The Housing Minister Makes Inappropriate Comments About Housing Benefit Claimants

housing[typography font=”Cardo” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#000000″][dropcap]T[/dropcap][/typography]he Housing Minister, Kris Hopkins, has warned that its inappropriate for private landlords to evict their tenants based on the fact they are receiving housing benefits.

When Mr Hopkins was speaking in the House of Commons, he declared that he wanted to clarify the remarks he made in a BBC Panorama broadcast about homelessness. The remarks were surrounding him describing it as being “perfect legitimate” for landlords to refuse tenancies to those who were receive housing benefits.

Emma Reynolds, Labour’s shadow housing minister, branded the remarks as appalling. In the Communities and Local Government questions in parliament, Diana Johnson, a Labour MP, asked Eric Pickles if he agreed with his minister on the removal of people on housing benefits by their landlords. This prompted Mr Hopkins to say [quote]May I clarify what I said? It is not appropriate for a landlord to remove somebody just because they are on housing benefit, but an individual can make a commercial choice about who they want to live in their accommodation. It seems that the Labour party, in its forthcoming manifesto, will prescribe who can live in an individual’s house. A private investor who has purchased a house should have the opportunity to choose who lives in that house.[/quote]

Large private landlord, Fergus Wilson, revealed in January this year that he has sent eviction notices to any of his tenants that where receiving housing benefits.  Shelter, the homelessness charity, is warning that if other landlords adopt policies similar to Mr Wilson’s, there will be widespread ‘blackspots’ around the country, which are areas of the country where people who are receiving housing benefits will be simply unable to rent all together.

The director of policy and communications at Shelter, Roger Harding, said [quote]There’ll be areas where, if you lose your job or become ill, and you try and fall back on housing benefit, it won’t be high enough for you to find somewhere. Unless you have savings, you’re going to move town.[/quote]

If you find yourself unable to afford certain housing costs in your rented accommodation, you may find that you are entitled to receiving housing benefits. The money you receive from the benefits can only be used to meet the costs of rent, it can’t be used for heating, gas electricity or food. You can ring the housing benefit contact number if you are unsure about how to apply for the benefit or have questions regarding the eligibility of your situation.


47% Believe Their Employer Should Play A Part In Retirement Planning

Almost of half (47%) of employees believe that their employer should undertake a role in helping them to prepare for retirement, according to research by Barclays Corporate and Employer Solutions. In it’s “Steps Towards a Living Pension” report which surveyed 2,000 employees who are paying into a defined contribution pension scheme found that 93% of people who responded believe that financial planning for their retirement is their own responsibility, while 66% think this responsibility should be shared with the Government.Employer Helpline

82 per cent of respondents would welcome guidance and support on their retirement plans. The research also found that the annual income required for a comfortable yet modest lifestyle in retirement is £17,500 which Barclays has termed the ‘Living Pension’. This figure differs across generations, ranging from £18,200 for Generation Y (ages 19 to 33) £17,200 for Generation X and £7,300 for Baby Boomers.

The research also found that 70% of respondents would appreciate personalised emails about pension saving which would advertise what they stand to lose should they choose to pay into a scheme, 67% of them would like to authorise their employer to increase their savings at the time of their next pay rise, 78% of people expected to have to work later in life than their parents and 54 per cent expected that they would have to monitor what they spend more closely in retirement.

Jonathan Parker, head of investment proposition at Barclays Corporate and Employer Solutions said:

[quote] “This report shows that while people believe that it is their responsibility to make sure that they have enough money to live on in their retirement, they can be anxious about making decisions around pensions and may not feel equipped to make a plan alone. There is a clear role here for the employer to offer this much sought-after support and guidance. However, we understand that this can equally be a tough task for employers.” [/quote]

Employers who wish to seek advice on Pension Schemes should call the Employer Helpline.


How The Newly Passed Care Act Can Help Unpaid Carers

Accordingly to new research, the UK had 600,000 more unpaid carers in 2013 than it did in 2001. Many of these carers are ‘hidden’, which means they may not recognise themselves as a carer or may not be recognised by external bodies as a carer. This means that they are much less likely to receive the help and support they desperately's-allowance

The newly passed Care Act, which will come into force in May 2015, could help to change that. With the ageing population on the rise and local social funds being cut, there is expected to be more pressure than ever on carers of all ages that look after a family member or relative full-time. The Care Act will entitle all carers to an assessment of their needs so they don’t have to ask for one, and will help governing bodies determine how much help – both financial and other – they might need.

The Act will also focus on the welfare of the person providing the care – whether or not they themselves have support needs; whether these are being met or whether they might have these needs in the future.

