Category Archives: DWP

Hunger, Homelessness and Despair, The Stark Reality of the Benefit Cap

benefit-cap2It is hard to imagine a more poisonous piece of legislation than the lowered Benefit Cap, set to be introduced this Autumn, which will plunge quarter of a million children into desperate housing insecurity and possible homelessness.

This will be the third time that the Benefit Cap – which limits the weekly amount that can be received in benefits – has been lowered in just five years.  In 2011 George Osborne capped Housing Benefit in a sweeping move which made much of central London unaffordable for those unable to work due to childcare responsibilities, sickness or unemployment.  Then in 2013 benefits were capped further, at £500 a week for a family with children, extending the problem of unaffordability out to Greater London, the Home Counties and beyond, with many large cities seeing families affected.  And now the cap is to be lowered again, to around £440 a week in London and £384 elsewhere.

On average this means families set to lose £60 a week according to an Impact Assessment published by the DWP last week and it will no longer be just a London problem.  Leeds, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Bradford are all likely to have at least 1000 households affected whilst in Birmingham 3,900 households will face an abrupt cut in housing benefits.  It is not the fault of struggling families that rents in the UK have soared out of reach in many areas which has led to the growing Housing Benefit bill.  It is the result a failure to build enough low cost housing.  But it is the poor who will pay.


The government claim the Benefit Cap has been a huge success, pointing to a series of evaluations that showed a small rise in the number of people subject to the cap who found work.  But behind these celebratory statistics lies a bitter truth.  It has become common, in evaluations of DWP policy, to use ‘job outcomes’ to justify any atrocity.  Someone hangs themselves after being found fit for work and having their benefits stopped – well this is just fine because someone else got a job in Poundland.  No other social policies would be evaluated this way.  It is like testing a new drug and completely ignoring deadly side effects on the basis that a handful of people’s health had slightly improved.


With families facing eviction due to the Benefit Cap it has indeed forced many to desperately look for any job they can find.  Those able to find between work, of between 16 and 30 hours a week  depending on their circumstances, become exempt from the cap leading many to hound their employers for more hours, often unsuccessfully.


For the 18% of claimants affected by the Benefit Cap who are long term sick or disabled this of course has not been an option.  Despite repeated lies from DWP ministers that disabled people are not affected by the cap this only applies to those with the most serious health conditions or disabilities.  Claimants of the sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance are not exempt from the cap if health assessors decide their condition may improve in the future.  Many claimants are battling ill health as well as facing the prospect of losing their homes.


Neither is simply finding a job a realistic solution for those with very young children, or even babies.  This hasn’t stopped many local councils simply shrugging off the upcoming trauma faced by those with young children who face losing their homes.


What the interviews with claimants do seem to suggest is that if the cap has had any impact at all, it has been to encourage lone parents to seek work before they felt their children were ready to be left alone.


These were parents who intended to go back to work anyway.  Others have had dreams of furthering their education shattered by the cap.


Sometimes it has not been the claimant themselves who was affected.


Rarely has government policy had such a devastating impact on children’s lives.  Behind the lauded ‘job outcomes’ lies a trail of destitution.  Countless families have reported being left without enough money for food.  Huge numbers are in rent arrears.  Many have been forced to move – at the time of the most recent evaluation 10% of households had moved house due to the cap.  These evaluations were carried in 2014 however, meaning many families covered by the reports would have only been subject to the cap for a short period.  The growing rise in homeless families, especially in London, points to the devastating long term impact of the Benefit Cap.


Punishing children with homelessness because of the eye-watering rents demanded by landlords is a new low for even the Tory Party, but it is the upcoming lowering of the cap which will perhaps inflict the greatest cruelty.  According to last week’s impact assessment, “those already capped at £26,000 will have the new, lower, cap applied to them.”  This is estimated to be around 22,000 households.  These are families that may have already moved to a cheaper area and are just starting to get their lives back on track.  They are the families featured in the quotes that accompany this piece.  Some of the poorest people in the UK, already struggling to survive and raise their children.

And now the government is coming for them again.  Imagine explaining to a young child just settling into a new school, who may have recently faced a spell in temporary housing that they now have to go through it all again.  A child just starting to make friends to replace the ones they lost due to the last forced relocation will now be looking at a future in yet another new school, or even another new city.


Most of those facing the Benefit Cap are women, usually lone parents.  Black and Ethnic Minority families are hugely over-represented amongst those affected, as are disabled people.  For those unable to find work or increase their hours their options are stark.  Many have only been able to stay in their homes due to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) paid by local authorities to families facing imminent homelessness.  These payments will not last forever and are increasingly being used to meet the cost of housing families in temporary accommodation.  A recent homelessness update from Westminster Council (H/t @nearlylegal) showed that around half of the borough’s spend on DHP’s is paying for temporary accommodation for those made homeless due to the benefit cap.  It is only now that Local Authorities are starting to feel the impact of the Benefit Cap introduced in 2013. With a new further cut set to pile on the pressure even further homelessness amongst those with children could soar to levels not seen in generations in the UK.

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New Disability Tests Are Even Worse Than First Feared, Join The Fightback On July 13th


Disabled people have called a day of action against notoriously crap Capita on July 13th

Vital benefits – designed to meet the additional costs of living with a disability – have been stripped away completely from over 120,00 people DWP statistics revealed this week.

Over a quarter of those previously claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) have lost their benefits after being re-assessed by a private company as no longer having sufficient care or mobility needs to qualify for help.  Savage new benefit eligibility tests have been introduced as part of the switch to Personal Independence Payments (PIP), which is gradually replacing DLA.  So far 27% of those facing this re-assessment have lost their benefit with hundreds of thousands of people still to be tested.  Originally the government claimed 20% of people would lose their benefits due to the change-over.  Chillingly it now appears it could be much worse.  For newly disabled people the situation is even more dire, with only 48% of new claims for PIP being successful.

The shocking statistics come after disabled people announced a day of action against Capita, one of the companies who administer the tests – the other being the despised Atos.  Disabled People Againsts Cuts (DPAC)Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Winvisible have joined forces to call for demonstrations in towns and cities across the UK on July 13th aimed at bringing these vile assessments to an end.

In London demonstrators will gather outside Capita’s offices at 71 Victoria Street, SW1 from 13.15.  An online protest will also be held on the day.  Please join and share the facebook page for the latest details of all events.  As the protesters say:

“ATOS and Capita are making a killing from conducting sham PIP assessments which are seeing thousands of legitimate claimants having their benefits reduced, their incomes slashed and their motorbility cars removed.”

It is time to up the struggle and to demand that the corporate assessors #DoNoHarm”

The latest PIP statistics can be found at:

This blog is likely to remain sporadic until after the referendum, and possibly a bit after that.

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Like Feeding Time At The Fucking Zoo – Workfare Industry Hijacks In-Work Sanctions Inquiry

snouts“ERSA believes it would be more appropriate to utilise the skills and experience which exists in the employment provider community”  The Employment Related Service Association (ERSA – the trade body established to lie on behalf of the employment provider community – better known as the workfare industry)

“We strongly believe that such in-work support should be contracted out, and would suggest that the existing work-based learning infrastructure would be in a prime position to achieve the results required.”  Association of Employment and Learning Providers (also ERSA, more or less).

“Stronger alignment and integration of housing associations into Universal Support and in-work employment support would help engage those facing complex barriers and improve outcomes” – National Housing Federation who represent housing associations.

“The Government should take a holistic approach to in-work progression, ensuring that employers, skills providers and employment support organisations are all involved.” Remploy, better known as Maximus, who can handily claim to be an employer, a skills provider and an employment support organisation.

“National Numeracy can help identify, assess and address poor numeracy …  among job seekers …” – National Numeracy

“The Department for Work and Pensions should therefore look to other organisations who deliver specialist job retention and in-work services with a strong track record.” Mental health charity MIND (hint, hint)

“If Universal Credit is to be truly ‘universal’ then no claimant groups should be exempt.” – Workfare company Learn Direct

“We think that charities could play an important role in the delivery of in-work progression.”   –  lone parent charity Gingerbread

“Specialist organisations already providing support to vulnerable claimants are a key resource. “ Homelessness charity Centrepoint .

“Delivery of pilots, research, consultation and communication could be achieved in partnership with BITC and its business membership base.”  BITC (Business in the Community)

It’s like feeding time at the fucking zoo.  The above quotes come from submissions to the recent government inquiry into changes to the social security system which will see benefit sanctions for part time workers.  This means that when Universal Credit is finally introdeced then claimants without a full time job will face payments being stopped or reduced for non-compliance with Jobcentre demands to  constantly look for more or better paid work.  They could even be sent on workfare in the hours they are not working.   The Work and Pensions Select Committee, a group of MPs who scrutinise DWP policy, carried out the enquiry into these measures which are already being piloted in some parts of the UK.

The responses to the inquiry from the welfare-to-work industry  – the toxic mixture of private companies and so-called charities involved in mandatory workfare and training programmes – were united in one demand.  They all want some money in the form of juicy government contracts to run any future scheme.

This is despite them almost all acknowledging that introducing benefit conditionality for part time workers has never been tried anywhere in the world and that there is no evidence it will be effective.  It is also despite the fact that the proposed system is to be backed by a horrifying benefit sanctions regimes which will see even those with jobs living in unprecedented poverty if they are sanctioned.  And of course it ignores the stark reality that it is near certain that no part-time worker in history has ever wished they could be sent on an unpaid work scheme or mandatory CV workshop in the hours they are not working.

It is true that many charities say they are opposed to sanctions for part-time workers whilst even the more naked profiteers such as private companies like Maximus raise concerns.  ERSA, who represent the industry, have used the enquiry to lobby for all in-work conditionality to be managed outside of Jobcentres – a long standing aim from an organisation which seeks to place all DWP services in private hands.  Others call for sanctions to be fair, or to not affect those they call vulnerable too badly.

Some are transparent in their self-interest such as the National Housing Federation who want ‘stronger integration of housing associations’ into any future scheme suggesting they could act as formal contractors and sub-contractors..  Their only concerns about benefit sanctions are focussed on those with rent arrears or special rent payment arrangements who they say should be excluded from conditionality.

A few submissions call for any in-work conditionality to be voluntary such as the one from Gingerbread, who want working lone parents to be exempt from sanctions.  They also insist however that charities should be involved in running the scheme and it is this that reveals the cynicism that now exists within the voluntary sector.  Gingerbread also oppose benefit sanctions for unemployed single parents.  That didn’t stop them running a lucrative Work Programme scheme where they were contractullay required to report lone parents to the Jobcentre for sanctions in cases of non-compliance.  We hate this, they say, it is unethical and counter to our charity’s objectives.  So we want a lot of money for doing it is the real message.

Of course some submissions to the inquiry were harsh in their criticism.  Boycott Workfare say no claimants should face sanctions whether in work or not and that the record of organisations running mandatory schemes is “a catalogue of corruption, violation of work and safety standards, and abuse.”  Oxfam warn that in-work sanctions are overly punitive, fail to take into account employer behaviour and could drive people into poverty. Parkinson’s UK say that neither the voluntary or the private sector should be involved in any future scheme and slam the ‘systemic failure’ of current benefit related health assessments.  The University of York who have a team studying benefit sanctions say “in practice, in-work conditionality can be counterproductive – undermining work incentives and opportunities rather than reinforcing them.”  And the PCS Union demand that “under no circumstances would it be appropriate to sanction an in-work claimant”, adding “but don’t expect us to do anything about it”.  Actually I added that bit.

The difference between these organisation, and those mentioned previously, is that none of them have been involved in welfare-to-work programmes.  As such there is no financial incentive for them to modify their demands. They have no need or desire to sell out their principles for thirty pieces of silver from the DWP.  So they are rightly damning of these proposals which are based on some horseshit Iain Duncan Smith scribbled down on the back of an envelope one day and new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb is too cowardly to scrap.

In-work benefit sanctions could leave those working part time abandoned to survive on just a few pounds a day, for months, or even years at a time.  They are perhaps the most vicious social security legislation yet, from this or any previous government.  Those sanctioned will face a desperate choice between eating, or paying to get to work.  Homelessness, destitution and unemployment will be the likely outcome for many.  All of the organisations that responded to this enquiry know this.  Some don’t care.  A few oppose it outright and are prepared to say so.  But most are content to whinge a bit and then use the enquiry to make sure that if this system is to be widely introduced then at least they will make some money from it.  Those whopping charity chief executive salaries won’t pay themselves after all.

