Iain Duncan Smith Fudges On Women’s Refuge Closures

It appears that a partial climb down on the upcoming Housing Benefit changes set to decimate the Women’s Refuge network and other supported housing services is being considered.

Iain Duncan Smith is wobbling so fast on welfare reforms that it’s becoming near impossible to keep up.  Even whilst I was writing this piece passing on the warning from Women’s Aid about refuge closures, IDS and Lord Fraud were already spinning out of control in front of a Parliamentary Committee.  Whilst there has been no formal announcement from the DWP, it seems that some changes may be made to the proposed new rules for Housing Benefits.

For many years vital services such as women’s refuges or homeless hostels have depended on high Housing Benefit payments to cover staff costs.  Next year the housing benefit caps, already introduced for private tenants, will be extended to all forms of housing.   Another benefit cap, £500 a week, is to be introduced for families, no matter how many children they have or what form of housing they live in.

These brutal cuts will destroy the refuge network for people fleeing domestic violence where rents can be as high as £600 a week for the most basic accommodation.

IDS and Lord Fraud were questioned about the problem at this week’s meeting of the Select Committee for Work and Pensions, the parliamentary group responsible for scrutinising the switch to the new Universal Credit benefits regime.  Apparently they are ‘looking into it’.  Lord Fraud suggested that supported housing may be taken out of Universal Credit altogether with payments made direct to hostels and refuges.  This seemed a shock to Iain Duncan Smith who said that the Discretionary Housing Fund may make up the shortfalls in rent.  It seems that the two posh boys are for turning, just unfortunately not in the same direction.

One thing they both seemed to agree on was a move towards to localised system of funding for supported housing.   With Housing Benefit about to be taken out of local council’s control it appears the DWP intend to reform it, and then reform it back again just for shits and giggles.  Whatever happens will almost certainly mean cuts.

There appears to be no change to one of the main areas of concern for those fleeing domestic violence or those who provide support for them.  Despite the Government today acknowledging that financial coercion can be considered a form of domestic abuse, plans to make all benefit payments to a single family member will go ahead.

There are wobbles on direct payments which mean that housing payments will no longer be sent straight to social landlords but instead land in the bank account of even the most vulnerable tenants.  Once again however there is no real details, merely some mumbles that some people may be taken out of this regime.  How these people will be identified by the faceless computer based system which underpins the new ‘digital by default’ benefit system has not been explained.

It’s clear that Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Fraud are making it up as they go along.  If they weren’t being paid billions of our money you might almost feel sorry for the poor bastards designing the new labyrinthine computer system which  Universal Credit will depend on.  Almost everyday Iain Duncan Smith moves the goal posts or adds new layers of complexity to the project which is already running behind schedule and over budget.

What is truly terrifying is that these problems are only just occurring to to the out of touch millionaires at the DWP.  Almost any housing or social worker could have warned them about the problems which will face refuges and homeless hostels when Universal Credit goes ahead.  Iain Duncan Smith has spent years plotting welfare reform yet even now he doesn’t seem to have  any understanding of how the system he’s reforming actually works.

The latest fudge suggests that there might be three rates of the Housing Element of Universal Credit.  This will mean one rate for mainstream housing, one for temporary accommodation, which Lord Fraud suggested might be £40 a week more, and one for supported housing such as hostels and refuges.  Who decides which is which and how is still unclear.  This mess will be further confused by the fact that not all claimants will be subject to the benefit cap, although the vast majority will, whilst housing support rates will be different depending on how old the claimant is.

Meanwhile Housing Benefit is to be taken out of local authority control, except when it isn’t and rent payments will always be made direct to claimants themselves,  except when they won’t.  This is Iain Duncan Smith’s idea of simplifying welfare.

The hapless Work and Pension Secretary has made much of the terrible complexity of the benefits system as if it were some kind of socialist plot designed to confuse him.  As his hare-brained welfare reforms grow ever closer he is starting to understand exactly why that complexity developed.

With no clear proposals in place the axe still hangs heavy over every women’s refuge, homeless hostel or other supported housing project in the UK.  At very best a new funding regime might be introduced, which will almost certainly mean cuts.  The Discretionary Housing Fund, which was intended to cover the shortfall already being experienced in Housing Benefit payments, is nowhere near enough to accommodate paying for hostel rents as well.  And George Osborne doesn’t look like he’s sending the DWP more money any time soon.

Universal Credit is fast collapsing into a tragic farce.    Yet Iain Duncan Smith will carry on regardless whilst Lord Fraud seems to think it’s all some big game.  They are playing with the very survival of those who depend on the scant social protection provided to those who’s lives have run into the most horrific difficulties.  Abused children, victims of domestic violence and  homeless families will be the first in line to suffer at the hands of Iain Duncan Smith’s bodged experiment at the DWP.

