back to article Dole office to roll out digital benefits to north-west – 6 months early

The government has announced plans to launch universal credit six months ahead of the national rollout in October 2013. The scheme will go live in the Greater Manchester and Cheshire region in April 2013. The Department for Work and Pensions said that the early rollout of its new benefit system is expected to see up to 1,500 new …

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Childcatcher

Easier to claim-

Does it have a Win Metro interface, with tiles for the different types of benefit?

Press Red square for Housing Cash, Green square for Heating cash, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

And of course it will run smooooothly without a hitch!

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Anonymous Coward

...

I'm sorry, but aren't there enough people leaching benefits already? I know that there are plenty of people out there who are genuinely on benefits because they need them to survive. But there are so many people I see / saw while I was on job seekers who turn up smelling of alcohol and cigarettes to claim their benefits. Then five minutes later when I go over to road to asda to see if there were jobs going those same people are in there buying a six pack and a packet of smokes.

Yes making it simpler to apply for is probably a good way to save money on hirign people to explain the system to oldies and idiots, but for god sakes while your at it make it more secure too.

I mean really, what we need for the benefit system is a cap on the amount people can claim, and I'm talking about a reasonable cap, not this £40k per household crap, if the minimum people might earn on full time employment in the UK is 14k per anum, the most they shoudl be able to claim is 30k not 40

Likewise, stop giving them money, give them actual benefits. There are parents getting more money from benefits than I get from my money earned. And they complain that they don't have money because they waste it all. They don't have enough money to buy their kids new clothes, but they have enough to buy some cigarettes. They don't have enough money to pay rent, but they can afford takeout each night.

Benefits should be allocated directly to where they need to go. A benefits account which can only be withdrawn from with approval and only as DDs for paying off the monthly rent, and bills. Any extra money at the end of the month should be converted to vouchers they can use at asda / tesco etc to buy food and clothing.

Not cigarettes, not alcohol.

Likewise those on JSA should be forced to work, sure there may not be jobs out there as such, but one or two days a week of charity work should be enough for them to earn jobseekers. And if they're forced to work it might actually stop some people from claiming and actually get a real job, especially if the charity work is degrading stuff like picking up litter since a lot of the benefit scroungers have egos to maintain.

...

Sorry for the ranting, i just hate the benefit culture we're seeing at the moment.

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Flame

Re: ...

Dear Anonymous Coward - whilst your heart is in the right place I feel that you are misinformed (possibly by the daily mail) the majority of benefit subscribers are law abiding folk trying to do the best during shit times. Fraud is down, money is seldom wasted. Aside from a few claw fisted cock jugglers that appear on Jeremy Kyle the system is in quite a good place. If you want to help though you can. Visit the community either with a charity or political party and see for yourself.

Part of the problem isn't the people on benefits but the system itself. It is a noble scheme trying to house them all under one roof. However i fear that the DWP and HMRC computer systems are too different between their many offices. I recall EDS (now HP) trying to tie them all together and failing due to the antiquated ham fisted approach to regional IT.

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Facepalm

Re: ...

Dear AC,

You really are an idiot.

The problem is not with the benefits system. The problem is that minimum wage is too low.

Also, there are no jobs.

Now go back and finish reading that Daily Mail.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ...

> The problem is that minimum wage is too low.

> Also, there are no jobs.

And making the minimum wage higher is going to create jobs how, exactly? Facepalm is right

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WTF?

Re: ...

Allow me to disagree, I live in an area of predominantly council housing and regularly see the same people, young and old, squander their benefit money and screaming that they are entitled when someone says no to them.

From the young lady in the chip shop who stood with a bottle of cider under her arm demanding the assistant let her off with £2 otherwise her kid wasn't getting fed tonight, to the young lad two floors down who is perma-wasted and stinks of dope, to the bloke in his 50's who comes out of the shop every day with 6 cans and a bottle of cider.

The minimum wage could be £25k, these people still wouldn't do a days work as we enable them to live these lifestyles on our tax revenue.

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Re: ...

The problem is that we give out cash.

If you're struggling to pay rent, you should be given a rent voucher that only an approved landlord can cash.

If you're struggling to buy food, you should be given a food voucher that must, by law, be accepted only for food purchases.

If you're struggling to buy clothes, you should be a clothes voucher that must, by law, be spent on clothes only.

If you're struggling to pay travel, you get an Oyster card or a season ticket that's monitored.

The actual monetary amount given to you in cash should be minimal.

Some administration involved, but then you put significant hurdles in front of the "beer+fags" brigade because they don't get £20, but £10 for food, £10 for clothes, etc. and vouchers for any particular special needs they have, rather than unaccountable cash that can be wasted anywhere. I'm sure the amount of people on benefits would drop sufficiently to pay for the extra administration, and there'd suddenly be a lot less "menial" jobs going begging.

And, in absence of a job for a length of time, you should be assigned "token work" - you have to go and sew fishing nets for 8 hours a day, 4 days a week (the other day is for job-seeking) even if we just throw those fishing nets away afterwards. The work can take account of any and all disabilities (down to you just sitting in a room for 8 hours if necessary) for which your job prospects might be affected. If you refuse to do it, you get no benefits. If you do it, you get "paid", just like a real job.

I wonder how attractive the dole queue would be if it came with 8 hours of work attached, and then you could only spend it on the essentials that are actually necessary (and not mobile phone contracts, beer, fags, drugs, etc.) - i.e. actually preparing you for real life (if you can't work for the dole, how do you expect to get any job?) and enforcing some decent financial common sense. And not harming those who do want to earn, learn and just not starve. I'd even let you put a freeze on all debt while on the dole, if it was like that.

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Re: ...

Handing out item-specific vouchers is a guaranteed disaster! All that will do is encourage a black market in vouchers. If there were a man by the train station in the morning offering me a half-price dodgy travelcard, I'd take it. If someone offered me a vegetable voucher in exchange for a pack of Richmond Superkings, I'd take it. So would thousands of others, even if you wouldn't. There'd be a Fagin-esque middle-man on every council estate, exchanging one type of voucher for another, arranging cash loans, etc. There'd be an army of civil servants to monitor the scheme, to decide who should get which vouchers, and in what amounts. There'd be raging arguments in the pages of the Daily Mail about how asylum seekers are getting special vouchers which ordinary Brits don't get. And so on. No, it's much simpler and much more efficient to just pay cash, everyone gets the same amount, everyone can plan around it,

Benefits claimants all have complex lives; one person might need more food, another might want to trade food for non-prescription medicines from Boots, another might need nappies for the baby. If they choose sugary snacks instead of toothpaste, that's their problem. Even if we provide free toothpaste we can't force them to use it.

Workfare might be a better solution, though it's also actually quite expensive to run. Bear in mind there's a difference between people who are on benefits long-term, and those who just sign on for a few weeks or months between jobs. Many claimants are already actively looking for work, and if you force them to spend all day filling potholes then they don't have time to attend job interviews.

In short, don't just look at the obvious; look at the consequences and the incentives created by different systems.

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FAIL

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Is there an oyster card I can get in Cornwall?

Thought not!

Some of us have to pay over £250 on fuel a month just to get to work!

I consider my salary good for this area, but rent increases & general bills have gone up big time

When I ask my wife what is the point, she generally doesn't give a reason not to go on benefits, apart from I love my job and I'm not likely to get anything better.

You are a total IDIOT

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Re: ...

Season ticket. It's in the post you replied to. And it's an example.

I pay £400 a month on fuel, just to get to work. Ner, ner, ner-ner, ner. I have a 45mpg car that cost me less than a month's fuel, not a gas-guzzler.

I, and you presumably, have chosen to stay in the job because it's worth more in terms of money and other rewards than not. Now think how much incentive you'd have to STAY in that job, or get a job if you didn't have one, if all you get paid for on benefits are essentials, not cash equivalent to what you earn in that job anyway. Your wife's dilemma is exactly my point - on benefits you would see no change (except much less work), so that's why people choose to write a couple of job letters and then claim benefits for doing so. If benefits involved the same amount of work as actually working, and a limited reward (i.e. credit on a photo-ID card that can only be used on food, clothing, fuel, essentials and not lottery tickets, to counter the previous poster's assertion that a black market would destroy the system - of course it would exist but there are ways to limit it, especially if even 1% of the unemployed are forced into work by it) then you'd have incentive to STAY IN WORK AND OFF BENEFITS. Perfect. Just what we're trying to convince people of to boost the economy and reduce the dole queues.

And if you were on Jobseeker's Allowance, you wouldn't be paying that on fuel. It would be paid for you, if it were essential (even down to a mileage allowance to attend!), or it wouldn't be essential. I have family in Cornwall. It's not the vast desert wilderness that some claim (a couple I know just moved down there and both got jobs within days). The point of the system is not to be perfect but to give EVERYONE the right incentive - to get back to work as soon as they can but not die of starvation or hypothermia in between. The current system does the EXACT opposite, as you just pointed out in a rant you thought was aimed at proving how wrong I was.

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Anonymous Coward

Be scared

The DWP doesn't have a great track record with system implementation.

Likewise, they don't have a great record at keeping your data 100% safe.

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this is a fantastic policy

First off - the issue of identifying and stopping benefit fraud is completely seperate from how the benefits are applied for or calculated. So put that to one side.

Secondly, I think the argument about what level benefits are paid at is also completely seperate to this policy. There are arguments both ways on that one.

The main point here (as I understand it) is that under the current system if you are on benefits and want to get back into work, you can end up trapped because if you earn a very small amount/work a couple of hours you lose eligability to specific benefits which in total is more than your wage. Hey presto its not worth (or possible) to take the job.

By having a universal benefit you work out a base entitlement and then remove it in a tapered way as people start to earn - so it should be possible for someone on benefits to do say 8-10 hours a week if thats all they can find or as a bridge from long term unemployment.

How is that not a fantastic idea? The economics suddenly become "its always better to have a job"

Please dont confuse either fraud levels or even the level of benfit paid with what this is actually about.

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Coat

"roll out digital benefits"

Oh, I thought it meant that they were going to pay unemployment benefits in Bitcoins...

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Do none of you people understand??

The government doesn't pay benefits out of the goodness of their hearts. They pay benefits to stop your elderly mother being mugged at a cashpoint by someone who needs food but has no money or job.

Some of you need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Unbelievable.

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Their thinking is if it copes with Scouseland it'll cope with anywhere.

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Are there no prisons, no poor houses?

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For the AC...

Dear Ac as many have said you are wrong.

I agree there are some that scam the system and some that completly take the piss, I know I burnt off some Karma for a year and a half working in a bens office dealing with them. The vast majority do not actually fiddle the system though.

However there is something called the benefit trap this means that to come off of bens you need a certain wage to help keep you in the standard of living that you have been on.

Note this does not neccessarily have to be a high wage, I'd say some of the biggest problem comes from min wage and short hours (anything over 16.5 hrs is considered full time work). Once you factor in travel to work, rent, council tax you know have to pay, NHS, dentist then sudenly staying on benefts is actually just a logical descision versus say being a single male being offered 30hrs at min wage.

Raising the min wage is not really going to solve it because that hits employers, lowering benefits is not either because apart from that small subset the daily fail always reports on its probably fair to say that more people are on the breadline or finding themselves becoming indebted due to unemployement than buying luxury cars.

Personally I think the best way to solve it is to raise the chance of you being able to claim some help back. If you get a job but now when you sign off, you still get say 20% of your council tax covered, you can claim a bit of working tax credit and rent relief etc then it suddenly becomes more attractive to return to work, theres a point to know that the difference caused by working is a few extra quid in your pocket, rather than you being no better or actually worse off.

Yes that still means some money is coming from the taxpayer, however I would argue that its a lot less than what was being taken before, and the knock on effect of someone being employed also means that the goverment gets a bit of tax from the employers, from VAT on the working persons new purchases etc.

The system at the moment does not work unfortunately it seems most ways of fixing it are derivatated from what the headlines say rather than a realistic view of what actually is happening.

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Re: For the AC...

Just to add to your post, when you accept a job, you could be waiting for 4-6 weeks before you see your first pay, therefore you have to work out how you can support yourself during this time, which you will be required to pay full rent, poll tax, travel to and from work, as well as essentials (food, electricity and heating).

For some it is not possible to move into employment from benefits. I was on the dole for several years, and what actually helped get me out of the benefits trap was that I luckily found an employer that paid weekly.

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@AnonCoward:

Do you actually know how much people are paid on benefits? On average it is £70 per week for a single person over the age 25, living on their own.

This is £280 per month, utilities (gas & electric) will roughly be £20-£30 per week, so £80 - £120 per month, so for the sake of argument we will round utilities down to £100 per month.

You now have £180 per month to survive on, but you still have to pay some council tax, in my area it will roughly be £25 per month on average. So now your monthly figure has dropped to £155 to survive on, which gives you £38.75 per week.

You need to buy your food on this money, so usually cheap foods, beans, noodles, etc. Miss out breakfast, lunch and supper. 7 main meals a week and you may have £10-£20 left spare for yourself, if you're lucky.

Some of the money will be used to buy the cheapest clothes from charity shops, but usually you wear your clothes until they are threadbare. Other parts of the money is spent on public transport, to and from appointments.

Too skint, to have a telephone, internet, decent clothes (for interviews), and if you are lucky to be offered a job, you may have to wait up to 6 weeks before being paid, therefore that £20 has to be stretched to cover your daily transport costs, food, heating and other bills, just not possible, and in an area with mass deprivation, it is likely everybody is just as skint as you, so you cannot rely on friends or family financially to bail you out until the first pay packet.

Being on benefits is not an easy ride, as some think it is. Anyone who thinks living of the benefits system is easy, they should try it for a change, walk a mile in another persons shoes. I can guarantee you will not like it.

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