You can read all the submissions to the inquiry at:

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Fraud And Error Soaring In Universal Credit And Benefit Underpayments Hit Record High


The UK’s biggest benefit scammer Lord Fraud.

Fraud and error in the Universal Credit system is soaring whilst the rate of benefits going unpaid overall has hit a ten year high national statistics released last week have shown.

Statistics examining fraud and error within the benefit’s system are released annually and this is the first year that Universal Credit has been included. Almost 250,000 people are currently claiming the new benefit which is set to eventually replace all mainstream out of work benefits along with tax credits and housing benefit. One of the reasons given by ministers for such sweeping changes to social security was that Universal Credit would help cut fraud and error within the system. Last week’s statistics show that the opposite is happening.

Over-payments due to fraud and error make up 7.3% of Universal Credit’s total expenditure – higher than any other benefit the DWP administrates. The over-payment rate for Jobseeker’s Allowance, the benefit with the nearest comparable caseload of claimants, is just 5%.

Universal Credit’s performance is equally woeful when it comes to people being underpaid their benefits with 2.6% of expenditure not going to those entitled to it. Almost all of this is down to offical rather than claimant error, and once again, it is higher than any other DWP benefit.

Underpayments across all benefits hit 1% last year, the highest figure since comparable figures began in 2005.  And in another record for the DWP, the rate of benefits claimed fraudulently also hit a ten year high – although there is more to be said about this below.

To read lying bastard Lord Fraud’s gushing press release which accompanied these statistics you would not know any of this. Fraud and error combined is at a record low according to the Minister for Welfare Reform, when the truth is that the figure is unchanged since last year. The department also points out that both claimant and official error have fallen to record lows and makes no mention of the rise in fraud that has offset this. Neither do they mention the rise in under-payments.

The truth, as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) explains, is that in 2013/14 a change in how fraud and error were recorded resulted in many cases which were previously viewed as being an error being re-classified as fraud. This is the reason that errors in the most recent period are at record lows and also the reason that fraud over-payments are at record highs. According to the ONS this change means that “results post 2013/14 cannot be directly compared with the earlier results”. Yet that’s exactly what the DWP has done in an attempt to hide the truth about fraud and error within the system.

Despite all this, what the figures show is that fraud within the benefit’s system is very low, at just 0.9% of total expenditure. And even then these figures are rigged to maximise the chances of payments being recorded as claimant fraud rather than error.

The fraud and error statistics are collected by carrying out ‘benefit reviews’ on a small percentage of claimants and then using the outcomes of these reviews to calculate an approximate figure across the entire benefits system. What this means is that a claimant will receive a letter and then be expected to attend an interview where they will be interrogated about their benefit claim. These reviews are carried out at random, so if you get a letter about it don’t shit yourself and try to establish if this is a fraud ivestigation or a benefit review. Fraud investigations are usually carried out under caution, whereby anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.  You should be informed of this.

Two of the more common outcomes to these reviews are that the claimant is untraceble or found to be abroad. This is automatically viewed as being fraud when it could simply be that the claimant has moved house, informed the DWP and it has not been correctly recorded. It could also mean a landlord is still picking up housing benefit payments for a tenant that has long since moved out. Not all benefit fraud is carried out by benefit claimants.

Sometimes when a claimant is scheduled for review they report a change in circumstances or end their claim during the process. Again this is automatically recorded as fraud when it could just be a coincidence and simply mean they got a job. The same applies when there is a ‘loss of claimant contact’ meaning the benefit review is not completed for some unspecified reason. For the purposes of these statistics, an outcome of fraud does not mean someone has been prosecuted, or that a fraud has been admitted. It simply means that benefits were reduced or stopped as a result of the review and the DWP believes that the claimant was deliberately acting fraudulently.

Even with this calculated book-cooking the statistics show one stark fact. The total amount of money lost through fraud in 2015/16 was £1.6 billion and this is less than the amount of benefits which were underpaid which stands at £1.8 billion. Someone’s getting shafted alright, but it’s not the DWP, it’s us. Check your claim, make sure you’re getting every fucking penny you are entitled to.

Read the most recent Fraud and Error statistics and the background notes on how they are calculated (pdf).

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The True Horrors Of In-work Benefit Sanctions Have Not Yet Been Understood

sanction-sabsSo called hard-working people will soon be abandoned to unprecedented poverty when payments intended to cover housing costs are sanctioned for the first time under sweeping reforms to in-work benefits.

When Universal Credit is fully introduced (stop laughing) part-time workers on a low income will be expected to constantly look for more, or better paid work as a condition of receiving vital in-work benefits.  Any failure on the part of claimants to prove that they carried out constant job searching in the hours they were not working will mean benefits are sanctioned.

For claimants who are unemployed the sanction system will remain largely unchanged under Universal Credit.  Those without health problems who are sanctioned will lose all of their personal benefits except what is required to pay for housing costs or children.  This will mean a childless claimant will have no money at all once they have paid their rent – although they may be eligible to apply for emergency Hardship Payments of around £40 a week.  It is this nasty regime that has led to the explosion in foodbanks and been linked to a growing number of suicides.

If this same claimant is in part time work then they may not receive any additional benefits other than the housing element of Universal Credit – the replacement for what is now known as Housing Benefit.  And so, for the first time, it is this benefit which will be sanctioned should they fail to carry out Jobcentre demands to look for additional work.

Working claimants who are sanctioned will lose the same amount as those who are unemployed  – the equivalent of a current weekly dole payment of £71.70.  That means if some is working on a low income and claiming help with their housing costs then £71.70 will be deducted from their benefit.  To see the full horror of how this will play out in some people’s lives then you have to do some sums.

Take a single, childless person in Bristol working at the current minimum wage for 20 hours a week and paying £120 a week in rent – the local housing allowace rate in the area for a claimant over 35.  Under Universal Credit this person will have a weekly income of £244 made up of £144 a week in wages and £100 a week in benefits.  Once their rent is paid this will leave them with £124 a week.  If they are sanctioned however they will lose £73.10 leaving them with just £50.90 a week to live on.  That’s over £20 a week less than the current dole and just £10 a week more than Hardship Payments.  Universal Credit will therefore not make work pay for those who have been sanctioned.  It will however make work compulsory.

The claimant will not be able to leave their job without risking a disallowance – meaning no benefits at all.  In the hours they are not working they will still be expected to carry out work related activity to look for a better job, which under current rules, could include some form of workfare.  The meagre income they receive means they will be unlikely to qualify for additional Hardship Payments.  And astonishingly they are also likely to have to pay Council Tax out of that sum.
In Bristol they would be expected to pay around £9 a week in Council Tax assuming they lived in the lowest possible band.  This brings their weekly income down to about £42 a week – and they are working.

A weeky bus pass in Bristol costs £23.80.  Claimants must be prepared to travel at least 90 minutes on public transport to their job so in most cases this will be a necessary expense.  This will mean hard working people surviving on less than £20 a week for food, clothes, basic hygiene costs and bills.  That of course assumes they aren’t subject to the Bedroom Tax in which case they will get no money at all in some cases, just a steadily increasing debt.

The only real option for most will be to dig into money intended to cover rent.  For working claimants a sanction will mean inevitable rent arrears – and as a sanction can last up to three years – for many it will mean homelessness.  And therefore eventual joblessness.  And with no benefits because losing their job will have been deemed to be their own fault.

This system is designed to ‘incentivise’ people to look for more, or better paid work.  So imagine, by some fucking miracle, that an in-work benefit sanction doesn’t destroy someone, it motivates them.  That they pull their socks up and by some other fucking miracle manage to find an additional job which doesn’t clash with their existing hours.  Let’s say they gain an additional 10 hours a week work on the Minimum Wage.  Will it make any difference?  Barely, because the sanction will still apply unless they have been working full time for a period of six months.

Much of their additional wages will be eaten up by housing costs as their already sanctioned claim is reduced the more they earn.  So somebody working 30 hours a week, with a sanction, in the cicrumstances described above, would receive a total of £207.68 a week in wages and no Universal Credit at all.  After rent and Council Tax is paid that will leave them with £77.  Less than a fiver more than the current dole.  For working 30 hours a week.

