DWP to pay compensation to wrongly advised claimants?

Amber Rudd and Neil Couling have told the Work and Pensions Committee that the DWP will pay compensation to claimants who have been misadvised, by the DWP, to claim universal credit and have lost out as a result.

Giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee, Amber Rudd and Neil Couling were questioned about the evidence that Jobcentres were misadvising claimants to move on to universal credit. This was as a direct result of evidence provided by NAWRA in our written response and in our oral evidence.

You can watch the evidence being put to Ms Rudd and Mr Couling, and their responses, here.

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Impact of welfare reform

The Equality and Human RIghts Commission have published their final  cumulative report on the impact of government Welfare Reforms.  The report suggests that children will be hit hardest with an extra 1.5 million being pushed into poverty.

In addition, the report finds that the child poverty rate for those in lone parent households will increase from 37% to over 62% and households with three or more children will see losses of around £5,600.  They also identify significant and disproportionate impacts on disabled families, on women and on Bangladeshi households.

The report concludes that these negative impacts are largely driven by the freeze in working-age benefit rates, changes to disability benefits, and reductions in Universal Credit rates.

David Isaac, the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is responsible for making recommendations to Government on the compatibility of policy and legislation with equality and human rights standards, said:

“It’s disappointing to discover that the reforms we have examined negatively affect the most disadvantaged in our society. It’s even more shocking that children – the future generation – will be the hardest hit and that so many will be condemned to start life in poverty. We cannot let this continue if we want a fairer Britain.”

The Commission calls on government to reconsider existing welfare policies and to review the level of welfare benefits to ensure that they provide an adequate standard of living.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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Universal Credit: A flawed system

NAWRA member, Richard Machin from Staffordshire University, has written an excellent piece for online journal ‘The Conversation’ entitled “A welfare adviser’s view on Universal Credit: a flawed system that emphasises process over people.”

Richard highlights myriad problems with the rollout of Universal Credit and highlights NAWRAs position on implict consent.  Richard concludes his article by saying:

Benefit advisers have long called for changes to the benefit system to make it easier to understand and access for claimants. The whole point of Universal Credit is to provide a more streamlined and coherent system. The widely reported problems with the rollout of Universal Credit demonstrate that there is still much work to be done to improve a system that too often emphasises process over people.

You can read the full article here.

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Universal Credit inquiry

NAWRA has sent a formal response to the Work and Pensions Committee Universal credit update inquiry.  Thank you to all the members who responded to our request for information – your help has been invaluable, as always.

NAWRA has serious concerns about Universal Credit – in particular as the full service rolls out.  We have called for a range of changes to be implemented if the full rollout is to have a chance of success.  These include:

  • Allowing alternative payment arrangements on request – allowing flexibility would ease the transition for claimants, ease the administrative burden on the DWP, and lessen the need for such a high level of personal budgeting support.
  • Recognising that for some people getting online on a daily basis may not be possible – alternatives such as phone or face to face contact need to be more readily available.
  • Verifying and paying housing costs much more quickly.
  • Taking payments for temporary housing out of the monthly assessment process so that all costs can be met as they arise and paid promptly.
  • Removing waiting days for all claimants – leaving claimants without money makes it virtually impossible to job seek effectively and put people in debt right from the start.
  • Reinstating implicit consent for advisers – so that problems can be resolved as quickly and effectively as possible.

You can download and read our full response to the inquiry in March 2017 and updates from September and October 2017.

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