(GRT MANCHESTER) Five UK Changes Report: Rishi Sunak: Launches extension to ‘Plan For Jobs’ Traffic Light System’ ends and more out of ‘Red List’ with other changes below: #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.05: Rishi Sunak launched the government’s “Plan for Jobs” with the support of the Trades Union Congress and Confederation of British Industry….

#AceDailyNews says that the #COVID19 Travel Changes with Job support extension as Rishi Sunak commits a further 500-million to extend until to fund those eligible on ‘Universal Credit’ with paying £3,000 per apprentice …..

1. Sunak to extend job support schemes

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will use his Conservative Party conference speech to commit £500m to renewing job support schemes introduced as part of the pandemic response. The £2bn Kickstart Scheme – subsidising eligible jobs for young people on universal credit – will be extended to March. Programmes to help long-term unemployed people on universal credit and to pay employers £3,000 per apprentice taken on will also be extended. Labour says it will not compensate for tax rises, a raised cost of living crisis and universal credit cuts.

2. Amber list scrapped as new travel rules take effect

Simplified travel rules announced weeks ago have come into force in the UK, with the traffic-light system replaced by a single red list. It means most fully vaccinated travellers arriving from non-red list countries will no longer have to take a test before setting off for the UK, although those coming from red list destinations must still pay to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

3. Jab offers for ages 12 to 15 in Wales by half-term

All 12 to 15-year-olds in Wales will be offered a Covid vaccine by the end of the October half-term, Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan says. The rollout is due to gather pace this week with all health boards providing jabs, mostly at mass vaccination centres and others in schools.

4. The bitter battle over mandatory vaccination

While Health Secretary Sajid Javid says he’s not prepared to “pause” the requirement for care staff in England to be fully vaccinated by 11 November, a row is raging in the US over mandatory jabs for certain workers. With a legal battle looming in Florida, we hear from those arguing for both personal freedom and public health.Watch: The showdown over Covid-19 mandates

5. First 100,000 high street vouchers issued

If you live in Northern Ireland, it could be time to treat yourself. The first 100,000 Spend Local cards – worth £100 – are being posted to applicants to the high street voucher scheme. More than 970,000 people have applied for the cards, which the Northern Ireland Executive’s Economy Minister Gordon Lyons says will “deliver the timely boost” businesses need to help them emerge from the pandemic.

Department for the Economy:

The rules on international travel have been updated today, with “traffic-light” system being replaced. Here’s all the latest information.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Oct.05: 2021:

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#UKGovNews ” Universal Credit the Pro’s and Con’s of `Employer’ and `Employees’Rights”

#AcePressRelease Lord Freud `Discusses how Universal Credit' will help Employee's  work more hours and calls on Employers' to champion the new benefit' 

It’s a pleasure to be here today to tell you about Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is rolling out across the country now and building momentum as the number of claimants rises.

It’s a fundamental overhaul of our benefits system that puts work at its very centre. It aims to make work pay and most crucially – create a system that is flexible and responsive to the modern labour market.

This flexibility could be really important in increasing your productivity. It will give you the opportunity to meet business peaks and troughs using your existing staff and you should find more people willing to take on irregular work.

It is part of the government’s long-term economic plan to help more people into work and we’re incredibly pleased with last week’s figures showing a large drop in unemployment. But there’s much more to do. And Universal Credit is a big part of that.

Learning lessons – what claimants are saying

We’re learning lessons as we extend the new system and this is feeding into our plans for when larger numbers of people start to make claims.

Early indications tell us people are positive about Universal Credit. 65% of those who previously claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance think that Universal Credit is a better financial incentive to work and they spend twice as many hours per week looking for work compared to those on JSA. That’s real progress.

Roll-out schedule

Employers I’ve spoken to are welcoming the benefits Universal Credit will bring to their businesses. They say it will be easier to recruit and develop staff as their employees will be better prepared for work and be more flexible with their hours.

I’d like to tell you more about our long-term plans for Universal Credit: Over the next 2 years Universal Credit will expand in scope and scale. Current plans are that during 2016 all new benefit claims will be for Universal Credit instead of legacy benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance or Housing Benefit. The vast majority of remaining claimants will then move onto Universal Credit during 2016 and 2017.

