what have witnessed in the early part of 2014

Here is something of interest to all see below:

photoWhat a week we all have seen from the media ranging from Benefit Street to a cock up from the benefit system where we’ve learn that the bedroom tax and universal credit is not fit for purpose. Firstly we all have read that the software for dealing with our benefits that pays many people from a range of benefits cannot cope coupled by another one viz bedroom tax there some people may or may-not be entitled to a refund I’m sure many people will start to see the £ sign in their eyes right now.

Is it as simple as that er no way do I hear some people say? In truth I’m inclined to believe that this coalition will try not to pay out they would rather be taken to court before they give back the over payment to us commoners who has to pick up the crumbs of the table to make ends meet.

photo (1)In a nutshell I will be very surprised if they will say here is a cheque for ex amount that is owed to you instead they would rather play god to decide who is more deserving or say we will check to see if any of the people who is owed money from the over-payment has committed any benefit fraud which comes to mind I do hope I’m wrong.

Let’s see if the DWP will work in partnership with the multi agencies (social and private housing) to return the payment to the tenants who had to pay the bedroom tax if they are entitled to it.

photo (2)Now we all have learnt from the BBC that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the Sunday Times the UK, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland wanted to change EU law.

A three-month ban on EU migrants claiming UK out-of-work benefits came into force earlier this month.

But a senior EU official said migrants pay in more than they take out.

European commissioner Laszlo Andor told the BBC the UK risked “losing friends” and developing a bad image because of the way the debate on immigration was developing.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, meanwhile, said it was “eminently sensible” to consider further changes to benefits for EU migrants.

But he cautioned changes must be done in conjunction with other European states or there would be a “danger” of tit-for-tat changes made by other governments.

“The idea that somehow we can apply new criteria to Germans, Fins, Dutch, Austrians you name it, but somehow no new conditions would apply to Brits living in other European Union countries is fanciful,” he told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 live.

The easing of restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians working in the UK at the beginning of the year has seen the debate surrounding so-called benefit tourism resurface.

Mr Duncan Smith said there was “a growing groundswell of concern about the [immigration] issue” and Britain was “right in the middle of a large group of nations saying enough is enough”.

He said he had been working with the other countries to bring pressure on Brussels to allow individual EU member countries to make their own rules stricter.

Mr Duncan Smith said Britain should ask migrants: “Demonstrate that you are committed to the country, that you are a resident and that you are here for a period of time and you are generally taking work and that you are contributing.”

He added: “At that particular point… it could be a year, it could be two years, after that, then we will consider you a resident of the UK and be happy to pay you benefits.”

Sources close to Mr Duncan Smith stressed he was expressing an aspiration for the future rather than spelling out a policy.

It comes after Europe’s Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Mr Andor insisted migrant workers were net contributors to the UK economy.

“We shouldn’t assume that the UK welfare system is a lot more generous than that of many other countries,” he said.

“Migrant workers altogether are net contributors to the system. They take out much less in the form of benefits or welfare services than what they contribute in the form of taxes or contributions to the system.”

His remarks echoed that of his EU colleague Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission, who said last week that it was a “myth” to speak about an “invasion of foreigners” stealing jobs and draining welfare and health resources.

Christian Dustmann, an economics professor at University College London who has published research on how much migrants claim in benefits in comparison to people born in the UK, told BBC Radio 5 live on Sunday there was clear evidence about who was claiming more.

“We have looked at the overall receipt of transfers and benefits, which of course include child benefit, housing benefit and other forms of benefits, and what we find is that migrants from EU countries are 33% less likely than UK natives to claim any form of benefits,” he said.

Prof Dustmann said there was “very little concern that immigrants from EU countries are free-riding on the UK’s welfare system”.

Matthew Pollard, executive director of Migration Watch UK, a think tank that supports tighter immigration controls, accepted EU migrants claimed less than UK nationals in out-of-work benefits but said it was “still right for the government to restrict access”.

“It goes against people’s sense of fairness that the EU want an EU migrant to be treated in exactly the same way as a Brit when it comes to out-of-work benefits. This undermines confidence in the welfare system as well as the EU in general,” he told 5 live.

