Universal Credit Cut. A Letter to MP's

Sutton Voluntary Sector have sent a jointly signed letter to their MP's to detail exactly what the cut to Universal Credit will mean locally. They have suggested sharing it for anyone to adapt to their locality. Thank you to Steve from Sutton CAB for this:

Dear MP's Name

Universal Credit

As you will recall, we have previously exchanged correspondence and had a useful meeting about the ending of the Universal Credit Coronavirus uplift.  Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of media coverage and commentary about the issue.  There is a lot of concern among staff and volunteers in Sutton voluntary sector organisations about how the ending of the uplift will impact on Sutton residents.  I am writing on behalf of the Sutton voluntary sector organisations listed at the bottom of this letter.  We all have concerns about the £20.00 per week reduction in Universal Credit; concerns that recently have been exacerbated by the impending increases in fuel costs and food price inflation.

We would be grateful if you would consider asking the government to reconsider its decision to end the uplift.  We hope that the information below, about the impact of the reduction in Sutton and the Universal Credit regulations will be helpful to you.

There were, according to official DWP figures, 15,493 Sutton households ‘on’ Universal Credit as of May 2021..

The government increased the Universal Credit ‘standard allowances’ in 2020 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. A monthly ‘standard allowance’ is included in the calculation of every UC claim.  There are different standard allowances for people for single people, couples and people under and over the age 25. The standard allowances are, as you can see from this table, quite low.

Standard Allowance Current Rate Rate from 6th October 2021
Single under 25 £344 £257.33
Single 25 and over £411.51 £324.84
Couple under 25 £490.60 £403.93
Couple aged 25 or over £596.58 £509.91

We can illustrate the impact of the Universal Credit reduction with an example calculation. The client is an illustration, but the calculation is based on actual Universal Credit amounts.

The claimant is a lone parent with one daughter aged 14. Her current ‘maximum amount’ of UC for is £694.01 per month (plus housing costs). This maximum amount is comprised of the £411.51 standard allowance and the Child Amount of £282.50.

The claimant works part time. She earns £520 per month (net).  The calculation of her UC includes a ‘work allowance.’ She can earn £293 per month without her UC being reduced.  She has earnings of £227 over her work allowance. Every £1.00 of earnings over the work allowance reduces Universal Credit by £0.63 – i.e., earnings ‘taper’ UC entitlement at 63%.

The calculation of her UC entitlement compares her maximum UC - £694.01 (plus housing costs) with her income. She is treated as having income of £143.01 (63% of net earnings minus the work allowance).  She is therefore entitled to UC of £551 per month, plus housing costs. Child Benefit is paid in addition to Universal Credit.

From 6th October, the claimants maximum Universal Credit is £607.34. This is comprised of £324.84 standard allowance and Child Amount of £282.50.  She will then be entitled to UC of £464.33 (plus housing costs).  This is a reduction of £86.67 per month.

As you can see from this example, Universal Credit is reduced by £0.63 for every £1.00 of earnings over the work allowance. Only people responsible for a child or people with a limited capability for work have a work allowance. Other people such as those without dependent children and carers (who do not otherwise qualify) do not have a work allowance.

Most claimants cannot therefore make up the £86.67 per month shortfall by working additional hours.  If the claimant in the above example increased her working hours and therefore her net pay by £86.00 per month, she would lose £54.18 from her Universal Credit, meaning that she would, despite earning £86 more per month, only gain £31.82 per month - so the claimant can clearly not make up the £86 per month reduction in benefit by earning an additional £86 per month.

Many people in receipt of Universal Credit do not have any realistic way of making up for the £86 per month reduction at all. Some 60% of people in receipt of Universal Credit are not in employment. People may for example have a limited capability for work, be caring for a severely disabled child or adult or be a lone parent with a young child.  Some people in receipt of Universal Credit are working full time (and need the benefit to help with rent), so cannot further increase hours and therefore cannot, in any way, make up the reduction.  We would like to stress, that even if people can increase their earnings, those earnings will reduce Universal Credit by £0.63 for every £1.00 of earnings.

