Category Archives: Benefit

One in three town halls to defy Eric Pickles and hike council tax in April – Telegraph

One in three local authorities is planning is proposing to increase council tax next year, despite a Government offer of funding if they freeze the charge, according to a survey of nearly 200 councils.

A survey found 65 councils out of 193 councils who replied were planning an increase – double the number who rejected the Government’s freeze funding last year.

According to the Local Government Chronicle, the 65 councils were proposing increases ranging from 1.5 per cent to 7.8 per cent.

One in three town halls to defy Eric Pickles and hike council tax in April – Telegraph.

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Filed under Council Tax Benefit, Eric Pickles

Pensioners face cuts on fuel allowances, bus passes and TV licences – Telegraph

The future of the payments was thrown into fresh doubt on Friday after Number 10 suggested that they would be reviewed and senior Liberal Democrats called for them to be means-tested from April 2015.

Talks between the Conservatives and Lib Dems over a fresh wave of cuts have already begun.

Mr Clegg is said to be ready to call for means-testing pensioners’ benefits in the negotiations, if Tories call for more cuts to welfare.

Pensioners face cuts on fuel allowances, bus passes and TV licences – Telegraph.

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New ‘poll tax’ blow for UK’s poorest – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

Millions of low-income households face a rise in their council tax bills costing them up to £600 a year from April under a “poll tax bombshell”, according to new study.

People in low-paid jobs and those on benefits who currently pay little or no council tax will be hit with increased bills within months in three out of four local authorities, it has emerged.

Most councils have decided to reduce the council tax benefit available for residents on low incomes after central government imposed a 10 per cent cut on the total subsidy budget. At present 3.2 million working-age households receive such support.

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Tory MPs criticise nasty party’s “scroungers” rhetoric

9th January: The Independent reports that even some Conservative MPs are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the party’s portrayal of benefit recipients as “scroungers” or “shirkers”.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has joined the criticism of the language used by Conservative Campaign HQ and the Chancellor George Osborne. Mr Duncan Smith was appalled by a Tory online advert last month showing a man on a sofa, asking whether the Government should support “hard-working families or people who won’t work”.

Duncan-Smith’s comments can be added to those of Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorps who cautioned against tarring everyone with the same brush; and Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes who warned that the party should be more careful of the language it employs.

One Tory minister told The Independent: “We’ve not got the language right at Conservative HQ and the Treasury. Some people who lose their jobs and many people on tax credits, are strivers not scroungers. Young people looking hard for their first job are not skivers; there is a danger we may make them feel like parasites, and that we look like the nasty party. The message should be that we are making work pay.”

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Fury of ‘stay at home’ mums snubbed over benefit changes

7 January: The Telegraph reports that campaigners, MPs and even a former Tory minister have criticised the coalition’s changes to the way child benefit is paid, saying it unfairly penalises parents who stay at home to look after their children.

Tim Loughton, the Tory MP and the Coalition’s former children’s minister, said: “There is an army of parents who work hard at home to bring up their children who are losing out on child benefit and other allowances now.

“They need a Conservative-led Government to put into practice what it said on the tin in our manifesto and deliver a transferable married couples tax allowance in the next Budget before time runs out.

“Trotting out tired mantras about accommodating the voting sensitivities of Lib Dem MPs with very different views on the family just won’t wash anymore.”

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500,000 workers to be worse off under benefits changes

6th January: The Observer reports that half a million low paid workers such as teachers, soldiers and nurses will be worse off as a result of the Coalition’s benefit reforms.

The planned rise of 1% for many benefits is widely regarded as the Coalition being tough on the workshy, but in fact it is those in work who will be worst hit.

The Observer also published the following letter, signed by (among others) the chief executives of the Children’s Society, Banardo’s, and Citizens Advice:

On Tuesday, MPs will debate the introduction of a 1% cap on benefit and tax credit increases under the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill. If introduced, this hardship penalty will hurt millions of families across the country – families already struggling to pay for food, fuel, rent and other basics.

Many thousands have turned to food banks for help. Nearly half of teachers say they often see children going hungry. Shockingly, 6 million households struggle to afford to heat their homes.

As the costs of fuel, food and housing rise again, we can expect to see these problems become even more severe and widespread.

This hardship penalty comes on top of freezes to child benefit and working tax credit, and cuts to housing benefit and council tax benefit. As a result of the 1% cap, a single-parent primary school teacher or a nurse with two children stands to lose £424 a year by 2015. An army second lieutenant with three children could lose £552 a year. If they are in private rented housing or if prices rise faster than expected, the loss is likely to be even greater.

The government must make sure that increases in benefit rates at the very least reflect rises in the cost of living. Otherwise, this toll will deepen inequality and increase poverty.

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Child benefit plan branded “incoherent”

4th January: The Daily Mail and others reported that the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that some households face losing £1300 per year thanks to chancellor George Osborne’s “incoherent” clawback of child benefit.

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Universal Credit IT system in chaos

1st January: The Guardian reported that Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Universal Credit policy was again under threat as the IT system which matches employers and bank’s records was failing 25% of the time.

The controversial project is already dogged by delays and IT failures, despite Duncan Smith staking his reputation on it.

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Filed under Benefit, Cabinet, Iain Duncan Smith, Universal Credit