Cicero Yearly Archives

Welfare Rights News

This category contains 9 posts

“Cathy Come Home” to Rushden!


 

download

The Full Gospel Church in Rushden held a marvelous screening of Ken Loach’s film Cathy Come Home on the 13th June 2018  Ciceros.org has an exclusive interview with Mark Lees of Rushden’s local housing and community project ENCS

The film deals with the issue of homelessness and family fracture and disintegration caused by homelessness and although initially screened in 1966 as part of the BBC Wednesday Plays it caused for a legislative overhaul and examination of homelessness and housing provision which ultimately culminated in the form of greater legislation by virtue of the Homeless Persons Act 1977. Sadly years later and even with Bob Blackwood MPs Homeless Reduction Bill things are still rather bleak as the requirement for cheaper affordable homes and more housing in various areas of the country are causing a surge in rough sleeping and organizations like Shelter and Crisis who had just formed when the film was made are still calling for the building of 500,000 more homes a year for people facing or who are considered homeless.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The event was attended by about 60 people who had come along to show support for the work that the local churches of the East Northants Faith Group, the Gospel Church being one of the churches involved in Northamptonshire in helping homeless people by means the “Night Shelter” run by staff and volunteers by the local charity ENCS (East Northants Community Service).

Mark Lees who is the local pastor and the chair of the ENCS and who organized the event also organized a lovely meal that was cooked by a local refugee family he has been working with. The night was attended by those homeless who are in the night shelter, Mark-Lees1volunteers of the shelter, local congregation and those interested in how the local parish of Rushden is making practical and pragmatic strives in combating the homelessness and housing problems in the Northamptonshire area.

In an exclusive interview with Ciceros.org; Mark Lees, when asked about what the screening of the film hoped to highlight said: “With the passage of time, homelessness is still a major issue today than it was when it was first highlighted through this film”. He added, “If ever a film needed a modern remake this would be one to show in graphic detail the plight of homelessness today and not in the polite English of the BBC of the 1960s”.

“With the passage of time, homelessness is still a major issue today than it was when it was first highlighted through this film”

Asked about what he would like to see local councils do more towards combatting homelessness and rough sleeping he said “Councils need to be more human in dealing with people” and commenting on the need to cut through bureaucratic legislation he said “they need to realize they have the ability to  cut corners as each case demands and offer help where it’s needed most and where legislation is restrictive”. He said he would like to see the Government take more of an initiative in its allocation of spending on homelessness more directly to where it’s needed “not directing money as it does presently to national quangos that purport to help the homeless but to provide local councils with budgets to allocate to local homeless projects with no strings attached”

“Councils need to be more human in dealing with people they need to realize they have the ability to cut corners as each case demands and offer help where it’s needed most and where legislation is restrictive”.

 

Mark’s vision of the future for the local housing homelessness project the “Sanctuary” night shelter in Rushden he wants to see the project short-term goal  “to move the shelter to a larger more suitable provision with better day support services”, and added on the need for the local person to “become more aware of their rights to housing provision and have agencies educate people on their legal rights with regard to housing and security of tenure”

The “Sanctuary” Night Shelter which has accommodation for six males only, is one of the main points of signposting that the local district; town and borough councils (Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, and East Northamptonshire) within the Northamptonshire County relies heavily on for emergency housing and uses porta cabin dwellings with facilities to wash and eat. The Full Gospel also and has a purpose built kitchen and dining area for its Cornerfield Café which is a community café offering cooked breakfast for those in the local community and also a food bank, the church also offers a job club and debt advice on a weekly basis to people in the community.

For more information please visit:  encs.org.uk

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Professor Michael Sandel


Michael SandelMichael J. Sandel (born March 5, 1953) is an American political philosopher and a political philosophy professor at Harvard University. His course “Justice” is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on television.

It has been viewed by tens of millions of people around the world, including in China, where Sandel was named the “most influential foreign figure of the year” (China Newsweek).

He is also known for his critique of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice in his first book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982). He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002.

Sandel was born in Minneapolis but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was thirteen. He was president of his senior class at Palisades High School (1971) and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s degree in politics (1975). He received his doctorate from Balliol College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar, where he studied under philosopher Charles Taylor.

 

Philosophical views

Sandel subscribes to a certain version of communitarianism (although he is uncomfortable with the label), and in this vein, he is perhaps best known for his critique of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice. Rawls’ argument depends on the assumption of the veil of ignorance, which he claims allows us to become “unencumbered selves”.

