The benefit cap and the myth of work incentives

380_Image_child_povertyAs the 7th November looms ever closer nearly a quarter of a million children will face the threat of homelessness as their parents benefit’s are due to be arbitrarily capped. That’s because 7th November is when DWP are planning to start implementing the lower benefit cap, which will reduce the maximum amount of benefits a household can receive to  £23,000 a year in London (£442 a week) and £20,000 in the rest of the UK (£385 a week).

Our experience working with London families affected by the initial benefit cap clearly demonstrated a link between the cap and homelessness. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that when someone’s housing benefit it cut and they can no longer afford their rent it’s only a matter of time before their landlord comes knocking with an eviction notice. However such a connection seems to be a mystery to DWP’s ministers and advisers. Continue reading

Council tax ‘hardship funds’ failing to relieve hardship

council tax bills (002)Last week, Z2K and CPAG held a briefing for MPs and Peers to set out the findings in our new report, Still Too Poor To Pay, which details impact of the abolition of Council Tax Benefit over the past three years. The revelation that hundreds of thousands of London’s poorest households have been summonsed to court after falling into arrears with their new Council Tax bills and that nearly 50,000 households have now had bailiffs instructed against them to recover these debts is a terrible indictment of the policy and its architects. And so we were delighted several MPs and Peers agreed to raise these issues in Parliament. Continue reading

Case Study: how not to do a mandatory reconsideration

One recent successful Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appeal provides us with a clear example of how the DWP fails to use the Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) stage to properly revaluate their decision.

Mr Tonbridge came to Z2K because he wanted to appeal a decision regarding his PIP award. Having been transferred from DLA he had only been awarded the standard rate for mobility and consequently had immediately lost the use of his mobility car. When a decision is made there is no grace period allowing for appeals and so Mr Tonbridge found himself without the use of a vehicle which had been his only means of getting around. In effect the decision led to a complete loss of independence for Mr Tonbridge. Continue reading

Overcoming language barriers

Catherine caseworkThis guest blog post is written by Z2K volunteer Mustafa

On a daily basis we deal with clients who do not speak English at all or English isn’t their first language. This provides a gap for a wide range of misunderstandings and complications to occur. At Z2K we have experienced an increase in the number of cases where clients do not fully understand what is required from them by authorities, which causes additional confusion. In many cases this has put clients at a disadvantage, with many having their benefit terminated, having a knock-on effect that impacts their day to day lives. Continue reading

Still Too Poor To Pay: three years of localised council tax support in London

liability-orderZ2K today publish a new joint report with Child Poverty Action Group which tracks the impact of council tax support schemes since they were set up in April 2013 to replace council tax benefit, as well as analysing changes in 2015/16. You can download the report here.

We found 98,723 Londoners were summonsed to court for council tax non-payment in 2015/16, down from 102,204 in 2014/15 – most likely reflecting the fall in claimant numbers. But the number of summonses as a proportion of working-age claimants has slightly increased, demonstrating that a similar percentage of claimants continue to be unable to pay their council tax bill.  Continue reading