You can see, from the above table, that the Universal Credit standard allowances are quite modest. The standard allowances are the basic entitlements for single people or couples.  Although these allowances are not designed to cover rent or council tax and claimants may also receive amounts for children, caring responsibilities and having a ‘limited capability for work- and work-related activity,’ the amounts are very low when compared to the ‘Standard Financial Statement’ ‘Trigger figures.’

Debt advisers, such as the Citizens Advice Sutton debt team use a Standard Financial Statement.  The Standard Financial Statement includes ‘trigger figures’ The trigger figures are pre-agreed levels for certain areas of discretionary household expenditure. The trigger figures help identify levels of monthly expenditure deemed reasonable when completing the statement. Debt advisers do not need to explain the financial statement to creditors unless the trigger figures are exceeded.

The Universal Credit amounts are inadequate to allow claimants even the trigger figure amounts of discretionary expenditure.  The Standard Financial Statement ‘allows’ a single adult to spend a total of £666 per month on ‘discretionary’ items – communications / leisure and groceries etc.  However, the Universal Credit Standard Allowance for a single adult (over 25) is currently only £411.51 per month and is due to decrease to only £324.84 per month.

The Standard Financial Statement ‘allows’ a single adult with a dependent child to spend a total of £885 per month on ‘discretionary’ items. However, a single parent with one child could receive Universal Credit of no more than £648.59 per month (due to decrease to only £562.92 per month) plus Child Benefit of £21.15 per week. Even including Child Benefit, the family’s income would total only £740.24 per month, decreasing to only £654.57 per month in October.

Furthermore, many people in receipt of Universal Credit have a shortfall between their rent and the amount of housing costs included in their UC calculation – the Local Housing Allowance only covers the 30th percentile of local rents.

A very high proportion of Citizens Advice Sutton debt advice clients are in receipt of Universal Credit and have a ‘deficit budget’ – in other words, their incomes are inadequate to cover even essential expenditure such as rent, utilities and food.

We understand that the government introduced the £20 per week uplift as a temporary measure, in response to the pandemic.  However, many people need to claim Universal Credit for the long term. As we have said above approximately 40% of Universal Credit claimants are in employment and need Universal Credit to help pay rent. Many of these people have not seen any improvement in their situation since the introduction of the uplift – in fact their financial positions may have deteriorated due to rising food costs and will deteriorate further with increases in fuel costs. The Citizens Advice Sutton debt team has seen an increase in demand in recent months.

We hope that this information is helpful to you. We would be grateful if you would ask the government to reconsider their decision to end the Universal Credit uplift – a decision that will have significant adverse financial consequences for over 15,000 London Borough of Sutton households.

Yours sincerely


LONDON CHALLENGE POVERTY WEEK: WHAT'S ON

Between the 11th and 17th October 4in10 hosts London Challenge Poverty Week.

There are events and activities planned all over London and online. Check out the LCPW website for full details and get involved!

Examples include:

The London Poverty Summit talking place in person on Thursday 14th October .30 - 5.30.

Barking and Dagenham Youth Dance - Interpreting what poverty means to families and young people. Online throughout the week.

JustFair and Social Rights Alliance Webinar  – Using Human Rights As A Tool To Tackle Poverty. Monday 11th October 13:00 – 15:00

Newham Social Welfare Alliance and Anti-Poverty Alliance and the Commission for Social Security both have online events planned for Wednesday 13th October.

During London Challenge Poverty Week, Lewisham Local are running five online food-growing related workshops for families to tackle holiday hunger and encouraging visits to some of the wonderful community gardens in the borough.

And on Monday 11th  and Sunday the 17th Join ATD 4th World in both in person and online poetry events.

For a full list of what is on and to keep updated visit https://londonchallengepovertyweek.org.uk/whats-on/

 

 

 

 


#KEEP THE LIFELINE - Day of Action 17th August

Let's make as much noise as we can to show opposition to the cut to Universal Credit and what it will mean.

One Conservative MP has said he has heard no concerns about this from his constituents. Let's change that. They should not be able to say they don't know of any impact from this decision.

Save the Children Fund have come up with some really useful resources:

  • Web page with info for UC & WTC claimants & writing to their MP
  • Web page with info for legacy benefit claimants & writing to their MP
  • Web page for supporters with write to MP instructions
  • A ‘Campaign guide’ - a guide for smaller organisations or leaders who are keen to get involved. It has details of the campaign, links to assets, write to MP guidance and suggested tweets.

The aim on the day is to:

  • Raise awareness of the cut & how it will impact families
  • Create a twitter buzz that ideally trends
  • Create a space for claimants and people working with them to share how the cut will affect individuals
  • Encourage MPs to show their public support
  • Generate media coverage

To generate as much social media and media action as possible it would be great if we could all tweet our support and share with others about the day and call to action.

With that in mind it would be great to let as many people in your networks know about the day of action and encourage and raise as much awareness of the planned cuts.

The more people make a fuss then the more pressure on the Government to U-turn.

Suggested tweets below but please do feel free to use your own their own with the hashtags #keepthelifeline

Tweet One

The £20 increase has been a lifeline for those both in and out of work. If this is cut, even more children will be pushed into poverty and hardship. #KeepTheLifeline

Tweet two

Millions have relied on the £20 UC top up to buy food and essentials. If this is cut, even more children will be pushed into poverty and hardship. UK government to listen to the growing number of voices expressing support, and abandon plans to cut UC. #KeepTheLifeline

Tweet three

Millions of key worker families who have kept the country going throughout the crisis will be hit very hard by the forthcoming cut to Universal Credit. This isn’t right! join the growing number of voices urging the Government to #KeepTheLifeline

What can you do?

  • Tweet on the day about the KTL campaign using the hashtag #keepthelifeline
  • Ask your networks (members, allies, supporters) to tweet on the day using the hashtag #keepTheLifeline
  • Ask Conservative MPs and high-profile supporters to tweet out their support using the hashtag #keepthelifeline

Thanks to Joseph Rowntree Foundation for coordinating the campaign and to all the organisations involved. Let's get this stopped!

 

 

 


Book Your Place - 4in10 Coffee Morning. Health Inequalities. 5th August 10am.

Book A Coffee Morning Place!

Thursday 5th August 10 - 11am

4in10 Open Coffee Mornings provide a space to listen, learn, network, and voice concerns regarding issues linked to child poverty in London. The Coffee Morning sessions are thematic, meaning there is one overarching area in which frames the discussion, in this case it is health inequalities in London.  However, the mornings are very much an open floor where attendees can express ideas or thoughts in a way that best suits them. 4in10 Open Coffee Mornings are non-judgemental and welcoming – there is no right or wrong way to attend, participate, or contribute. They provide an authentic space to network with other voluntary community organisations and to also upskill in knowledge and best practice.

Our first Open Coffee Morning (next week) is on the theme of ‘Health Inequalities in London’, Thursday 5th August – 10-11am. Find out more and sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/162043501475

We also have future Coffee Mornings on the following dates:

Benefits and Income - Wed 15th September 2021 (11am)  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/162051573619 

Housing and Homelessness - Tue 30th November 2021 (10am) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/162053060065

We hope to see you at 10am on Thursday 5th August with a hot beverage and your thoughts!

Feel free to email or call 07784573943 if you have any questions,

Best wishes,

Keir, Katherine and Liza


Have coffee with 4in10!

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new ‘4in10 Open Coffee Mornings’!

4in10 Open Coffee Mornings provide a free space for us all to listen, learn, connect, network, and voice concerns on a variety of topics related to child poverty in London.