Sandel’s view is that we are by nature encumbered to an extent that makes it impossible even in the hypothetical to have such a veil. Some examples of such ties are those with our families, which we do not make by conscious choice but are born with, already attached. Because they are not consciously acquired, it is impossible to separate oneself from such ties. Sandel believes that only a less-restrictive, looser version of the veil of ignorance should be postulated. Criticism such as Sandel’s inspired Rawls to subsequently argue that his theory of justice was not a “metaphysical” theory but a “political” one, a basis on which an overriding consensus could be formed among individuals and groups with many different moral and political views.

 

Sandel has taught the famous “Justice” course at Harvard for two decades. More than 15,000 students have taken the course, making it one of the most highly attended in Harvard’s history. The fall 2007 class was the largest ever at Harvard, with a total of 1,115 students. The fall 2005 course was recorded and is offered online. An abridged form of this recording is now a 12-episode TV series, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

CPAG Welfare Rights Handbook 2018


WELFARE BENEFITS AND TAX CREDITS HANDBOOK 2018/19

 

What does it cover?

Our definitive guide to all benefits and tax credits is an essential resource for all professional advisers serious about giving the best and most accurate advice to their clients.

Newly restructured, the handbook is now easier to use and it has been refocused to bring universal credit to the fore.

With detailed information on all the recent changes to the social security system, including the latest on the roll-out of universal credit and the sanctions regime, the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook provides comprehensive advice about entitlement in 2018/19

 

This edition includes new and updated information on:

 

• who can claim benefits and tax credits

• the roll-out of universal credit

• disability and incapacity benefits, and the work capability assessment for employment and support allowance

• dealing with benefit sanctions

• challenging decisions, backdating, overpayments, income and capital, and national insurance provisions

• changes to support for mortgage interest

 

Fully indexed for ease of use and cross-referenced to law, regulations, official guidance and court decisions, Upper Tribunal and commissioners’ decisions, the handbook also offers tactical information on common problem areas and advice on how to challenge decisions.

 

Who is it for?

 

The Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook is an essential resource for welfare rights advisers, lawyers, local authority staff, social workers, union officials and claimants.

 

Cover price £61 and for CPAG members and CAB customers £51.85.

Debbie Abrahams re-examines Pensions in Corby


20882898_1569207366433820_7313971429905566976_nDEBBIE ABRAHAMS VISITS CORBY COUNCILS ‘CUBE’ BUILDING TO DISCUSS “DIGNITY AND SECURITY IN OLDER AGE: THE STATE PENSION” 

The event took place on 17th August 2017 hosted by the Constituency Labour Party with an introduction by Cllr Tom Beattie on the discussion of the increase of the pension age to 67 years to those born in the 1950’s and State Pension Age increase in years to come.

As Debbie Abrahams wrote recently

“Older people have been badly let down by the Tories. During this year’s General Election they failed to provide transitional protection to women born in the 1950s who have had the increase in their State Pension Age (SPa) accelerated; in addition, they failed to guarantee they would protect the State Pension ‘triple lock’ and Winter Fuel Allowance. Most recently the Government announced that they will be accelerating the increase in the SPa to 68 at the same time it was announced that increases in life expectancy had ‘ground to a halt’.

This contrasts to the Labour Party’s manifesto pledge to retain the triple lock and winter fuel allowance, as well as provide support for the 1950s born women through pensions credit and further transitional protections. Labour has also rejected the accelerated increase in the SPa to 68 and is examining options for a flexible retirement age.

As part of the Labour Party’s commitment to ensuring dignity and security in older age, we are launching a national conversation with communities across the country to discuss what this means in relation to the State Pension.”

The visit to Corby Cube was part of the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions national tour gaining public ideas and proposals in re-examining the State Pension and incentivising Private Pensions.

 

 

Grenfell Requires Answers!


