National News Roundup

Links to national reports, commentary and analysis relating to social welfare policy and the advice sector generally.


New Snapchat feature which allows users to ‘stalk’ people
13.07.2017
Police have issued a warning about a new location-sharing feature in Snapchat, a mobile phone app. The EDP reports a statement on Facebook from South Norfolk Police saying: “It has been brought to our attention that Snapchat have introduced a new feature called Snap Maps. Snap Maps can allow you to ‘stalk’ people in real time and enables you to see what a friend is doing, along with where they are. Therefore this poses a great danger to children and adults alike. The only way to use this and prevent this from happening is to put Snapchat into ghost mode so that you are not visible.” 
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Videos to help people prepare for the family courts
13.07.2017
The Litigant in Person Network have posted links to five films produced by Barrister Lucy Reed, Law for Life and Rights of Women to help litigants in person in family court proceedings. They include information on preparing for your first court hearing, the hearing itself, giving evidence and challenging evidence, simple tips for putting a case across as well as possible and the ways the courts can help make the process safer.
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Living standards squeeze tightens despite pay rises & tax cuts
13.07.2017
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's latest annual report, A Minimum Income Standard for the UK in 2017, shows how families on low incomes are getting worse off because of the rising cost of living and the benefits freeze. The research suggests this trend is likely to continue unless the freeze in support is lifted and people can keep more of what they earn. Read the report and their recommendations to the Government.
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The government needs to pause rolling out Universal Credit
13.07.2017
Citizens Advice are calling on the government to pause the Universal Credit roll-out and fix the problems with its design and delivery. They have idenfitied 3 significant problems that need fixing right now: People are waiting up to 12 weeks for their first payment without any income, Universal Credit is too complicated and people are struggling to use it, People aren’t getting help when the system fails them.
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CPAG's Advice Service for Advisers
13.07.2017
CPAG gives advice about welfare benefits and tax credits to professional advisers. They have launched a new universal credit email advice service for advisers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The service is designed to supplement CPAG's Handbooks, telephone advice service, and online information. It will also provide CPAG with case examples of problem areas which they can use in our policy and campaigns work.
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Government announces draft Domestic Violence & Abuse Bill
05.07.2017
In the Queen's Speech, delivered on 21st June, the Government has committed to bringing forward legislation "to protect the victims of domestic violence and abuse". Briefing notes produced by the Government on the announcements in the Queen's Speech state that the purpose of the Bill is to "transform our approach to domestic violence and abuse to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the state and justice system will do everything it can to both support them and their children, and pursue their abuser."
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Law Society recommendations for Civil justice
Law Gazette, 29.06.2017
The Law Society is calling for a root-and-branch overhaul of civil legal aid provision to help repair the damage inflicted by deep cuts four years ago. In a report published today, Chancery Lane says spending and eligibility curbs implemented through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 have denied justice to the vulnerable, created chaos in the courts and shifted costs to other state agencies - including the NHS. The Society also urges the new government to get on with the post-implementation review of LASPO set in train earlier this year by now departed justice minister Sir Oliver Heald. The review was aborted by the general election. Read their recommendations here.
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Benefit cap on lone parents of under-twos is unlawful
Guardian, 22.06.2017
The government’s policy of imposing the benefit cap on tens of thousands of lone parents with children under the age of two is unlawful, discriminatory and has resulted in “real damage” to the families affected, the high court has ruled. The benefit cap, which limits the total amount households can receive in benefits to £20,000 a year, or £23,000 in Greater London, was envisaged as an “incentive” to persuade unemployed people to move into work.
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Small grants available from Buttle UK
15.06.2017
In collaboration with the BBC Children In Need Emergency Essentials Programme, Buttle UK provide swift support worth up to around £300 for families or young people living in crisis. They can deliver or fund critical household items such as cookers, fridges and other essential household items. 
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Housing Benefit entitlement: renting from relatives
15.06.2017
This Commons Library briefing paper explains how entitlement to Housing Benefit may be affected when a claimant is renting from a close relative.
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Housing costs in Universal Credit
15.06.2017
This Commons Library briefing paper explains the key differences between assistance with housing costs under the Housing Benefit regime and under UC. The paper considers evidence of the impact of claiming housing costs under UC to date and the 2015 Government’s response.
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Unaffordable Employment Tribunal Fees
Legal Voice, 07.06.2017
In a letter to the Times, Caspar Glyn QC complained about Theresa May ‘trumpeting’ new employment rights for workers when all rights ('new and old’) were ‘locked up behind an unaffordable pay wall of employment tribunal fees costing between £390 and £1200’. ‘In truth these rights are almost wholly illusory,’ he argued. ‘The low pay father seeking to enforce unpaid leave to care for his sick son, the cleaner trying to recover a few hundred pounds in minimum wages and the expectant mother who is discriminated against during her maternity leave simply cannot afford these steep tribunal fees.’
