Yesterday’s Parliamentary double-header on Universal Credit amounted to the biggest challenge to the Government’s flagship “welfare reform” so far. First, the Work & Pensions Secretary, David Gauke MP, and his officials were given an early-morning grilling by the Work & Pensions select committee. After a brief respite during Prime Ministers Questions, when Mrs May took the flak herself, Mr Gauke was back under sustained fire during an Opposition Day Debate calling for the “roll-out” to be paused. Under threat of widespread rebellion from its own ranks, Government Whips went for a collective abstention – handing victory to the Opposition parties. Continue reading
London-wide anti-poverty charity, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K), today attacked Hackney council’s plans to increase its tax on the Social Security benefits of the borough’s poorest residents. The plans, which were announced in a consultation launched last week, include a proposal to increase the charge for disabled and unemployed residents from 15 per cent of Council Tax to 20 per cent. Continue reading
There’s a lot of really good stuff in the Mayor of London’s draft Housing Strategy, which was published for consultation yesterday. Z2K will take a closer look at the detail over the course of the next few weeks as we put together our own response. But a story in Wednesday’s Evening Standard meant my own eyes were quickly drawn to a small section towards the end of the 236 page document entitled “listening to the views of social housing tenants and leaseholders”. Continue reading
The Zacchaeus 2000 Trust welcomes today’s High Court ruling that the Benefit Cap unlawfully discriminates against lone parents with children under two years-old. We hope this is the beginning of the end of a truly dreadful policy. But given the Government’s swift announcement of its intention to appeal against the decision, thousands of lone parent families suffering this unlawful discrimination are still left facing severe financial hardship and homelessness while the legal tussle continues. Continue reading
Yesterday the first set of quarterly statistics showing the impact of the lower Benefit Cap were published and they include several interesting revelations. Z2K has consistently opposed the cap since its first introduction in 2013. We do not accept that it provides greater work incentives, as most of those affected are unable to work in the first place, and the evidence shows it simply serves to further impoverish low income households, with many made homeless as a result. These latest figures confirm this.
Unsurprisingly, given that the lower cap has brought many more households within scope, the total number capped has increased dramatically from around 20,000 in November 2016 to 66,135 in February 2017. However, this figure is well below the total of 88,000 forecast by DWP in its Impact Assessment back in August. And it is substantially below the 120,000 suggested when the legislation lowering the cap was going through Parliament. Continue reading