Universal Credit

School uniform costs have parents 'over a barrel'

Mum hoping to remove the stigma of 'pre-loved' school uniforms with pop-up 'Freeuse' shop.

Universal credit workers to vote on strike action

Staff working at three Universal Credit centres are to be balloted for strike action in a dispute over staffing levels and workloads.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PSC) in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Stockport will vote on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action.

The union said workers at the contact centres were angry about their caseloads increasing while the number of staff was reduced, making it "impossible" for them to adequately support claimants.

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A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "Planned meetings with the union are ongoing and our priority is ensuring there is no disruption to our customers.

"Our front-line staff deliver vital support to around 20 million people across the country and we are committed to supporting them in their roles, including by monitoring staff levels and making sure their caseloads are manageable."

Barrow rent arrears rise blamed on new benefits delay

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ellis Butcher

Opposition councillors in Barrow have criticised the level of unpaid council rents being written off.

Councillor Hazel Edwards, who leads the opposition Conservatives, was speaking after a report showed the council cancelled £130,000 of bad debts in housing while rent arrears climbed to £477,000.

But Kevin Hamilton, the council’s ruling Labour chairman, said Universal Credit had plunged tenants into arrears, because many could not pay their rent while waiting for the first payments when they switched from the old benefits system.

He said the arrears were in the council’s housing revenue account, not the main council tax account, although Mr Edwards said it still involved writing off taxpayers' money.

A Gillingham man who is blind and deaf has lost his benefits after trying to find work
David Wilkins, who is blind and deaf, accepted an internship but returned to find his benefits cut.