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

Real-time-information-boss

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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Meet @TheLennoxP, The Welfare-To-Work Parasites Caught Fining Unemployed People For ‘Tutting’

The list of potential fines first

The list of potential fines first revealed in the Ardossan Herald.

A story so astonishing many assumed it was an April Fool is breaking in Scotland after sleazy welfare-to-work parasites the Lennox Partnership were caught fining unemployed people for looking at their phones or having their hands in their pockets.

According to the local press, the Lennox Partnership are contracted to run training services for unemployed people by the SNP controlled North Ayrshire Council.  This training involved participants being fined for often trivial reasons such as ‘tutting’, swearing or answering their phones.  Whilst the lowest level of fine was just 10p, those on the course could be fined as much as £5 if their phone rang outside of designated break times.  After all it’s not like people looking for a job might have a good reason to take a phone call in the middle of day.

Even the DWP are appalled, with the Daily Record reporting they have suspended referrals to the STRIVE  programme run by the Lennox Partnership.  Those behind the schme are unrepentent, with North Ayrshire Council claiming that they are just trying to “change behaviours and instil a professional attitude”.  Participants who refuse to pay the fines are required to leave the course raising fears they may face benefit sanctions for refusing to take part in ‘work related activity’

The company say that their scheme is entirely voluntary and nobody will be sanctioned should they choose to leave.  This reveals a shocking ignorance of the current situation faced by claimants who are subject to benefit sanctions for ever more trivial reasons.  It is Jobcentres, not the Lennox Partnership, who decide whether a sanction should be imposed.

The STRIVE programme is aimed at long term unemployed people, and it is possible that some participants may have care and support needs meaning safeguarding rules should be in place to prevent this kind of financial coercion.  The Lennox Partnership also boast on their website that some participants in the STRIVE programme have been as young as 16.  It is unclear whether they also fine children.

Whilst the legalities of the scheme are murky this practice is clearly unethical.  With the ever-present threat of sanctions hanging over unemployed people’s heads it is little more than extortion.  Whatever mealy mouthed excuses the Lennox Partnership come out with, the experience of claimants is the same.  This company are demanding money from some of the poorest people in Scotland with the unspoken menace that their benefits may be taken away if they refuse.

You can tell the Lennox Partnership what you think of this vile practice on twitter @TheLennoxP

h/t enigma

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April 15 Is Workfare Day – A Chance To Tell The Truth About Benefit Sanctions And Forced Work #esday16

#esday16

Wave your hands in the air. Like a fucking idiot.

The welfare-to-work industry is planning a gushing celebration of forced work and benefit sanctions with the UK’s first Employability Day due to be held on April 15th.

According to ERSA, the trade body established to lie on behalf of companies running workfare and forced training schemes, this exciting day will offer a chance to show the impact of ’employment support’ in local communties.

Welfare to work companies are being encouraged to invite employers, MPs and other local agencies to their premises to show off all the wonderful support beig inflicted on unemployed and disabled people by companies like G4S, Atos and Maximus.  Perhaps they could also take them to a local foodbank and show them all the people who have had their benefits sanctioned for being late to a meeting with their so-called Work Coach or not turning up for workfare.  Or organise a tour of closed local libaries and other public services to show how funding has been much better spent forcing disabled people to endlessly attend CV workshops and recruiting young people to work in supermarkets without pay.

And it is funding that lies behind ERSA’s shabby promotional drive.  Be in no doubt, the welfare to work industry are collectively shitting themselves.  With George Osborne turning off the money tap and chaos at the Department of Work Pensions then for the first time in two decades the future of this sector does not look so rosy.  There has never been a better time to escalate the struggle against these parasites.

Luckily ERSA insist you do not have to be a member of their organisation to take part in Employability Day.  Just turn up, let yourselves in, bring a cake they seem to be saying.  Let’s not disappoint them.  Let’s fucking trash their workfare party.

Companies taking part in the day are using the hashtag #esday16.  ERSA have also produced a map of where events are taking place – although predictably, it doesn’t really work.    There will rarely be a better time to show the real impact that benefit sanctions and forced work have inflicted on our communities.  Be creative and spread the word.

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First Demonstration Called Against New DWP Boss Demanding #CrabbMustGo

crabb-resign-stickerIf new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb had any decency at all he would resign from his position as patron of the local branch of Mencap.

Ever since Crabb voted to slash benefits for many disabled people to little over £70 a week the Haverfordwest based charity, who run a once popular community garden, have faced outrage from the public over their relationship with Crabb – and with good reason.  It is beyond belief that a member of a government that has so ruthlessly attacked disabled people has he gall to hide his sins beneath a charitable facade.  And it is beneath contempt that he would rather see this charity destroyed then do the hornourable thing and step away.

This is sadly unsurprising however.  Crabb happily referred to his own mother as welfare dependent when he gave an interview about saving her from a violent attack by his father when he was just eight years old.  He has no shame in dragging his family’s traumatic past out under the public spotlight when he thinks it might win him some sympathy with voters.  Even a recent re-union with his father – which conveniently took place just days after his appointment to Scretary of State – appeared to be little more than stunt to further his political aspirations.  After what must have been a difficult and emotional meeting for both of them, Crabb’s first thought on leaving was to ring the Daily fucking Mail and tell them all about it.

A broad coalition has now emerged in Crabb’s home town demanding that he step down in his role as Mencap patron.  He should step down as Secretary of State as well.  His nasty affiliation with a ‘gay cure’ Christian cult seems to be the only sincere thing about him.  We got rid of the last bastard now let’s get rid of this one.  Join the fine folk of Pembrokeshire for a demonstration against Crabb this Saturday April 2nd from 11am-1pm outside his constituency office, Upper Market St, Haverfordwest, SA61 1QA.

Please share the facebook page for the event and help keep up the pressure on Pembrokeshire Mencap to get behind the people they claim to support and sack Crabb immediately.  And keep up the pressure on all the other charities hiding dirty little Tory secrets as part of Operation #ToryDump

Sign the petition calling for Crabb to step down as a Mencap patron at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stephen-crabb-resign-as-mencap-patron-pembs-immediately-voted-for-disabled-to-lose-ps30-a-week-esa-1

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‘A Failure Regime’, Apprenticeships Slammed By Government Committee

broken-ladderThe government’s flagship Apprenticeship programme has been slammed after a report from the cross-party Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission made wide-ranging criticisms of the scheme.

Just over a week ago Business Secretary Sajid Javid gave a speech praising Apprenticeships and following up David Cameron’s pledge to increase the number of placements available to three million.  According to Javid, Apprenticeships are no longer seen as a second-best option, or a safety net for kids who didn’t make it to A-levels or university, but instead are an “incredible opportunity” to prepare young people for being “the leaders  of tomorrow”.

The reality, as revealed this week’s report, is that many young people are taking a lower level of qualification then would be expected had they stayed in mainstream education..  Over two thirds of Apprenticeship starts for those between 16 and 19 were at GCSE level – the same standard of qualification they may already have gained at school.  As the report notes “It is reasonable to expect that young people should progress in education; that each qualification they take is another rung up the ladder.”  Few on Apprenticeships are being given this opportunity.

The report also finds that the growth of Apprenticeships amongst young people is collapsing, whilst the number who complete the programe has fallen to just over two thirds.  For the highest level Apprenticeships, equivalent to degree level study, the figures are dismal – only 4% of Apprenticeships are at this level and the vast majority are taken up by those over 25.  Just 5,300 under 25s began an higher level Apprenticeship in 2014/15 compared to almost 300,000 taking lower level qualifications.

The vast majority of Apprenticeships are found in sectors identified by the report as low paying and with little chance of progression, such as hair-dressing, childcare, hospitatlity or construction.  Apprenticeships are also reinforcing gender division in the workforce – a shocking 98.4% of construction Apprenticeships and 86.2% of Information Technology placements were taken up by males.  In contrast women made up 85.3% of Health Public Services and Care Apprenticeships.

The report concludes that the Apprenticeship system has a range of problems which “hold back opportunity” and suggests that the scheme could be “perceived as a failure regime by those seeking social mobility.”  Politicians of all parties now consider a young person becoming a hair dresser or builder to be a failure.  Fuck social mobility – we just want the money.

Sajid Javid claims that Apprenticeships are giving “ALL of Britain’s young people the opportunity they need to rise to the top”.  The truth seems to be that the scheme is really ensuring young people get conditioned to a lifetime of low pay and lack of career progression.  Most Apprenticeship pay rates are set at minimum wage except for those under 19 or in their first year who receive a meagre £3.30 an hour.  For all this government’s talk of aspiration, the rise of Apprenticeships seems really intended to teach the young the working class to learn their place.

You can read the report at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeships-young-people-and-social-mobility

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Rage @mencap_charity Grows As Thousands Demand Crabb Must Go!

mencap-boss

Mencap’s chief executive Jan Tregelles explains the charity’s position.

If you want to know how Tories sleep at night, how they salve their consciences or make peace with their non-existent Gods, then just ask Mencap or one of the other charities happy to accommodate those destroying the lives of disabled people amongst their ranks.

The horrible, homophobic, new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb is currently a trustee of Pembrokeshire Mencap despite the main UK branch of the charity campaigning against everything he stands for.  The message this sends to Crabb is clear – don’t worry, it’s not that serious, don’t expect any real consequences from Mencap for slashing the already meagre incomes of those the charity claims to support.  Sure Mencap will huff and puff, will write petitions and issue strong statements, but when it comes right down to it, when Mencap are actually tested as an organisation, they will choose sucking up to their local MP over actually fighting for people with learning disabilities.  That is how Stephen Crabb sleeps at night.  After all, if he’s on the board of the local Mencap then how can anyone say he doesn’t care about disabled people.

Of course it is not just Stephen Crabb’s conscience that is cleared.  The PR value to the Conservative Party is plain to see.  Tory MPs on the boards of charities helps maintain the party’s lie that they are not really attacking disabled people, they are just helping them, by making them a bit poorer to encourage them to strive.  From a purely cynical campaigning angle what charities like Mencap are doing is not just helping Tories to get elected, but also to push their vile agenda that insists benefit cuts are good for you.

Over the last week thousands of people have expressed outrage at Mencap’s involvement with Stephen Crabb.  Over 11,000 people have signed a petition demanding he resign from his post.  Mencap’s facebook page has been bombarded by those disgusted at the charity’s behaviour.  The response, as ever from the disability industry has been mealy-mouthed excuses and a refusal to act.  The main branch of Mencap say they are powerless do anything, that this is a local branch of the organisation who they have no influence over. You’d think anyone can set up a branch of Mencap, use their name and logo for fundraising purposes, and that’s just fine.  They must think we’re fucking idiots.  They could have Crabb removed with a phone call.  They don’t want to.

Instead they are calling on people to write to him, to wish him luck in his new job and ask if he would mind awfully being a champion of people with a learning disability.  It’s important that he gets things right say Mencap, despite the fact he has been getting things wrong for the last six years.  Crabb has voted for every cut to disability benefits that has been implemented, including the introduction of Personal Indeendence Payments designed to remove benefits from a fifth of disabled people.   He voted for the Bedroom Tax, and the Benefit Cap, and more recently in favour of cutting the payments to many sick or disabled people by £30 a week.  Give the chap just one more chance Mencap seem to be suggesting when they should be showing him the door.

It is vital to keep up the pressure and make sure that charities who harbour dirty little Tory secrets learn that there will be consequences for their betrayal.  Disabled People Against Cuts have released a guide to which charities have Tory MPs on their boards.  And these consequnces should reach to the very top, like Mencap’s chief executive Jan Tregelles who in 2013 gave a nauseating interview to The Guardian explaining how she’s worth every penny of her whopping £137,442 a year pay-cheque.  If despite all this money she can’t cleanse Mencap of politicians who support policies that have driven disabled people to suicide then she should go herself.