A second tragedy has befallen London in the last few days. We all woke on Wednesday to see the most distressing scenes of a towering inferno in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Lancaster West area of London.
Although the extent of such a tragedy was difficult to comprehend it was by many residents a disaster almost waiting to happen, and even followed a report by Housing regulation inspectors into the blocks refurbishment following  concerns of the safety of the building that saw gas pipes in communal areas bare, a complete lack of fire sprinklers and the use a lower grade of building cladding provided to the exterior of the building.
Of course, you may be as shocked as I was at the fire, and it’s ferocity and we as a country share deepest sympathy and grief for all either who perished and their families and also for the survivors who are rebuilding their lives after such a disaster.
My question goes out to KCTMO the landlord involved and concerned with this particular housing disaster, why did they sign the refurbishment as satisfactory when important safety requirements were not met? Why after 72 hours did the Prime Minister only first start to address residents and the local community about the disaster and does she really expect that the £5 million will be adequate to the survivors (we do not know yet the numbers who perished and those who survived) who now must rehouse themselves and rebuild their lives? Why did Kensington and Chelsea Housing Chiefs today not address the local community or provide any assistance in knowing the estimated number of tenants involved?
Below are the scenes we have witnessed over the last couple of days that will haunt people and which now demand a total long-awaited overhaul of  Housing Safety.
David Lammy MP for Tottenham who lost a close friend he described who perished in the disaster was a “young person with a beautiful life ahead”.  Paying tribute to his friend Khadija Saye, he continued: “She was a young black woman making her way in this country. […] She’d done amazing things — gone to university, the best in her life — but she’s died, with her mother, on the 22nd floor of the building. And it breaks my heart, that it’s happening in Britain in 2017.”

He added the stark warning for those who profit from the misery of social injustice:“This is a tale of two cities. This is what Dickens was writing about in the century before last, and it’s still here in 2017.”

“Giving the poorest and most vulnerable ‘somewhere decent to live’ was a noble idea that is falling apart around our eyes”

 

On Sunday 18th June 2017 the current Government announced a payment relief of only £5,500 for all families living in the Grenfell Tower this will be paid as a £500 cash emergency payment and the remainder expected to be paid by the Department for Work and Pensions into survivor’s back accounts to cover the immediate cost of food; emergency housing associated costs, burial costs and getting clothes and possibly furniture and living requirements. This payment is thought to be made payable immediately to the family members who have survived, but is only this blog calculates a small figure of the £5 million promised initially (calculating and taking into consideration the 127 flats in Grenfell would see this as only a payment of 680,000 towards the figure of £5 million the PM originally said would be set apart towards the residents, thus this blog sees that £5,500 is actually quite poor to help these families.)

Government backs Homelessness Reduction Bill


24 October 2016 2:48 pm | By Carl Brown courtesy : Inside Housing Journal)

The government will support the Homelessness Reduction Bill, the communities secretary has announced.
Sajid Javid, in parliament today, confirmed ministers will back the bill, which would impose duties on councils to prevent homelessness. Ministers had previously said they would consider options, including legislation, to prevent homelessness but until today had stopped short of supporting the bill.

Mr Javid said: “No one should have to sleep rough on the streets.  We want to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That’s why we are determined to do all we can to help those who lose their homes and provide them with the support they need to get their lives back on track.”

The bill, tabled by Conservative backbench MP Bob Blackman, has been supported by homelessness charities. It is made up of 12 measures (see below).

A new version of the bill was published last week following negotiations with bodies including the Local Government Association.

The original bill included a new duty on councils to provide emergency temporary accommodation for 56 days to people with a local connection but who are not in priority need and who have nowhere safe to stay.

Councils have said that such a duty would place too much pressure on local authorities, which are already struggling to keep up with spiralling homelessness demand. This duty has now been removed from the bill, on the basis that it would be too costly.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “In backing Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill, the government has shown its continued determination to tackle homelessness. I am also grateful for the personal tenacity and commitment shown by Department for Communities and Local Government ministers in helping get to this important milestone.

The bill is due to receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday. It still needs the support of 100 MPs to protect the bill from risk of being ‘talked out’.

Mr Sparkes said: “While we warmly welcome today’s announcement, there remains a real risk that unless MPs offer their support at the bill’s second reading on Friday, this historic opportunity could easily be lost.”

 
AT-A-GLANCE: THE HOMELESSNESS REDUCTION BILL

The bill is made up of 12 measures:

1.         A change to the meaning of “homeless” and “threatened with homelessness”. Each household that has received an eviction notice is to be treated as homeless from the date on which the notice expires, and the period at which a person is threatened with homelessness is changed from 28 to 56 days.

2.         All homeless people have access to free advice and information.

3.         Local authorities are required to carry out an assessment of what led to each applicant’s homelessness, and set out steps to remedy this in an agreed, written plan.

4.         Local authorities are required to help to secure accommodation for all eligible households who are threatened with homelessness, and at an earlier stage.

5.         Local authorities are required to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation.

6.         Local authorities are able to take action to help to secure accommodation under the new duties to help homeless households.