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Solving Poverty
07.06.2017
Dr Emma Stone, Director of Policy and Research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation writes for Guy's & St Thomas' Charity about the role that hospitals and other health services can play in solving poverty in their community. She discusses how Health practitioners are well placed to direct people to the most appropriate source of support to meet their needs and about thinking beyond health, for example signposting to advice on benefits, debt, family and relationship support.
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British Red Cross report – Can’t stay. Can’t go.
31.05.2017
Refused asylum seekers who have no appeal outstanding are considered to have no basis to stay in the UK. They are expected to make arrangements to leave the UK. However, not all of them can return home. For some, there are no direct flight routes into their country, others are stateless – their country refuses to recognise them as a citizen, and some people simply cannot get a travel document in order to return. If option of going back to their country of origin is not open to everyone, this leaves them stuck in the UK, living in limbo. The report found that many risk falling into crisis. By remaining in the UK for extended periods of time, without support, they are vulnerable to exploitation.
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Refugees Welcome? The Experience of New Refugees in the UK
24.05.2017
This report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees examines the provisions for new refugees during and after the move-on period. It examines the issues faced by new refugees in terms of housing, health and employment. The report also makes comparisons between provision for refugees who have come via the asylum route and those who have come via a resettlement programme. They recommend that a Minister for Refugees should be appointed to oversee a National Refugee Integration Strategy.
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Impact of homelessness & bad housing on health & social care
24.05.2017
Shelter’s Policy Manager has published a new blog based on two reports published last week on the impact of homelessness and bad housing on health and social care. The first report is by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Child Poverty Action Group and the second report is by the Guys and St Thomas’ Charity. The blog also touches on the new Clinical Commissioning Groups duties and the use of ‘housing prescriptions’. It calls for this week’s political manifestos to tackle the health and social care crisis by prioritising investment in tackling our housing crisis. 
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Mapping the risks of working-age poverty across Great Britain
24.05.2017
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have mapped the risks of working-age poverty across Great Britain, looking at out-of-work benefits, in-work tax credits, low pay and skill levels to provide a constituency-level snapshot of where high levels of working-age poverty are most likely to exist.
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Two child limit - exceptions guidance
24.05.2017
The government has published further information on the exceptions to the two child limit, which applies to a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017. This includes a form for the claimant to complete if the exception applies and guidance for professionals who are required to provide supporting evidence. Only registered social workers can provide evidence for the ‘informal care’ exception. There is a list of approved professionals who can provide evidence in connection with the ‘non-consensual conception’ exception.
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Useful online complaints tool
17.05.2017
Resolver, in association with MoneySavingExpert.com is a useful online complaints tool. It provides information on consumer rights and the complaints process and has letter and email templates for making a complaint.
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PIP Mandatory Reconsideration Request Letter Tool
17.05.2017
Advice UK have a Mandatory Reconsideration Request Letter Tool on their website. It is designed to make it easier for people to ask the DWP to look again at their decision about a claim for PIP. You have to ask the DWP to look at their decision again (called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’) before you can appeal. If the DWP don’t change their decision, you can appeal.
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Hate crime: abuse, hate and extremism online
17.05.2017
The Home Affairs Committee have published their report 'Hate crime: abuse, hate and extremism online'. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee (HAC) announced this inquiry into hate crime and its violent consequences in early July 2016. It was set up after the murder of Jo Cox MP in June in the lead-up to the EU referendum.
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New report on modern slavery
30.04.2017
The House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee launched an inquiry examining the Department for Work and Pensions' policies and processes in relation to recognised victims of modern slavery and to asses potential changes in policy after Brexit. The committed published its 12th Report - Victims of modern slavery on 30 April 2017.
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Success for Attendance Allowance Campaign
01.02.2017
Last year the Government proposed passing responsibility for Attendance Allowance to councils rather than the DWP. Age UK campaigned against this proposal which would have created a postcode lottery of support for older disabled people and put the future of the benefit under threat. On 19 January 2017 the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, announced that Attendance Allowance will not be transferred to councils. This is great news for the continued support of older people.