The type of support available will vary depending on individual needs and circumstances, ranging from practical help at home, to financial help in the form of £61.35 in carer’s allowance per week. However, this is currently means-tested, so there is no guarantee a carer will qualify. And there is also no indication yet of whether the Care Act will mean an increase in the amount of care’s allowance provided.

For full-time carers, life can be a long haul of misery, guilt, frustration, tedium, exhaustion and confusion. As well as needing to give up their day job or reduce hours thus losing much-needed income (as is the case of many), a carer’s personal life is also affected. This lifetime commitment is also a huge strain on their emotional health and their physical health suffers too. As for a social life…such a thing is usually out of the question.

Another challenge for stay-at-home carers is that, besides receiving little or no financial help, they cannot access the resources required to look for help or check what services they are entitled to. For those who are not ‘digitally literate’, professionals in the field have a greater responsibility to explain the ways a carer can access crucial information.

In a recent survey, a huge 49 percent of carers said they believed that society “didn’t care about them at all”.

It’s time that the public, the government and medical organisations started waking up to the plight one of society’s most overlooked vulnerable groups.

Over 700,000 People Hit By Employment And Support Allowance Backlog

folders[typography font=”Cardo” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#000000″][dropcap]F[/dropcap][/typography]igures released have shown that there are around 700,000 people waiting on assessments for Employment and Support Allowance, which is also known as ESA. It is estimated that overall, there are hundreds of thousands of people that have suffered due to a backlog of benefits, according to the government.

Mike Penning, the Minister for Disabled People, is blaming the delays on the contractor used for carrying out the assessments, Atos. The fitness to work tests are already controversial enough as it with with many claiming they are unsuitable to determine if a person is able to work.

Atos has described its staff as being “vilified” and on the receiving end of abuse after doing what the ministers have asked of them.

When Prime Minister David Cameron was asked in parliament about the implications of a reform in benefits, he said that the changes that are carried out would be done in a way that works well, rather than to an artificial deadline. This was in response to a question put forward by Katy Clark, who is a Labour MP, ad was enquiring about why most of the people who had applied for PIP, or personal independence payment, still hadn’t received a decision.

[box]PIP replaced disability living allowance as of April 2013.[/box]

Atos has agreed to terminate its contract early and told the DWP that they were unable to deliver the quality at the capacity that is required. However, a spokesperson for the DWP has clarified that Atos is currently processing more cases than are coming in and they are reducing the backlog.

Out of the backlog, there are 394,000 new claimants for ESA and 234,000 people who are waiting to see if they are still entitled to ESA. There are also an additional 84,000 people who are waiting to move over to claim ESA from incapacity benefit, which has been terminated since March of this year.

Mr Penning has said that [quote]The government had failed to meet its own deadline of moving these people onto the new benefit by April[/quote]

The DWP stated [quote]Incapacity Benefit reassessment has resulted in over 700,000 people looking for, or making steps to return to work – it is crucial that we continue this important process to ensure that people are not written off and we get a fair deal for the taxpayer.[/quote]

If you have found yourself to be affected by the backlog of ESA claimants, you can ring the Employment and Support Allowance Phone Number.

Unemployed Man’s Challenge Of Being Denied Budgeting Loan Could Cause UK Reform

An unemployed man from County Tyrone’s challenge to being denied a budgeting loan could result in UK-wide reforms to the benefits, it was claimed recently.

The lawyer for Raymond Archer made the prediction after he was granted leave to seek a judicial review over allegations of suffering discrimination in requests for help financially. The man claims to have been unfairly classed as ineligible for receiving contributions based, rather than income based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Budgeting Loan

The refusal to properly look over his Budgeting Loan applications in 2013 and 2014 was unlawful, Raymond’s legal team argued. It was stated by the team that he had contributed to society by paying National Insurance contributions and tax until an accident left him unable to work. Last December, Mr.Archer received a Crisis Loan of which he is still making the repayments as well as receiving £64.50 a week in benefits. He described himself as ‘desperate and in need of the money’.

Following an initial hearing, the court ruled that an arguable case has been established on some grounds of challenge and will be subject to a full judicial review later this year.

Outside court, Mr. Archer’s solicitor said the action could have widespread implications, saying:

[quote] “The overriding objective of a budgeting loan is to provide financial assistance to those who are most in need within our society and in failing to include the applicant and others in his position as entitled applicants under the scheme we state that the State has breached our client’s human rights. This is a judgement which has the potential to reform the benefits system not only in Northern Ireland but also in England and Wales.” [/quote]

The lawyer emphasises the importance of the prohibition of discrimination under the European Convention of Human Rights as his client is being treated differently to other benefit claimants on income-based Employment and Support Allowance.