'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

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Sunny Clouds

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 12:31PM
Locally says it all.

Locally isn't everywhere.

If your local foodbanks all have the resources to do more than just accept and hand out food, fine.

Just please accept that that's not the case everywhere.

And you may think handing out a food parcel without also providing other services makes the problem worse not better.

Well it stops them dying of starvation whilst they're getting the help somewhere, and even if they never got help anywhere with paperwork or lifestyle changes, I wasn't the one that said "We don't have the resources to give you advice or other help than food, so we're going to dump this stuff in the skip (the one behind the supermarket in case you want a rummage later) or have a community party with it."

It's good if people providing advice, support, counselling etc. work with (whether within the same organisation or not) people providing food, toiletries, clothing, fuel top-ups etc.

But you and I are never going to meet minds as to whether it's ok for someone to provide one service without the other (although I note that you make no objections to someone ascertaining why someone is hungry without providing food so that they don't die of hunger before the problem is sorted) but if your view ever gets implemented by government (and I think there's a very good chance our neoliberal government will try), I will be happy to band together with others with the resources to feed but not the resources to provide other services, to do it openly and publicly in defiance of those that would stop it.

(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

lankou

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 12:39PM


Just please accept that that's not the case everywhere.

And you may think handing out a food parcel without also providing other services makes the problem worse not better.

Well it stops them dying of starvation whilst they're getting the help somewhere,

With Trussell Trust and most other food banks it is the situation nationally. Very few people are seeking out food banks, as the Tory Propaganda would have us believe. The vast majority are found by various agencies during the course of some other problem people have being investigated.
I actually do study and am informed about the situation nationally.
Just handing someone a food parcel without investigating why they need it is irresponsible.

This is a serious problem and will increase food bank need:-


http://www.almos.org.uk/news_docs.php?subtypeid=19

http://www.almos.org.uk/include/getDoc.php?did=7538&fid=8817

Under imposed embargo status until 6am 7th June 2016
One year on: An indisputable link
One year on from the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) in England and new research published today (7
June 2016) by the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) and the Association of Retained Council
Housing (ARCH) shows that 79% of council tenants in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) are in rent
arrears. The report reveals that prior to claiming UC only half of those households had pre-existing rent
arrears.
Later today the NFA and ARCH are due to meet with Lord Freud to share the research and discuss the
indisputable link between UC and the proportion of tenants experiencing difficulties and falling into rent
arrears. The NFA and ARCH will present their concerns in a bid to persuade government to use the
survey findings as a basis to review existing UC policy regarding the payment of UC monthly in arrears,
and the seven day waiting period at the start of claim.
Hugh Broadbent, NFA Chair says:
‘‘We look forward to sharing our findings later today with Lord Freud. The manner in which UC is
currently being administered is clearly having a direct impact on the numbers of households
falling into arrears - half of whom had no history of rent arrears.
Our concerns are heightened in situations where the claimant was not in paid employment
immediately prior to submitting a claim for UC, for example where previous benefits have been
sanctioned or adjusted. Many claimants simply do not have adequate savings or final pay cheque
to carry them through the lengthy assessment period.”
The average six week assessment period, combined with the seven day waiting time, continues to have
grave consequences on tenants’ ability to maintain rent payments, and is proving to be a significant
contributor to the occurrence and accumulation of rent arrears. As increasing numbers of households
face serious and prolonged financial hardship this report provides early evidence of a growing demand
for money / debt advice services and foodbanks, as well as an increased presence of loan sharks within
our communities.
John Bibby, Chief Executive ARCH advises:
‘These survey findings continue to be extremely concerning for everyone involved in managing
social housing in this country. Despite the best efforts of ALMOs and local authorities to help
prepare and support tenants claiming Universal Credit our research shows that one year on the
proportion of claimants in rent arrears is still shockingly high (79%).
A review of current policy is imperative if we are to reduce unnecessary hardship within our
communities.”
Together the NFA and ARCH are calling on government to:
1. Abandon the current seven day waiting period for UC entitlement
2. Undertake a review of the monthly in arrears policy to ascertain if this is causing unnecessary
hardship and long term disadvantage to some claimants
3. Speed up the UC assessment process to 3 weeks. Bringing UC processing periods closer to
those achieved for Housing Benefit.
END
Under imposed embargo status until 6am 7th June 2016
Supporting

   
« Last Edit: 01 Aug 2016 12:43PM by lankou »

Sunny Clouds

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 01:31PM
"Just handing someone a food parcel without investigating why they need it is irresponsible."

