Blog Number 1 – Universal Credit
I have over the past few months been looking at the system currently meant to be in use throughout the country, after pilot schemes there should have been a national roll out for all new claimants & for those reporting a change in circumstances etc.
What I have seen over the past year is sad, bad, embarrassing, upsetting, degrading, humiliating, heartbreaking, scary, incomprehensible plus many other things including complete and utter incredulity at the sheer lack of common sense and vilification of our most vulnerable citizens.
I’m sure you’ve all been aware of the stories regarding ATOS, Work Capability Assessments (WCA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), Job Centre Plus (JCP), Universal Credit (UC), Contribution Based, Income Based, 365 day rule, and those are just off the top of my head without even looking at others!
Oops forgot Working Tax Credit (WTC), Child Tax Credit (CTC), Pension Credit (PC), Housing Benefit (HB), Council Tax Benefit (CTB) and The Removal Of The Spare Room Subsidy (AKA “Bedroom Tax”) ok think that’s them all oh blimey no it’s not last one Benefit Cap (BC)!
I feel like I’m in the No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition sketch of Monty Python Fame! Sadly though there is no comfy chair, soft cushions, cup of tea at 11am with chocolate biscuits nor a nice warm fire to sit beside.
So all these changes have been rushed through. Yes changes can be good but so many, so fast at a time of great upheaval? Well that’s not my place to decide but it could have been a sensible idea to stagger these changes in a more measured way. All of these changes all at once leaves the staff administrating them confused because there is simply too many things. Some people on the old system (which if we are honest not all JCP workers were really, hand on heart, fully knowledgable or expert in; no disrespect but it’s the truth).
Let’s take a look this evening at Universal Credit (UC); I had to start somewhere & this was the lucky topic.
hastily adds in the intro *whistles* aha done.
Universal Credit is in theory a good idea. All benefits for which you are eligible are paid in one monthly payment. Bit like a salary, so far so good
wake up it’s not that boring I can see you nodding off oops talking to Siri not you.
That seems logical, from this amount you pay your;
1. own rent direct to your landlord,
2. Council Tax
(a percentage depending on your council)
3. Pilot schemes were started in certain areas of the North West on April 15th 2013. The full national roll out was supposed to start in October 2013. It hasn’t!
The problem is that so few new people went to claim this benefit and of those who did found during the mandatory way to claim via computer/online, saw the programme crash!
It couldn’t even cope with a limited number of users in a small area. The JCP staff were then having to write down all of the claimants answers and then input manually after the client had left!
This was supposed to be a benefit scheme to make claims easier & faster.
This has not happened, here we are almost into the festive season and there are some people claiming under Universal Credit but their neighbour is claiming under another system & may be in receipt of a differing amount when the circumstances of these neighbours are virtually identical.
Another possible problem could be the people receiving the rent money in with their benefit instead of it going directly to the landlord. In winter months when it’s cold would the person pay the rent over or would they spend it on heating their home?
This would by no means be every person but if you’re kids are cold & hungry would you put the kids needs first or paying your (possibly very rich) Landlord?
Obviously in comparison to the situation of the claimant & their perception of the Landlord’s situation then it is likely that the claimant would (wrongly in law but rightly in respect of their children) think the Landlord can afford to wait, arrears could mount up quite swiftly!
This is an ethical dilemma in my humble opinion; if the claimant is dealt with under the old system then the rent is paid direct but they are at risk of using loan sharks or payday loan companies in order to feed & keep their children warm in winter.
Conversely the claimant on the new system may see the cash available in their account & rather than resort to loan sharks and payday loan companies they decide to use the rent money & then go into rent arrears.
Being in rent arrears is a less scary option (well it would be to me) because the landlord is unlikely to come round & beak your legs but a loan shark would.
So we have a few thousand on this scheme and very little in the news to tell us how people are legitimately coping with the system. Is it better? Is it a much easier & better system for the claimants? We really need to know about these facts but again the media is silent, the Government are silent.
Is this silence an indication of the fact the system is not working or is it so they can use it as the results as political ammunition as the elections approach?
Ok that was my whistlestop (Yes it was don’t be cranky I’m doing my best) basic explanation of Universal Credit.
What do you think?
Are you on that benefit? If so please let us all know what you think about it & is it working for you & your family?
Ok that’s my first of what could be many blogs on each of these welfare systems.
I’ve said what I think it’s all about if you know more please share & help us understand because I could have interpreted it wrongly. I’m not perfect & by no means do I ever want to be – what fun would I be if I were perfect I think my wheels of steel would rust up in protest lol.
Ok hope to hear your views & experiences.
Happy Thursday 😃⭐️♿️💜