Current news and important infomation
The team at Z2K, as well as hundreds of law firms, chambers, and other supporters of access to justice took part in the 10k #LegalWalk on Monday 18th October. Our team consisted of staff and trustees, who took to the streets of London to raise vital funds for access to justice charities, including Z2K.
Preeti reflects on the work she has done with her clients over the last 7 months and why the DWP must urgently review and reform it’s processes so that everyone can live safely and be treated with dignity and respect.
Our clients face a diversity of challenges when engaging with the social security system, but one issue that almost all have experienced, is that of stigma. In this blog, a number of our clients share the conversations that we’ve been having about stigma in our client workshops – in particular, what forms stigma can take and why it must be challenged.
For many people, reliance on minimal benefits or very low wages makes it impossible to save up a deposit, and even for those who manage to save, few landlords accept tenants on benefits. In other words, you are trapped where you are – no matter the state of the property.
In the wake of the pandemic, more money than ever is being overpaid under the Universal Credit (UC) system. Blunt rule changes to the recoverability of overpayments mean that people are being saddled with debt as a result of structural deficiencies and delays in the decision-making process. As Z2K’s casework highlights, this leaves people in vulnerable circumstances in an impossible situation.
Being of a younger generation and with English as my first language, I am aware of my privilege in being able to navigate a life dictated and shaped by the internet, and computer literacy. Since Covid-19, the necessity to be digitally adept has only increased. However, without the adequate education and provision of resources to ensure digital access for everyone, the benefits system and local authority services remain unfit for purpose.
Disabled people left feeling suicidal and in physical pain by discriminatory and degrading benefits process, research reveals
As part of our work profiling the voices of tenants in the Private Rented Sector (PRS), Katarina tells a story of mistreatment, disrespect, and lack of compassion from landlords who know the power they have over her
When applying for Social Security benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), people with fibromyalgia and chronic pain join the “hidden army” of those whose health conditions are consistently misunderstood and easily overlooked by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) and its private health-care assessors.
Housing law allows landlords to evict tenants without giving a reason – meaning people like Okwuchi often face prejudice or are punished for asking for repairs. It’s this insecurity faced by tenants that the Government promised to address with a new Renters Reform Bill, and we’ve joined the Renters Reform Coalition to hold them to that.
Prior to the national lockdown, Z2K’s Tribunal representation project largely revolved around client contact. From our initial meeting with clients at outreach sessions and appointments at our offices to scan their paperwork, to clients meeting their representative and ultimately attending the Tribunal with them on the day of their hearing.
A year ago, I was one of millions watching the Chancellor’s press conference outlining an emergency package for businesses and individuals affected by the lockdown. When he announced that the Standard Allowance for Universal Credit (UC) would go up by £20 a week, I remember being shocked.
“I have given you an explanation on your Universal Credit payment, unfortunately it is not for me to comment or discuss your question on how you are to survive”
This was the response my client Sarah* received when she asked her Universal Credit case manager how she, her partner and 2 children were supposed to live on £73 for the entire month. Sarah had been hit by the benefit cap, a policy which has been in place since April 2013 and according to Child Poverty Action Group is now having a devastating impact on up to 250 000 households.
Ella Abraham responds to the Chancellor’s budget, the inexcusable silence on the issue of those on legacy benefits not receiving the same £20 increase that those on Universal Credit have seen and why we need more from the Leader of the Opposition.
The past few months have seen organisations in the anti-poverty world coming together in a powerful campaign to challenge the Chancellor to keep the £20 a week increase in Universal Credit he introduced at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
I’m Carl, I’m 39, and I’ve been receiving UC for three years. Around the same time I started claiming UC I was diagnosed with degenerative disorder, a condition that affects the vertebrae and nerves in my back and gives me problems with chronic pain.
I’ve been working in the advice sector from the days of the House of Lords case of Street v Mountford – too many years, some may say! And I thought I knew most of the tricks London Boroughs use to deny homeless people their legal rights. But its only when I came to Z2K and started dealing with Westminster City Council’s Housing Options Service on a regular basis that I realised I didn’t know the half of it.
Ignore and refute: Government’s response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s Universal Credit report
At the beginning of the year, the Government responded to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report ‘Universal Credit: The wait for a first payment.’ This report contained extensive evidence from a range of stakeholders on the hardship Universal Credit’s (UC) design flaws, including the minimum five week wait for a first payment, is causing – as well as considered recommendations put forward by the Committee that could help alleviate these. The Government’s response was pitiful – it ignored and refuted the evidence, instead outlining how it will continue to push forward with policies that have very little regard for the people who depend on them for support.
The extra £20 a week isn’t a bonus, writes Z2k chief executive Anela Anwar, it simply unwinds the Government’s own five-year freeze on working-age benefits.