4in10 Open Coffee Mornings are open to everyone. This includes 4in10 members, voluntary community sector organisations in London, those with lived experience, public sector workers and anyone who shares concern on issues relating to growing child poverty in our capital.

Launching with ‘Health Inequalities in London’ (5th August 2021 | 10:00 – 11:00), Open Coffee Morning sessions are thematic, meaning there is one overarching area in which frames the discussion. However, the sessions are truly flexible; attendees can contribute, participate, and engage in ways and on areas that matter to them.

4in10 is nothing without its membership. Some of our proudest moments at 4in10 have stemmed from shared ideas, cross-organisational collaboration and issue discussion amongst our members and voluntary community organisations. Our Coffee Mornings will provide a regular informal space for this to occur organically and more frequently.

The first Coffee Morning (Health Inequalities in London) is on 5th August, 10:00 – 12:00: sign up here

Sign up to the event to receive email notifications for the session, the ZOOM link, and information on future coffee mornings.

4in10 Coffee Mornings are held roughly every six weeks. Sign up to future sessions:

The following session will be at the end of January and the theme will be Family and Child Poverty in Outer London.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Members Spotlight: West London Zone

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
West London Zone

  • How are you helping young people in London?

We help children and young people build the relationships and skills they need to get on track Socially, Emotionally and Academically. We call this creating a SEA change.

We believe that by targeting these key areas of development we can empower children to fulfil their potential.

We work in West London - an area of deep inequality where 1 in 5 children and young people aren’t getting the support they need to thrive. Our research shows that there are 12,000 children and young people currently living in our community that need additional support.

  • Share with our members something positive about your organisation’s achievement or service.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns we adapted quickly to provide online support to children and young people. In the first lockdown, between 23 March - 17 July, we provided on average 3 Link Worker interactions per child per week. We also delivered remote support, working really closely with our partners to adapt to this way of delivering.

Now that we are able to provide face to face support, we are extending it for those who would normally be finishing their two-year programme in July to provide experiences and opportunities until the end of August.

Our aim is to offer children the opportunity to participate in sport, drama, music, art and crafts and a range of trips and visits - as well as accessing some additional support from where needed.

These activities will support them with much needed social interaction with their peers, to promote positive emotional wellbeing and have the chance to take part in some fun-filled activities after a very challenging year.

We raised £21,135 this month to go towards funding these activities throughThe Childhood Trust’s Champions for Children campaign!

  •  What can other network members learn from you or find out more about through you?

We have a funding model that sees each child supported by their local council, central government, their school and philanthropy. This means we are not reliant on one source of funding alone and can provide more support with these parties together than any one of them on their own.

We work to ensure that every child gets on track socially, emotionally and academically – and we have designed our funding model in a way to help us deliver this. Our commissioners pay us in instalments over the course of a child’s two-year programme, when we provide evidence of their participation in the programme and their progress at the end.

With payment explicitly tied to each individual, we are driven to achieve for every single child on our programme.

Our funding model means we work really collaboratively with our funders and partners - we have learnt a lot about how to do this effectively over the years. You can find more about our insights on this in our most recent Impact Report.

  • What would most help you achieve your goals?

We are continuing to be purposeful and strategic with our aims for growth so that we can reach more of the 12,000 children in our Zone that could benefit from our support. We are growing so we can be truly 'deep' in our place - supporting children across the community and working together to impact a generation of young people in West London. We’ve grown quickly, and aim to support 3,000 children and young people a year by 2025.

We have a big ambition - and we are focused on one place. By working with local organisations and people, we think it is possible to enable all children in our community to have access to the support they need to thrive in adulthood.

  • Why did you join 4in10? What do you enjoy about being part of the 4in10 network?

