Universal benefit complaints

For many of Inverness’s universal credit guinea pigs, the past year has been exceptionally stressful. The many glitches of a malfunctioning scheme have already caused widespread misery in this city, which has been trialling various forms of universal credit since 2013. The problems unfolding here offer a taste of what is to come when the system goes nationwide.

OK, so, government’s not very good at doing things then.

At which point we’ve a suggestion that government should be cooking lunch for 2.2 million people. Your lunch will be organic, sugar, salt and fat free, and arriving in 6 weeks?

It just does always amuse that those pointing out how shit bureaucracy is at doing things insist upon bureaucracy doing ever more things.

21 thoughts on “Universal benefit complaints”

  1. Presumably the argument is that their flavour of government would be better at execution; more responsive to people’s needs, etc. Quite what mechanism they propose to achieve this is never made clear; but then politicians rarely provide much detail to their plans.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    The State does so many things that it cannot even manage its core functions properly.

    Just as we need the police to give up on tracking down every oik on Facebook who does not like Muslims in order that they have some time to catch actual criminals, we need the Social Services to stop obsessing about White middle class UKIP supporters so they can stop real child abuse – and we need the government to put an end to all these baroque schemes in order to actually deliver aid to those that need it. Or better yet reintroduce work houses.

    In the end they are simply too afraid of the Unions to sack anyone. That needs to change. De-register all public sector unions.

  3. The sacking needs to start at the top.

    Sack the entire Senior Civil Service en masse sans compo and confiscate their pensions. I ‘ve already said it a million times before and I’m going to say it a million times more. Sack the scum.

    And better still call them to mass meetings–just like they were ordinary little nobodys and tell them right there that they are sacked and won’t even be allowed to return to their desks. There’s the door–out you go–NOW.

  4. Govt is shit at things, sure.

    But the delays could be because of the clients.

    They could squeezing out a lot of fraud. They could be stumbling on a of people who are incapable of filing in forms with the correct documentation-and logical could not really be work ready.

  5. This way of thinking is based on prioritising a spurious sense of fairness (really envy) over efficiency. They cannot tolerate variable outcomes and so the state must do it.

  6. Universal credit is very bad for business owners and those looking to start a business.
    The problem area is minimum income floor. You get treated as though you are earning minimum wage at the very least for the hours you say you work whether you do or not.
    Start a business and the minimum income floor does not apply. For 12 months.
    Start a business from scratch that at the 12 month point is then able to pay you minimum wage for the hours you say you work? I’m experienced in business and I can’t do it from a standing start. Borrowing money from the bank is a non starter, adds to the amount needed to generate each month on top of money used as wages.

    Add in the benefit delays – which are if anything bigger with universal credit than the benefits it replaces – and can see more food bank use for the next few years.

  7. Funny thing universal credit. The idea behind it (combining benefits to reduce complexity and the weird incentives that can be caused) was floating around the DWP for years before IDS rocked up. Every time it was raised it was shot down as it was too complex to implement successfully (an attempt at combing just two benefits was abandoned in the mid 2000s for just that reason). ThenIDS became sec state for pensions and thought it was a wonderful idea and directed the department to go ahead with it. Surprise surprise its turned out to be too complex to do well!

  8. Martin said:
    “The problem area is minimum income floor”

    Yes, but that came in because a lot of people were claiming working tax credit based on supposed “self-employment” that was never going to reach the level of paying minimum wage.

    Some of it was hobbyists who were never going to make a significant profit (a lot of arts and musicians there); some was genuine work but inflating the claimed hours (to meet the qualifying part-time threshold) whilst keeping the total income the same; even the Big Issue sellers were claiming to be working for the hours they sat on a street corner.

    As usual, the people who are genuinely trying to start a business are shafted because of the much larger group who were taking the piss.

  9. Bloke in North Dorset

    Watching and reading all these stories, especially on the Beeb, its hard to find out what is really going on. Lots of people individuals problems being highlighted in the news but nobody saying exactly what they are just trying to score points. The closest it seemed to get to someone saying “this is the problem” was Andy Burnham on Today, but he soon changed it in to a political point scoring exercise rather than analyse the problem.

    Distilling it down to a few key points, the first being Andy’s half acceptance:

    1. These are monthly payments and a lot of people receiving them aren’t used to managing on a month by month basis and are running out. I can understand this and its an education problem for most, but some will never learn.

    2. There’s quite a gap from the point at which people start claiming to when they get their first payment – 6 weeks. This appears to be on the basis that they should have pay off’s from employers or other income. It sounds like a doubtful assumption for people at the poorer end of society to have that much buffer in their finances. (Whether they should is a different issue)

    3. The application is complicated and when mistakes are made the clock resets so they have to wait even longer. This could be a problem as we know that those at the poorer end of society tend to be there because they’ve been failed by the education system. But it seems that a fix is being found as in some areas volunteers are at hand in the local library.

    What we aren’t being told is what is the percentage of people struggling and how many people are really happy and benefiting from this change. If the former is high and the latter low then there’s a serious problem, somewhere, and they may need to abandon the pilot. If the latter high and former low than this is good and we need to look at how to fix the problems.

    Either way this is a pilot and what and it needs to be kept in proportion.

  10. We need more support for the poor. The only way to do that is for government to tax the rich to feed the poor.
    Corbyn is right,.
    And we need to reverse Brexit. Look at the 400 jobs lost in Vauxhall thanks to Brexit.

  11. Bloke in Lower Hutt

    Richard West – Candidly, your comment is nothing more than neo-communist sophistry, I think your time here is up…

  12. The legacy Housing Benefit system left you alone if you weren’t bringing much in – e.g. if you are working 12hrs a week earning £90, you’d get council tax benefit and practically all your rent up to the LHA paid and no-one would ask you if your life was shit, and why you weren’t out there earning more ( the 95% taper rate in Waltham Forest might be a clue in my patch ).
    Now you move onto Universal Credit and you get badgered as to why you aren’t making more of an effort.

  13. Because I go in and out of work so much I’m always on “initial six months contribution-based JSA” so never get means tested. I haven’t been able to find out if UC also has a “I’ve paid me subs, now give me my payout” portion or if it goes straight to “DNA sample and inside leg measurement” means tested.

    If the contribution bit is removed, it’s almost the final nail in the coffin of pretending that National Insurance is an insurance scheme and not just another income tax.

  14. Richard, can take years to reach minimum wage income from a business. To do so myself I’d have to sell around £11k a month in goods, call it 1200 orders a month.
    Start me with a £100k backing and I can do it as an experienced business person. Most business people probably could.
    Start me with no financial backing and its impossible. Start someone new to business with no financial backing and they can lose everything.

    The minimum income is too high too quickly.

    Take someone setting up a decorating business. They have done their own house many times over the years and helped friends do theirs. So they have the decorating skills.
    Start off – using own equipment – say in the first 12 months they get 30 jobs. Call it £15k. Great – now from that they have to pay advertising, taxes, fuel, clothing etc. Then pay their normal bills. Total take home below NMW.
    Small amount of UC because minimum income floor doesn’t apply in first 12 months.
    After 12 months? Zero UC, treated as though on higher income than actually getting.

    I’ve done tax returns for hardworking people starting decorating business. Net income below £10k.
    Under minimum income floor however such low income doesn’t count. Treated as much higher.

  15. @Richard West

    “And we need to reverse Brexit. Look at the 400 jobs lost in Vauxhall thanks to Brexit.”

    The Vauxhall job losses aren’t to do with brexit as it hasn’t happened yet. What has happened is that the Government changed Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax) rates in May this year, meaning that cars from that point all paid the same rate, with earlier cars being on CO2 based rates.

    What that meant was buyers all brought their purchases forward to April, and then there’s been a slump in the market ever since. That’s why all the car companies are coming up with various “scrapage schemes” to boost sales

  16. “I’ve done tax returns for hardworking people starting decorating business. Net income below £10k.
    Under minimum income floor however such low income doesn’t count. Treated as much higher.”

    In that case there’s not enough work for that many decorators in the area, and there’s no reason for the tax payer to subsidise people to do it. By your estimation the taxpayer should subsidise someone to start a business in an already over crowded marketplace, in fact will encourage people to do just that, because their lack of trade will be made up for with free benefits. Less work, same income.

    I have personal knowledge of exactly how this used to work, my cousin and her husband run a small gardening maintenance business, when their children were younger they would purposely reduce their hours worked because they qualified for Tax Credits, and it made no sense to work harder as the welfare made up the difference anyway.

  17. Richard West–What Rhyds said.

    Take your lies and bugger off to join your dear continental pals. They have plenty of the thievery and tinpot tyranny you seemingly love to lay on you.

    And the UK would be all the sounder for your rapid departure.

  18. Incidentally, all this hoo-hah about the introduction of universal credit should tell the people who think we can introduce a Basic Income that its pie in the sky – there are now a significantly large number of people who are incapable of dealing with any changes in their situation whatsoever, even if no cuts to actual benefits are proposed, and if a BI was introduced there would undoubtedly be many people who faced losing actual money from the change (ie they get more in welfare currently than the BI would be) and the outcome would be 100 times worse than the current round of hard cases being paraded in front on us. Todays BBC offering is two people who apparently don’t have enough money for food, but look distinctly plump to me…….


  19. Jim – and the people who cannot possibly push a business hard enough to get that level of income after 12 months will lose their business or have to quit and not qualify for benefits for a time.

    Could you start a business from scratch and have it provide you with sufficient income after 12 months to pay you at least the equivilant of minimum wage?
    I cannot. I don’t think I know anyone who could, from scratch without financial backing.
    Loans don’t help, they add to the problem of how much the business needs to earn.

  20. “Could you start a business from scratch and have it provide you with sufficient income after 12 months to pay you at least the equivilant of minimum wage?
    I cannot. I don’t think I know anyone who could, from scratch without financial backing.”

    Thats why historically people only started their own businesses when they had some way of making ends meet while they got established. Maybe the wife worked worked while the husband started his plumbing business. Or people worked as a paid employee, and started doing their own jobs in evenings and weekends. Working for yourself was exactly that, a way of making your own way in the world, not sucking on the welfare teat.

    Its a typical modern obsession with starting at the top – I want to be a decorator so I’ll buy an expensive van, loads of tools, sit and wait for the phone to ring, and expect the taxpayer to subsidise me while I build up my customer base (if I ever do, cos sitting on my backside is just as profitable as working when the taxpayer is subsidising you).

    Good businesses grow organically from small beginnings. They don’t need subsidy, because the trade just expands to fill the time of the person running it. A friend of mine has a very profitable business making bespoke knives (think Ray Mears type stuff) – he started as a hobby while doing other work, slowly built up a customer base, then went full time, now has a waiting list for his products. Why should he have to compete with someone who fancies a crack at the same trade, but gets the taxpayer to pay his wages while turning out cheaper products?

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