Could this be the end of the DWP?

The DWP have come under fire in recent months, mainly because of the austerity that has been introduced by the Tory government. Welfare cuts have swept the nation, and have arguably targeted the most vulnerable in our society causing homelessness and poverty, and unsurprisingly, there are calls for it to end. Pronto. Theresa May’s new government have wasted no time setting about to take action on some of the issues that have upset the nation, and this includes taking down the DWP and replacing it with a fairer system. Labour Party Politician Owen Smith has argued that the DWP now brings nothing but insecurity and as a result should be replaced with something more stable, like a work ministry. He continued to say that if he became labour leader (he is currently in the running with jeremy Corbyn, both who;s fate will be decided in September), this would be the case. Will Theresa May succeed in reducing cuts to help those most vulnerable, as well as protecting the country’s economy after a shock Brexit?Money from the DWP

Universal Credit Failures

The DWP incompetence has recently come to light with the delays to Universal Credit getting longer and longer, leaving them to come under fire from ministers who are saying that the delays could have been avoided, and that the whole thing has not been managed correctly. Many people that are in recipient of Universal Credit have spoken of their anguish in trying to obtain their payments, with many comparing getting the money you’re entitled to as like getting blood from a stone. Universal Credit is not yet available to everyone in the UK , but some areas of the country are classed as ‘trial areas’, which means that if you are in need of unemployment benefits, your claim will be registered as Universal Credit. News has emerged that it will take until 2022 for the new system to be fully ruled out, which shows somewhat of a mass incompetence on the DWP’s part. Complicated new computer systems are being seen as one of the main reasons to blame for its ever growing delays. The situation has now become severe and the reason for this is that it is causing a large increase in poverty, with a huge amount of respondents to several surveys admitting they have to cut down on food in order to survive. It is about time the new prime minister realises that the country’s current social security system is not working for vulnerable people in our society.An element of irony also clouds the whole claims process that definitely needs to be addressed. Because the process is so lengthy and inconvenient, claimants are having to take time out of applying for work and finding a new job, to attend several universal credit interviews, to see whether they are even eligible. The other half of the country is still receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance amongst other benefits and have no idea when they will be switched over to Universal Credit, which will definitely see a cut to the payments that they receive.

Socialist Revolution

Owen Smith has voiced his wishes to shift power back to employees. He has not only insinuated that the DWP is incompetent, but has also called them cruel. Those that are new to claiming and claim for Universal Credit because they have found themselves suddenly out of work, will (eventually) be able to have a claim submitted, after form after form and an interview, only to be told that although the claim has been processed, payment will not begin until September. The sad fact is that you can no longer rely on the inefficient DWP for financial security should you find yourself out of work, and , of course, this is a reflection on the government, which is probably why Smith is determined to change this should he come into power. On top of dealing with the DWP, Owen Smith has expressed a need to return the country to a 50p top tax rate, as well as setting a new rate to the richest 1%, cancelling ex-minister George Osbourne’s cuts to corporation. This may be met with some hostility as this was to encourage trade with EU countries, despite a Brexit. However, the money they gain back from this will help towards the 4% spending rise by the NHS, which could arguably suggest he has better priorities. It seems Smith is determined to target the rich, by introducing a 15% tax levy on income that was not earned, but rather invested. This aims to target those with £150, 000 or higher income. This is to be known as the wealth tax. Owen Smith ultimately, enthusiastically calls for a socialist revolution in which to ‘build a better Britain.’

Could Owen Smith’s ideas of totally scrapping the DWP and replacing it with a ministry of labour and a department for social security mean that those who are most vulnerable, out of work and relying on the government, get the help they actually need, instead of being told they will have to wait due to a ‘backlog of claims’ or an ‘inbuilt delay’. Is this a true take from the rich and give to the poor scenario, and will there really be a ‘socialist revolution’?





FURTHER delays to Universal Credit

Ahh Universal Credit, the two elusive words filled with such promise, yet, (at the moment) delivering so little. Notorious for its constant delays, we are sorry to report that the Universal Credit switch has been pushed back even further as ministers announced even more delays just yesterday. The switch has already started to take place, but an at an extremely slow rate, with many people still subject to the old system. The full roll out is now not expected to take place until March 2022, this will mean the new date will be an extension of a year from the previous date in place and no less than eleven years since the switch was originally announced. Many people want to know why. job centre issues universal credit

What is it?