For those of you with branches or bases in the north-west of England, you will be particularly interested to know that Universal Credit will start to expand to cover more of the north-west by the end of this year. Employers such as Blue Arrow and Premier Inn are already working with Job centre Plus to prepare for this.

Universal Credit is totally different to the current benefits and tax credits system. It supports claimants seamlessly, both in and out of work. The smooth taper means their Universal Credit payment decreases gradually as their earnings rise – so their overall income goes up as they work more. What this means is your employees will be able to agree to more work without worrying about what it means for their benefits – because under Universal Credit they will be better off working more.

Impact on employers

So let’s move onto the key benefits of Universal Credit for employers.

Firstly, we’ve abolished the 16 hour rule. This artificial tipping point where you can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance and work up to a maximum of 16 hours prevents many people increasing their hours. They fear losing their safety net, their benefits – and if their hours change – being short of money whilst reclaiming benefit. Many of you have employees who are restricted in this way. Universal Credit has no such limits.

Secondly, the new PAYE in real time system has been designed to support Universal Credit payments. 99% of employers are now reporting their PAYE in real time every month. Not only does it prevent fraud, it ensures that every person who is in work on Universal Credit has their award automatically adjusted every month, based on these returns. So it’s absolutely crucial that you as employers report this accurately, as this will affect the payments of claimants.

Thirdly, Universal Credit claimants keep more money in their pocket for every pound they earn. That’s at least 35 pence in every pound compared to JSA claimants who cannot earn more than £5 a week before having it deducted against their benefits.

Blue Arrow told us they’ve had numerous candidates turn down offers of work as they would lose benefits, or were unwilling to sign off and sign back on again. They say Universal Credit will make it easier to recruit – particularly when it comes to part-time positions or for temporary work.

Finally, claimants apply for Universal Credit online and are paid monthly. This will include money for housing costs, childcare costs, and additional costs such as caring. So they’ll develop the budgeting skills and IT skills employers look for in their staff – and it will help them to adjust to monthly payments, the way most employers pay their staff.

What all of this means for employers is that you’ll have a more flexible workforce both in your existing employees and in potential recruits. I’m going to be upfront with you – it is certainly possible that those of you in certain sectors have built up HR structures around the 16 hour rule – such as care, retail or hospitality – and you will need to change them as this rule disappears and your employees can be much more flexible.

Specific groups in more detail

In fact, Universal Credit is already having a big impact on the kind of people you all employ – people with caring responsibilities, young people – and those for whom work has not just been worthwhile.

People for whom work is not attractive

It will help these people who have not found work – or working more – to be very attractive in the past. The current system can trap people on benefits – just the sheer complexity of moving off one benefit and onto another when going into work is a real barrier for some people. This complex system just does not reflect the modern workforce where hours can change from week to week.

Under Universal Credit, the benefit payment adjusts depending on earnings month-to-month. It also lets people take up short-time work without closing down their claim. This means they can accept a job for one month and know they won’t have to reclaim when that job ends.

Our Universal Credit claimants are already seeing the positives of this approach: Craig, a job seeker in Rugby said:

Universal Credit is much easier to use than Jobseeker’s as you don’t have the hassle of starting a rapid reclaim. Since starting my claim I have had part-time work and in the past you stress over the reclaim.

Another claimant Greg, who took up short-term work at Christmas, said:

It was good to know that my Universal Credit claim wouldn’t be closed. Anything that comes along – just give it a try!

Under Jobseeker’s Allowance, it would have been a difficult decision to take up these jobs. Now they have something else to put on their CV as they continue to look for full-time work.

Young people

Universal Credit will particularly help young people under 25. Nearly 7 out of 10 claimants receiving the new benefit are aged between 16 and 24. We’ve committed to increasing youth employment and Universal Credit is a key platform of this policy, alongside Youth Contract and apprenticeships, which the Minister for Employment spoke about earlier.