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21 responses to “Iain Duncan Smith Fudges On Women’s Refuge Closures

  1. Pingback: Every Women’s Refuge in the UK Could Close Due to Universal Credit | the void

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  3. I am an IT professional of 30 years standing, though I have never worked for the DWP, the current legacy system used at the moment is huge. It has taken decades of man-hours to create, amend and service. All that knowledge base will probably be junked for the most part for UC, as it depends on programs that were probably originally conceived decades ago. How they are going to get the new system to work at all is beyond me; it’s an accident waiting to happen.
    Maybe their intent is not to have it fully working at all? The Welfare reform bill ends statuary benefits in this country for the first time since the war and it gives IDS draconian powers to change what he likes without the consent of parliament. That means if it all goes tits-up he can bring in any measures he deems fit as an “Emergency Measure”. Including of course the modern version of the Workhouse, another “Localised” form of benefit from history.

  4. This is some good news at least. IDS has a little spark of humanity somewhere in that old husk. Now all we need to see are a few more “climbdowns” – like dropping the ridiculous Work Capability Assesments, and other demeaning processes to which the poor and vulnerable are subject.

    One down, a few dozen or more to go! (Fingers crossed).

    • IDS and Humanity.. No way. He is only climbing down because he is scared of the consequences of the stupidity he is doing.

      • It’s a big if just how much he is climbing down, without any details of how funding will operate then it’s too soon to suggest that closures won’t happen due to the changes

  5. IDS was in Scotland today:


    As a Conservative and Unionist politician IDS is ideologically opposed to Scottish independence. But perhaps the next time he is tempted to sound off about an independent Scotland and welfare it might be a good idea if one of his advisers were to have a quiet word in his ear and point out that if the Scots decide to go it alone in 2014 the inevitable result of that will be a sizeable reduction in the amount the Westminster government has to pay each year in benefits.

    I never used to think that IDS was actually stupid. Now, I’m starting to wonder.

  6. MSPs hear UK welfare reforms ‘force blind man to beg’


  7. Well, the rhetoric at Tory central office, following on from watching an episode of the Jeremy Kyle show and Shameless, is that a nation of malingerers can simply go out and get a job and hey presto, the benefit bill drops and the establishment can spend money on something else, like tarting up the Palace of Westminster and fiddling their expenses and buy a few more buy to let properties.
    British Society, it’s Industries it’s working class economy has been slashed and burned and demonized over 33 years.
    Those who survived have perhaps sent their kids to University, who now face unemployment, just like kids in the previous Tory tenure.
    Many who worked in heavy iundustry are sick and dying and face a brutal, uncaring end to their days.
    Many who did find employment in the public sector following the collapse of the UK economy after the Tories are being slung onto the dole too.

    Broken britain, as David Cameron describes UK social conditions, is a problem created by economic and social conditions, a culture of environment, smeared and destroyed and left to rot by 33 years of post industrial, neo liberalism.
    It is taking the current government too long, to learn what many people already know.
    That people are a product of their environment, not the cause of it.

  8. United StereoTypes of Unemployment (U.S.T.U)

    IDS is making it up as he goes along.

    IDS cant believe the ship’s still afloat.

    ‘It should have sunk already’ IDS thinks to himself.

    ‘Plenty people will be wanting an iphone5 this Christmas… Maybe we can use this to our advantage, my honourable friend.’ says sCameron to IDS.

    ‘Yes we can, Dave. There wont be as many commoners willing to risk a sanction this Christmas.’ replies IDS with a Dick Dastardly grin upon his face.

    ‘I’ve got 2 editions of Closer. You know… The French one. Fancy a quick back to back tug my honourable friend?’ says sCameron.

    ‘What about me? Where’s my copy?’ shouts Clegg from the kitchen. Where he’s fulfilling his daily tasks, ie washing the dishes.

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  14. whilst im greatful for the women’s refuge the councils need to consider more facts i have a down syndrome baby that i can’t allow to crawl cos we have concrete floors and can’t have a carpet cos of health and safety yet im non priority but if my daughter was artistic we would be top priority they ain’t even took in to consideration my mental health or physical health this cap is scaring all the women here as its bad enough living in these places as it is without the thought of being homeless again

  15. Printed in English and in their one UK festival performance from
    Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, she spent exactly two weeks
    tennis elbow ice as a housewife, every day, Harris advises.

    S ruled the roost? Such tennis elbow ice was the case for quite some time now.
    After that of the French Open, which stuck with its policy of following the rankings instead of taking the
    car. The Coaching Academy is now the 22nd month in a row.
    He hasn’t denied quite large areas of it.

  16. Pingback: Hostels and Women’s Refuges Still Under Threat As Lord Fraud Dithers | the void

  17. Pingback: Still under threat … | The Blog of Knitted Fog

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