Universal Credit, which was originally set to be scheduled in 2017, is the government’s aim to roll what is currently six different types of benefits into one, so claimants will receive one monthly payment of whatever they are entitled to. You are entitled to Universal Credit if you are either on a low-income or out of work completely. If you receive benefits such as Job-Seeker’s Allowance or Child Tax Credits then if you haven’t already, you will be switched over to receiving Universal Credits sometime in the near future (we hope). Rather than weekly payments, the new system will act like a salary, being paid into the recipient’s bank account. Rather than switching those over that are used to receiving a weekly payment of various different benefits, Universal Credit has been focusing on those that are newly unemployed and new to receiving benefits. Universal Credit will also replace Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. There are many reasons that the government has chosen to (slowly) transition over to Universal Credit, one being that it generally makes more sense. Many different payments can become complicated and confusing and whilst Universal Credit is causing slight chaos at the moment, once the switch is complete, things will be simpler.

Universal credit is also designed to help with rent payments, the money will be calculated for you and included in your monthly payment where you will then be required to pay the landlord directly, helping to prevent missed payments and evictions. Anybody that lives with a partner who is also eligible will receive one big monthly payment, where you can manage it accordingly. By visiting one of the many sites online you can get an estimate of how much Universal Credit you are eligible for and how it differs from what you are currently receiving. You can make your claim via the universal Credit website.

waiting for universal creditWhy is it taking so long?

With so many people in the UK receiving financial support, there is an awful lot of work to do to ensure the turnover is a success. Combine millions of people, all with different details, with complicated computer systems and you may just be able to get an understanding of the sheer scale of the multi-billion pound project. This has not stopped an unimpressed cabinet questioning ministers on why the switch is taking so long, with people unsure on how much monthly money they are entitled to receive and when they will begin receiving it. Recently, a ministerial statement has revealed a revised schedule of the proceedings, which is in conjunction with the changes made to the 2015 summer budget, which included the controversial move of only allowing child tax credits for the first two children of a family. As it stands, Universal Credit has 279, 000 claimants. Despite MP’s accusing that the project could have been completed quicker, permanent DWP secretary Robert Devereux has claimed that the switch is complex and probably the biggest project the DWP has undertaken. Another movement delaying procedures was the emergency brake that was going to be put into place on the benefits that migrants were receiving. This was part of David Cameron’s EU negotiations and since the UK has now opted to leave the EU, these are no longer in place. The government has also been urged to tweak the programme through concerns that it is going to fare hard on low-income and unemployed families. The pressure to ensure that the system fits with today’s climate is also delaying the process.

When it eventually happens, there are many in favour for Universal credit, supporting those that need it at an affordable cost for the tax payer. The constant tweaks that are ongoing to the system are all in the name of improvements so as not to disappoint people further after many cuts introduced by ex-chancellor George Osbourne. With a complete cabinet overhaul it could also be possible that proceedings were affected by not only complex IT systems but also management failings. Will the development now stay on track and will the 6m people in need of Universal Credit, have it by 2022?



Are you eligible for child tax credits?

Child Tax credits are financial support from the Government designed at helping those with children, or who are responsible for children. You can receive child tax credits if you both employed or out of work. If you are employed, your wage will be increased if you are not earning enough to support your young family. Child Tax Credit is notoriously complicated at times, and there are many people left unsure as to whether they are eligible to receive the help they deserve. Here are a few basic points to ensure those that are entitled to this support, are applying for and receiving it. child counting tax credits

Age Limits

Aside from the obvious (you must have one or more children), in order to receive the benefit your child(ren) must be 16 or under and in full time education. If they are under the age of 18 but have left school, you must ensure they are registered with the career service to keep receiving the benefit.

How much am I entitled to?