Under 25’s, who are currently excluded from Tax Credits, will receive this in-work support under Universal Credit. Getting a short-term job or a work experience placement is now so much easier as they’ll continue to claim Universal Credit – the payment will be adjusted automatically depending on how much they are earning.

Take Ben, one of our first Universal Credit claimants, aged 19 – after intensive preparation with his work coach, he started work experience for a fortnight and was taken on this month as an apprentice by Delta Laminates, a manufacturer in Wigan. He is one of the first Universal Credit claimants to qualify for a wage incentive.

Lone parents

Lone parents will benefit greatly in Universal Credit. There’s a whole range of benefits and add-ons designed for lone parents, but it is a complex system which hasn’t been working well enough to help them manage the transition into work.

Universal Credit will give them much greater financial incentives to move into work, and instead of claiming Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credits, they will receive one Universal Credit payment.

We have announced an additional £200 million in childcare payments for those needing it and we’re determined to find the best solutions for parents with childcare issues to help them once they are in work.

People with caring responsibilities

Employers are recognising that for those who have other commitments, Universal Credit will bring much-needed flexibility. B&Q are supportive of the changes it will bring for their staff, in particular those who have caring responsibilities. Carers will be able to flex their hours up and down around their commitments and earn more, rather than be restricted to a certain amount of hours.

Progression theory – in-work conditionality

We’re improving the way we set conditionality for job seekers. The new Claimant Commitment mirrors an employment contract, setting out clearly what a job seeker needs to do and the consequences of failing to meet their side of the deal. All Universal Credit claims include it and by spring it will cover all new Jobseeker’s Allowance claims.

Under Universal Credit, because there are no limits to the number of hours a person can work, we also need to include some in-work conditionality, so that unlike the current Tax Credit system, people are encouraged to progress and, with time, move off benefits. The in-work progression pilots are looking at the best ways of achieving this.

11 Job-centre Plus led pilots are running across England, Scotland and Wales. We are encouraging people to consider work beyond their first part-time job – to think about the skills they will need in the longer term.

You are a key component in this. We’ve ramped up apprenticeships and work incentives to help you train recruits in the skills that you need in your industries. As the economy grows, as labour market conditions improve and with your ongoing engagement we can ensure that once in work people can develop their skills and gradually become financially independent.

Engaging with employers, zero hours

I’m really pleased we’re engaging with you in the delivery of Universal Credit: I’m meeting with local employers in roll out areas; we’re working with you on in work conditionality and we’re consulting with trade bodies and employer organisations on how best to communicate Universal Credit to employers.

In the north-west we’re working with some large employers such as Premier Inn to specifically recruit Universal Credit claimants.

Some of you have asked about zero hours – these contracts support business flexibility, they provide entry to work for young people and give people the flexibility to combine work with other commitments, but they need to be fair. Universal Credit is not prescriptive about the hours people work, provided they are able to earn enough to support themselves and their families without undue reliance on state benefits, and a zero-hours contract may well be consistent with that, particularly where people have work flexibly for a number of employers.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has an ongoing zero hours employment contracts consultation which closes in March, so do take part and give your views on how zero hours can be sensibly regulated.

Conclusion

So we’re introducing Universal Credit gradually, learning lessons as we go along, freeing up the labour market and making sure work pays for every person, and we’re working with you to help people become financially independent.

Universal Credit is a fundamental reform – we hope you will champion it – to make the most of the benefits it offers – flexible, supported labour. We need to get more people into work. And Universal Credit will help people into work, stay in work and progress in work.

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“Warm Home Discount – Changes To The Scheme”

"Autumn Statement 2013"

“Autumn Statement 2013”

#AceNewsServices says following the recent “Autumn Statement” the UK Government has replied over the latest changes to ” The Warm Home Discount Scheme” set-up in 2011 for our Elderly and Vulnerable adults. Of course as with all changes they start of telling us how much they have spent, what they have done for people and also blowing their own trumpet.

As you read through the changes and click any highlighted links you will notice that at the very end it gives a list of all respondents in Annexe A and they are all energy companies, double glazing companies and businesses. It finally adds ” One private individual”  no name and no pact drill. 

