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MP calls on Chancellor to protect income under Universal Credit

Ahead of the forthcoming Autumn Budget, Bristol North West MP Darren Jones has called on the Chancellor to keep the government’s promise that no benefit claimant would suffer financial hardship, or receive less income, under Universal Credit.

This is not the first time Darren has spoken out – he also called on the Chancellor in last year’s budget to make changes to the scheme and ensure families were not facing debt because of Universal Credit. Darren also pushed for a delay to the roll-out of Universal Credit for new claimants in October last year – at that time Darren called for “the multiple flaws in the system to be sorted out or the roll-out must be put on hold”.

Whilst the government made a number of small improvements to Universal Credit for new claimants, the so-called ‘managed migration’ of hundreds of thousands of existing claimants of 6 benefit groups (including ESA, Child Tax Credit and Income Support) has continued to cause widespread concern.

Ahead of the budget, Darren said:

“Universal Credit, as it stands, is a cruel and shambolic system forcing many into debt. Claims often take weeks and weeks to resolve!

It seems from today’s (16th October 0218) leaked reports, the government are considering delaying movement of 6 groups of existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit until at least next summer (rather than January) with most moving in 2020.

They are also considering supporting people on ESA, Job Seekers and Income support for 2 extra weeks whilst their Universal Credit claim is sorted along with better help for the self-employed, whose income fluctuates. It’s a disgrace that the same cover period won’t be considered for child tax credits – which are provided to low-income, often lone, working parents – because DWP and HMRC systems can’t be integrated! A similar ‘cover policy’ for those on Housing Benefit was only introduced last year after people started losing their homes because claims were often taking in excess of 6 weeks to assess.

I am clear that it should not take people to lose their homes, resort to food banks or go to unscrupulous lenders to survive for the government to act – especially when charities, MPs and advice organisations have been shouting warnings about financial hardship and waiting times for over a year. The government must keep its initial pledge that no-one should be worse-off by moving to Universal Credit. I call upon the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to keep that promise.

On a more practical level, once that promise has been kept, until the DWP has enough trained staff and working IT systems to move people across quickly and correctly, migration should be delayed indefinitely”.

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Darren comments on Rough Sleeping Strategy

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones shared his views following the release of the government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy on 13 8 18.

Darren said:

” It’s all too little, too late and as anyone who visits our city centre knows it unfortunately won’t slow down the increasing numbers of people driven onto the streets by the government’s austerity politics and cuts to the support available to the most vulnerable. I anticipate Universal Credit, now rolling out across Bristol, will only make matters worse.

The government need to urgently assess the impact their cuts are having across the whole public, voluntary and charitable sphere and stop this political experiment – it isn’t working! This strategy fails to address the root causes of rough sleeping – the starting point for this, and the Social Housing Green Paper, should have been a significant increase in the number of social properties built alongside dramatically improved access to mental health care, employment support and training, security for private renters and substance misuse services“.

 

 

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Darren writes to government about PIP for young cancer patients

For the first three months of their diagnosis, young cancer patients aren’t allowed PIP benefits. This is despite the fact that PIP is meant to help people with the costs of serious illness or disability. Darren wrote to the Government minister responsible to ask her to review this.

You can read the full letter here:

 

Dear Minister,

 

RE: Please review PIP for young cancer patients so they get financial support backdated from the day of diagnosis

I am writing to you on behalf of my constituents, to ask you to take action to review Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for young cancer patients so that they get the financial support they are entitled to backdated from the day of their diagnosis.

Every year in the UK over 4,000 children and young people under 25 are diagnosed with cancer. Cancer costs from day one. The first three months of treatment for young cancer patients are a difficult and expensive time,  as treatment starts immediately and is often a long way from home. CLIC Sargent’s #Cancercosts research found that young people are spending an average of £360 a month during active cancer treatment.

However, young cancer patients currently have to wait three months before they can apply to the Government for PIP, the benefit designed to help with the cost of an illness or disability. It’s not right that young cancer parents can’t access the financial support they are entitled to, at the time when they most desperately need it.

I would be grateful if your Department could review PIP for young cancer patients so that they get financial support backdated from the day of diagnosis.

I look forward to hearing your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

Darren Jones MP

And below is the reply Darren received from the Government: