Benefits Update: Migrants Access to Benefits from 9 Feb 2015

Here’s an update from the DWP on their policy change with regards to the rights of migrants to claim benefits in the UK:

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Restricting Migrants’ Access to Benefits

Towards the end of 2014, it was agreed to roll out GPoW (Genuine Prospects of Work) assessments to all remaining claims from unemployed EEA nations who have yet to have their right to reside reviewed.  This means that from 9 February 2015, existing JSA(IB) claims made before 1 January 2014, from an EEA national, will be given three months notice that they will be subject to a GPoW assessment.  The first assessments and interviews will take place from May 2015.

Claimants will be notified by letter that in three months time they will be subject to a GPoW  interview and assessment.

Support for Vulnerable Customers

DWP has considered impacts for potentially vulnerable claimants when implementing these changes.  DWP staff are given training on how to identify vulnerable people and how they can best support their needs.  DWP Decision Makers complete specialist training and are provided with all the necessary guidance to carry out this role. They can also draw on specialised support where needed.

 As with all areas of DWP business, it is not always possible to tell when someone is potentially vulnerable.  So, if there are any aspects of a person’s circumstances that they would like DWP to be aware of or if there are reasonable measures that staff could take to support them; the claimant should let DWP staff know at the point of contact.

 Further information is available on www.gov.uk

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If you’re affected by this change in policy, get in touch with your local bureau (see top blog post on how to do this) and let them know you wish to give evidence on how it’s impacted you.

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

“Time to rethink these dysfunctional benefit sanctions”

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“The current sanctions regime embodies and reinforces that system-wide dysfunctionality. If we want a social security – as opposed to a social insecurity – system, one that supports rather than punishes, that is built on trust not fear, any review must look beyond sanctions alone.”

An interesting article from The Guardian’s Patrick Butler.

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

Settled and safe: a renter’s right

Join us in demanding a safe and settled future for millions of renters.

In the last year more than 80,000 people came to us suffering a problem with a privately rented home. That’s 230 people every day, hit by issues from illegal eviction to harassment to lost deposits and struggles to secure the most basic repairs.

Zara’s story

Zara came to us for help after asking her landlord for repairs to no avail. She was worried that severe mould in her bathroom and in the bedrooms of her four children could be damaging their health. The window frames had rotted, damaging their belongings. Zara couldn’t even cook for the kids because the oven had no door. We helped Zara submit a complaint to the local Environmental Health Officer. They inspected the property and asked the landlord to make improvements. The landlord responded by evicting Zara and her four children. As the law stands, there was nothing they could do.

Private rented issues

The private rental sector remains a market in which consumers are woefully under-protected. We want this to change. We don’t see why renters should expect anything less than the protections consumers take for granted elsewhere – repairs that get done, systems to protect them from cowboys, refunds when things go badly wrong.

Join us in demanding a safe and settled future for millions of renters.

We are campaigning for better protections for private renters. We believe that:

  1. No renter should be evicted simply for complaining about bad conditions.
    We want to see an end to retaliatory evictions.
  2. No renter should be at the mercy of rogue landlords who consistently break the rules, taking deposits unlawfully, harassing tenants or renting substandard homes.
    We want to see all local authorities in England set up a register of landlords that tackles the specific problems in their area.
  3. No renter should ever be left out of pocket after renting a home which proves to be dangerous or uninhabitable.
    We want tenants to be entitled to rent refunds where the property they’re living in is dangerous or not fit to live in.
  4. No renter should ever have to pay excessive and inexplicable fees for the basic services a letting agent provides.
    We want to see an end to extortionate fees levied on renters by letting agents.
  5. No renter should ever lose their home at a moment’s notice.
    We want all tenants to get reasonable notice before having to move out, even when caught up in a landlord’s eviction.

Take action

In 2015 we will be campaigning for a fairer deal for private renters – and we want your help.

Tell us your views

Do you rent your home? Please tell us about your experience in our short survey

Tell us your story of unacceptable treatment in private rented housing. Email your experiences to campaigns@citizensadvice.org.uk

Share our tweets to help raise awareness

People are now better protected when buying a toaster than when renting a flat http://bit.ly/1GUU2mN

Join our campaign for #rentersrights

Taxi drivers are more tightly governed than landlords who have access to our homes http://bit.ly/1GUU2mN

Join our #rentersrights campaign

Latest news

Are people better protected when buying a toaster than when renting a flat? Read our blog to find out more.

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

#Campaign Success: Access to Justice

Legal Aid

Legal aid exists so that all of us can access legal expertise when we need it most. However, recent cuts to legal aid mean more and more people cannot find the help they need.

In 2012 the Government cut legal aid funding significantly under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO). Legal aid has been under further attack with the Ministry of Justice proposing additional cuts and restrictions in their consultations on transforming legal aid and judicial review.

We wanted to ensure that:

  1. Ordinary people could effectively challenge unjust decisions taken by Government agencies which impact directly on their lives.
  2. Red tape did not stop people who are entitled to legal aid from getting it.
  3. Consumers of legal services could expect a quality service that meets their individual needs.

Without legal aid, we were concerned that thousands of people would not get access to justice.

What did we do?

We campaigned for changes to the Government’s proposals and achieved key concessions on a number of key areas. These included:

  • Making key exceptions to the residence test for access to legal aid for a number of vulnerable groups including children under 12 months and victims of trafficking.
  • Ensuring price was not the determining factor in awarding contracts to deliver legal aid.
  • The scrapping of a proposed cap on the number of legal aid funded advice providers.

Citizens Advice then responded to the Government’s consultation on their plans to restrict access to judicial review. Judicial review, a technical but fundamental part of our legal system, allows a judge to review on behalf of an individual citizen how a public body came to a policy decision. It is the last tool with which citizens can hold public bodies to account and challenge the process by which decisions are made.

What was the result?

In February, the Government published their respone to the consultation on judicial review. While the Government did offer a concession on ‘standing’ i.e who can bring a judicial review, they plan to proceed with the majority of their reforms. You can read our thoughts in Gillian Guy’s blog on the risks of the reforms.

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

#Advice4Future: Advice for the Future

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Free advice makes society better. It’s really important that people like Citizens Advice are able to continue to offer free advice, through a range of channels, so it’s available to everyone who needs it.

We’re going through a big period of change in the UK. From welfare reform to the payday lending market, the cost of housing to rising energy bills, life is getting increasingly complicated.

This means it’s even more important that people can access relevant, impartial advice, can get help to make complex decisions and have the confidence and opportunity to act on the issues that concern them.

Advice must be available in different ways to suit different needs.

We believe that advice helps empower people to make decisions and solve problems, and is therefore a critical ingredient to any healthy democracy. Everyone should be able to access the advice they need at the right time, and in the right way for them.

We need…

A strategy for the provision of free advice to help everyone find a way forward:

  • Government recognises people’s need for advice following major changes to policy or service delivery;
  • Local government works with advice services to understand local needs and develop innovative solutions to meet them;
  • Local and national government invest in early intervention and better public services to avoid crisis further downstream.

To harness the power of new technology to reach more and more people, while protecting front line, face to face support for those who need it:

  • Putting clients at the heart of developing telephone and digital services to ensure service design and content truly meet people’s needs.
  • Integrating digital advice with face to face and telephone services to make it easier for everyone to get advice.

To mobilise the community

  • There is great resource within communities to help and support each other, with local networks and mutual support forums, and through empowering clients to give advice to others.
  • 22,000 volunteers power the work of the Citizens Advice service. Their generosity changes lives and has a huge benefit on health, work and happiness.

If you would like to have your say and support Citizens Advice in our mission to help, sign the pledge!

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)