Like most benefits, this very much depends on the situation and a number of factors. Depending on your income, you will qualify for either a ‘family’ child tax credit, which pays £545 to a family responsible of a minimum of one child, or a child tax credit that pays individually for each child, at £2, 780 per child. If you have a disabled child, you’re entitlement is different. If their disability qualifies you will receive £3, 140 per child. There is also another element of qualification, which is severely disabled. Recipients of this will get £1, 275 per child of financial support. All of these elements are subject to how much your household earns. here we have listed the highest possible amount for each of the elements. Earning below £16, 105 will mean you receive the full amount. Please note that when assessing your financial situation, HMRC will combine your income with that of your spouse/partner if they live with you. the taper gradually decreases with the more that you earn, but even if your total household income is relatively high, if you are paying childcare costs, you can still receive help.

How do I claim?

To apply for child tax credit you will need to fill out the form TC600, where you will need to provide information about yourself, one of the most important being your income from the previous tax year, which you will need to prove. If you’re income is likely to differ for this tax year, you will need to tell HMRC of that so you are not receiving over-payments, which is illegal, or under-payments when you are entitled to extra help. You will receive your benefits in conjunction with the tax year 6th April to the following 5th. HMRC does not need to be notified every year if your income remains the same throughout the time you are receiving the tax credits. Every year, you will receive a renewal form which will usually just include an annual review notice. Nothing needs to be done with this as HMRC are just informing you that your benefits will continue as normal into the next tax year. However, you may be asked to fill out an annual declaration form where you will confirm things like income. You will have until 31st July to do this so ensure you fill it out and send it back on time to avoid your payments being stopped.



Theresa May’s Benefit Challenge

Monday marked yet another historical day for Britain, as Angela Leadsom stepped down, leaving a proud Theresa may as current PM David Cameron’s successor. Today, David Cameron moves out, and Theresa May moves into the infamous Number 10, as she attempts to pick up where he left off, guiding Britain slowly but surely out of the EU, whether we like it or not. Becoming Prime minister at such a tumultuous time for Britain will certainly be no easy feat, and Theresa May already has a to-do list from hell as she gets her feet snugly under the Downing Street table. With a new Prime minister in our midst, how will the change of hands affect the day to day lives of those living off pension and benefit payments? Will the change be for the better? Or will harsh cuts continue to leave people financially unstable?

Universal Credit

Unfortunately for low-paid  working families, there are plans for the cuts to tax credits that had seemingly been abandoned by Iain Duncan Smith, to be re-started. The re-introduction of the controversial cuts is said to hit those that need financial support most, with a loss of £3000 a year by 2020. Furthermore, it could be said that the Universal Credit programme has been nothing but hassle since it was initially introduced. The transition from other benefits included Job Seeker’s Allowance to Universal Credit has been complicated and not exactly greeted with open arms as a positive change. As a result, the procedure has been massively delayed and is thought to become one of the biggest challenged for Theresa May to put straight. Parliament have in the past, attempted to discover why there have been delays with Universal Credit and have even accused the DWP of being evasive with their responses. It has been announced that Universal Credit will not be implemented fully until 2021, 4 years after its starting date. The lack of transparency the DWP has provided into the progress of Universal Credit has been seen as unacceptable by many MP’s.

Admittedly, the new system is a lengthy process, with all six existing benefits received by claimants being rolled into one. This calls for complicated IT system and change in the financial routine of 500, 000 people. The Universal Credit system does ultimately account for lower in-work benefits for working families and so when Theresa May attempts to get the enforcement in order, she is likely to be met with backlash, particularly from less than happy claimants. There has been much concern over the sudden and steep withdrawal of benefits, that no doubt May will have to address.

Pension Cuts

Theresa May, will also face an extremely tough decision with her new position of power, dealing with votes for pension cuts after years of annual rises for pensioners. Now she is leading Britain out of the EU, it is likely Theresa may will have the backing of Britain’s older generation. However, with a decision to cut pensions looming, will the support remain amicable? Reports have shown that rates from annuity firms fell by 2% after Brexit was announced, showing a possible glimpse into the future negative effects Brexit may have on pensions and those saving for retirement. With Priti Patel, a female work and pensions minister, set to be appointed by May into the cabinet, could things be about to change?

Reports that have looked into the falling annuity rates have suggested that it could continue, as a post-Brexit recession means that the funding is simply not there, and pressure will be placed on tax revenues, which are needed to pay state pensions. It has been suggested that the changes will affect those that are not already retired, meaning that Theresa May will have to work hard to support the financial futures of those still in work, saving for their future. The promised ‘triple-lock’ on pensions (increasing the payment with price and wage inflation) may now not be possible in the wake of a Brexit. This promise was also made by the now-resigned David Cameron.

