IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Universal Credit is a ‘hostile environment’ for the poor

20 September, 2018

 

A WINTER of discontent is forecast for benefit claimants when the Universal Credit hits Camden in December (Charities and community associations warn of Universal Credit crisis). This government policy is nothing short of the “hostile environment” for the poor.

It has the same origins as the assault on the Windrush generation, the DWP’s fit-to-work assessments and, to some extent, Brexit.

Seven years in the making, it is a hangover of an austerity-driven administration that has battered the country’s most vulnerable.

Those living hand to mouth, week to week, will have to make do with less. Many in Camden fall by the wayside, rendered destitute, or worse.

The scheme’s reputation precedes itself. A chaotic introduction across the country that has left people waiting sometimes weeks for crucial payments. The delays have left thousands of claimants in debt, arrears and reliant on foodbanks.

Unethically, charities will be relied upon to step in where state has failed. The DWP says its scheme has worked for the majority. But what about the voiceless victims of Universal Credit, those too afraid or unable to speak out?

 

Exclusions report: Could do better

THE contentious subject of school exclusions is being discussed by Camden councillors. A report on school attendances was deferred by councillors for further discussion with a request for more information by officials.

The total number of exclusions for last year was 956 but a breakdown wasn’t given. That nearly 1,000 were excluded last year is a worry­ing figure. But, obviously, questions remain. How long were the exclusions? A day? A week? Permanent? Which schools had the longest list of what some headteachers call “off-rolling”?

As schools are commonly judged by their position in league tables, some headteachers are thought to be getting rid off awkward pupils who are holding up the rest.

But some believe this is being unfair to the heads. They argue that some pupils are so unruly and violent there is no alternative than to exclude them. The corollary to this is that years ago schools were better funded and able to cope with unruly pupils but that government cuts have almost brought them to their knees – and facilities that were able to provide special tuition are no longer there.

In the meantime, councillors in Camden worry that exclu­ded children are easy prey for gangs – and end up in the drug culture. Events in certain parts of the borough suggest this.

The sooner officials carry out meaningful research and publish the facts the better.

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