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Saturday, 29 August 2009

"Welfare to work is failing the jobless"

Having never worked in or around welfare to work scheme, i'm not in a position to comment on these assertions, though that's never stopped most people.
Without a doubt there are some significant problems with the benefits system we currently have in the UK.
"In one of my recent cases in the court of appeal where a family with five young children was facing eviction due to housing benefit problems one the Lord Justices said: "In my view it remains an apparently non-eradicable blemish on our operation of the rule of law that the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society remain subject to regulations which are complex, obscure and, to many, simply incomprehensible." I could not agree more."
My worry is that governments are so scared of the headlines in the Mail and Express of the government encouraging benefits lay-abouts that they would rather go too far the wrong way and take it out on the poorest and most vulnerable.

My experiences are that at the very least the benefits system is very poorly managed and confused. It needs real reform, lead by the people who deal with it every day rather than some suited academic or former banker who have no real experience of life on benefits or dealing with people on benefits.

"Jenni Russell is right to expose the dire risks of destitution in the welfare-to-work programme. I know one man who found a job without any help from the jobcentre. The local authority told him he could keep his housing and council tax benefits; three months later they found they had made a mistake, debited his rent and council tax account with £2,000 arrears, started to evict him and sent in the bailiff's for the tax. He had a nervous breakdown. Three months after that the Inland Revenue demanded a repayment of £2,200 of tax credit. He had tried to refuse tax credits because he was afraid of overpayments but was told they are compulsory; this time he was committed to hospital for three weeks.

He became unemployed again, receiving £64.30 a week jobseeker's allowance. He slipped into unauthorised overdraft to survive, attracting bank charges which consumed his entire allowance and left him penniless for weeks. He is a man who is highly motivated to work. He is not in the "hard to help" category.

The government has accepted in principle an amendment to the welfare reform bill requiring decision takers in the welfare-to-work programme to regard the wellbeing of children; but we should not ignore the wellbeing of the adults on which the children depend."

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