There is no greater example of the failure of this government than the explosion of food banks and the nearly million people using them.This explosion in foodbanks has been caused by a mixture of benefit cuts and increased flexibility in the labour market and failure to make the benefit system work for the most vulnerable in our society.
1) changes to benefits and delays in payment, particularly where sanctions are applied?
We urgently need to get a grip on the delays and administrative errors that are endemic in our
benefit system that can mean the difference between eating and not eating for people that try to
live on few pounds.
“We also need to ensure that sanctions are fair and proportionate, and based on transparent
procedures and appropriate safeguards. Sanctions have been part of our social security system
since its foundation, and the principle of mutual obligation and putting conditions on benefit claims
were integral to the progressive labour market policies of the last Labour government, from the first
New Deals to the Future Jobs Fund.
“We in the Labour movement have always believed that the right to work goes hand in hand with
the responsibility to prepare for, look for, and accept reasonable offers of suitable work.
“That’s why we have pledged that there will be no targets for sanctions under a Labour government
so that jobcentre staff are focused on helping people into work, not simply finding reasons to kick
them off benefits. We will also ensure that rules and decisions around sanctions are fair and
properly communicated, and that the system of hardship payments is working properly.”
The Labour government would try to rescue and improve Universal Credit.
We would take these steps to ensure a simpler system for people claiming benefits and tax credits, while delivering value for money for taxpayers.
First, a Labour government would order a three-month pause to the troubled programme. This brief
break would enable a thorough review to take place so we could examine value for money, the
management and delivery of the policy.
Second, we will call in the independent National Audit Office to scrutinise Universal Credit and to
make sure the review’s conclusions are robust. We will also ask the National Audit Office to
produce quarterly reports for Parliament on the progress of this major government scheme, aiming
to increase transparency and openness on a policy that has been shrouded in secrecy.
Third, if Universal Credit goes ahead we will make big changes to help families by reversing the
government’s decision to not given payments to the main carer of children in a household. This has
disproportionately affected women. A Labour government will ensure payments of benefits for
children are made to the person who is caring for them, not just the main earner.
Finally, Labour will make changes to Universal Credit to cut red tape for the self-employed. Under
the current regime, the growing number of people who are self-employed are at risk of increased
bureaucracy because they will have to understand and complete three separate sets of accounting
rules in order to comply with Government regulations.
2) low paid work, particularly in relation to zero hour contracts?
In this constituency low pay is a real problem with around 4 out of 10 workers earning less than a
living wage. Labour plan to work pay by raising the minimum wage to £8 a hour and giving tax
incentives to pay a living wage.
We will ban zero hour contracts. Low pay, low skill, insecure jobs are not the way a modern
economy should operate, in work poverty cannot be acceptable.
Labour believes in improving educational opportunities, with work experience and vocational
education to improve the skill base of our young people, that meets the needs of the local
economy, we also need to improve the skills and training of current workers encouraging in work
training as we need to increase productivity to allow better wages and greater profitability of our
3) Medium-term illness that results in loss of regular income, families then not being to cope on statutory sick pay income
Our long-term aim is that we do have to exist. So people ask me “Please would you outline how your party’s policies will address the reasons for referral listed above and help to cut the
number of people seeking support from foodbanks?”
The delays within our benefits system are causing very real difficulties and are completely
unacceptable, basic failures – such as appointments being cancelled without notice or
unsatisfactory responses to queries about claims – happen too regularly and claimants often are
unable to get any information about when a decision would finally be made.
Labour will go into the next election with policies that offer a big difference for the lives of millions
of disabled people in Britain.
Here are six examples:
1. We will make disability hate crime a specific criminal offence. This will better recognise the
impact of hate crime and ensure the system has a mechanism to punish those who commit hate
crimes against disabled people.
2. We will overhaul the failing Work Capability Assessment. That means improving the quality of
assessments by getting tough on failing contractors with penalties if they get assessments wrong.
We will also give disabled people a real say in how Work Capability Assessments are improved.
And we will help disabled people back to work with a more joined-up systems and better
information about employment support so more disabled people who can work are given the
support they need to do so.
3. We will get a grip of the huge Personal Independent Payments backlog. Currently thousands of
people are spending month after month waiting for help. The assessments backlog is so long it will
take over two decades to clear at the current rate, costing millions more than estimated. Another
example of Tory Welfare Waste. Labour has called on ministers to set a time limit for making
assessment decisions but the government has failed to get a grip.
4. We will set up a new specialist Work Support programme to help disabled people into jobs. We
will protect the role of specialist Disability Employment Advisers, and bring together resources from
the Work Programme and Work Choice to deliver a new locally commissioned specialist
employment programme for sick and disabled people.
5. We will make rights a reality for disabled people. The last Labour government signed the UN
Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities. We are committed to making those rights a
reality, ensuring disabled people have a real say in the policies that affect them and undertaking
rigorous equality impact assessments of all policy proposals.
6. And finally we will scrap the cruel and unfair Bedroom Tax imposed on hundreds of thousands of
disabled people and carers by David Cameron and Nick Clegg.
These six examples show Labour can make the changes that will give disabled people new
opportunities to get on in life and fulfil their dreams and aspirations. After four years of David
Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith that change can’t come soon enough.