He said migrants claimed more in terms of “in work” benefits, such as working tax credits and housing benefit, and there was no economic case for mass immigration.

Last week UKIP leader Nigel Farage called for migrants to be barred from receiving benefits until they have been living in the UK for five years.

London Mayor Boris Johnson suggested any ban should be two years.

Meanwhile, more than 90 Conservative MPs have written to David Cameron urging him to give Parliament a national veto over current and future EU laws.

I make no apologies when I say I’m no fan of Iain Duncan Smith or the coalition as I feel that they have gone three steps further than what Thatcher herself would not have done in some sense like eroding the welfare system to attack the poor, like creating a us and them culture by introducing the bedroom tax will remind those of us who remembers there much dreaded poll tax.

Already we’ve have learnt of alleged suicides by various MPs and other horror stories. It just makes you wonder if people are not sicking by this to bring out the votes to get rid of this coalition what will a radical movement for change like a revolution hopefully not violence but in a peaceful way by using the ballot box.

Let’s not forget that both the press and media had a hand in this by sewing the seed in every bodies head to endure that they will get the result that they wanted in the first place of a coalition so next time don’t fall into the trap again.

I don’t know whether cry or laugh as its further alleged that thousands of people have been wrongly identified as liable for the bedroom tax, including some who now face eviction or have been forced to move to a smaller property, as a result of an error by Department of Work and Pensions.

Housing experts believe as many as 40,000 people could be affected by the mistake. The DWP says it believes only a “small number” of tenants are affected, which it estimates number 5,000.

All could be eligible for refunds worth on average at least £640 per claimant and millions in aggregate.

The error affects working age tenants in social housing who have occupied the same home continuously since 1996. An oversight by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when drafting the legislation means that the housing benefit regulations dating from 1996 were not updated when the coalition legislated for the bedroom tax.

Chris Bryant MP, Labour’s shadow minister for welfare reform, said: “This is the latest example of the chaos and confusion within the Department of Work and Pensions under Iain Duncan Smith. Rather than closing loopholes in the policy, the government should scrap their hated bedroom tax. If they don’t, the next Labour government will.” A spokesperson for the DWP said the regulations would be amended to close the loophole, although it is not clear how this will be done.

The bedroom tax affects 660,000 housing benefit claimants living in social housing. The policy imposes an average penalty of between £14 and £22 a week on working-age tenants deemed to have more bedrooms than they need.

Joe Halewood, an independent housing consultant, says that the estimate that 40,000 people were affected was based on the scaling up nationally of figures collected by Exeter City council, which has identified 31 of its housing tenants – 4.5% of those affected by the bedroom tax in the city – as wrongly held liable. .

Halewood told the Guardian’s housing network website: “Forty thousand is actually a conservative estimate. You’re looking at one in 25 of housing benefit claimants being affected.”

Peter Delamothe, a housing benefit consultant at HBinfo, said he had spoken to a council that had already identified 250 tenants wrongly ruled liable for the bedroom tax: “This is a shambles caused by the DWP failing to understand the significance of their own legislation”.

Another council, which did not want to be named, said its initial inquiries suggested 15% of its tenants affected by the bedroom tax could be exempt and would qualify for a refund.

The Exeter tenants received exemption notices in December, after a local tribunal discovered the loophole. News of the decision spread over the Christmas and new year period as local campaigners raised the issue on social media, and it is understood that several individual appeals have been launched around the country.

It is believed that some tenants who may now be deemed exempt will have received hundreds of pounds in emergency discretionary housing payments (DHPs) since April to help them cope with the shortfall in their income caused by the bedroom tax. They will have their housing benefit refunded, but will not be obliged to repay the DHP cash, which may result in some actually gaining hundreds of pounds in cash.

Some councils have assigned staff to assess how many households in their area are affected, but there are concerns that most will not have kept housing records dating back to 1996. Some are understood to have legitimately destroyed older files under data protection rules.

In effect this may mean that councils will be forced to judge many exemption claims on the “balance of probability”. The process of investigating individual claims could take weeks or months, according to one housing sector insider.