Says it all: This is how it is at present just click link and PRINT

Anyway added a poll to this post with four simple answers 1. Agree 2.Disagree 3.Do Not Understand 4.My View

BACKGROUND: 

"Keep Warm This Winter"

“Keep Warm This Winter”

The Warm Home Discount began in April 2011 and provides assistance annually to around 2 million low-income and vulnerable households in Great Britain. The assistance is currently provided by the seven largest energy suppliers, each of which has over 250,000 domestic customer accounts. The main focus of the scheme is on electricity bill rebates and this winter over 1 million households have already received £135 off their bill.
The scheme has annual spending targets and the spending target for 2013/14 is £300m. If expenditure on the scheme is above or below the annual spending target, the target for the following scheme year is adjusted accordingly.

"Wrap Up Warm This Winter"

“Wrap Up Warm This Winter”

The largest element of the scheme is the Core Group, a subset of people receiving Pension Credit Guarantee Credit. Participating suppliers have to provide specified electricity bill rebates to all their Core Group customers, identified through matching energy supplier data with Government-held data. However, suppliers do not have to pay all customers eligible for other parts of the scheme – known as the non-core spending. On the basis of our estimate of how many people will qualify for the Core Group each year, we estimate how much non-core spending suppliers have to carry out in order to meet the annual spending target. This year we estimated that Core Group spending would be £200m in 2013/14. Given a total spending target of £300 million we therefore notified Ofgem in February that the non-core spending obligation should be £100m. Ofgem then informed suppliers of their individual non-core spending obligations.

Since setting the non-core spending obligation, we have established that the number of people receiving the qualifying benefit for the Core Group is much lower than the original forecast used  to estimate Core Group spending. If we did nothing, then scheme spending would likely be
£266m this year with a consequently higher spending target next scheme year (£344m rather than £310m). This would have a negative impact on fuel poverty this scheme year and  potentially create delivery and compliance problems next year. Therefore, we wanted to enable a solution which would result in higher non-core spending this year than the original obligation we set.

" Get What You Are OWED"

” Get What You Are OWED”

The Warm Home Discount began in April 2011 and provides assistance annually to around 2 million low-income and vulnerable households in Great Britain. The assistance is currently provided by the seven largest energy suppliers, each of which has over 250,000 domestic customer accounts. The main focus of the scheme is on electricity bill rebates and this winter over 1 million households have already received £135 off their bill. The scheme has annual spending targets and the spending target for 2013/14 is £300m. If expenditure on the scheme is above or below the annual spending target, the target for the following scheme year is adjusted accordingly. The largest element of the scheme is the Core Group, a subset of people receiving Pension Credit Guarantee Credit. Participating suppliers have to provide specified electricity bill rebates to all their Core Group customers, identified through matching energy supplier data with Government-held data. However, suppliers do not have to pay all customers eligible for other parts of the scheme – known as the non-core spending. On the basis of our estimate of how many people will qualify for the Core Group each year, we estimate how much non-core spending suppliers have to carry out in order to meet the annual spending target. This year we estimated that Core Group spending would be £200m in 2013/14. Given a total spending target of £300m, we therefore notified Ofgem in February that the non-core spending obligation should be £100m. Ofgem then informed suppliers of their individual non-core spending obligations. Since setting the non-core spending obligation, we have established that the number of people receiving the qualifying benefit for the Core Group is much lower than the original forecast used to estimate Core Group spending. If we did nothing, then scheme spending would likely be £266m this year with a consequently higher spending target next scheme year (£344m rather than £310m). This would have a negative impact on fuel poverty this scheme year and potentially create delivery and compliance problems next year. Therefore, we wanted to enable a solution which would result in higher non-core spending this year than the original obligation possible that they could spend more and subsequently reduce their non-core spending  obligation for 2014/15.

The Consultation:

We received 12 responses to the consultation and the respondents are listed at Annex A. We had discussed the issue and the proposal with participating suppliers and Ofgem prior to publishing the consultation.

