We are supporting this demonstration calling for the restoration of well-funded public services and a social security system that offers people a real safety net. Please invite your friends and come along on Saturday 13th October.
Join our free creative writing group at BUCFP to be inspired, chat, swap ideas, and working on creative writing techniques.
We experiment with prose, poetry, fiction, non fiction, journalism, script writing and creative exercises in a safe and informal environment. This drop in group is open to all levels of abilities. For more information about other free courses and workshops click here.
WEDNESDAYS 1:45- 3:45PM
AT BRIGHTON UNEMPLOYED CENTRE FAMILIES PROJECT – 6 TILBURY PLACE BRIGHTON.
We are meeting lots of people at our welfare rights drop in who have been told wrong information about their universal credit claims when they are moving directly from ESA. Here's how it *should* work;
If you are on ESA, you will only have to change to Universal Credit if your circumstances change so that you need to make a new claim. Eg if you move to a new council area where UC is already in full service, if you move in with a partner, or your relationship ends.
If something like that happens, your limited capability for work status should move over to UC with you. If you are in the support group on ESA, you should get the LCWRA element from the start of your UC claim. If you are in the WRAG on ESA, and you have been claiming ESA since before April 2017, you should get the LCW element from the start of your UC claim. Whichever group you are in, you do *not* need to fill in another questionnaire and have another assessment.
These rules are set out in Regulation 19 of the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations, 2014. Tell your work coach or case manager to look it up if they are telling you something different.
If you have to claim universal credit because you didn't get enough points at a Work Capability Assessment to stay on ESA, Regulation 19 doesn't apply to you. But if that decision is later overturned on appeal, then it does. We can help with appeals - many are successful.
Our drop in advice service is open Tuesday to Thursday, 10-1 and 2-4 and Friday 2-4. We also have a computer room where you can make a claim (with support from our volunteers) and check your journal.
At the moment, in Brighton & Hove, everyone who wants to make a new claim for benefits has to claim Universal Credit. From next year, the government is proposing to start the process of moving existing claimants over to Universal Credit. They have published proposed regulations to cover how this process would work.
Based on our experience of supporting hundreds of people to make and maintain Universal Credit claims in the last six months, we have submitted a response to the Social Security Advisory Committee's consultation about these plans.
Brighton & Hove Council officers reported in July on the results of the introduction of Universal Credit in the city, for new claimants:
- by the end of March 2018, 68% of council tenant households on Universal Credit were in rent arrears (compared to a rent arrears level of 17% for households that were not affected by the government’s welfare reform programme)
- vulnerable claimants (in particular those with disabilities, mental health difficulties literacy issues or whose first language is not English) have been struggling to maintain their Universal Credit claims, and there have been ongoing problems with documents going missing and inconsistent advice being given by the DWP.
- Claimants who are inpatients in the mental health ward, those who are unable to leave their homes, and those who have their finances managed by a corporate appointee have experienced difficulties accessing their claims because of the strict requirements for explicit consent.
- around 14,000 people in Brighton & Hove are currently without access to the internet. Of those, 11,000 say that nothing would motivate them to use the internet. Around 38,000 residents don’t have the skill to complete an online form. As a proportion of current Housing Benefit claimants, this is around 3,500 people. This is a massive challenge to the implementation of Universal Credit in its current form.
- claimants are having their council tax reduction recalculated frequently, as a result of changes to their UC claims. This has increased the workload of the council staff involved and also resulted in confusion and uncertainty for claimants.
- families who are already receiving support from social services are experiencing additional hardship due to problems with their Universal Credit claims, and have received conflicting advice from the DWP.
- 1,900 households in the city are currently claiming Housing Benefit due to low income from self-employment. These households are expected to suffer considerable hardship due to the Minimum Income Floor under Universal Credit.
Our consultation response includes case studies illustrating some of the problems faced by our clients, and makes 10 recommendations, including:
We urge the government to delay the start of the full rollout until sufficient changes have been made to the system to mitigate the issues identified by the National Audit Office, and full service areas are no longer reporting that Universal Credit is causing additional hardship for vulnerable claimants.
- The DWP should automatically transfer existing benefit claims to UC, and then notify claimants that they need to create an online account in order to manage their claim.
- Calculate the Severe Disability Premium transitional element in the same way as a standard transitional element, so as to fully compensate affected claimants for the amount of income they have lost.
- Scrap the Minimum Income Floor. If the Minimum Income Floor is to be retained, exempt self-employed people from the Minimum Income Floor for 12 months, rather than 6 months.
- The DWP should proactively contact people who were claiming benefits with SDP included, in the month preceding the start of their UC claim, to let them know that they are entitled to this additional payment.
Our consultation response can be downloaded HERE
Most of our clients are disabled, and many are struggling to cope with the harsh changes in disability benefits over recent years. The planned roll out of universal credit is a real worry.
The benefit cap means there is no effective safety net for families with children in high rent areas like #Brighton. No wonder food bank use is soaring.
It's now so much harder for people to afford somewhere to live. Shifting housing support from local councils to the DWP has also meant a loss of expertise, so vulnerable claimants have to explain their needs over and over.
Universal credit is a disaster for workers on low incomes. Miserly and unreliable, it pushes people into debt and towards eviction. And the treatment of self-employed people is a scandal waiting to happen.
Apologies for any inconvenience, but BUCFP will be closed for 1 week, from Monday 6th August. Re-open, Tuesday 14th August.
There will be no yoga classes from 10th -31st August.
The last class before the break is on Friday 3rd August 11am - 1pm
The first class after the break is on Friday 7th September 11am - 1pm, classes will then continue weekly as normal.
Carol our Food Project Worker will be collecting locally grown, chemical free food on Fridays during this growing season for low income families. The produce will be available for collection in the main area at BUCFP from 1:30pm.
Visit nurturethroughnature.org for more information about the project.
In 2017, BUCFP continued to work on a printable homeless guide that can be freely downloaded, printed and distributed. We plan to update the map with any future changes, but for now the PDF can be downloaded HERE
To book please contact Carol on 01273 601 211 or email email@example.com