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Autumn Statement & Welfare Benefits
29.11.2016
The Autumn Statement made an number of announcements regarding welfare, most had been stated previously. The reduction of the Universal Credit taper rate from 65% to 63% was, however, a new announcement.  The Joseph Rowntree Foundations' analysis of the impact of the Statement was that "many families will gain by modest amounts of a few pounds a week from the reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate and the rise in the income tax personal allowance.  However these gains will be dwarfed by much bigger cuts to work allowances imposed by George Osborne in April this year."
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Fund for Local Authorities to increase refuge spaces
29.11.2016
Department for Communities and Local Government have launched a new fund for local authorities to increase refuge spaces and other accommodation for women fleeing domestic violence.
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Controlling Migration Fund Launched
29.11.2016
Department for Communities and Local Government has launched the Controlling Migration Fund: mitigating the impacts of immigration on local communities.  The Fund is available to bids from local authorities over the four years from 2016-17 to 2019-20.
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Lasa- Online welfare benefits casework support
03.11.2016
If you provide advice on welfare benefits, check out the online casework support available via Lasa’s rightsnet website www.rightsnet.org.uk Rightsnet is one of a range of services delivered by Lasa. The online adviser forums are a great way for advisers to keep up to date and share their experience and expertise for the benefit of their clients. And the best part is - they’re free!
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Transforming our justice system: consultation
28.10.2016
The Ministry of Justice is currently undertaking two consultations on proposed changes to the justice system, including the civil justice system, family proceedings and tribunals: Transforming Our Justice System: Assisted Digital Strategy, Online Conviction and Statutory Fixed Fines (closing date 10 November)Transforming Our Justice System: Panel Composition in Tribunals (closing date 24 November)
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Behavioural Science view on accessing benefit entitlement
27.10.2016
The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) was commissioned by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation (JRF) to examine the role of individual decisions in shaping people’s experiences of poverty in the UK and to identify the drivers of these decisions. Section 4.3 of the report looks at factors that influence decisions around accessing entitlement, other sections focus on decisions around credit and savings and work and entitlements.The report encourages policy makers to design policies to minimise the mental costs of engaging in government services and to have greater policy coordination when designing and evaluating interventions.  To access this report, please click here.
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Government review into Council Tax Support launched
10.12.2015
A review into how local Council Tax support schemes are working across the country has been launched and is now in consultation and calling for evidence.
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DWP Autumn Updates on Universal Credit and PIP rollouts
02.12.2015
The Department for Work and Pensions has provided some updates relating to the rollout of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Universal Credit (UC) and published some new guidance on these matters on their website.
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Immigration Bill 2015-2016 - Committee Stage Report
02.12.2015
The Immigration Bill is due to have Report and Third Reading in the Commons on 1 December. This briefing summarises the main changes made to the Bill in Public Bill Committee and some of the new clauses proposed for consideration at Report stage.
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Work and Pensions Committee - Ongoing Inquiries
18.11.2015
Details of ongoing inquiries by the Work and Pensions Committee into: Local Welfare Safety Net, Welfare to Work, Benefit Delivery
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Welfare Reform and Work Bill - Library Note
18.11.2015
Read the Library notes on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill in advance of its second reading in the House of Lords today (17/11/2015). 
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JRF - Report on Paying Care Workers the Living Wage
02.11.2015
Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on the cost and benefits of paying low-paid care workers the Living Wage. 
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ONS - Index of Private Housing Rent and Population Projection
02.11.2015
Private rental prices paid by tenants rose by 2.7% in the 12 months to September 2015. The UK population is projected to increase by 9.7 million over the next 25 years to 74.3 million in mid-2039.
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VCSE Review - Interim Report on Health and Well-Being
28.10.2015
Interim report published by the VCSE Review exploring the impact of provision of support by the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector on health, well-being and social care. 
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Inter-Departmental Ministerial Report on Modern Slavery
28.10.2015
This report provides an assessment of modern slavery in the UK and explains the UK's response to this over the past 12 months.
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AdviceNow - information on the law and your rights
28.10.2015
AdviceNow is an online resource providing information on the law and the individual's rights across a wide range of areas - such as benefits, housing and family matters - and includes a help section for people who are having to go to court or a tribunal without the help of a lawyer.
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Immigration detention in the UK: an overview
09.09.2015
Home Office officials have the power to detain asylum seekers, as well as unauthorised migrants who do not enter the asylum system, for administrative purposes.
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NCAN features in Low Commission follow up report
21.04.2015
As part of the second stage of the Low Commission's work, a further follow up report has been published in which NCAN features. The report is called ' Getting It Right In Social Welfare Law.'
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Further consultation on Universal Credit
07.01.2015
There is a further consultation on draft Regulations regarding Universal Credit data sharing between DWP and local support providers.
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National Updates Archive