There is nothing particularly special about this claimant’s circumstances other than that they live in the south of England where rents are higher.  In London and other areas many will fare even worse.  There should be no doubt about what these sanctions are intended to do.  This is the bureacratic annihilation of an individual as a message to everybody else that if you do not comply – that if you do not constantly strive – the government will destroy you.  It is like nothing that has been seen in UK legislation since the horrors of the workhouse.

According to the DWP benefit sanctions are only used as a ‘last resort’.  There have been 1.6 million ‘last resorts’ since the system was toughened in 2012.  In work benefit sanctions are already being trialled in some parts of the UK with desperate results.  The extension of this brutal regime will create in-work poverty that has rarely, if ever, been seen before in the UK.  People working for pennies, with no quality of life at all. Those already living in the cheapest possible accommodation that can be found in most of the country facing homelessness.  Some of these people will be ill, wrongly found fit for work by Atos or Maximus.  Some will be left with no money at all depending on if they are subject to the Beneift Cap or Bedroom Tax.  Others will have debts they will never hope to pay back whilst sanctioned and so will just get bigger and bigger.

An in-work benefit sanction for many will be a life sentence, especially for those who are older and carry any debts incurred into retirement.  For others it will be a death sentence as the strain of extreme poverty, hard work and constant Jobcentre harassment pushes some over the edge.  DWP ministers are happy to accept this collateral damage as part of their attempt to dicipline the working class into accepting a life of hard-working drudgery for poverty pay.  The only question that now remains is will the trade unions, charities and others that have cowardly accepted vicious welfare refoms continue their co-operation when it is their own workers and members who are subject to this torment?

You can read the current rules for Universal Credit, and many other benefits at:

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Meet Stephen Crabb, Like Iain Duncan Smith Only Shitter


Spot the difference. One is knob. The other is a fictional character.

Jobcentre busy-bodies should be valued as much as firemen and nurses the new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb said in his first speech today.  He has seen, first hand, he claims the life-changing interventions made by Jobcentre staff and now wants them to stalk benefit claimants even once they start work with the sinister announcement they should always be “coaching you….mentoring you….supporting you”.

This is what the introduction of Universal Credit will mean for millions of people.  Endless Jobcentre bullying with no escape.  Benefit sanctions that drive people into desperate poverty that traps them in a twilight world of a daily battle for survival.  Vicious cuts to sickness benefits that disabled people have warned will make them less likely to have the means to look for work.  There will even be benefit sanctions for workers to ‘incentivise’ those who need housing or other in-work benefits to constantly strive to earn more, or find an additional job.

In some tragic cases these life-changing Jobcentre interventions will be fatal as more sanctioned claimants are driven to suicide and ill health.  What Crabb and all the grasping poverty pimps who turned up to see him speak today fail to realise is that it is the so-called help from Jobcentres that is the problem.

Crabb was speaking at the Early Intervention Foundation conference, a vol-au-vent munching skive for charity bosses and think-tank dickheads where they pretend to care about socially excluded kids for the day.  The event was sponsored by Capita whose shocking abuse of disabled benefit claimants was exposed on Channel 4’s Dispatches last night.  Also speaking was Philippa Stroud, the former advisor to Iain Duncan Smith who used to try and cure people of being gay with magic.  Crabb would approve, he himself is an ardent supporter of a Christian cult that has organised conferences on curing gay people.  And this evangelical fervour lies behind everything Crabb says.  His coded reference to the ‘foundational role of the family’ reveals his true agenda.  Crabb voted against gay marriage.  He doesn’t like that kind of family.  He probably thinks they should go to hell.  Unless they can be cured of course.

The sad truth is that Stephen Crabb is like an even shitter version of Iain Duncan Smith – who he today called a great social reformer.  The only difference is that Crabb doesnt have any ideas of his own and so is doggedly sticking to the endless messianic schemes intending to fix poverty by making people poorer that his predecessor introduced.  That’s why there were no policy announcements today beyond an ominous threat to use unpaid workfare schemes more ‘creatively’ and yet more harassment of claimants on sickness and disability benefits.  Instead Crabb went on about his mother, as usual, and tried to convince the assorted delegates what a nice person he was.  He really cares, he’s a bit like Jesus.  So let’s fucking crucify him.