What respondents said: 

We asked two questions in the consultation: 

Q1. Do you agree with the proposal to change the Warm Home Discount Regulations to allow suppliers to spend up to 34% more this year on the non-core elements of the scheme, thereby reducing next year’s obligation by a corresponding amount? All 12 respondents supported the proposal to allow suppliers to spend up to 34% more this year on the non-core elements of the scheme thereby reducing their obligation for next scheme year by a corresponding amount. However, several responses to this question went beyond the proposal in the consultation. In particular, the main focus of responses from suppliers was on the potential delivery problems they may face in 2014/15 as a result of a significantly higher Broader Group spending requirement.

Department of Work and Pensions Some suppliers highlighted that increasing the scale of spending on the Broader Group would add considerable cost to their administration and verification processes, and thus impact consumer bills. One supplier was concerned about the impact of delays and on-going changes to Universal Credit on suppliers’ ability to find and verify Broader Group customers. In view of these concerns, several suppliers asked Government to consider further changes to the scheme. There were three changes proposed, each of which would require further amendment to the policy: raising the spending cap on industry initiatives; increasing the value of the rebate and increasing the size of the Core Group.

  1. Raising the spending cap on industry initiatives Several respondents felt that the current spending cap of £30m on industry initiatives should be raised. They argued that industry initiatives provide a scalable approach to addressing the underspend which would be more cost-effective to deliver than identifying additional Broader Group customers. Their view was that this would ensure vulnerable customers will receive financial assistance sooner, rather than later.
  2. Raising the value of the rebate Some respondents felt that raising the value of the rebate offered to Core Group and Broader Group customers should be considered to offset the Core Group underspend and to make delivery easier in 2014/15.
  3. Increasing the size of the Core Group.

A proposal from several respondents was to broaden Core Group eligibility criteria. Again, the key aim would be to increase Core Group spending in year 4 of the scheme and thereby reduce the non-core spending obligation. One respondent asked that Government consider ways of increasing the uptake of Pension Credit, for example funding an awareness campaign. A significant proportion of people believed to be eligible for Pension Credit do not claim it, thereby also missing out on a Core Group rebate. Other issues, less focused on short-term changes to the scheme Regulations, were also raised in responses. A key concern for some suppliers was the impact of finding and verifying more Broader Group customers. One supplier raised a concern on impact of the ongoing changes and delayed introduction of Universal Credit on Suppliers’ ability to find and verify Broader Group eligibility. Some respondents suggested that wider data-sharing powers to identify and verify eligible
Broader Group customers would reduce costs and speed up verification and eligibility processes. One respondent also included a suggestion that Government consider ways to use communications about the scheme to attract more Broader Group customers.

Finally, several energy suppliers requested that Government improved its forecasting of Core Group spending in order that an issue of this magnitude does not arise again.

Q2. If you are a participating energy supplier, please indicate how much extra spending above your current non-core obligation you expect to carry out this scheme year? Please indicate if you would like this information to be confidential. Whilst some suppliers have indicated their intent to extra spending above their current non-core obligation, they were not able to provide a forecast. Two suppliers, British Gas and Eon, have indicated spending above their current non-core obligation. British Gas estimates overspending by 10% while Eon estimates an additional
15,000 Broader Group rebates above their obligation.

A proposal from several respondents was to broaden Core Group eligibility criteria. Again, the key aim would be to increase Core Group spending in year 4 of the scheme and thereby reduce the non-core spending obligation. One respondent asked that Government consider ways of increasing the uptake of Pension Credit, for example funding an awareness campaign. A significant proportion of people believed to be eligible for Pension Credit do not claim it, thereby also missing out on a Core Group rebate. Other issues, less focused on short-term changes to the scheme Regulations, were also raised in responses. A key concern for some suppliers was the impact of finding and verifying more Broader Group customers. One supplier raised a concern on impact of the ongoing changes and delayed introduction of Universal Credit on Suppliers’ ability to find and verify Broader Group eligibility. Some respondents suggested that wider data-sharing powers to identify and verify eligible
Broader Group customers would reduce costs and speed up verification and eligibility processes. One respondent also included a suggestion that Government consider ways to use communications about the scheme to attract more Broader Group customers. Finally, several energy suppliers requested that Government improved its forecasting of Core Group spending in order that an issue of this magnitude does not arise again.

