Monday, 19 November 2018

In Case You Missed It - launch of Report into effects of two child policy and benefit assessments on 13 November
click on link here for Stories From The Benefits Front Line Report

Battling for Fairness and Dignity

A common theme of the stories that the Poverty Truth Commission, in Scotland, hears from individuals and families who have a lived experience of poverty is that of having to fight for fairness in a welfare benefits system that often deprives them of dignity and treats them with disbelief. Children inevitably suffer and as one of our testifiers put it “… the poor and innocents should not be the first people penalised with these immoral cuts.”

 The Poverty Truth Commissioners believe that what is needed instead is a benefits system that starts from the premise that all of us may need support from benefits at some point (s) in our lives and that therefore we have a shared interest in ensuring that benefit applicants are treated with dignity and respect. Thus, our Commissioners seek an approach that fully and meaningfully recognises people as individuals who are in possession of rights as well as responsibilities. Indeed, rights and responsibilities are critical to creating a dignified system of social security as opposed to a demeaning system of 'welfare.'

Today the Poverty Truth Commission’s Cuts and Assessments working group publish their Report titled 'Stories from The Benefits Front Line - Battling for Fairness and Dignity'. It makes several recommendations arising from research that includes stories/testimonies gathered by members of the group.  The focus of its research was two-fold, namely the two-child policy and the long assessment process for disability benefits for young people transitioning to adult benefits. One PTC Commissioner summarized this traumatic process by saying “I have never come up against anything as complicated, frustrating and stressful as I have with the whole Employment and Support Allowance process. My mental health suffered. I really didn’t need this on top of caring for my son.”  To seriously begin addressing these issues, the Report recommends:

  • Unfreezing benefits and uprating them annually, at least in line with inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).
  • The immediate abolition of the entire Two Child Policy for Child Tax Credits and Universal Credit.
  • A more holistic understanding within government of disability and its impact on the financial, social and health needs of benefit claimants applying for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and/or Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
  • A major reduction in the current minimum benefits assessment period of 13 weeks for ESA.
  • The back payment of eligible benefits to the date of first application. 

Alongside this call for action we have written  to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to invite her to meet us in order to discuss our Report and the recommendations that flow from it. We know that this is a challenge to current thinking and policy on Benefits for the Secretary of State. Nevertheless, we hope that many people and organisations will want to support us as we invite Ms Rudd and the DWP to a mutually respectful dialogue about our recommendations. We will let you know how the DWP responds to our request for a meeting.

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