4in10 is a really important network, and we believe it’s important to constantly share our insights and learn from other organisations. We really enjoy receiving 4in10’s newsletter filled with details on events and opportunities for organisations. 4in10 do a brilliant job of bringing together organisations to unite to tackle inequality in London.


Blog Post from Alketa Hystuma of The Shpresa Programme  

The Shpresa Programme works with Albanian nationals in the UK who have mainly migrated from Italy, Greece and Bulgaria. Their dual nationalities make them EU citizens. 

The 23rd of June 2016 marked a seismic change for a country, which for 47 years was a member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Communities (EC). Assisting with the completion of online applications has been challenging since the Brexit process as many service users have difficulties with the language or  have no English skills. Others have difficulties using computers and online services, like not understand the confirmation emails or calls they receive to provide further evidences as part of their EUSS applications. Many of the people we work with have completed wrong applications, equally many are not aware of their rights on public funds including housing and homelessness assistance. A general problem is that many do not yet fully understand what Brexit means and why having a Settled or Pre-Settled status is important in protect their future immigration status, as well as their rights  and entitlements to family reunions, work, benefits, and access to the NHS.

Since COVID-19 we witnessed a rise of applications for universal credit. We’ve noticed indirect discrimination when an EU citizen has only arrived to the UK a few months ago and is working a limited number of hours per week. Most of the claims made resulted in refusals, not once, but 2-3 times. We have previously requested reviews and have appealed decisions to highlight that the EU citizens have the same rights as a British passport holder or someone with refugee status.

Our other immense concern is for groups or people who are isolated and have no contact with us or any other organisations who promote and do campaign work around the EU Settlement Scheme. If vulnerable members of our community fail to apply before June 30 2021 their immigration status will inevitably be compromised, no matter how long they have resided in the UK.

Our partnership with New Europeans UK started in September last year. Since then, we have jointly delivered more than 5 events and information sessions tailored for the Albanian community. New Europeans UK have advised and trained our staff, as well as a cohort of our Albanian speaking volunteers. We have found a valuable partner that is keen to hear the challenges our service users face and offer free professional advice.

It has been a highlight of Shpresa’s activity, to work intensively with the many EU citizens part of the Albanian community in the UK and raise awareness of their rights in the UK during and after Brexit. With the continuous support from New Europeans UK, the Shpresa Programme has campaigned extensively through social media, our digital work and information sessions, as well through our advocacy “Be the change” project. This will ensure effective support continues to reach our community, so that no EU citizen gets left behind. We will continue to assist anyone who needs help to integrate and become self-sufficient once they chose to make the UK their home.

Shpresa Programme

www.shpresaprogramme.com

020 7511 1586


Refugee Week. Some Great Links

WE CANNOT WALK ALONE: REFUGEE WEEK EVENTS

‘no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark’

Warsan Shire, Home

In recognition of Refugee Week the following online events and exhibitions may be of interest:

  • The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants are hosting a fantastic online exhibition, Beyond Labels
  • Croydon Voluntary Action and 40 local organisations are hosting a week of activities celebrating work by and with refugees.
  • Barnet New Citizens Gateway is celebrating Refugee Week with an online event where members of their community will share their stories. Join their  celebration of humanity and culture for stories of refugees experiences and hopes for the future. The event will feature a packed schedule of inspirational talks, art, and singing from renowned Palestinian artist, Nancy Hawa. Mon, June 21, 5:00 – 6:00 PM
  • Refugee Education UK are sharing stories of their work with young refugees.
  • HOME? curated by actor and refugee-child Noma Dumezweni, brings together global voices, stories and experiences across three new commissions, created in collaboration with refugee artists and the Old Vic Theatre.
  • Counterpoints Arts and Schools of Sanctuary present authors Michael Rosen and Sita Brahmachari  in conversation with Sanchita Basu De Sarkar sharing poems and stories suitable for children aged 9 and over and their families.  June 17th 4.30-5.15pm.
  • The National Archives share a series of events linking the history of refugees in the UK via documents held by them.
  • UNHCR are asking people to submit their own dictionary definition of the term ‘refugee’.

There are many other events where you can show your support for London’s vibrant refugee communities. Just Google your borough and Refugee Week 2021


Magic Breakfast

No Child Left Behind – new website! Blog by Mari Burton from the NEU.

New data released by the End Child Poverty collation has revealed that even before the pandemic child poverty levels had risen to 4.3 million children – an increase of 200,000 on the previous year, This means that across the UK, 31 per cent of children are now growing up trapped in poverty – the equivalent of 9 pupils in every class of 30.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Government must take urgent action to right this wrong.

 

The National Education Union have launched a brand new campaign website which allows visitors to search for the latest child poverty statistics for their area, simply by typing in their postcode. Visitors to the site are asked to email their local MP, asking them to show their commitment to tackling poverty in their area by signing the NEU’s anti child poverty pledge. The pledge reads:

 

As a member of Parliament, I pledge to do everything in my power so that no child is left behind in East Worthing and Shoreham:

  • I call for the development of a cross-Government strategy to eradicate the poverty faced by the 4.3 million children currently growing up trapped in poverty.
  • I will use my vote and voice in Parliament to try to stop an expected 730,000 more children being plunged into poverty by 2024.

We must value and invest in all our children, so they are supported to learn, succeed, and go on to have bright futures.

Poverty is not inevitable – with enough political will we can eradicate it. At the time of writing 91 MPs from across the parties had committed to do everything in their power to leave no child behind – check if yours has signed up by visiting nochildleftbehind.org.uk and supporting our campaign!


Keir Lewis, 4in10's Research and Learning Officer writes about the ending of the eviction ban.

A ‘tidal wave’ of evictions are coming.  

May 31st 2021 marked the end of the eviction ban following a series of temporary (often last-minute) extensions. This piece of legislation, whilst imperfect, provided the primary source of protection for renters during the pandemic. The eviction ban originally prevented eviction court hearings, temporarily ensuring eviction proceedings did not start. It also extended ‘minimum notice periods’, the minimum time period a landlord could give a tenant if they wished for them to leave the property, to six months. 

What Is Changing?  

From 1st June, bailiffs will legally be allowed to enter renter’s homes and enforce evictions. 

Minimum notice periods will also change. The notice period required to be given by landlords will drop to four months on 1st June and then to two months on 1st October. 

Why This Matters 

Many London renters face a myriad of housing challenges and the eviction ban simply papered over cracks.  

Inadequate social housing supply, employment insecurity, rising rents, unfit housing benefit and accelerating gentrification are all challenges that remained unaddressed by the eviction ban and the governments pandemic response.  

Nowhere else in the country does the cost of housing ‘push’ more people into poverty than in London. According to research from End Child Poverty, nine of the ten Local Authorities with the highest levels of child poverty are in London – with housing being a significant driver behind these figures. A recent London School of Economics report projected that 400,000 private tenants in London may be in significant rent arrears by the end of 2021. Whilst these figures in London are alarming, this is unsurprising given that nationally over £360 million has already been accumulated in covid-related rent arrears. 

All in all, this means London could be facing a period of evictions and homelessness like it has never experienced before. 

How Can We Help 

As part of the London Child Poverty Alliance, our manifesto called upon the new London Mayor to take action on housing. We called for legislative action to tackle exorbitantly high rents, urgently deliver new homes at social rent and improve the standards and conditions of temporary accommodation in London. 

However, this call for action cannot be seen as separate from our broader manifesto calls. Just like the eviction ban coming to a close in May, at present, the £20 uplift in Universal Credit is due to end at the end of September.  

We simply cannot allow our social safety net to be cut further. 

Getting Help 

If you’re worried about being evicted or supporting someone who is, Shelter offer support regarding the eviction ban and homelessness here. 

You can also use 4in10’s ‘Get Help’ support page here.