Tag Archives: Welfare Reforms

So Sneaky – Council Tax And Disability In Birmingham

We’ve recieved this letter regarding the cuts to council tax benefit which will see unemployed and some disabled people having to find 20% of their council tax bill out of their benefits. You can check if you are eligible for continuing exemption from council tax you can check with the council benefit team through this webpage.

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Filed under Alternatives to Cuts, Birmingham City Council

Hundreds Turn Out For Bedroom Tax Demo In Birmingham

Birmingham Bedroom Tax Demo March 16th (19)Hundreds of people came out to demonstrate against this coalition’s unpopular bedroom tax policy. One of the biggest anti-cuts demonstrations in the past couple of years saw the two sides of the Labour party speak in between amongst community activists and people affected by the bedroom tax, as John Mcdonnell MP and Liam Byrne MP both addressed the crowd – to rather different receptions.

You can read more about the bedroom tax, and the “spare” rooms that aren’t spare in these posts – More concessions show we can defeat the bedroom tax and Birmingham bedroom tax demonstration.

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Filed under Events

More Concessions Show We Can Defeat The Bedroom Tax

The coalition has made some concessions with the bedroom tax to take some of the non-spare rooms out of the new charge. Changes mean that foster carers will not be charged for one additional room, as long as they have had a foster child or become an approved foster carer in the past 12 months and army personnel living at home will be allowed to keep their room even if they are away for over a year. Yesterday, it was announced that seriously disabled children would be considered to need their own bedroom but that will be a decision to be made by individual councils and no real definition has emerged as to what will be exempted and what won’t.

A great post here on Nearly Legal about the Bedroom Concessions and what they mean

Update: Foster Carers with more than one bedroom in use by foster children will still face the bedroom tax

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Filed under Uncategorized

More Benefit Cuts Voted Through Yesterday – Benefits Uprating Bill

Yesterday, parliament voted through the Benefits Uprating Bill which will mean a real terms cut in benefits, a move that The Tories admitted will put 200,000 children into poverty. This bill, which cuts the link between inflation and benefits, will see social security payments which have hugely dropped in value since 1979 continue to be eroded. The effect on wages will be to create a further downward pressure, in addition to the recession, as the value of unemplyoment benefits places a floor beneath which wages cannot fall. The effect of this on disabled people, carers, unemployed people and low paid workers will be tremendous, and once the rest of the welfare rooms are considered as well, the effects will be disastrous for many.

How Can You Tell If A Politician Is Lying About Benefits?

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Filed under Cuts

Protecting the most vulnerable? – Birmingham cuts its children’s services

As Birmingham City Council sets its budget for 2013-14, nearly a quarter of the proposed total cuts of £110m falls disproportionately on the Children and Young People’s (CYP) Budget. There are also significant cuts planned to Play and Youth Services which will be subject to £1m worth of cuts over two years.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts

Council Tax Support – Bore’s Poll Tax?

Birmingham’s Labour Councillors voted unanimously to pass on a £200+ charge to social security claimants living in the city at January’s Council meeting. Claimants will be charged 20% of the cost of their Council Tax from 1st April. For a claimant living in a Band C property this will be the equivalent of £5.17 a week. Pensioners are exempted from these changes.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts

Birmingham Law Centre Faces Closure As Council Refuse Funding

Save Birmingham Law Centre JanBirmingham Law Centre is facing closure after Birmingham City Council (itself facing massive cuts) refused to offer money to the law centre to replace the lost income from legal aid, which will cease to exist for many areas of civil law in April 2013, denying access to justice for anyone unable to afford solicitors.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts

How Can You Tell If A Politician Is Lying?

TUC welfare misconceptionsResearch today released by the TUC has shown that people’s impressions of benefits are way out of line with the reality of the system and claimants who rely on it. Can that be a surprise when every time a politician opens their mouths and talks about benefits they present what must be deliberately misleading figures or just outright lies to paint a picture of claimants as unemployed, lazy, feckless scroungers who have never worked a day in their lives, don’t want to work, could take any number of jobs if they wanted to.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Consultation Rejects Council Tax Benefit Cuts

The last consultation meeting on Birmingham City Council’s plans for its Council Tax benefit scheme took place on Thursday in the city centre.

As at previous consultation meetings there was enormous anger at the proposal to make people on income support and Job Seekers Allowance pay an average of £5 a week council tax. It was pointed out that with cuts in other benefits such as housing benefit, and general reductions in benefits as part of the Universal Credit, these people were absolutely unable to pay more without facing starvation.

Many people contended that with the costs of debt collection, and the increase in crime, family breakdown, and homelessness the policy would cost more than the money raised. A recent survey showed that councils expect 50% of people will refuse to pay the new charge. Other councils such as Walsall, Dudley and Solihull have decided to absorb the cut in funding and provide the same council tax benefit as before, but this could involve other cuts in services. The real solution was to confront the unfair policy of the government and force it to change course.

About sixty people took part and they unanimously passed the following motion from supporters of BATC:

This meeting agrees

  • To condemn the government’s decision to reduce Council Tax benefit for poor people and demand that the policy is reversed
  • To call on Birmingham Labour Council to absorb the cuts in Council Tax benefit funding so Birmingham’s poor continue to pay no council tax.
  • To call on the council to issue a press statement to report the discussion and the passing of this motion


Filed under Cuts

Mistake On Your Benefits Form? That’ll Be A £50 Fine

From today, benefit claimants who make a mistake on their forms that leads to an overpayment can be fined £50 for it.. and before you ask, no, if the DWP make a mistake they aren’t going to give you £50.

The new rules state:

A new Civil Penalty of £50 is being introduced for claimants who incur an overpayment caused by:

  • either (a) negligently making incorrect statements and failing to take reasonable steps to correct the error
  • or (b) failing, without reasonable excuse, to provide information or to disclose changes in their circumstances.

The penalty will only be for cases of claimant error. If the claimant is successfully prosecuted for a fraud or offered an administrative penalty or caution they cannot then be issued with a Civil Penalty for the same offence.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will impose a Civil Penalty where appropriate whilst for Local Authorities it is a Permissive Power and they may impose a civil penalty.

With advice services expected to be overwhelmed by cases following welfare reforms being implemented next year, and already seeing huge rises in their casework load for benefits, combined with cuts in legal aid meaning that claimants won’t have access to justice for benefits cases, it is mad that a fine for making mistakes on your form is being implemented.
Benefit forms are long and complicated, and many people go to advice services to help them fill it in, particularly for disability benefits. Many will make errors leading to overpayments, and now will have to cope with losing an extra £50 on top of having to repay the overpayments out of their benefits.

Is this simply a cynical revenue raising exercise? It is hard to see what other purpose this can have, since anyone who fraudulently claims can already be prosecuted, and anyone else has simply made a mistake and will repay any overpayments. As such, placing a fine on this can only punish those who have made genuine errors, and is not going to reduce the amount of errors made. It is just another cut to benefits, another attack on claimants.


Filed under Cuts