And it is her huge salary that is part of the problem.  Charity bosses like Tregalles are far closer socially, economically and politically to the likes of Stephen Crabb, then they are to those who depend on benefits.  She will never understand the icy terror of seeing a brown enevlope from the DWP drop through her letter-box. Or personally experience the constant insecurity and life-sapping stress of living under a government that is happy to condemn people to economic destruction on little more than a whim.  She’s not on the receiving end of the so-called help currently being inflicted on claimants in the form of endless assessments, benefits sanctions, workfare, forced training and quite possibly soon forced medical interventions.  It is all abstract to her, not something lived directly.  If she is angry at all about the current situation it is because she is being paid to be.

This is the reason for the disconnect that has repeatedly emerged between disability, homelessnes or anti-poverty charities and those they are funded to support.  It is not just that they don’t feel our rage, they consider it their jobs to mitigate it.  To channel it in safe directions, to explain to us how we just need to trust them and see the bigger picture.  The bigger picture being that they are doing very well out of austerity and would really rather the plebs didn’t derail the gravy train.  We should be grateful for all their hard work munching vol-au-vents at glitzy fundraising dinners on our behalf.  Here have a vol-au-vent yourself.  Just kidding.  As if a service user gets to have a vol-au-vent.

Please sign and share the petition calling for Crabb to resign from his local Mencap branch.

Visit Pembrokeshire Mencap’s facebook page and let them know what you think of their trustee Stephen Crabb.

Or contact the national organisation on facebook or twitter @mencap_charity

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“Fantastic year” Getting To Know Gay Hate Cult Says New DWP Boss Stephen Crabb

crabb-care

New Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb may have air-brushed his relationship with Christian gay hate cult CARE from his website but they didn’t return the favour.  Crabb’s glowing endorsement of the organisation is still proudly featured on their graduates page despite the 2012 scandal when MPs distanced themselves from the group after their involvement in a gay cure conference was revealed.

CARE, or to use their full name Christian Action Research and Education, helped to fund the Sex in the City conference in 2009 along with evangelical group Mainstream Anglican who still offer a run down of conference which included  discussions on “mentoring the sexually broken” and gay cure therapies.

care-conference

This was not the first gay hate event funded by CARE.  They also sponsored a conference in 2007 which asked the question “The Time for Truth, Is Gay Real?”.  Which is a bit rich coming from people who worship an invisible man who lives in the sky.

As well as being a graduate of the CARE internship scheme Crabb also hired a CARE intern himself in 2008.  When he was eventually confronted about his relationship with CARE in 2012 he refused to condemn them.  He cannot say that he is unaware of the beliefs of this group he so avidly supports.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the aim of Care is to “build a new generation of committed Christian politicians.”  Crabb’s devotion to the cause was evident in 2008 when he was one of a handful of MPs who signed an amendment to proposed laws criminalising incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexuality. The amendment said nothing should prohibit or restrict “discussion of, criticism of, or expression of antipathy towards conduct relating to a particular sexual orientation, or urging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct according to that orientation”.

So Crabb does not just have a lifetime relationship with an organisation who believe that LGBT people can, and should be cured.  He does not just give them a glowing endorsement on their website.  He has also acted in his role as an MP to ensure they have the right to continue to spread their gay cure agenda.

To say LGBT people should be cured is to say they shouldn’t exist.  If similiar language were used about any other minority then it would be the end of any MPs career who went near them.  And so it should be the end of Crabbs.

In his role as head of the DWP, Stephen Crabb is now responsible for millions of people, including those going through great difficulties.  Young LGBT people forced to leave the family home for example, or facing discrimination in the workplace.  How can they be expected to trust Crabb when he is so cosy with an organisation that appears to want gay people wiped off the planet?  He may have only been in the job two minutes, but if this government really means what they say about LGBT equality then Crabb must go, now.

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