7.         Households in priority need who refuse to co-operate with prevention and/or relief activity will be offered a minimum of a six month private rented sector tenancy. They will not progress to the main homelessness duty. Households not in priority need who refuse to co-operate would be provided with advice and information only.

8.         All young people leaving care will be deemed to have a local connection in the area of the local authority that is responsible for providing them with leaving care services under the Children Act 1989.

9.         Applications are provided with the right to request a review in relation to the prevention and relief duties.

10.       The Bill introduces a duty on specified local agencies to refer those either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams

11.       The Secretary of State has a power to produce a statutory Code of Practice to raise the standards of homelessness support services across the country.

12.       A local housing authority must satisfy itself that specific requirements are in place where it secures accommodation for vulnerable households in the private rented sector.

Osbourne announces Government Spending Cuts


George Osborne has started to look for savings in Government spending by asking Whitehall departments to implement spending, ordering them to make an immediate start on finding the £13bn of cuts needed in an attempt to further find money in his deficit reduction plan.

The chancellor announced at an event told the CBI that he intended to make savings from all government spending, other than finance already earmarked in areas of health, schools and overseas aid in his summer budget on 8 July.

“When it comes to saving money, we all know that the more you can do early, the smoother the ride”” – George Osborne

Mr. Osborne is hoping to put into place his tough measures as quickly as possible and has given Greg Hands the job of asking Government Departments new chief secretary to the Treasury ways of reducing plans the 2015-16 plans to fast-track the three-year budget of existing cuts.

CPAG – Guidance on Shared Parental Leave


Shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay is being introduced for couples expecting a baby or adopting a child on or after 5 April 2015. This replaces additional paternity leave and pay, and offers more flexibility to couples to share the responsibility for the child and protect their income in the first year.

Shared parental leave is available to parents who share the care of a child with husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter the child’s other parent a partner (living together) –  includes same sex couples.

The mother must first meet the qualifying conditions for maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, and then decide to give it up in favour of shared parental leave and pay. The other parent/partner must also meet conditions about employment and earnings. Opting for shared parental leave allows leave and pay to be split between each person and into up to three separate blocks of leave in the first year. It can also be taken at the same time, allowing a couple more time together with the baby.

Alternatively, statutory maternity leave and statutory maternity pay can still be claimed as before by women who choose to do so, or are lone parents, or whose partner is not in work. Similarly, statutory adoption leave and pay can still be claimed instead of shared parental leave. ‘Ordinary’ paternity leave and pay (1 or 2 weeks in the first 8 weeks after the birth) is not affected by the change, other than now simply being known as ‘paternity leave’ and statutory paternity pay.  

Tax credit rules are also amended so that someone receiving shared parental pay, or on shared parental leave for up to 39 weeks, can still be treated as in work, if working immediately before.

More information on shared parental leave is available at www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay

CPAG – Recent Upper Tribunal case for HMRC


This section summarises recent decisions of the Upper Tribunal; these set a binding precedent on HMRC decision-makers and First–tier Tribunals in similar cases.

HMRC must show reasonable grounds for changing decision

This is another case highlighting HMRC’s poor practice in failing to set out the legal and factual basis for its decisions, and its appalling treatment of lone parents it has accused of living with a partner. In this case, the claimant was originally awarded child tax credit and working tax credit as a single claimant. Nearly a year later, HMRC declared that it had ‘reason to believe’ she was living with an undeclared partner and ended her claim because she ‘failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the validity of her single claim’. The Judge describes HMRC’s flawed logic in basing such a decision on the claimant’s inability to prove a negative, i.e. the failure to provide certain evidence that she is not living with a partner. ‘Astonishingly’, the claimant did send a reply and documentary evidence, which HMRC failed to include with the appeal papers. HMRC went on to take the ‘bold step’ of asking for the appeal to be struck out because the claimant had not provided evidence requested, despite not offering any itself. The Judge makes it clear that:

  • the onus of proof is on HMRC in these cases;
  • it must set out its evidence for reasonable grounds to change its original decision under section 16 of the Tax Credits Act;
  • it cannot rely on an adverse inference from the claimant’s failure to provide evidence.

The outcome of this case was that due to these failures, HMRC’s decision was cancelled, thereby reinstating the claimant’s entitlement. 

Read the decision in full: SB v HMRC [2014] UKUT 0543 (AAC)

Sky News

Translate Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 211 other followers

Visitors to Cicero Lounge

Stats

Cicero Lounge on Twitter

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: