice of language reveals the flippant attitude at the DWP towards those whose lives are set to be plunged into chaos by the new system.

Mowat also reportedly gave an explanation for the apparent disappearance of Lord Fraud’s budgeting support for so-called vulnerable claimants – first reported on here over a month ago.

It seems that the Treasury has finally cut off the money supply – which is particularly revealing in the wake of accusations that work has stopped on building the complex IT system that underlies Universal Credit. 

One thing seems certain, which is that the very visible chaos at the DWP is nothing compared to what’s going on behind the scenes as Iain Duncan Smith’s endless brutal and bodged schemes unravel.

Bodged Government Spam Site to be at the Heart of Benefit Reforms

Universal-creditDWP documents confirm that the Universal Jobmatch website, the government job search site plagued by spam, scams and spoof vacancies, will be at the heart of the new conditionality for claiming benefits.

Lord Fraud’s recent begging letter to local councils asking for help with the Universal Credit shambles reveals the first scant details of how the new benefit system may (or may not) work in practice.

The document features a “claimant’s journey” which details how people will access the new benefit.  Claimants, many of whom will have never used a computer or don’t have access to broadband, will first need to open an online Universal Credit account.  It is anticipated many people may have to attend some form of training or support from local authorities or other agencies to learn how to make an initial claim.

Claimants will then be expected to provide the necessary documents for the claim, such as proof of identity, information on sickness or disabilities, details of children and any income or savings.  This is also likely to include the vast reams of evidence required to claim Housing Benefits, such as Tenancy Agreements and in some cases even bank statements.  It has not been explained how claimants will be expected to provide this information, but it sounds like another trip to the Jobcentre.

After the claim has been submitted claimants will be scheduled to an interview.  At this interview they will lectured on what they need to do to look for work and be “made aware of the support available to them including Universal Jobmatch”.

Only then will a decision on a Universal Credit claim be made.  This is Lord Fraud’s idea of simplifying the benefit system, by moving:  “claimants towards self service and automation and away from face to face delivery”.

universal-jobmatchThe document also gives information on what will be expected of claimants to maintain a claim.  This gives the clearest indication yet that DWP snooping via the bodged Universal Jobmatch website will be at the heart of the new benefits regime. Lord Fraud’s currently non-existent advisors are encouraged to:

“Ensure claimants are aware their obligations in receiving UC eg to look for work, and of all the support available to them to assist them in finding work including helping them to set up a jobmatch account and create a CV/sign up for job matching”

When Universal Credit is launched, five million people will face the same job-seeking conditions as those currently on unemployment benefits.

Part time or low income self-employed workers will be expected to constantly look for ‘more or better paid work’.  There will be unprecedented powers for the DWP to force single parents and sick or disabled claimants into endless ‘job related activity’ – which could include workfare.

The only possible way the DWP can police this draconian regime is to spy on people’s job seeking activity via the Government jobs website, Universal Jobmatch,

It is currently not mandatory for claimants to register with Universal Jobmatch, although Iain Duncan Smith has said that it will become so at some point this year.  Even then however,  unless Iain Duncan Smith changes privacy laws, claimants will not have to give the DWP access to their accounts.  According to the department’s own figures, only around half of claimants so far have ticked the box which allows jobcentre staff to monitor use of the website.

It is believed that the DWP will attempt to subvert privacy and cookie laws by expecting people to use computers inside Jobcentres to look for work on the website.   These are Jobcentres and computers which will already be overwhelmed by people making initial Universal Credit claims and forwarding their monthly income details to the DWP.  It is also expected that unemployed claimants will still be expected to continue to sign on fortnightly as they do at the moment.

The upcoming chaos is hard to imagine, even for those who have followed the shambolic welfare reforms.  Imagine a busy Jobcentre, seeing three times the number of people than they do currently, many of whom will be seriously unwell, or have kids running round.  Then cram in your local civic centre or Housing Benefit office.

On top of that throw in a packed internet cafe full of people who in many cases have never used a computer.  Some of these people may have literacy difficulties, some may not be able to read or even speak English, some will have drug or alcohol problems, many will no doubt be furious due to missed payments or delays.

Lord Fraud, with his gilded toff’s existence, knows nothing of this world.  For the rest of us it is already all too familiar.  There is no mass recruitment planned at the DWP to deal with this extra workload.  Jobcentres and benefit offices are already creaking under the strain of recession.  Many of the agencies Lord Fraud expects to help so-called vulnerable people make claims for Universal Credit have closed due to cuts.

Many have expected the IT behind the new welfare system, which depends on the largest and most complex database ever constructed by a government, to be the main obstacle facing Universal Credit.  In truth, even if it works (stop laughing),  it is only the beginning of the DWP’s problems.

Read Lord Fraud begging local authorities for help at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/uc-local-service-support-framework.pdf

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Lord Fraud’s Debt Trap Has Been Abandoned As He Begs Local Councils For Help

lord-fraud-freudIt now seems clear that Lord Fraud’s debt trap, under which claimant’s struggling to manage the new benefits system would be expected to pay for budgeting support, has been abandoned.

Last year the bungling toff launched a tender exercise for ‘financial products’ to help claimants manage the change over to Universal Credit.  Typically this was an attempt to hand over yet more of tax payers cash to profit hungry private companies who would be given the chance to run claimant’s financial affairs.  A range of proposals were threatened, including jam jar accounts and smart cards.

In a major u-turn, it now seems that this has all been abandoned and Lord Fraud is attempting to shift the problem onto Local Authorities.  With less than two months to go before the first claims for Universal Credit are processed, a major – if potentially disastrous policy – has been scrapped and nothing put in its place.

A document released by the DWP (PDF)  sees Lord Fraud begging local councils to help rescue him from the shambles by asking for help designing services for the most vulnerable claimants – something that should have been addressed months ago.

The appeal for help gives a hint of the shambles behind the scenes as DWP Ministers find out exactly why the benefits system was quite complicated.  With no prior understanding of the social security system, Lord Fraud really is making it up as he goes along.   Rent payments will be monthly, except when they won’t be, payments will always go direct to claimants, except when they go to landlords, the benefit will be digital by default except when it isn’t, and all Housing Benefit claims will be centrally handled by the DWP, except for the ones that won’t be.

Some of the more intractable problems, such as providing a broadband based service in an area that doesn’t have broadband cover, are glibly glossed over:

“Rural areas where broadband is not yet widespread may also present a special challenge here that will need to be managed with local support.”

What does he expect, fucking telepathy?

The only sliver of good news for claimants is that when the unravelling of Universal Credit begins in April this year, only a tiny number of claimants will be affected.  The initial pilot will only include new, single Job Seekers Allowance claimants in a few postcodes in Manchester.  These are claimants who by and large will have recently lost their jobs.  This pilot will tell the DWP nothing about how Universal Credit will work in practice with groups which require more support.

Millions of people’s live are set to be plunged into chaos as Universal Credit is expanded over the next few years.  The ongoing comedy show at the DWP will be anything but funny as Lord Fraud and Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled reforms demolish what’s left of the welfare state.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Has Lord Fraud Bungled the Universal Credit Launch?

lord-fraud-freudEvidence is emerging that a vital component of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms -  intended to protect vulnerable tenants and social landlords alike – has been bungled by Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Fraud.

The ‘financial products’ which Lord Fraud promised would support low income tenants with budgeting when the new payment structure is introduced don’t appear to actually exist.

To much fanfare Lord Fraud announced last September that private companies were being invited to create ‘financial products’ to help claimants manage their money under the new regime.  A tender was issued which astonishingly revealed that claimants were to be charged for this service and also seemed to include a possible entry point for High Street loan sharks to trap claimants in debt.

The successful bidders were supposed to be announced last December.  They weren’t and no explanation was ever given why.  The only clue as to what’s actually going on comes from allpay.net, a company eager to get their greedy hands on some tax payers cash via the welfare reforms.

According to them“allpay was one of a number of financial providers that attended the DWP’s procurement day and had been expecting the DWP tender in November. However, following a revised timetable for the procurement, allpay is not expecting to be updated on the DWP’s position until January. The department has also warned suppliers not to expect a tender in either January or February.”

Universal Credit is due to be begin in April, which means that the protection for so called vulnerable claimants that Lord Fraud has long promised, will not be ready for the launch.

This may come as a shock to Social Housing providers who have repeatedly warned that they anticipate losing millions due to the change in the way benefits are paid.  This will create a homelessness double whammy as more tenants are evicted for rent arrears, and social housing providers have less money to build new houses.

When Universal Credit begins in April this year, claimants will receive payments monthly as opposed to fortnightly or weekly as most do now.  Housing Benefit payments, which many claimants currently have paid direct to landlords, will in future be paid to tenants.

This has led to concerns from Social Housing providers that many tenants – already struggling under the tsunami of cuts – will find it difficult to balance budgets and are likely to slip into rent arrears.  A series of pilots of the new payments system has revealed these fears to be well founded, with rent arrears doubling in areas where the new system was trialled.

Up until recently Lord Fraud’s new ‘financial products’ were the answer to all these problems as he claimed:  “Accounts that provide people with extra budgeting services could help to ensure people’s essential bills are covered – helping them to build up their credit rating and break the cycle of financial exclusion.

“We are anticipating the call for new financial products may open up a new market place, where competition is strong.”

In a downbeat speech this week Lord Fraud did not even mention the bodged procurement, instead garbling:  “we recognise that there will always be some hard cases. Where this is the case vulnerable claimants could be made an exception to the payment rules for a period of time. Budgeting support will also be made available to support these individuals so that they can make a successful transition over time to the Universal Credit standard monthly payment.”

Not for the first time, it sounds like he’s making it up as he goes along and his ‘financial products’ seem long since forgotten.

Lord Fraud hasn’t been given much to do when it comes to the nitty gritty of welfare reform.  Iain Duncan Smith may be stupid, but he’s clever enough to know that all the old fraud is good for is standing round looking posh.

But these financial products were his chance to show that he isn’t just some comedy toff with a pervy grandad. And he fucked it up.  The truth is the Minister for Welfare Reform couldn’t run a bath without flooding out the building and getting his knob stuck in the plug hole.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Lord Fraud Announces Atos For Everyone!

atos_dr_nickBungling Minister for Welfare Reform, the aptly named Lord Fraud, has today announced that Atos style assessments are to be introduced into the workplace.

The Government is to provide new Occupational Health services for any business that needs them, with the aim of cutting down absence in the workplace due to sickness.

It is claimed that the new ‘advisory and assessments service’  is about preventing people ending up on what’s left of sickness benefits. In truth it is about giving employers the chance to over-ride GP’s decisions on whether someone is too ill to work.

In an announcement today the DWP claim: “Under the current system, the vast majority of fit notes declare employees to be unfit for work.”

‘Fit notes’ are what used to be called ‘sick notes’, but the term was changed recently in yet more Orwellian language mangling by the DWP.  The reason for this change is now clear.  An announcement that the vast majority of sick notes declare employees to be unfit for work would sound a bit silly after all.

Lord Fraud seems to want to be to force people to work even when their own doctor says they are too  ill.  Far from stopping people ending up on sickness benefits, the outcome is likely to be yet more dismissals and more unemployment.  People who are ill are likely to be dragged into the work place after a quick chat with an assessor, or presumably they will face the sack.

It is unclear so far who will carry out these new state funded Occupational Health services, but no doubt Atos – who carry out the desperately flawed Work Capability benefit assessments – will be chomping at the bit at the thought of yet more tax payer’s cash.

Every week people die of their conditions shortly after being declared ‘fit for work’ by Atos.  The stressful process had led to a tragically increasing number of suicides.  Lord Fraud’s announcement means it will no longer be sick and disabled claimants forced into these kind of demeaning and crude health checks, but anyone with the cheek to take a couple of days off with the flu.

Atos already carry out occupational health already for hundreds of thousands of both public and private sector employers.  In yet another corporate subsidy, it now seems that firms who can’t afford a company like Atos to bully staff will have one subsidised by the tax payer.

Atos also offer consultancy in ‘headcount reduction’.  Some people have even been found unfit for work and sacked on the company’s recommendation, and then found ‘fit for work’ at their benefit assessment.

Lord Fraud’s announcement is yet another attack on the working conditions of everyone and viciously undermines the autonomy of doctors.  Anyone left who thinks the war on welfare is just about attacking so called ‘benefit scroungers’ should pay careful attention.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Is Lord Fraud Laying A Debt Trap For Benefit Claimants?

lord-fraud-freudBenefit claimants who struggle to manage their budgets when Universal Credit is introduced are to be charged to use the new ‘financial products’ that Lord Freud and the DWP are implementing.

Up to 2.5 million claimants are estimated to need some support when the new welfare and Tax Credit system is introduced next year,  which will make benefit payments monthly for the first time.  Claimants will also no longer have the option to have rent payments sent direct to landlords.

The DWP has invited banks, mobile phone companies, smart card companies (ominously) and any other private sector shark who’d like a slice of the benefit bill,to bid for a whopping £145 million worth of contracts to design budgeting support.  Despite this huge sum claimants are expected to be charged for any continuing support once they have been on the new benefit over 12 months.  The contract specifications say:

“DWP intends to enable claimants to access financial products that offer budgeting support by subsidising the cost of these products for an interim period of one year per claimant as they transition onto Universal Credit. At the end of the initial subsidised period DWP will withdraw the subsidy. The claimant will then choose whether they wish to continue using the account, with either themselves or a third party meeting the ongoing monthly cost:”

The new products will give private companies unprecedented control over claimant’s money, with suggestions that some cash could be ring-fenced to pay bills or debts.  The exact details of any scheme are not yet known as Lord Freud has thrown caution to the wind and decided that  the ‘final design will be open to the market to devise’.

This is the same reckless approach that helped devise the dire Work Programme and the shambolic Universal Jobmatch website, two of the DWP’s recent large scale hands outs to the private sector.

Of most concern however is the potential for abuse of those claimants who are genuinely vulnerable and worried about managing money under the new regime.  The poverty pimps brought into manage the scheme will have just 12 months to ensnare claimants into depending on their new financial products.

With banks invited to bid for the contract, no doubt High Street loan sharks have also got their greedy eyes on the latest DWP money pit.  One way to trap claimants into using the service is to trap them in debt.  For the first time, credit histories of potential borrowers will be irrelevant.  Companies involved in this scheme will have access to claimant’s money at the source, meaning there is no choice but to pay back any loans that may be offered.

Lord Freud has stated that products must help claimants ‘build up their credit rating’.  One way to build up a credit rating is to borrow money.  Is the ex-banker dropping a hint to his old chums in the financial sector that here is a way to entrap the very poorest in an inescapable lifetime of debt?

We should find out later this month when the contracts are announced.

The tender details are available at: http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:296147-2012:TEXT:EN:HTML&src=0

Already plans have been announced to make Hardship Payments into loans.  These are the meagre payments which can sometimes be claimed when benefits have been sanctioned and are currently worth about £40 a week.  Under new measures claimants can now face benefit sanctions of up to three years, with Housing Benefits also now to be stopped.  This means those in extreme poverty will have to borrow Hardship Payments to pay rent and possibly Council Tax leading to sanctioned benefit claimants being forced to borrow money from the government to pay tax!

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid