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Benefits Reforms: In an ideal world we'd have this. 22-3-16 version.
valkyriechris
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Ok, I'm just gonna write this all up.


I have worked in Mental Health for 10 years. The current system is injuring & killing people. It is clearly not working, so change is needed.

This is what I'd want instead of the dodgy Eugenics program brought in by The Torys:



Jobseekers Allowance:

The baseline ~£75 a week is near enough, as this is a short-term Benefit.


New Increments:

- Carers Allowance increment of £30 a week to stay as is. No change. Carers who can Jobseek too can get ~£105 as before.

- A Disability Increment to recognise Disabled Jobseekers, and how it is harder to find work when injured ( like if you're in a Wheelchair ). If it is harder to find work then it'll take longer to find work. So JSA for a person in a Wheelchair could well become a Medium Term Benefit.

- London Weighting to recognise the higher costs of London. This is about maintaining Work Capability. If someone is half starved they will find it harder to get the job ( as they'll look half dead for a start ).


Jobseekers should not be comfy, as you're supposed to get a job after all; but if you starve your jobseekers MANY will end up too ill to work, which defeats the object of Jobseekers Allowance.



ESA - WRAG.

As we head into the Medical please note that I have created 2 groups in Jobseekers. 1 for normal people, and one for Disabled Jobseekers ( injured in some way, sure; but genuinely capable of full time work ).

What about those who can't work full time? Or those who can't do part time for that matter? This is ESA-WRAG territory. They can do ' a bit of work ', but will need medical help/support as well.

The baseline ~£75 a week for the assessment phase seems fine. Many do get back to work quickly once they've had a rest after all.

- Long-term Ill Increment of £30 to top them up if they are unlikely to heal quickly ( or ever ). This kicks in after the first 3 months of Assessment Phase. Someone could be in ESA-WRAG for 2 years in theory, before healing enough to be a Jobseeker. It's just how it is, and the system has to realistically allow for this. ESA-WRAG is a genuine medium-term Benefit.

- London Weighting Increment to allow for the extra costs of Londinium. It means a Mancunian ESA-WRAG person will be on less than a London ESA-WRAG person, fair enough; but times are tight at present so I need to find *some* savings here ( see the concession below ). London Weighting does seem to be an option on this one.


Conditionality: You have to be doing some Volunteer work minimum. Remember, this is the group for people who are ill but GENUINELY CAN do a bit of work. Not true Jobseekers, but at the same time they can do a bit. I do expect Supported Permitted Work to show up A LOT in this group, which is fair enough really.

Concession: Due to costs etc and the need for *some* cuts the Long-term Ill Increment might be safe at £20, instead of £30 ( like of old ), AS LONG AS London Weighting also happens.



ESA - Support.

This is for the truly long-term ill, or those who are dying. It's nice & simple.

After Assessment Phase you get the Support Group Increment of £40. That takes you up to about £115 a week. This recognises how long-term this benefit will be. You won't be healing quickly, if ever.

- London Weighting must happen, as these people may well try some Supported Permitted Work. I want Work Capability Maintained, even if it is just to help them get to a Bowling Group & volunteer a bit when they are not playing. Healthy Movement helps people who are ill to stay happy & well, and we don't want secondary injuries like Depression & Isolation showing up as well.



Moving between Benefits.

With regular medical assessment you can tell who is suitable for what group. There are now 4 groups in play. Healthy Jobseekers, slightly-disabled Jobseekers, Ill persons capable of some work ( but not much ), and truly ill persons who need to be left alone.

As people decline or heal they can simply be moved from group to group in a nice civilised way.



Carers Allowance.

For those who are Carers but can do a bit of work as well Jobseekers has an increment to cover that. But what about those who are so busy caring they can't get any extra work in? At present they get a paltry 'less than Jobseekers' amount, and often end up burning out due to the stress & poverty. That cannot continue.

I would want a 'basic' of ~£75 in place first, and then the following increments:

- London Weighting. For obvious reasons.

- Means Tested Mini-top-up. Say £20 a week if your private income is less than £50 a week but more then £25 a week.

- Means Tested Maxi-top-up. Say £40 a week if your private income is less than £25 a week.


The aim is to always have a full time Carer bringing in close to ESA-Support levels of money, due to how they are 'signed off' long-term whilst they care. This should stop Carer Burnout A LOT.



Sanction Immunity.

Some people are simply too ill to survive being sanctioned. Like a certain ex-soldier who died after he ran out of food and his insulin had rotted (due to him being too poor to refrigerate it). Obviously this must not happen.

For those with a genuine medical need to keep the Lights on they should be granted immunity from 100% sanctions. They should be issued a special medical card showing that they are reliant on technology to stay alive. This will also be relevant for Housing Stuff too ( like eviction stuff ). How do you keep your Insulin ok if you've ended up homeless?


I do feel some conditionality should be there for ESA-WRAG and Jobseekers, but... If they have one of these cards then you have to leave the 'basic' in place. So that they can get some electricity at least ( dialysis needs to happen or Work Capability will not be maintained, for example ).

The current system of 100% sanctions does not work, so it needs checking. 30-40% sanctions can be just as effective, whilst not killing or injuring any one.

Don't worry, being bored out of your brain for 2 months *will* drive you towards getting a job. The key thing is that punishments must not kill or seriously injure the person being punished. The Prison System uses boredom instead of violence, so why is The DWP so special with it's 'death sentence' capability? Serious question.



Co-Habiting.

All of this is designed to be the Income Stream of 1 person. Like if they had a job. It's realistic to 21st C life. You get paid; the mrs gets paid; you then choose what to put in the joint account.

I genuinely do not believe that it is cheaper to co-habit as, in plain english, any food left over for a single person is frozen these days ( modern life eh? ).

Therefore there will be no docking of Benefits for co-habiting. Literally none. People on benefits are already poor enough without them being punished for finding love.



The Benefits Cap & Bedroom Tax.

The Benefits Cap & Bedroom Tax are pretty badly done at present. Homelessness is up after all. So...


I am glad the Benefits Cap now has London Weighting in it, but... I do still feel it is too low. I would have preferred £26k outside London and £29k inside London.


With the Bedroom Tax I would not axe it as much as add exceptions/concessions:

- Disability Rooms are considered exempt. Be it for equipment, or for a Carer to stay in overnight. You can have more than 1 Disability Room too. Needs are needs. It's just how it is.

- Broken Home exemptions need to happen as well. Dad and mum have split up, and the nipper comes to stay with dad at the weekends. So there is a bedroom for said nipper there, and it is allowed for in the Bedroom Tax. You could have more than 1 Broken Home exemption as well. Say, if it's a son & daughter and both are about 14. It's bad enough when a relationship fails without putting salt on the wound. I want to protect the Mental Health & Wellbeing of both Mum, Dad, & any kids effected here.


With OAP's being some of the worst over-occupiers I WOULD extend the Bedroom Tax to them. To force them to down-size. But... I would only do this if there were houses for them to move to ( granny-flats etc ). There's no point in making them homeless. Exemption would be decided at a local level, as the locals will know their Housing Supply well.

A Council won't go rogue, as there is NEVER enough Social/Affordable housing. They'll choose wisely on whether then can down-size Pensioners to free up larger homes for people with kids.

With OAP's big houses that can't be maintained by the OAP's often decline into health hazards. Dirt, cold, falls, it all happens. That's why granny-flats are so good. OAP down-sizing should be encouraged really. As long as there is somewhere for them to move to.

I'm happy to let The Locals decide on this one.



Universal Credit.

This can all be easily linked up as increments in Universal Credit. £75 + Increment shows up a lot as I am sure you have spotted. Simplifying it into 1 monthly payment is easy. ( Weekly Allowance /7 ) * Number of Days in Month. Et viola, a monthly payment.

I would allow each adult to have a claim as standard, simply because of how 1 claim per household is so dangerous when it comes to things like Abusive Partners or Addict Partners. Each adult should have an income stream, like how it works for modern working couples. I would not waste my time combining incomes into Household BLAH, as it empowers a Wifebeater if said Wifebeater has sole control of the Household's Finances too ( for example ).

When working you have 1 income stream per adult, not per household, in modern times. Universal Credit should be the same.



The State Pension.

I would set it up as thus:

I would want a 'basic' of ~£115 in place first, and then the following increments:

- London Weighting. For obvious reasons.

- Means Tested Mini-top-up. Say £20 a week if your private income is less than £50 a week but more then £25 a week.

- Means Tested Maxi-top-up. Say £40 a week if your private income is less than £25 a week.


A truly poor person would get ~£155 a week, and the wealthier you are the more you pay for yourself ( like how Pension Top-up worked ).

But...

I am willing to entertain conditionality for the State Pension side of your Income here. I have already put down some ideas here, and will continue to work on these. The money needs to add up sure, but Active Retirement is also important. It costs a fortune for the NHS when people retire and then simply decide to drink themselves to death. We need our pensioners healthy & active, for real.

When someone retires they are not Ill or half-dead. Many will retire in a 'Jobseekers' state of health. A bit slower sure, but certainly work-capable still. They aren't ready for the Knacker's Yard just yet.

If someone does not co-operate with 'conditions' then they could be dropped from base £115 to base £75 for a short period of time ( for example ), whilst still keeping their Income increments. A mini-sanction can happen safely from what I can see, as long as it is not for too long ( they are old after all ).



Care Fees. A note, as this one is often talked about.

The Care Fee Mansion Tax still needs to happen, to help those who are poor by simply Taxing The Rich.



Sanctions & Basics.

Yes this does link with Universal Basic Income. But it also has the possibility for Conditionality in there as well.

You'll always get your £75, but if you want more then you have to play the game. There's more on the Citizen's Income here ( .pdf ).


Current Sanctions severely injure & even kill people. So they won't be able to get a job will they. Their work capability has been damaged.

Use boredom instead of starvation, like how they do it in the Prison System. It's a much saner way of doing things.


So... Basic plus top up. There are 3 groups where Sanction is needed. Jobseekers, ESA-WRAG, & Pension Conditionality.

ESA - Support should be exempt, and Carers Allowance is already scrutinised with a 'Jobseeker' part built in. As such any Carer will only be sanctioned as a Jobseeker ( so can keep their Carer Top-up as a Jobseeker ).

So, basics:

- ESA - WRAG: You lose your 'long term ill' increment of £30 for a period of time as punishment for not complying.

- Pension stuff: You lose £40 a week, dropping your basic to £75 a week + Income Increments, for a short period of time. This 'saving' pays for the NHS bits incurred if you choose to not co-operate and instead head down t' pub. Remember: If a pensioner neglects themselves physical-health-wise they often deteriorate very quickly. This is why Active Retirement is so important.

- JSA: Part of the £75 should be food. Drop it to £60 for a short period of time if they do not comply with conditions. That'll get their attention. London Weighting will stay, as will any Disability Increment. It's just about making it harder to have nice stuff if you do not get a job.


With all 3 of the above you won't starve or die, but you will get VERY bored. Just like if you were in Jail.

If this was on a computer system the person would press 'sanction' and an appropriate amount would be docked from your payment based on what 'group' you are in. You'd always get some basic though.

If you have the Medical-Energy Card mentioned above you can use it in court to get deals on eviction, AND you would be immune to JSA-Sanctions. ESA covers medical needs already really, so the card is really for Housing & Jobseeking.


I don't do 100% Sanctions. I do Mini-sanctions. It makes A LOT more sense.

~



There's no point in starving, injuring, & killing, those you want working. If you damage their Work Capability then they can't work can they...


A note on PIP, and where fine-tuning is needed here too.



Food for thought. The current system is a dysfunctional mess. Loads of it needs fixing. What would you change?

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A note on PIP. 14-7-16 version.

Much as they put me on Lower Rate DLA Care for too long they were correct in that I needed both Care AND Taxi-parachute. This is because I was injured in a way that left me with 2 conditions, and DLA DID NOT TRULY CAPTURE THAT.

PIP does capture it better for Care ( I'll mention the Mobility Failure below ), and I now get the ESA Severe Disability Premium as well, but... I did not mention the ESA Severe Disability Premium above. Why?


All of the cash comes out of the same Kitty. And if I co-habit I lose A LOT of ESA.

Plus, the Severe Disability Premium is the Carer's Allowance paid to me to hire someone as I live alone. If I shack up with someone the cash transfers from me to them if they do the relatively-easy 40 hrs caring bit.

It is NOT ESA. It's Carer's Allowance. That's my point. Even if it comes to me, so that I can hire someone. So why include it with ESA?


So...


There are 3 points here: ( I'll use DLA Language ).

- Middle Rate Care ( what I should have had from about 6 years ago, but did not get under DLA as it did not pick up my 2 injuries properly ) does give me access to 'Carer money' ( the current ESA bit ). If I co-habit then that Carer money jumps to The Mrs if she does the 40 hrs. So keep it separate, using Middle Rate Care as the gateway ( like it does with Carer's Allowance ). Don't mix it with ESA at all. Call it the General Caring Allowance, and allocate it to me or her depending on my living circumstances.

- Lower Rate Care needs to come back. For those, like myself before my legs blew, who are only a bit Disabled ( back when I had one mild-enough condition ). Mental Health alone can be covered by Lower Rate Care. Busted legs AND a busted head would be Middle Rate Care ( DLA did not pick this up and should have ).

- Mobility help money needs 3 Tiers, not 2. £10, £20, & Mobility Motor. I only need a little bit of help with Taxi Parachute now. £10 a week would be enough for me; which isn't £20 a week ( why I was refused assistance for Mobility under PIP. I did not have enough points ); or no assistance at all either ( which makes it harder when you are Disabled. I have got busted legs after all ). A new £10 Lower Rate Mobility would help a lot I feel.



Much as I got my 8 point of Care, with 2 major conditions to manage, I only got 4-6 points on PIP. Even though I have busted legs. I get more Care cash ( which is welcome news ), but I don't get Mobility help ( even though I have busted legs. Huh? ).

So...

You need an increment for Care at 4-6 points that pays out about £30 a week.

You need an increment for Mobility at 4-6 points that pays out about £10 a week.



PIP needs fine-tuning. Still. And so does The General Caring Allowance.

I've mentioned top-ups for Full-time Carers in the above post. That needs to happen too.

Edited at 2016-07-14 04:53 pm (UTC)

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