TAX CREDITS, ALREADY PAYING RENT AND COUNCIL TAX, CANNOT BE CUT BY £1700 A YEAR WITHOUT DAMAGING PEOPLE’S HEALTH.

 

TAX CREDITS, ALREADY PAYING RENT AND COUNCIL TAX, CANNOT BE CUT BY £1700 A YEAR WITHOUT DAMAGING PEOPLE’S HEALTH.

The proposed £12 billion cuts to welfare includes the £1,700 a year the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates will be taken from the tax credits of 3.7 million families.

It is worse than that.

Cuts in council tax and housing benefits from April 2013 have left rent and council tax to be paid out of those about-to-be-cut tax credits.

The consequent rent and council tax arrears are ferociously enforced with extra costs and threats of eviction and prison.

The GPs surgeries, already dealing with malnutrition and debt related stress, are at risk of being overwhelmed.

But the DWP never considers the negative impact on health of cutting incomes to the bone and the Department of Health never calculates the cost to the taxpayer of poverty and debt related illness.

Rev Paul Nicolson

SIGN PETITION Please.

 

DWP brushes letter to PM about impact on health of cuts, caps and council tax under the carpet of Universal Credit

DWP brushes letter to PM about impact on health of cuts, caps and council tax under the carpet of Universal Credit

I wrote to the Prime Minister on the 19th May about the impact on health of his polices with evidence.

http://www.taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/letter-to-the-prime-minister-uk-poverty-agenda-to-be-urgently-addressed-by-your-government/

His office sent the letter to the DWP.

The DWP wrote to me about the Universal Credit with no evidence !

DWP answers concerns about health with the Universal Credit and no evidence.

This letter is being sent to the Prime Minister today 22 June 2015.

Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP 21st June 2015
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1 0AA
Email copy to MPs and Peers

DWP brushing health under the carpet of the Universal Credit.

I wrote to you on the 19th May highlighting the negative impact on the health of the men, women and children in the UK when incomes are set so low, and living costs particularly rent and council tax too high, that debt is inevitable. I raised the impact on health of sanctions, of the chaotic housing market, of council tax enforcement and of the increased risk of low birthweight leading to permanent developmental brain disorder. I noted the lack of a governmental estimate of the cost to the taxpayer of poverty and debt related illness in the NHS and the schools. I cited independent evidence supporting all my concerns.

My letter was sent to the DWP by your office, “so they may reply in detail on the matters you raise”. I replied it should have been sent as well to several other departments whose policies have a negative impact on the health of the employed and unemployed. I am attaching all the correspondence for ease of reference.

The DWP wrote me a long letter to me about the Universal credit. It started with;
“Situations such as you describe highlight the urgent need for reform of the current benefit system. Key to this Government’s reforms is the introduction of Universal Credit. There are two fundamental problems with the current welfare system: poor work incentives and complexity.”

The words “health” or “debt” or “nutrition” or “rent” or “maternal” or “sanctions” do not appear even once in the DWP’s letter to me of the 17th June. It does not cite even one example of independent evidence about the impact on the health of the employed and the unemployed who engage with the current or future systems of social security.

I would be very grateful for an answer to my letter to you of the 19th May that shares the widespread concern for the health and wellbeing of the men, women and children of the UK with the lowest incomes. The impact of government policies on their capacity to buy minimum quantities of food, utilities, clothes, transport and other necessities is damaging their health, education, fitness for work and the wider economy.

I hope too you will commission an independent assessment of the impact on the mental and physical health of men, women and children of benefit cuts, caps and council tax since 2010 and of the Universal Credit.

RED OR BLUE THEY HURT POOREST TENANTS will any party gain power in 2020 with social and economic justice at heart.

RED AND BLUE  THEY BOTH HURT THE POOREST TENANTS  will any political party gain power in 2020 with social, economic and legal justice in its heart in 2020. 

I write wholeheartedly to support OUR COMMON HERITAGE published by The Centre for Theology and Community and Housing Justice last week.

May I add there is, regrettably,  a very negative political climate against making changes to national housing policy in the international free market in land and property that the UK has become; and there is a lack of understanding in Church circles about the setting of affordable rents on a national scale.

From the 1st April 2014 the Church of England Pensions Board moved the link between rents and the income of their tenants to a link between rents and the chaotic UK housing market. I had hoped we would continue to give a lead to the state on the setting of affordable rents linked to the incomes of the poorest citizens. As it is the housing market is undermining the good intentions of minimum income standards research. In 1998, as Chair of Zacchaeus 2000, I commissioned the research from the Family Budget Unit  which underpinned the introduction of the London living wage in 2005.

No political party in power since 1979, red or blue, can escape responsibility for the dire circumstances that have been imposed on the poorest tenants in the UK since the crash in 2008. In the heat of the crisis it was the Labour party that introduced sanctions, which stop all income, and started cutting housing benefit. From 2010 the coalition built on Labour’s ​hits against the poorest tenants and will now turn the screws ever tighter. 36% of households households rent their homes of which about 5 million receive housing benefits.

250  councils out of 326 councils, mostly Labour, have started taxing the social security incomes provided by central government since 2013 and then hitting tenants with the draconian enforcement of inevitable arrears. The Local Government Association estimates that around £1 billion of the council tax, over the three years since 2013, cannot be collected from them.

The poorest tenants have carried the burdens of austerity due to the cutting of housing benefit with the so called bedroom tax, the £500 limit and the Local Housing Allowance. All three leave rent to be paid out of the minimum incomes needed for food, utilities,clothes, transport and other necessities. The consequent unmanageable debts debts make people hungry and there is a known link between debt and mental health problems. 

Meanwhile while landlords, like the Church of England, and home owners watch the value of their property substantially increase. Every government since 1979 allowed national and international money to flood into the UK housing market in short supply so forcing up prices and rents. The official definition of affordable housing at 80% of the rising market rents, totally detached from low level incomes, is painfully obviously flawed. High and rising rents, and reducing housing benefits, create rent arrears; the landlords evict and then increase their rents. Evictions of tenants reached 8000 a month in 2014 according to the Ministry of Justice, a record.

Major parties do not dare to allow the value of homes to fall because the large majority of the electorate, are home owners; and renters are less likely to vote. It seems very unlikely, at the moment, that there will be a political party with any chance of gaining power in 2020,  which will put social and economic justice, or the well being of both  tenants and owners, at the heart of its manifesto.

As OUR COMMON HERITAGE suggests the Churches must give a lead on all matters of social and economic justice not least in the provision of affordable homes for households of all tenures and all incomes in work and unemployment.

Rev Paul Nicolson

 

GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING benefits can damage your health they lead to debt hunger low birthweight and a short life

 

GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING

benefits can damage your health

they lead to debt, hunger, low birthweight and a short life

I wrote the attached letter to David Cameron on the 19th May.

I have had the pre-printed following reply.

Reply from No 10 dated 4th June 2015

 

 

It tells me that my letter to David Cameron is being sent to the relevant department for a detailed reply. I have responded​, as below, ​suggesting that they send it to all ​seven​ relevant departments. .

My reply is being sent to MPs and Peers. Please consider forwarding this link  letter to any MPs you know.

May I now add that I come increasingly to the view that the benefit system should have a;

GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING
benefits can damage your health

Every housing benefit cut is a substantial rent increase for benefit claimants in and out of work
The local housing allowance, the so-called bedroom tax and the £500 benefit cap and sanctions all cut housing benefit*.
That means the already low incomes needed for a healthy diet, utilities, clothes, transport and other necessities are shredded by rent
Straws on the backs of the poorest citizens are imposed by Local Authorities taxing benefit incomes with council tax.
Threats of prison and eviction,with unmanageable debt and hunger are inevitable
Mental and physical illness making people unfit for work follow this deprivation as night follows day

The Universal credit takes no account of the impact of housing benefit cuts on benefit claimants.
80% of market rents as a measure of affordable rents is deceptive;
The 80% rent goes up with the market and becomes ever more unaffordable creating ever more debt and hunger. ..

* NB they are still entitled to housing benefit; so they are told to reapply ​(a massive unnecessary admin cost) ​but in the trauma of having no income, and if they are already depressed, that does not happen​ -​ leading to rent arrears; the same applies to council tax benefit creating even more debts.

​To Direct Communications Unit.
No 10 Downing Street​

POVERTY AGENDA TO BE URGENTLY
ADDRESSED BY YOUR GOVERNMENT

Thank you for your letter of the 4th June acknowledging receipt of my letter to the Prime Minister of 19th May. I am enclosing a copy for ease of reference. I note you are sending it to “the relevant government department” so they may reply to me in detail on the matters I have raised.

As I have raised a poverty agenda to be addressed by the Government as a whole I now ask you to send my letter to all the relevant government departments. I list them below with the matters that each of them should include;

The Treasury – the cost of poverty, hunger and debt related ill health and educational under achievement in the NHS and the Schools and in the economy at large to the taxpayer.

The Department for Business Innovation & Skills the cost to the employers of poverty related mental and physical ill health in work and unemployment. I mentioned in my letter that people who have been sanctioned are often in debt, hungry and unfit for work.

The Department of Health – the number of patients with poverty, hunger and debt related ill health treated each year by hospitals and GPs. And the number of low birthweight babies from poor families.

The Department of Education – an assessment of the impact of poverty, debt and hunger on the education of Children

The Department of Communities and Local Government – the impact on Local Authority budgets of imposing a council tax on their poorest residents that cannot be collected; and a review of the definition of affordable housing at 80% of market rents in a rising market and an assessment of the impact of increasingly unaffordable rents on the income needed for food, utilities, clothes, transport and other necessities.

The Department of Work and Pension – to devise a measure of the minimum incomes needed for health and wellbeing in work and unemployment initiating relevant research and using existing and available work on minimum income standards.

The Ministry of Justice – the courts to deliver to every person on whom they impose a fine or a council tax liability order a description of the MOJ’s agreed procedures that take into account vulnerable situations during enforcement.

Open letter to David Lammy MP leadership of major parties have lost the plot when it comes to debating UK poverty

An Epidemic of Debt Related Illness – A Poverty Agenda to be Urgently Addressed by the New Government

 I have sent a copy of my letter to the Prime Minister to every MP and Peer whose email we could find. I received a standard reply from the office of my MP in Tottenham. It is shown below my reply to him.
AN OPEN LETTER TO DAVID LAMMY MP – MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR TOTTENHAM
“It is sadly clear from your letter to me that the leadership of the major political parties, and some of the minor parties, have lost the plot when it comes to debating UK poverty”.
Dear David,
You letter dated the 3rd June goes nowhere near addressing the issues I have raised in mine of the 19th May. You say that “Labour is committed to controlling the costs of social security by getting more people into work, rewarding work and tackling low pay, investing in the future and recognising contribution”.What you do not acknowledged is that the poorest unemployed people are made sick by sanctions, hunger and debt, and less fit for work or even looking for it.
The poorest residents of Tottenham are caught between the cuts of central government and the taxation of local government. The state creates unmanageable debt; then makes people sick with draconian enforcement.The Labour government made two decisions in 2008 which were to have catastrophic consequences for the poorest residents of Tottenham when transferred into the hands of the coalition from 2010 to 2015. The Labour Government introduced benefit sanctions and started cutting housing benefit with the local housing allowance.The coalition turned the screws by adding the 1% freeze in increases, the £500 benefit limit and the bedroom tax, both of which cut housing benefit. EVERY CUT IN HOUSING BENEFIT IS AN INCREASE IN RENT FOR THE TENANTS AND LESS MONEY TO PAY FOR FOOD, CLOTHES, TRANSPORT AND OTHER NECESSITIES, AND RENTS KEEP RISING IN A CHAOTIC UK HOUSING MARKET. Workfare and Zero Hours contracts then made work even less of a route out of poverty.

And then in April 2013 it was mostly Labour councils that started taxing social security. The Local Government Association reports that those councils are expecting to lose around £1 billion over the three years since then, because social security incomes are too low to pay any tax. However that has not stopped councils attempting to enforce the tax with computer driven heartlessness shelling out threats of the Magistrates, bailiffs and prison; and then adding court costs and then deducting the tax and the costs from social security.

It is sadly clear from your letter to me that the leadership of the major political parties and some of the minor parties have lost the plot when it comes to debating poverty. I can only put this down to an unwillingness to take the relevant evidence in to account that I included my letter to the Prime Minister of the 19th May.

If Parliament based its polices on the robust available evidence of the damage done to health and wellbeing of adults and children by deeply inadequate social security, and then political leaders went public about and persisted with that evidence, there are enough decent people in the UK to vote to pay for a social security system that provides the minimum incomes needed to improve the health and wellbeing of our poorest fellow citizens.

With good wishes,

Paul Nicolson

from the Rev Paul Nicolson

Taxpayers Against Poverty
No citizen without an affordable home and an adequate income in work or unemployment.

On 3 June 2015 at 15:37, <policy@davidlammy.co.uk> wrote:
3 June 2015

Dear Mr. Nicolson,

Thank you for writing to my office regarding the important issue of benefit cuts. I share your concerns that families and individuals are facing a cost of living crisis in the UK, and especially within our own constituency of Tottenham. It is vital social security reform is delivered by a system that is fair and sustainable.

Labour is committed to controlling the costs of social security by getting more people into work, rewarding work and tackling low pay, investing in the future and recognising contribution. Sadly, the Tories seem to be seeking every opportunity to divide this country and set one group of people against another. Their attempts to reform the social security system is failing – with the result that people are left out of work for year after year and costs to the country continue to rise.

Thank you for contacting my office regarding this important matter.

Kind regards,

David Lammy
Member of Parliament for Tottenham