Public Accounts Committee progress review inquiries into Universal Credit and Benefits and Tax Credit Fraud and Error.

The Public Accounts Committee has announced two “progress review inquiries” with a very short-deadline for responses to both of them of Tuesday the 12th of July 2016.

The first inquiry will look at progress on the six recommendations made by the committee in February 2015 in relation to Universal Credit and

  • improving transparency around costs and progress;
  • developing contingency plans; and
  • strengthening accountability to get better value for money for taxpayers

Further information can be found on the PACs web site.

The second inquiry seeks views on how HMRC and the DWP have addressed problems of overpayments and underpayments identified in its last report

In a previous report on fraud and error in October 2015, the Committee made a number of recommendations including

  • HMRC should set regular targets for reducing fraud and error in Tax Credits during the move to Universal Credit;
  • the DWP must set out how it will target the causes of fraud and error remaining after welfare reform;
  • both departments need to improve understanding of why claimants make mistakes, and use this to develop better preventative measures; and
  • both should set targets for reducing underpayments.

Again, further information can be found on the PACs web site but please bear in mind those exceptionally tight deadlines.

If you want to watch the progress of these inquiries live then check out Parliament Live TV.

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GMWRAG recommends…

GMWRAG recommends this blog by Rightsnet contributor Sarah Batty. You can read the full article at https://medium.com/uncertain-futures/social-insecurity-a-welfare-rights-advice-perspective-f5e3aa27437b#.tiyg1e35y but the title “Social Insecurity: a Welfare Rights Advice Perspective” should give you enough of a taste to know what’s coming.

You can also follow Sarah on Twitter @sarah_batty.

If anyone wants to blog similarly for GMWRAG on matters of welfare rights please contact us.

DWP Benefit Conditionality and Sanctions in Salford – One Year On.

In 2014 a Task Force comprised of Salfords Financial Inclusion Practitioners Group in Salford was invited by the Chair of the Skills and Work Board to produce a report into the impact of DWP conditionality and benefit sanctions in Salford. An interim report was produced in August 2014; endorsed by the Skills and Work Board and publicly launched in October 2014.

The conclusions of that report will surprise no-one. The threat and use of sanctions help no-one to move into work but do cause damage to the wellbeing of vulnerable claimants and can lead to hunger, debt and destitution. Furthermore, public and voluntary sector organisations were increasingly having to step in to support claimants in crisis due to sanctions but also benefit delays. This added to the strain on resources when faced with local government budget cuts.

It was recognised that the impacts of welfare reform were only just emerging so it was agreed an additional report would be produced after a period of at least 12 months had elapsed and particularly following the introduction of Universal Credit. That report can now be viewed here. Again, the conclusions should surprise no-one.

It was launched in Salford on Monday the 23rd of May 2016 at an event which included keynote speakers

JobcentrePlus were also in attendance.

We thought GMWRAG members would have an interest in all aspects of this subject.