Council Tax Support changes in 2017/18

As the 30th January deadline for amending Council Tax Support (CTS) Schemes for 2017/18 draws near a number of London councils are still going through the process of deciding whether to change their schemes for the new financial year. As we have previously outlined the changes being proposed in London range from the restoration of 100% support in Camden to Redbridge increasing it’s minimum payment up to 20%. But the best news is that two boroughs which previously announced proposals to cut support have significantly reduced their planned cuts.

In Tower Hamlets the Mayor initially consulted residents on abolishing the boroughs 100% support scheme and introducing a 20% minimum payment. However, following a petition against the changes from over 500 residents and representations from a number of charities, including Z2K, the Child Poverty Action Group and Toynbee Hall, he has announced he is ‘minded to retain the 100% support for working age households’. While this is undoubtedly a huge win for Tower Hamlets’ poorest residents there are still a number of proposed cuts on the table that could amount to significant losses of support for some claimants. Continue reading

All you need is Love

loveI don’t imagine Iain Duncan Smith is much of a theatre goer but I wish he would try Alexander Zeldin’s Love at the National Theatre. He, his colleagues and successors hide behind statistics, half-truths and platitudes to avoid having ever having to face up to the human misery caused to those on low incomes by their social security policies. Nevertheless I defy any of them not to feel moved and ashamed to witness this representation of the unvarnished reality of living in emergency accommodation for those who are one step away from the streets.

This production was so determined to be factually accurate that the producer of the play contacted us at Z2k for confirmation of the relevant details of the welfare benefits and housing systems. What is more important however is the emotional accuracy of how it portrays the hunger, fear, boredom, frustration, loneliness, and general horror of those who find themselves, in our low wage, high rent economy, unable to support or provide homes for themselves and their families. Continue reading

Z2K over Christmas

The Z2K offices will close for the Christmas break at 1pm on Friday 23rd December. We will reopen on Tuesday 3rd January.

The first drop-in sessions of 2017 will take place on Monday 9th at both St Gabriel’s and the Beethoven Centre as usual.

Case Study: Universal Credit and administrative errors

dwpUniversal Credits continues to slowly creep through the boroughs of London. The introduction of the new system is not without its difficulties. A persons’ claim is administered by two people – their Jobcentre Advisor and an Online Claim Administer. Although greater responsibility is handed to the Jobcentre staff, training has not caught up and full entitlements have not been added to claimant’s benefits. The following case highlights the difficulties faced by claimants at Hounslow Job Centre. Continue reading

Driving Ms. Hussein: or how I learned to stop worrying and love the DWP

dwpAt the age of 56 Ms. Hussein found that she was no longer able to work, for the first time in her adult life. A few months previously Ms. Hussein had lost her right eye and become partially sighted in the other. She was struggling to adapt to being partially sighted and frequently fell or bumped into people and objects.  She had also developed severe incontinence as the result of a botched operation. She was advised to make an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) application and she did so. Continue reading