Surge in demand at foodbanks in Universal Credit trial borough as claimants wait 13 weeks for cash

southwark ucFrom Southwark News: Demand at foodbanks in the London Borough of Southwark has surged due to waits of up to three months for people starting on Universal Credit to get their first payments, it has been claimed.

More than 4,000 Southwark residents have joined the Universal Credit system since it was introduced at local Job Centres in early 2016. Labour councillor Fiona Colley said claimants have “dropped off a cliff” for periods of twelve to thirteen weeks, forcing them into rent arrears.

Universal Credit (UC) – which groups six types of benefit into one payment – was touted as the Conservative Party’s big hitting welfare reform after they came to power in 2010. Read more

DWP Universal Credit case manager: “What I’ve witnessed is shocking”

independent ucA DWP manager writes in the Independent: “Many of my colleagues feel out of their depth with the quantity of claims they manage, resulting in a vast amount of crucial work never being completed until claimants contact us when their payments are inevitably paid incorrectly or not at all.

“We’re so understaffed that case managers going on holiday can have a significant impact on claimants. These claimants are completely neglected, sometimes for many weeks, as colleagues are told to only send out payments for the people they manage themselves. In other words, if the person who’s looking after your universal credit payment takes some annual leave, you could be left penniless by accident. Read more

Tory Cabinet Minister is ill-informed and dismissive when questioned about the 55p-per-minute Universal Credit helpline

lynne truss independentFrom The Independent: Liz Truss, the Tory minister who thought Britain’s level of cheese imports was a ‘disgrace’, had a paltry answer when it came to charging welfare claimants 55p-per-minute to call the government helpline.

Appearing on the Daily Politics, Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, suggested families seeking Universal Credit should visit a Job Centre to avoid being charged the potential 55p per minute helpline call.

Host Andrew Neill pointed out the practical difficulties of this solution for claimants, such as child care, and the fact that the cheaper landline option is not available to all people, especially those who are trying to spend less on expensive items such as line rental.

She was asked by Andrew Neill, “Why are you charging them 55 pence a minute to call up and try and get their Universal Credit payments fixed?”

Truss responded: “I don’t know the details of the call line and as you’ve said it’s more affordable if you ring up the landline.”

[Read full story with video on the Independent website…]

The Tories are still talking about building a £100 million yacht for the Queen

mirror royal yachtFrom the Daily Mirror: Senior Tory ministers have reportedly held talks to build a £100 million luxury Royal Yacht for the Queen, further draining Navy resources that are already stretched to breaking point.

Jake Berry, the Northern Powerhouse minister has spoken to Trade Secretary Liam Fox about the costly scheme, according to the Telegraph.

A small band of hardline Tories, most prominent among them Boris Johnson, have called for a new yacht to be built as a “showcase” for Britain on the high seas.  Read more

Theresa May prevaricates when asked why the Magic Money Tree bloomed for the DUP’s £1bn but not for nurses’ pay

Have you felt a tiny twang of sympathy for Theresa May recently? Lose it instantly by watching this interview 

Jon Snow asks her why the Magic Money Tree bloomed to fund the £1 billion deal with the DUP to keep the Tories in power, while we’re told nothing can done about the public sector pay cap.

Owen Jones: We can no longer pretend the British press is impartial

owen jones mediaOwen Jones writes in the Guardian: “Britain’s press is not an impartial disseminator of news and information. It is, by and large, a highly sophisticated and aggressive form of political campaigning and lobbying. It uses its extensive muscle to defend our current economic order which, after all, directly benefits the rich moguls who own almost the entire British press. Whether it’s the Sun, the TelegraphThe Times, the Daily Mail or the Daily Express, that means promoting the partisan interests of the Conservative party. The press has been instrumental in upholding the political consensus established by Thatcherism: deregulation, privatisation, low taxes on the rich and weak trade unions. It has traditionally defined what is politically acceptable and palatable in Britain, and ignored, demonised and humiliated individuals and movements which challenge this consensus. Read more

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