Well, that was the Autumn budget – after teasing us with a variety of potential changes to Universal Credit, the chancellor, Philip Hammond finally settled on making the 42 day wait for Universal Credit into a 35 day wait for Universal Credit.
The Independent called it a ‘Screeching U-Turn’
Declaring it’ll cost the government £1.5 Billion…
To be brutally frank – no it isn’t – and no it won’t.
A cynic might say…yeah, ok, I might say this was the plan all along. Have an unacceptable 42 day wait between applying for and receiving a benefit, then generously lop 7 days off it.
Has this just been a long convoluted charade to make a 35 day wait more acceptable?
People have little choice than to throw themselves to the mercy of high interest money lenders.
Sunny, a purveyor of payday loans lends money at 1277% per annum – that’s £3709 on interest alone over a year if an under 25 person borrows the paltry £58.10 per week that they’re expecting to get once their Universal Credit comes in, over the 5 week wait.
That same sum of money can be lent to the government at 0.25%
Over that same year, the government would pay back about 73 pence in interest for that same £290.50.
This is a transfer of debt onto the people who can least afford it.
We are pushing people into spirals of debt without any hope of ever clambering out of that abyss.
People can get crisis payments, I hear you cry. Remember though, these payments are half the Universal Credit rate, and they have to be paid back.
Who gets these payments is entirely hit or miss. Some people, who rely purely on the advisors at the department of work and pensions (DWP) for this valuable information, just aren’t told about its existence. Others – many others – are told they can only have crisis payments of £29.05 a week TWICE over the 5/6 week period.
When they ask what they’re supposed to do for the rest of the time, they’re blandly told that they can go to food banks.
Bear in mind, food banks can only give you food parcels 3 times a year.
Throw benefit sanctioning into the mix, and you’ve got a perfect storm. This is where people are punished for not filling out a form correctly, or missing a meeting, usually for valid reasons.
The government tells us these are used as a last resort – but with the recent roll out of Universal Credit in Leeds, it’s been reported that 25% of people have been sanctioned for some perceived misdemeanour or other.
Article 6 of European convention on human rights, states
‘Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial, including the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time, the presumption of innocence, and other minimum rights for those charged with a criminal offence (adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence, access to legal representation, right to examine witnesses against them or have them examined, right to the free assistance of an interpreter).’
People are being harshly punished today. They often don’t even know who their accusers are. The DWP will tell them about the nameless and faceless bureaucrats, named THE DECISION MAKER, who hold their financial futures in their hands.
If the Draconian system is to continue, indivuals must be held to account – their names must be made public before they inflict untold financial damage on those on benefits and their families.
In other news – the hunger strike continues. Nothing has changed. People are still being arbitrarily punished by a system that is designed to do exactly that.
There has been no U-Turn. Now is not a time for political point scoring. This is a cross party humanitarian issue.
Go to your MP’s and your local councillors and tell them again this is unacceptable.
Remember – Bad things happen when good people do nothing.
Walk a Mile