Last week we went into a bit of detail of how cuts to the Social Fund Maternity Grant are likely to put a financial strain on second and third time mothers, and put them into debt through benefits on account. It is not clear yet how easy this will be to obtain. The only alternative source of credit for many will be to access unaffordable credit from disreputable lenders.
The think tank Compass recently released their independently researched report, “On the Margins”. They find one fifth of low earners in the UK (of whom there are 14 million) report a heavy debt burden. Changes to Housing Benefit caps, occupancy rates and the introduction of Universal Credit are likely to increase debt for those on low incomes at a time when they are more likely to depend on high cost credit. The inability for the poorest to access affordable credit creates a ‘poverty premium’, which exploits the vulnerable and drives up inequality. This is a situation which must be addressed.
Our much valued ex-colleague Fatma wrote this piece about her time with us. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank her for all her hard work and wish her the very best with her future career.
My experience of being an intern at Z2K entailed learning to develop many skills in a short space of time. Although I only attended once a week I was able to get involved in casework and interviewing clients very early on in my internship. The guidance and induction packs set me off to a good start and I felt supported by the team at Z2K. I understood the purpose of the organisation and the importance of my role from the day I started.
The fact that Z2K is a very proactive and successful charity means that it can provide for all kinds of interns. As someone who is enthusiastic and enjoys taking on new challenges, I was able to get involved in a variety of interesting tasks. I had close contact with the volunteer coordinator which enabled me to discuss the types of tasks I wanted to become involved in.
An important aspect of Z2K is that every member appreciates the importance of working as a team. This is something I learnt and adapted to as an intern and I now value this skill as a personal attribute.
The warm and friendly atmosphere made my experience an enjoyable one and I recommend all budding legal students to intern at Z2K.
- Date: 5 July 2011
- Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
- Venue: St Paul’s Church Centre – 3 Rossmore Street London NW1 6NJ
- Trainers: Alan Murdie and Romin Sutherland
Equip volunteers with basic knowledge to help them advise the families they work with about how to resolve basic issues, and on where to seek help for more complex issues.
Volunteers of Home Start Westminster.
- Fuel Poverty
- Social Housing
- Welfare Benefits – an overview
The recent changes to the amount help the government will give people with their housing costs will mean that many thousands of households will be forced away from their homes, jobs, friends and family and into cheaper areas . Moving house can be stressful and traumatic for everyone at the best of times, but it is especially for those forced to move while surviving on a small income. It will be particularly difficult for those who are working on low wages who depend upon their local networks for the child care help that enables them to work.
Z2K wants to use money from the NatWest Community Trust to employ a part-time co-ordinator to recruit a number of volunteers to assist families to settle in their new neighbourhoods. These locally based volunteers will help with important activities such as enrolling in local schools, registering with doctors while also supporting people with integrating into the local community and making new friends.
Please register with CommunityForce and vote for our important project here:
Voting closes on 23rd October.
From April this year the Government stopped paying the £500 Social Fund Maternity Grant to families if there was already a child under the age of 16 in the household. The government justified their actions by taking powers in the Welfare Reform Bill to remove restrictions preventing Social Fund Budgeting Loans covering maternity items. The number of families that will not have access to funds for maternity items because of the nine month gap between the Maternity Grant’s abolition and the earliest possible introduction of mitigating measures in the WRB has not been estimated by the Government.
The respected Social Security Advisory Committee criticises the notion that families can reuse expensive items such as cots and prams as it ignores the situation of most households, which do not keep such items once a child passes a certain age. It also wholly ignores ongoing or recurrent costs such as the need to eat healthily or keep sufficiently warm.
Clause 69 of the same Bill allows for the abolition the budgetary loans that Ministers claimed would mitigate the damage done by this cut. To replace these there will be an extension of payment of benefits on account. Clause 98 however states that only where they can reasonably be expected to be recovered will such loans take place. There will surely be many families where they could easily argue they do not expect to have the money returned.
by Matt Crow, Manchester University, Z2K Volunteer.
- Low birth weight, as defined by Dr Gail Rees, is when an infant weighs less than 2.5kg at birth which, as Rees goes on to state provokes an “increased risk of mortality and morbidity.” Whilst the figure of 2.5kg is generally accepted as the demarcation point for low birth weight it would not be unreasonable to propose that 3kg is the more appropriate figure for concern as the risk of perinatal mortality has been shown to increase when just below that weight. Continue reading
by Professor Peter Ambrose
Visiting Professor in Housing and Health
(download this article in PDF)
- We need to understand how this huge call on the HB budget (£21bn per year) arose. It arose because of the failures in financial management over the period 1980-2005. The financial deregulations of the early 1980s allowed house purchase lending to spiral out of control thus driving house prices to unprecedented levels and with them rents – which by various mechanisms reflect house price movements and consequentially housing benefit. Simultaneously the Housing Act 1988 allowed landlords to charge a market rent, thus leading rents to spiral after 15th January 1989. This removed rent controls from the Rent Act 1977 scheme yet again inevitably increasing housing benefit. So it remained until the bubble burst. Continue reading
This submission is made on behalf of Citizens UK and London Citizens which among other things have been successfully campaigning for the London Living Wage since 2001 (download this article in PDF). See below for more information about these two charities.
- How to introduce a public sector pay multiple that would mean that no public sector manager can earn over 20 times more than the lowest paid person in their organisation.
- When meeting with organisations to request that they pay a Living Wage, we commonly encounter the argument that all in house staff are paid a Living Wage. Our case is usually based on the experience of staff who work in that organisation on a regular basis but have been contracted out. Typical jobs include cleaners, security guards and domestic staff such as cooks. No organisation is able to function without these jobs being done. Continue reading
On the 5th June 2010, it was announced that Frank Field MP will lead an independent review – Review on Poverty and Life Chances, on poverty in the UK and what the Government can do to improve the lives of the least advantaged people in our society
On 30th July 2010, the 21st Centrury Welfare Paper was published. It sets out the plans of Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to completely change the benefits system.
Below are our views, which is also available as a PDF for download Continue reading