Friday, 12 April 2013

Cuts you might not know about

Perhaps I should have known, but I don't remember reading about them anywhere, until I read this piece in the Guardian by Polly Toynbee.  She writes:

"Yet to come will be abundant evidence of serial DWP policy errors. Just wait for the implications to sink in of absurdities such as this. Helping the long-term unemployed into work is every government's goal, with Iain Duncan Smith spending a fortune on his failing Work Programme. Three things help bridge the gap between dole and work: a £100 job grant tides people over until payday, paying for the bus to work, avoiding Wonga loans. A one-month run-on for housing benefit stops people falling into rent arrears when waiting for their first pay cheque. A £250 grant pays the upfront deposit for a childcare place, without which single parents can't take an offered job. The cost is negligible, yet these sensible bridges into work are being abolished. How wise will voters think that?"

This is shocking.  Previous governments recognised that when you signed off your benefits stopped immediately, but you might well not get paid for a month.  You were unlikely to have anything to tide you over, so the grants were sensible.  The only alternative was a loan, and these days that means Wonga or loan sharks.  But this government hasn't a clue, and would rather shovel the money at the WP companies.  Brilliant.

There's another "Comment is Free" article worth reading: Frank Field on "How Labour can reclaim welfare".  


  1. Bit off the mark,but an interesting item on the BBC by Minister Jo Swinson regarding interns,how they are going to name and shame companies that exploit interns by not paying NMW (under law) and how it undermines the NMW,of course this will not include the unemployed...Why? Class distinction? are the people forced to work or face sanctions,for well under the NMW not Citizens? or are we just special?

    1. It's a start. Interns are covered by NMW laws, the unemployed are specifically exempted.

  2. The One True Elg12 April 2013 at 15:21

    Well, if we assume for a second that the WP works and the providers do innovate, do provide the claimants what they need to get back into work so that they can claim an outcome, it's easy to see how you could sensibly abolish these things because the WP would take up the financial slack.

    The problem is of course, the WP doesn't do any of those things. If anything this will decrease WP performance because providers are highly unlikely to provide hundreds of pounds of support where the state would have.

  3. i posted on this blog a while back... i was the guy who was forced to attend the universal jobmatch 'skills sharpening' course with a4e.

    well, i was lucky enough to find work last month [not via universal jobmatch, by applying directly to the employer] and i have to say the cuts noted above have made things very difficult for me. i signed off on the of 18th march and my housing benefit and jobseekers allowance payments were automatically stopped. fine. however, where i would have previously qualified for a 4 week run on to pay my JSA and housing benefit for a month and ease my transition into work, there is now nothing and as of friday, i am completely broke with no way of getting into work for the next two weeks until payday at the end of the month.

    i phoned the jobcentre i was signing at on friday afternoon on my lunch break to ask if there was any help. there was none. when i explained my situation and that i might have to relinquish the job [only minimum wage but it's a start] if i couldn't find money from somewhere, it was suggested i get a payday loan. furthermore, i was warned that a note had been made of my 'threat to leave paid employment' and it was made clear that i wouldn't be welcome back at the jobcentre if i did end up having to quit.

    so this morning, i swallowed my pride and got an £80 loan with wonga. when i pay them back in 28 days i will owe a little over £130.

    on a side note, ever since i signed off a4e have been calling my mobile asking where i started work and i have taken great pleasure in telling them, as politely as possible of course, that it is none of their business.

    1. If you wish for A4e (or any other outfit) to stop telephoning you, serve a Cease and Desist order in writing. Something along the lines of:

      To whom it may concern.

      I am writing to you concerning unsolicited telephone calls attempting to elicit personal information regarding my current employment. I am under no contractual or legal obligation to provide this information to yourselves or any party acting on your behalf. You are hereby instructed to cease in any attempt to contact me in this, or any other matter.

      Any attempt to contact me will be regarded as harassment and puts you in breach of Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970, and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. If you continue to harass me by telephone, you will also be in breach of the Communications Act (2003) s.127 and I will report you to OFCOM, the DWP, and the police with the view to pressing criminal charges.

      Yours, etc.

    2. This is both the politics and the economics of the nuthouse! How can this government honestly expect someone to believe them when they spout the mantra "we will make work pay" when they are absolutely making it harder for jobseekers to make the transition into work???