Q2 If you are a participating energy supplier, please indicate how much extra spending above your current non-core obligation you expect to carry out this scheme year? Please indicate if you would like this information to be confidential. Whilst some suppliers have indicated their intent to extra spending above their current non-core obligation, they were not able to provide a forecast.  
Two suppliers, British Gas and Eon, have indicated spending above their current non-core obligation. British Gas estimates overspending by 10% while Eon estimates an additional 15,000 Broader Group rebates above their obligation.

Annex A.  

List of respondents to the consultation

Energy suppliers

British Gas
EDF
EON
RWE Npower
Scottish Power
Scottish and Southern Energy

Other

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem)
Energy Action Scotland
Energy UK
Islington Council
Glass and Glazing Federation
One private individual

#acenewsservices, #autumn-statement, #carbon-emission-reduction-target, #core-group, #customer, #fuel-poverty, #great-britain, #office-of-gas-and-electricity-markets, #ofgem, #poverty, #streaming-simd-extensions, #universal-credit, #warm-home-discount

Universal Credit Simplifying the Welfare System by Making People Pay

Ace News Group For a while l have followed the roll-out  by the UK Government of  their “Universal Credit” scheme, its is billed by politicians as the way to simplify the welfare system ,by guiding people back into work!

Of course as with all “Government Initiatives” there is a person tasked to front this policy in this case it is Iain Duncan Smith and so far he is keeping a lot of people in this country happy with the result! The reason being that the emphasis is for those that work and pay their taxes, whilst the scroungers get it all for free! Now everyone wants a government to spend their taxes wisely, so it is a winner as far as it goes!

So concept good on the face of it, but as my personal investigations have uncovered, behind what looks good for some, hides the real truth for others! In this instance the part in this latest system about “Making Sure Work Pays” well my insider source says it does, for the contracted service companies that get paid for providing a job, any job, as long as you work!  Now the pay can be low, the conditions can be unfair and the consequences can lead to tribunals and even dismissal ,as my source has confirmed. But as long as you do not turn up on the unemployment register as an applicant claiming welfare benefits ,that suits this government just fine!

As a lot of people are aware a number of employers have signed up to this contract and it enables these companies to get cheap labour, on short-term contracts and unburden the register for the unemployed, massaging the figures and making this government, look as if they are looking after the people’s interest.

So it is a real vote winner for the government, welfare system and unemployment!

But these companies do not care about all that, they just want you to work in any job, and of course they get paid for providing such a service, but according to my source their tactics are not very humane, their interview techniques are questionable and their methods would lead one to believe we are back in the 1930’s not living in this day and age. The problem is that my source had to take a job working on a third-party contract for a Property and Maintenance Services company ,providing their services to the NHS and on a 24 hour call-out arrangement, being told  that he would receive a vehicle, mobile phone and only be on call-out every two weeks. Sounds great and so with no choice he took it ,against my best advice as the contract was exceptionally onerous, to say the least!

That was 6 months ago, since that time the mobile phone, has one feature the employer can ring him, no call back or checking procedure, the van never arrived, he now works every weekend using his own vehicle, and never sees his wife ,or his very ill house bound mother! His time at the company has gone from bad to worst as refusal to do these hours, has brought him into conflict and recently before the disciplinary board, and he is now awaiting an appeal!

Now upon reading this you would think that these are all excuses ,he does not want to work! Well l can tell you l have known this person all of my life, and he is nearly 60 years old now! He has worked all his adult life from the age of 16, but has been unlucky like so many to be made redundant 4 times, and he has always done his job to the best of his ability!

So you might say, why is this situation not well-known, well of course these so-called interviews are carried out behind closed doors, so nobody gets to see or hear how they get you to agree to a job! This can include standing you in the middle of a room full of people and publicly humiliating you, saying you are lazy and a burden on the state, so if you do not take the job we offer you, we can make a phone-call and stop your benefits! Of course they couch it in such a manner, saying words like we could, as we have been given the job of getting you off the unemployment register and into work.

What they do not say is that for everyone who takes a job they received a payment, so the incentive to get people a job, any job is paramount as more that stop taking benefits, the more money they make!

Conclusion: 

At present there is an appeal under-way and the story of this tribunal will be written in part two, but suffice to say for now my source has asked me not to share his name ,or the name of the company! Also l will eventually after more investigation name the company tasked by this government to carry-out these recruitment services and where in the country this took place!

Of course for all those that want to look at the government’s way of providing Universal Credit here is a link explaining it all, together with a small  snippet the scheme:

Department of Work and Pensions Introducing Universal Credit:

We are introducing Universal Credit in 2013 for people who are looking for work or on a low-income. Universal Credit brings together a range of working-age benefits into a single payment. It will:

  • encourage people on benefits to start paid work or increase their hours by making sure work pays
  • smooth the transitions into and out of work
  • simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand, and easier and cheaper to administer
  • reduce the number of people who are in work but still living in poverty
  • reduce fraud and error

Read More at: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/simplifying-the-welfare-system-and-making-sure-work-pays

or download this PDF: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/253919/uc-faqs.pdf

#david-freud-baron-freud, #department-for-work-and-pensions, #government, #iain-duncan-smith, #jobseekers-allowance, #labour, #poverty, #self-employment, #social-security, #universal-credit, #welfare, #working-tax-credit

Reducing Council Tax Benefit Will Benefit Government

Bill of Benefits

Bill of Benefits (Photo credit: judge_mental)

This was a snippet of  news picked up just a while ago, that interested me as to the ramifications! It seems that this was a joint decision by the coalition on the surface of it, but the full article on the this story, reveals a lot more!

Anyway here is the extract firstly courtesy of the IFS and Paul Johnson:

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that poor families are set to have their council tax benefits cut due to the Coalition telling councils to cut their benefit bills by 10%. IFS chief Paul Johnson said: “They could decide to take 10% off the current cost of council tax benefit, which means some council tax recipients will be worse off. It’s quite hard to do this without affecting those who receive 100% council tax benefit – the very poorest.” Labour peer Baroness Hollis said the proposals were “deeply unfair”.

Under the present situation these rules apply and provide these guidelines:

Council Tax Benefit: key facts about the current system
Council Tax Benefit (CTB) provides means-tested help to people on a low income who have to pay Council Tax. For working age people there is a limit on savings of £16,000. If you claim means-tested out-of-work benefits (Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance) you generally receive full assistance, so that you do not pay Council Tax at all. If you are in work or have other income you can still receive CTB but are likely to get less than the full amount, so that your Council Tax bill will be reduced but not eliminated.

A more generous system applies to pensioners. If you claim Pension Credit (guarantee element) there is no limit on the amount of savings you can have and you will normally not pay Council Tax at all. Pensioners with higher incomes can also qualify, even if they do not get Pension Credit, and depending on their circumstances can qualify with an income of £400 a week or more. Around 60% of pensioners are entitled to CTB, though many fail to claim.

Under the new system whereby the amount of benefit is cut by 10% these rules would be drastically amended:

The government’s reform proposals: 

The government’s consultation paper makes the following proposals:
 Help with Council Tax will be a local authority responsibility and will not become part of Universal Credit (as DWP and some commentators have urged)
 The amount provided to local authorities for the new system will be 10% less than current spending on CTB
 Support for pensioners will not be affected by this cut in spending and will remain at existing levels with existing rules
Local authorities will be free to establish whatever rules they choose for their schemes for working age people (and will administer the scheme for pensioners using national rules)
 Central government will provide a fixed amount of money to local authorities to operate their new schemes. Unlike current arrangements, this central government grant will not be ring-fenced and will not vary according to demand
 New local schemes to provide help with paying Council Tax must be in place by April 2013
The consultation paper only directly affects England and separate proposals are likely to be made in Wales and Scotland. However, the 10% spending reduction affects all parts of Great Britain and in the analysis below and in the Annex it is assumed that Wales and Scotland follow suit in protecting the position of pensioners.