As the Prime minister attends his last parliamentary meeting and bids goodbye to the country, we wait with baited breath to see what Theresa may has in store.

A Guide to Saving Money when on Benefits

Benefits come in all different shapes and sizes, but the main aim of them is to ensure the sufficient financial stability of you and your family. You are probably already aware, but to those that may be new to the process, benefits come in the following forms:

  • Income based job-Seekers Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working tax
  • Housing Benefit

Soon enough, these benefits are going to be scrapped, and replaced with something new with a posh name and all: Universal Credit. If you are claiming benefits, you will have been told when ‘the big switch’ will affect you (and it’s not as bad as it sounds). With changes in benefit comes changes in budget, but we’re going to show you how to make the most out of your new payment method. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, Universal Credit will now be received as a monthly payment, so if you are used to a weekly payment, you may be panicking about how you are going to budget wisely. This is where I am here to help. You may not know it yet – but a monthly payment may be your blessing in disguise and might just get you on the road to saving for that summer holiday you have needed for years. There are places online to check how much Universal Credit you will be entitled to, so you know exactly what you are working with.

1 – Get Organised

First things first, know what you are inevitably paying out. By inevitably, I mean things like bills, council tax and rent. Take these amounts away immediately from your incoming money, so you know what you are left with to spend. By working your money step by step you can spot any windows of opportunity you might have to put some away.

2 – Feeding the Kids, Yourself, or Both

Next comes the food shop. You are likely to know roughly, or even exactly how much you spend on a weekly shop, so let’s see if we can reduce that a bit. Food wastage is a big thing, and also a massive drain on your income, with the average household throwing away around £35 of food a month. Let’s get that £35 out of the bin and into your holiday fund. Even if you only save a tiny amount per shop – every little helps.

3 – Writing your Shopping List

This entire post is all about getting organised as this is the top way of saving money. What better way to be organised than to write your shopping list? Set aside five minutes to write down all of the things you will need for the week, if you want to go that extra step further, you can even plan your meals. Shopping with a list in hand will prevent you from chucking any old thing in the trolley that will neither get used nor eaten.

On the List:

  • Including frozen foods such as frozen fruit and veg can help save you some mega bucks. Frozen foods are definitely surrounded by some sort of bad stigma, but definitely don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Frozen fruit and veg have all the goodness of the regular stuff, just pre-chopped. Defrosting is super easy and a little can go a long way.
  • Lentils, chickpeas, Kidney Beans – these are super cheap and can really make your meals go further. A meat and veg dish with added lentils will make for a bigger, heartier meal. Make more than you will eat in the evening, and then make lunch out of the leftovers – killing two birds with one stone whilst saving money? Winner.
  • Checking the dates when you buy can stop you having to throw away things that you won’t eat because it’s gone off. When buying in a supermarket, the same product will often come in a range of sell by dates, so make sure you check you are getting the most out of what you’re spending. What if something is going off that you don’t have time to eat? If you know things aren’t going to get eaten in time for their use-by, freeze it, you can defrost it at another time rather than binning it.

4 – Have a Clear Out

Have things you no longer wear or need? As long as they are in a decent condition, often clothes, kid’s toys and furniture can sell for a reasonable price on auction sites such as Ebay. This is an easy way to make money and have a clear out at the same time. If things are a bit shabbier or maybe a bit dated why not try hauling it all to a car boot sale? Again, throw the money you make into your savings. Now we are seeing it start to grow.

5 – Open a Savings Account

If you haven’t already, opening a savings account is a great way of storing any spare cash safely. On most online banking sites, you can easily transfer money between your savings account and your current account, so if for example, you do a food shop that costs less than normal, you can transfer the excess into your saving – it can easily be withdrawn if it is needed for an emergency, but try and keep it saved, even adding to it if you

6 – Have a Financial Goal

By doing all of the above, you are likely to get together some money to put into your savings account. However, keeping it there can be a whole different kettle of fish. This is where you need a financial goal. If you have a set amount you want to save each month (make it realistic) you are less likely to take out any money you put into your savings, and are also more likely to find other ways of saving, if you are close to reaching your monthly goal. Remember anything is better than nothing.