      Do they expect jobseekers to have a secret stash of cash under their floorboards? Not only does this government not have a clue, day by day, week after week they are acting more and more in a sociopathic manner.

      Do they not realise that businesses pay monthly these days? And that people often have to work a month in hand? Funny how the Tories always boasted of their business acumen compared to that of other parties!!!

      If I were of a cynical nature, I'd almost suggest that the payday sharks are in cahoots with this terrible government. Surely not?

    3. Absolutely disgraceful that the Jobcentre actually advised you to get a payday loan! And to rub salt into the wound they're of course threatening you with being sanctioned if you give up the job and try to sign on again.

      It's also disgraceful of A4e to harass you to try and get your new job details so they can pocket thousands of pounds of public money for doing next to nothing. What's happened to you seems worthy of mention in a national newspaper such as the Guardian- perhaps you should contact them. It might also be worth writing to your MP about this, although how much sympathy you get will depend very much on the party your MP belongs to.

  4. I appreciate both of your support.. but i feel very much between a rock and a hard place at the minute. between travel costs and council tax [i have a three year old son and so rent a studio flat in order to have him 2 nights a week] i'm actually worse off working than i am on benefits.

    the response from the jobcentre was very dismissive, almost passive aggressive:

    'we have recorded your statement of intent to give up paid employment. if you do so, you must be aware that you will be liable for sanction' .....[it almost sounded like they were reading from a script.]

    and A4e really don't help phoning me 2-3 times a day asking about where i'm working / when i started / generally digging for information. i wasn't even on the WP when i found work- only went to 1 Universal Jobmatch training session- so I don't see how they can claim anything for my finding a job.

    all in all it's a horrible situation. i have no money until the end of the month, and even then my pay will only cover rent [minus arrears from the back end of last month] council tax and the payday loan.

    i know there are a lot of people in the same boat as me, but even so, i feel so alone right now.

    1. The One True Elg14 April 2013 at 00:26

      Perhaps you should ask A4e if they can help you with your situation, offer to give them the information they need to get an outcome in exchange for some kind of financial aid.

      Of course, if they do the likely thing and say they can't then don't give them anything. At least that way their service works as intended and they get a reward when they've helped you, not simply because you were seeing them once a month when you happened to get employment.

    2. "A4e really don't help phoning me 2-3 times a day [...] generally digging for information."

      That is clearly harassment, two or three times a month *might* be acceptable, but not on a daily basis. I would certainly be considering formal complaints to the DWP via my MP and flagging up a case of potential fraud. Get a cease and desist letter off to them ASAP and then you have grounds to involve the police.

      With A4e's current track record, do you really think they would provide any financial assistance once you have disclosed the information ?

    3. I phoned a4e on my lunchbreak today (already had a missed call from them at 11.04am). I explained my situation and they offered to pay my bus fares if I agreed to provide the info of the company where I took the job. When you are as broke as I am, that's an offer you can't refuse.

      Once I had provided this information they explained that due to 'payment schedules' they couldn't pay me until the end of the month, and only then on production of 'suitable receipts'.

      Oh, and there is a maximum of £12.50 available.

      I explained this wouldn't really help, and that I was actually worse off working than on benefits with travel and council tax considered. I also told them not to bother contacting my employer, as I wouldn't be there much longer. The lady from a4e just sneered and said they would have to inform the jobcentre!

      I'm not even on the WP!! God help anyone a4e really get there claws into!

  5. The next time some work programme "coach" says to a person "You have been here over a year now and have found work why?" you say.... Your the expert what expert advice have you got for me, after thats why im here isnt it? for your expert advice? yes ive been unemployed for over a year so so far you expert advice is not working.

  6. Universal Credit is only going to make this worse with its own monthly payments.

    I also wonder if this is a deliberate attempt to push the perverse notion of 'better off on benefits' so that people will support more welfare 'reform'. It sounds paranoid but then there's no reason that can be applied to anythign this government is doing.

    My sympathies to anonymous above: if the JC+ can't be anything other than threatening then what's the point? We seem to live now in an age dictated by callousness: can't they be compassionate or understanding? No, they 'warn' the person and issue veiled threats.

    In respect of that, report it to your MP. There is no excuse for that.

    For all the good it will do when you just want to do your job.

  7. All Wonga is doing is making a very wealthy Tory Peer even wealthier.


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