Above pic from: Is the new Work and Pensions Minister the REAL David Brent? #EIFNatCon #TheOrifice

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Astonishing: Working Benefit Claimants To Face Financial Penalties If Their Boss Files Tax Information Late


OOB refers to the requirement that payroll data is submitted On Or Before the date employees get paid.

Chaos is on the way for the lowest paid workers as new rules come into force which link payment of vital in-work benefits to employer’s compliance with providing tax information on time.

From this month almost all employers will finally be expected to provide payroll data to HMRC every month as part of the Real Time Information (RTI) system. This change has already been introduced for larger employers but businesses with nine or less employees had been given a 12 month ‘easement period’. That ran out on April 6th this year.

For those on low incomes this payroll data will be used to calculate their entitlement to Universal Credit.  If this information is not filed on time then bosses are warned by the DWP that their workers may: “receive too much or too little Universal Credit”.  This means those with irregular hours and earning patterns, such as people on zero hour contracts, could be left up to several hundred pounds short at the end of the month. For workers dependent on benefits to meet rent payments this could prove devastating. Try explaining to your landlord that you can’t pay the rent because your boss didn’t file their tax return on time this month.  Of course some claimants could also end up receiving too much Universal Credit and not know why – or even that they have – calculations are already breath-takingly complicated.  This will lead to involuntary debt and unforeseen repayment demands in the future.

Perhaps the most chilling problem is that many bosses just don’t care about their employee’s in work benefits. Research published by HMRC late last year found a small number of ‘micro’ businesses had no intention of changing their payroll systems to meet the new requirements – as the quote above this post demonstrates. Many more employers were still confused about the changes, or were not even aware that Real Time Information was being introduced. Others said they could’t afford updated IT equipment to run the software required to manage this reporting system. Some claimed that only one person does the payroll returns and if they are off sick then it doesn’t get done.

When it was pointed to these non-compliant businesses that late reporting would affect the payment of in-work benefits to staff the employers fell into two groups according to the researchers. There were those who said they would strive to comply with the new system so as to not affect their employee’s income. And there were those that were ‘unconcerned’.

In a meagre effort to make them more concerned HMRC have introduced a penalty system for employer’s who don’t provide payroll information on time. It is, as you might expect, a bit of a joke. Employers will not be fined if it’s the first time they’ve filed late that year. Even then they will be able to appeal due to ill health or IT difficulties. And the fine is just £100 for the smallest employers and a trivial £400 for those with over 250 employees. This is likely to be considerably less than the financial penalty that workers could face for their employer’s negligence.

Despite several HMRC reports into the introduction of Real Time Information there appears to be little information being published on how many businesses are compliant with the scheme all of the time. If only a tiny percentage of employer’s file information late – because they are careering out of business anyway for example – then this could impact on the impact of tens, or even hundreds of thousands of people. Errors in the system alone are likely to lead to significant suffering and confusion. For anyone who’s ever had a real job or had to deal with inept Jobcentre busy-bodies the end result is easy to imagine. When payments aren’t correct the DWP will blame your boss and your boss will blame the DWP. The worst kind of employers may just sack workers who get too uppity about PAYE information being filed late. And then possibly lie to the Jobcentre about why they left and cause them to lose eligibility to benefits completely. It is an astonishing amount of power for an employer to hold over their workers.

In the mind of bungling toff Lord Fraud, the unelected Minister for Welfare Reform who helped design this new system, bosses are all wonderful people who would never abuse their staff and always pay their taxes on time. Recent revelations about the UK’s own Prime Minister shows what bollocks that is. But so entrenched is the capitalist class’s delusion of their own fucking wonderfulness that they are now designing administrative systems that depend on this honourable behaviour amongst the rich.

You don’t get rich by behaving honourably though. You get rich by using every tool you can find to dominate and exploit those surrounding you. And as more people are slowly transferred onto Universal Credit then they will be more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by their employers than working class people have been in generations. Behind all the lies about making work pay and incentivising hard work, that is the real reason for the Tory government’s welfare reforms.

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