There’s an important point here

The government has been warned by councils, charities and now even its own backbenchers that universal credit is a social policy disaster. But how does it feel to be on the receiving end of this controversial benefits overhaul?

In the video, visually impaired council tenant Jo King, who lives on Newcastle’s Newbiggin Hall Estate, talks about dealing with delays and miscalculations ever since she was moved on to universal credit over a year ago. She explains how she has twice been left without any benefits at all. In order to survive, she was forced to stop paying her carer and request emergency food parcels.

Her rent, which under a special arrangement is supposed to go direct to management organisation Your Homes Newcastle, has been consistently miscalculated, leaving her anxious and fielding regular calls from her rent officer.

Note what this complain is. Not that the total amount of money on offer is meager or whatever, but that the State is simply incompetent at caclulating what the amount should be and then providing it.

As absolutely anyone who has ever been caught up in the welfare system knows this is not something unique to universal credit. Some to all of the various different payments can and will be screwed up at some time. The universal part here is just proving that it gets worse when there are many moving parts feeding into the one payment.

Now consider what the general political demand is these days. That government should have ever more influence over our lives, take care of ever more economic decisions for us. Indeed, it’s the very people highlighting the general organisational incompetence here who keep making that demand.

Something of a logical problem, no?

14 thoughts on “There’s an important point here”

  1. Same incompetence happens with benefits if you go in and out of work. It’s as if they don’t understand any sort of employment other than a single monolithic 50-year full-time job employed by a huge company.

    And you are actively punished for doing any work other than a solid monolithic full-time job. If I manage to get two days’ work, I’ll get paid £70, and lose £60 dole, so for two days’ work I generate £10 in income. Quite often that two days’ work costs more than £10 to get to, so by actually going out to work I LOSE money.

  2. Oh, and I signed off for two weeks in July. Guess whether they’ve actually got around to paying any dole since I signed back on. And at my age I’m still on the JSA system.

  3. It’s like part of the argument against Brexit…”it doesn’t matter if it’s the right thing to do, the civil service will screw it up so it’s best that we keep doing the wrong thing”. And so another year of incompetence rolls over, the can is kicked down the proverbial road and all shall get knighthoods.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    But it’s the evil Tories who are in Government so therefore all this bungling is really planned maliciousness. When cuddly Jeremy and his troops fuck up the country it will be because of sabotage by evil Tories.

    See Venezuela and the USA for an insight in to the playbook.

  5. Isn’t it therefore better to have multiple overlapping benefit systems (Universal Credit replaces six others) so that if one or two screw up, at least you’ll have some money coming in?

    No, it doesn’t sound right to me. But it’s one logical conclusion.

  6. More fake statistics. Last time it was an invisible partner making 20k and 3 of 4 children being over 18,

    This time it came is prjeyendintha everyone nieces to spend the average price on sanitary products, and claiming that a charity spends 20.2m on giving away such products when that is the number for everything. All Health and Beauty is actually 4m, so Danita ties are probably more like 1m.

    An exaggeration of 20 fold.

    Who regulates the Guardian?

  7. Is this an argument for Universal Basic Income – no calculations, no recalculation when someone goes in and out of work (the money can be clawed back via the tax system instead), less chance to cock up?

    I imagine most UBI proponents imagine some special cases eg if a disabled person has extra needs that UBI wouldn’t be enough to budget for, and arguable that children deserve some sort of UBI that should be sent to their parents, but basic dole-type stuff might at least sort out jgh’s situation?

  8. MBE,
    As I never tire of pointing out, UBI is incredibly expensive. You’d be giving money to millions of people who currently receive nothing: students, housewives, people earning cash-in-hand, etc.

  9. “Her rent, which under a special arrangement is supposed to go direct to management organisation Your Homes Newcastle, has been consistently miscalculated, leaving her anxious and fielding regular calls from her rent officer.”

    Not my area any more, but this is unusual. Normally under UC, rent only is paid to the landlord directly when the tenant cannot manage the money themselves. Existing housing benefit is paid directly to the landlord by the LA.

    The principle behind UC was to get beneficiaries to receive a single income and become adept at handling it, so it was easier for them to both spot the benefit of working, and to understand that living within a budget was important and the way out of IDS’ poverty trap.

  10. jgh – except share fishermen, who get paid when working and claim benefits when not working. In the same week.

  11. “Her rent … has been consistently miscalculated”
    How the F*** do you miscalculate rent? Surely it’s an automatic book amount. How on earth can any landlord stay in business if they can’t even manage to tell their tenants what their rent actually is.

    Or does she actually mean her *HOUSING* *BENEFIT* has been miscalculated.

  12. Martin: I’ve screwed up my benefits again because I had the audacity to work 30 hours in the last ten days (including a nice juicy night shift). I just console myself that I’m one payment away from paying off half my mortgage, so that wipes out half my outgoings.

    Tho’, by mentioning it, I’ll have jinxed it. 😀

  13. “Around half of children will be in households on UC by 2022.” Jesus fecking wept. So including other minor benefits not migrated onto UC, then after 12 years of so-called conservatism the default position for parenting will be to claim a means-tested hand out.

  14. @ Bongo
    Gordon Brown intended 99% of children to be receiving state subsidies so that all their parents would vote Labour because they would imagine that thjrey wre beneficiaries of Labour’s largesse, not noticing the amount of tax taken out of their pay packets under PAYE. The Tories are trying to move towards benefits beng paid to those who need them – so we had Ed Miliband moaning when his mistress stopped getting Child Benefit because she was earning over £50k – but it takes years to do that without those losing out screaming too loud.

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