DWP admits to 80% Mandatory Reconsideration target

It has long been suspected by many that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set targets for certain decision, whether that be the number of sanctions imposed or claimants found fit for work. But in a recent response to a Freedom of Information request the Department actually disclosed that it has a target for the number of Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) decisions that are upheld.

MR was introduced in 2014 for all benefits where there is a right of appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal, including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Previously, if you disagreed with a DWP decision you could appeal to the tribunal, who would look at it again. Now you must first ask the DWP to ‘reconsider’ their decision before appealing. Continue reading

Housing services fail to recognise the needs of male Domestic Violence victims

Photo by David Graham Scott

Domestic violence is an issue that can affect both men and women in various ways and to various degrees. Provision of services for victims of domestic violence are woefully inadequate across the board, and there are particular problems when it comes to making homelessness applications. For example a Z2K client who had spent six months in a refuge after leaving an abusive partner was told by her local authority to return to the property registered in his name when she tried to make a homelessness application. But there is also a particular problem when it comes to male domestic violence victims. Continue reading

66,000 households hit by lower Benefit Cap

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

Jerome Rodger’s tragic death underlines the urgent need for Bailiff reform

In January 2016 Jerome Rodger’s was visited by a bailiff. Jerome worked as a motorbike courier and had incurred two £65 fines, one for driving in a bus lane one minute for before he was allowed to do so and one for an illegal U-turn. By the time the bailiff was on his door step Jerome’s two small fines had ballooned to £1,019 in debt as a result of court and bailiff fees. Continue reading

General Election 2017: the issues at stake for Z2K clients

At Z2K, staff and volunteers have been discussing the surprise announcement of the General Election and its relevance to our clients. Although feelings are running high on both sides of the political divide over Brexit, we hope the election won’t just be seen as a chance to re-run last year’s referendum on EU membership. Some very big social policy changes have happened since the UK last went to the polls in 2015 and 8th June offers an opportunity for the electorate, including the community Z2K supports, to pass judgment on the policies that impact most greatly on them. Continue reading