So you'd close down all the foodbanks that don't have the resources to do more?

And if someone doesn't live somewhere with a high-profile Trussell-type foodbank?

If someone's only foodbank is the cupboard at the back of the hall in the community centre?  The one in what used to be the cleaning cupboard in the mosque or synagogue in a terraced house?  The one on the table in the vestry?  The one in the spare office in the student union? 

Not everyone lives somewhere like you.  There aren't big, organised foodbanks everywhere and where there are, they can't necessarily cater for everyone.

As for the statistics, they'll be biased on a self-selecting basis, because they're only going to come from foodbanks that keep statistics, so they'll tell you nothing about the myriad of little foodbanks all over the place. 

Next time you need a foodbank, stay where you are, because I think you'd have a bit of a shock if you moved to somewhere with only the foodbank equivalent of the independent corner shop as opposed to the foodbank equivalent of the big chain supermarket.

I feel as if you'd said it would be irresponsible to hold a Christian service without ensuring that people could read the hymnbooks without checking whether they're meeting in a church or a home, whether they actually sing hymns, whether they've got any hymnbooks, and whether there are any alternative services within a reasonable travel distance.

You make me think of people who think it so important to have wheelchair access to transport that if you find that there are volunteers in a village running a volunteer car pool willing to drive people to the nearest town without the petrol money in between the once-weekly return short-bus journey, you'd rather stop them doing it than let those people needing to go to the chemist or the dentist or the vet or the general store midweek have the help they need.

I feel so incredibly angry about this. 

I gave money to a local beggar the other day.  I know he's an alcoholic and uses money he begs to prop up his habit.  But I'm very sure that if people no longer gave him money, he'd either drink at the expense of eating, or steal.  I can't fix the rubbish rehab services locally.  But I can give him some money that will help him to get not only booze but food that will keep him topping up his thiamine to reduce the risk of korsakoff's dementia, which he'll almost certainly get if he abandons food in favour of alcohol.

When your local big, well-resourced foodbank can't feed everyone wanting food, would you rather the hungry people stayed hungry?  That's how you come across.  Let them eat cake becomes let them use a Trussell-style foodbank.  And if there's no brioche-style foodbank, let them go hungry.

As for people using foodbanks being picked up by agencies, maybe that 'agency' is just the mate on your course that says "Did you know there's a foodbank in the union?"  Maybe that 'agency' is just the person next to you at the school gate who says "Did you know there's a foodbank in the community centre?"  Maybe that 'agency' is the other person in your squat that says "Did you know there's a foodbank at the farmer's market?"

Stay in your smug, well-resourced area with its mainstream foodbanks that are evidently sufficient to feed everyone, the ones that have the resources for statistics, PR, politics; but try not to tell others doing what they can on a more basic level what they should or shouldn't do to try to stop their brothers and sisters starving.  The ones that can't even afford the high fees to use a Trussell logo, let alone contribute to its statistics.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Sunny Clouds

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 03:10PM
I've been seriously planning to move but hadn't decided where.  The stark contrast between your views and mine in relation to things like foodbanks reminds me just how many variables there are between different parts of the country that I would want to take into account.

I think it's a fair bet that neither of us would want to live where the other does, because I doubt whether it's just the culture and resources in relation to foodbanks we vary on. 

So unfortunately what you've just found yourself on the end of is the ire of someone who finds the  notion of a Trussell-style dominated society very scary.

Somewhere where you can't share what you have with the less fortunate unless you do it in a way that keeps those with the dominant opinions and the loudest voices happy is a society I don't want to live in.

One more reason to think of not just moving to the next town or up to Scotland, but to another country.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Monic1511

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 03:23PM
I hadn't added more to the post because I didn't want to cause more Argo but I have to answer the point that was made about not investigating why someone needs a parcel and sorting it, it's not as easy as you think

There are the addicts who are found fit for work, can't/won't make a claim for JSA and then come to my work 6 weeks later cos another person or addict has brought them to us, we put in a late mandatory recon, but that has to be accepted before the dwp will even reconsider the decision their fit for work so that's another 6 week before they get any money cos most of these guys have had their maximum crisis grants.  So the first ESA result comes in and then you need to get hold of the person to do the sscs1 and attend an appointment to get a backdating sick line just to get their ESA assessment money, rent arrears need to be sorted etc, those guys get way more than their 3 food parcels cos it's been 3 or more months since they had official money.  I can see why some would swap their parcel for cash, it's known as bartering.

Then there are the EU citizens who have no entitlement to JSA cos you only get that for 6 months then your worker status ends, without worker status or a family member who has worker status you can't get JSA nor can you get housing benefit, that kicks in the "genuine prospect of work test" which unless you meet means they can refuse benefit, so if your a labourer who has been here for years and has no work due to old injuries you can't get JSA or ESA which means no housing benefit, the Scottish government recently changed the rules to say these people can no longer get crisis grants either as that is a public fund and they have no recourse to public funds.  It is hell telling anyone they are not entitled to any state support and while I and my colleagues are scrambling about looking for holes in the legislation the people at the food bank know they break the "rules" and give more than they should but they are caring people who demonstrate their faiths by helping the needy.  They don't care that it's not government policy and they are not solving the major problem by supplying food.  Sorting the problem would be changing legislation since it's the legislation enforced by the benefit teams in the council and the dwp that is causing the problem.

Did you know that after giving birth a women must come off JSA for 5 days, it's in the legislation. That 5 day break meant a new mum from Eastern Europe couldn't get any benefit, we tried to reclaim JSA but she had no entitlement as she hadn't 2 years of contributions paid employment behind her, she failed the genuine prospect of work test because she wanted to take baby to work with her, couldn't see a problem with working the till with baby strapped to her test, once her JSA claim ended so did her housing benefit and her child benefit claim and child tax credit relied on her having either JSA or worker status, she had neither.  Now that's all legal - it's immoral - but the social worker and I tried to get her everything we could but other that crisis grants, welfare fund payments we couldn't pay her rent so she was made homeless by the legislation- it's a year since I saw her and I still worry about her and baby cos I know what she then did to get money, I tried to put her in touch with the churches cos they help regardless of the stupid rules but she fled to the nearest big city, I think she was scared for her baby and  rightly so cos care might have been sensible but again wrong cos mum was doing her best.  Last I heard she was squatting in a flat in the city but if she phoned I'd issue a food voucher in a heartbeat, it wouldn't sort the problem but it might help a vulnerable person who has been failed by this society and it's need for rules.   Also by moving to the city she's left my works area so all the appeals I put in will fail cos I have no idea how to get hold of her. 
 

NeuralgicNeurotic

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 04:01PM
 >bighugs< >bighugs< >bighugs<

KizzyKazaer

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 04:16PM
Can't add much to this except for - seems it's the benefits system that's fundamentally at fault, not the foodbanks and whoever administers them.  I've always thought it disgraceful that foodbanks have to exist at all in a so-called 'developed' country - that's a reflection on the Government more than anything.  But while the need is there, thank goodness there are people willing to try and meet it. 

lankou

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 05:19PM
Can't add much to this except for - seems it's the benefits system that's fundamentally at fault,

Quite, the DWP has not been fit for purpose for a long time, and the petrol was put on the fire back in May 2010.
Locally before that there were a few people in need of help with food from time to time but that was covered by the Sally Army, "Soup Kitchens," and local Diocese.
The current situation is the need for food banks is increasing and will continue to do so as the "welfare reforms" start to bite and  the roll out of Universal Credit cause more and more rent arrears and evictions.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 06:43PM
Sadly, the DWP is fit for purpose - just not the purpose it should be fit for.

It is fit for the purpose of pursuing a particular neoliberal agenda that involves 'shrinking the welfare state' so as to save rich people money in tax, to make investors money from selling inadequate insurance for things like unemployment, sickness and disability and to create a pool of people desperate to take any work they can get whatsoever, regardless of the working conditions or wages.

We may have our differences, Lankou, but I get the impression we're both extremely angry over what's being done to people.  We just have different experiences as to the effects of it in different areas and different views as to how to deal with the pain and suffering that's resulting from the greed of powerful people.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

JLR2

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 06:46PM
''the DWP has not been fit for purpose for a long time, and the petrol was put on the fire back in May 2010''

Well Monic certainly didn't pour the petrol on it did she?

Monic1511

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 07:35PM
The petrol tends to be the legislation - the writers start off with one intention and then it changes to whatever the government of the day wants.  We had the coalition with the idea of universal credit (I personally hate it and try to discourage anyone from it but that's another topic)  In Universal credit there was a "work allowance" you were allowed to earn up to £114 a month before your benefits were affected but that was abolished by an Osbourne budget, different government,  also the basic principal of universal credit PIP and ESA is to reduce the overall benefits bill.

In ESA premiums are not technically payable - so if you have ESA assessment phase your not automatically entitled to a disability premium but if your on JSA you are.

PIP has no low rate care and the criteria is tighter

Universal credit has no official error so if your overpaid its your fault and all overpayments are recoverable.

I know there are lots of idiots in both the DWP, social work, NHS and other agencies but I really think you have to understand that the people who implement the legislation are not all malicious,  I was hunting for a decision to appeal and it was one of the dwp staff who trawled the system in multiple screens to find one for me, the client couldn't help as cant recall anything but has no diagnosis of problems (scream) If the client comes back with the paperwork I'll get their money back - if not I cant do a thing - neither can the dwp come to think of it - person hasn't provided ant information on their health problems, just said I have memory problems, so without the sscs1 or a sickline no one can move the process on. 

I really need to stop giving you more horrific tales and go and read the new benefit cap rules cos I know the boss referred another 10 families to me who are all going to be affected in this area.

As for food banks, they have been around in one form or another for hundreds of years, we had the poor law run by the churches, then the Sally Army set up work schemes, soup kitchens, mens and womens homes cos the posh churches wouldn't help, eventually the welfare state was born which was meant to get rid of the need for church / charity support but in its 150 years the Sally Army has always continued to provide food, - there were 2 guys at the door yesterday before the church service, my officer knew them so they're probably regulars at the breakfast club.  I didn't go and quiz them as to why they needed church support rather than their benefits. 

We are going to disagree - I get that - but I believe we should be directing our ire at those who make the legislation (MPs) rather than the people who implement it.   
http://ouchtoo.org/Smileys/akyhne/f_peacedove.gif Monic

auntieCtheM

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 07:41PM
What a difficult job you have Monic.  >hugs<

lankou

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 07:58PM
I really think you have to understand that the people who implement the legislation are not all malicious,

Not all but it is now VERY obvious from the DWP's own data that those in the ESA WRAG group are deliberately being targeted for benefit sanctions on the most spurious of excuses.

KizzyKazaer

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 08:50PM
Monic, when it comes to malicious intent or mean-spiritedness, I am thinking (like yourself) more of those who actually write the legislation in the first place;  as another former DWP employee, it's a bitch of a job sometimes to have to carry it out  >erm<

As you mentioned the WRAG, Lankou - personally, am hoping to move from that to the Support Group (this is a 'work in progress' at the moment) but will see what happens... All I know is that the constant insecurity over benefits hasn't made me any more 'work-ready', in fact I'd say less so.  People under pressure don't automatically perform better.. I do find myself asking what the legislation writers were actually thinking of when they drew all this up  >doh<

Sunny Clouds

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 01 Aug 2016 09:54PM
It's basic human psychology.  Ask any Old Etonian.

Very rich people work harder if you make them even richer.
Very poor people work harder if you make them even poorer.

Um, it does work, doesn't it?  I mean, having to work full-time at finding a way of not starving or freezing or becoming homeless or not affording the bus fare to the medical appointment leaves you lots of time for recovery and job-hunting, doesn't it?
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)