Hello and welcome to the March edition of CPAG's Early Warning System e-bulletin.
The Early Warning System (EWS) gathers information and case studies about the impact of welfare reform on children and families in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
WHAT IS THE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM?
The Early Warning System (EWS) gathers information and case studies about families and individuals affected by changes to the benefit system since 2013.
We analyse enquiries made to our advice service, submissions from advisers and the cases we see at our food bank advice service to identify emerging problems.
By gathering data direct from advisers and claimants we can better:
- Explain the impact of welfare reform to politicians and the media
- Suggest improvements to the benefit system which would reduce child poverty and make the system fairer
- Promote solutions advisers can use to support their clients when things go wrong
WELFARE REFORM SUMMIT: EXPLORING AND RECORDING THE REAL IMPACT OF WELFARE REFORM
Staffordshire University is hosting a Social Policy Association funded workshop on Friday 20 April 2018 in partnership with Child Poverty Action Group and the Centre for Health and Development (CHAD)
This free event is aimed at academics, welfare rights practitioners/managers and claimants and will be in two parts: firstly three keynote talks on the impact of welfare reform and secondly a workshop to explore and record the impact of welfare reform using Child Poverty Action Group’s Early Warning System.
PROBLEMS WITH HOUSING COSTS? TELL US ABOUT IT
CPAG wants to hear about the problems and successes of claiming help with your rent in the universal credit (UC) system.
We have met several clients at our food bank advice project whose housing costs have gone missing or who have had difficulty getting them paid back. On our advice line we have heard of landlords refusing homeless tenants on UC, DWP telling claimants that housing cost awards cannot be subject to a mandatory reconsideration and arguments with the DWP about “use and occupation charges”. We think this could develop into a serious issue for UC claimants and we want to understand where the problems lie before we approach the government.
If you are working on an intractable housing costs case or if your client has lost their home or dropped into rent arrears because of an issue with their universal credit, please get in touch.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
CPAG has recently published evidence showing how changes to the benefit system have pushed increasing numbers of children into poverty. Our Early Warning System is an opportunity for front line advisers to join our campaigning to mitigate the impact on child poverty and improve the benefits system.
If you are working on an intractable problem, a case which exemplifies the difficulties a community you work with are having with their benefits or an issue which you would like the wider world to know about, we want to hear from you
You can contact us via our case reporting form, by email, or by calling 020 7812 5226. We need basic details and it only takes a couple of minutes to submit a case study. We treat all our case studies with complete anonymity.
In return we will keep you informed about EWS activities and successes. You’ll be first to receive our reports and newsletters.
WE WANT TO SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM
If you run a team meeting, conference or event, we would be pleased to talk about the problems the Early Warning System is highlighting and the solutions you can use to resolve them.
We are seeing a lot of universal credit cases currently so, if you work in an area that will go full service soon or have a lot of clients on UC, the talk will be particularly useful for you.
The talk is free, we’ll travel to you and can adapt the talk to the time you have available.
WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING WITH YOUR CASE STUDIES
We used the case studies that advisers have sent to the EWS as the basis for a UC briefing pack which CPAG is sending to MPs and councillors throughout the year, as their constituencies and wards become full service areas. The briefing highlights advisers’ concerns about UC and the improvements which you suggested and we want to MPs and councillors to champion.
At the turn of the year we met with senior DWP officials and raised several issues about UC, including backdating, the absence from home rules, missing capability elements and benefit capped workers. We are expecting a positive response to the issues we raised. If you have any examples of clients facing problems in these areas, please get in touch: your case studies help us to convince the DWP that these issues are urgent and significant.
CPAG joined the Trussell Trust, Oxfam and Southwark food bank at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Universal Credit. We cited several case studies from the Early Warning System to explain how repayment of UC advances, arrears payment of UC and the sanctions regime are driving foodbank use.
THE NEXT STEPS
The EWS continues to expand and we are adding new cases every day. We are planning to build on the information we get from case studies by bringing together a group of claimants and interviewing them in depth about the impact welfare reform is having on their lives.
CPAG’s successful food bank advice project comes to an end in August 2018. We’re looking to develop new relationships with food banks and other community projects to to get an in-depth understanding of problems that families who are entitled to support from the benefit system face. If you lead or work at a food bank and would like to work with CPAG, please get in touch.
We are keen to extend learning on UC as far as possible: if you have an agenda to fill and are keen to hear about UC please contact us.
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