The DWP error could also lead to hundreds of applications to the local government ombudsman as tenants seek redress for being wrongly made liable for the bedroom tax.

Theo Blackwell, the cabinet member for finance at Camden council said: “While good news for those families, it is an administrative nightmare as we have to find those continuously in receipt of housing benefit going back 18 years, when we – like most councils – have changed systems largely from a paper-based one to new IT systems. This is more evidence of how the bedroom tax policy was rushed and ill-conceived.”

Giles Peaker, a solicitor at Anthony Gold who blogs about housing law at the Nearly Legal website, said: “It wouldn’t be a surprise if regulations accidentally failed to amend or repeal some previous regulations. It happens quite often when the relevant law is labyrinthine. If I were a housing benefit recipient in the relevant situation, I would certainly appeal the bedroom tax deduction on these grounds.”

So labour win the vote and debate in their calls for a public enquiry into the effects of the Tory welfare “reform”. A lot of people don’t seem to understand about voting on issues like this in parliament, and despite the good news, some have been griping that there were too few MPs turned up to vote. Let me clarify. First of all this was a backbench debate, so it was only the backbench MPs that attended. This can be seen on the Hansard record.

Secondly, on other occasions MPs have other business to attend, when you read the reasons for their absence, they are usually valid and understandable. In these circumstances, MPs use the pairing system to vote on the issue in advance of the debate. That was the case recently with the bedroom ta debate that Labour tabled themselves.

The third issue to consider is that the Lib dems almost always vote with the Tories, which leaves Labour outnumbered anyway, so to win any vote is a spectacular success for them. However, the debates are tabled by Labour to raise public awareness every bit as much as they are to challenge, oppose, and attempt to persuade the libdems and tories that their policies are toxic and damaging, and there is of course a record kept of all of the issues raised with Coalition policies, which is very useful as a reference, and will be in the future, too, as evidence.

Some are using people’s ignorance about the voting system to perpetuate propaganda about Labour. For example the SNP circulated the lie that labour didn’t vote recently on an issue, yet the Hansard record shows plainly that they did, and all of them, sufficient to divide the House. That was an appallingly blatant lie from the SNP. Similarly, the claim made about MPs not bothering to vote on the bedroom tax recently was used as propaganda, yet the pairing system was in use for that debate, and they ALL voted. Furthermore it was LABOUR that tabled that debate in the first place, and they have opposed the bedroom tax from the start! I can’t abide people telling lies to get their own way, but some ARE. And not just Tories either. Please be careful not to believe all you read and see, it is bad enough fighting the Tories, but they are not the only ones with an agenda that aims at damaging the Labour Party by telling lies about them.

As if that’s not bad enough of lately most of the press and politicians all seems to promote the right wing agenda of wanting to ban EU migrants from claiming benefits for three month or five years whichever is greater.

It’s hardly surprising to learn that George Osborne’s pledge to make the state permanently smaller. Many feel the state is due to expand in a quite unwelcome way. The £25 billion Osborne says he is cutting probably going to finance out of work benefits as unemployment raises which many think it will.

Quantitative easing will have to stop before the market calls time and the expanding US deficit will cause interest rates to rise both there and here. All this will cause pressure on companies’ margin and cause them to reduce their workforce or close to protect those margins.

The tax to pay for unemployment will be collected from middle and lower earners who at the same time will have their share of welfare state reduced by means testing.

Middle Britain will be educated into believing that they are supporting scroungers and slackers and any proposals to change course will be greeted by the cry “where is the money coming from.

Of couse this will have certain credibility as so much will be committed to unemployed benefits. The way of handling the crisis seems to bear a great deal of resemblance to the way things were done in the 80s to keep the Conservatives in power for years.

Let’s us all hope that Osborne is like one of those First World War generals who made mistakes because they were always fighting the last battle.

Let us all also hope that Labour does not repeat the same mistakes it did in the 80s and makes opportune alliance without being merely shallow and opportunists. Now is the time to return to Labour and remind them of their core values and vote Labour in all the elections in 2014-2016.


2 responses to “what have witnessed in the early part of 2014


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