Impact of the expenditure cut:

When the new system of local support for Council Tax is introduced in April 2013 the amount provided to local authorities will be reduced by 10% relative to current expenditure on CTB, saving around £480 million a year. However, characterising this as a 10% cut is disingenuous, as pensioners are in effect excluded from the new system. In terms of the population of working age claimants, who are the only ones that can be affected by new rules, the cut is much larger than 10%.
The national picture is shown in the table below. It shows the kinds of people who are currently claiming CTB and how this relates to the savings target of £480 million. Working age people are divided into those who are receiving full CTB, almost all of whom will be claiming claim means-tested out-of-work benefits (Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance), low earners who are receiving some CTB but have to pay some Council Tax themselves, and other people who are receiving some CTB but are not in work.

Options for meeting the savings target: ‘equal pain’
As shown by the analysis above, local authorities have to make very large savings from working age claimants to meet the government’s savings target. One approach to this would be to impose an ‘equal pain’ rule and reduce all benefit payments by the same proportion (19% on average nationally). However, for those claimants currently getting full CTB this would mean starting to collect Council Tax from a group who currently pay nothing. Moreover, the reason they do not pay anything at the moment is because they qualify for means-tested benefits like Income Support, where by definition the amount of money they have to live on is at ‘safety net’ levels.
Local authorities have some experience of the difficulty of extracting small amounts of money from people living in poverty. The ill-fated Community Charge (or ‘Poll Tax’) of the early 1990s imposed a minimum 20% charge on all citizens, whatever their income or status, so that local authorities had to trace and collect money from everyone living in their locality. While the property base for Council Tax will make the task somewhat easier, that experience shows the difficulty with moving away from full rebates for the poorest. Administering the system is likely to be expensive, with many of the 2 million people now expected to pay likely to opt for weekly or monthly payments, and there is always the possibility of mass non-compliance, as occurred with the Poll Tax.

It may therefore make more sense to look at completely removing entitlement to help with Council Tax from some groups. As well as helping with the administrative problems outlined above, this approach has two advantages. First, it means that particularly vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities or children, can be protected from the cuts. Second, it is the most effective way of increasing work incentives for particular groups, as it will make them poorer when unemployed and no worse-off when in employment.

Options for meeting the sales target – removing entitlement for some groups!

There are a number of groups who might be candidates for removing from entitlement altogether. For instance, one possibility would be to restrict eligibility for support to tenants, so that owner occupiers were expected to pay the full amount of Council Tax whatever their circumstances. In terms of collection it might be possible to treat unpaid Council Tax as a charge against the value of the property, so that people who could not pay would effectively find arrears added to their mortgage. And low earning owner-occupiers are one of the main groups to benefit from Universal Credit, enjoying help with mortgage payments where none is available currently, creating a further reason for treating this group less favourably. Around 1.5 million CTB claimants are owner-occupiers, and though the majority of these are likely to be pensioners it is likely that removing entitlement from this group would be just about sufficient to meet the savings target.
However, a criterion based on tenure-type would necessarily affect claimants with children or disabilities, two groups who local authorities would hope to protect (and, in the former case, which they have a statutory duty to protect under child poverty legislation). A more attractive route might therefore be to remove from Council Tax support all working age people who do not meet certain criteria, such as having dependent children, living in a household where someone is disabled, being pregnant or a full-time carer. Such conditions would largely mirror the conditions for claiming Income Support and Employment and Support Allowance, so that in effect claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance would be excluded from the scheme. Nationally around 600,000 people receive full CTB because they are claiming income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, though around 20% of these have dependent children. Subtracting claimants with children, the likely saving nationally from removing Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants would be around £420 million, and once savings on working non-disabled childless people are included it is likely that the saving target would be met.

The harshness of such an approach cannot be denied. A single unemployed person without children or disabilities currently receives £67.50 a week to live on, and forcing them to pay Council Tax would reduce this to closer to £50 a week. It is difficult to see how they will make ends meet, and collection of Council Tax from this group is likely to be a severe problem. Nevertheless, maintaining support for people with children or disabilities, and avoiding the potential administrative nightmare of imposing ‘equal pain’, will necessarily involve making difficult choices such as this!

Slides from the DWP workshop on the changes in...

Slides from the DWP workshop on the changes in Housing Benefit (Photo credit: solobasssteve)

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