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Universal credit: tens of thousands of families face benefits cap. Tens of thousands of struggling families on universal credit will be told in the run-up to Christmas that their benefit payments are to be capped – leaving them potentially hundreds of pounds a month worse off and at risk of destitution.

Universal credit: tens of thousands of families face benefits cap

Many claimants who lost their jobs in March under the first coronavirus lockdown and have been unemployed since then will be informed in December by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that their benefits will be slashed unless they find work. If they are capped, these households face benefit income losses averaging about £250 a month from January. For some families living in high rent areas such as London, being capped could leave them several hundred pounds a month out of pocket. Official figures published on Thursday show 170,000 households in Great Britain – the vast majority with children – had benefits capped in August, marginally down on July when record numbers of households were capped. I'm disabled but was told I won't receive critical care if I get Covid. It's terrifying.

Towards the end of last year, I’d just got my life back on track after a long stay in hospital.

I'm disabled but was told I won't receive critical care if I get Covid. It's terrifying

I was discharged with round-the-clock care that transformed my life. I am disabled and the care package I was on before I was admitted to hospital didn’t provide enough support; I was admitted to a ward with problems associated with a lack of care, including malnutrition and serious pressure sores. But then I was given a personal health budget from my local authority, with responsibility for employing care workers, rotas, management, training and everything else you can think of. As a result I got off benefits and into employment – but then Covid struck. Pressure mounts on No 10 to extend free school meals holiday scheme. Pressure is mounting on Downing Street to support families entitled to free school meals throughout the holidays in England, with Labour writing to every backbench Conservative MP to press home the issue.

Pressure mounts on No 10 to extend free school meals holiday scheme

The England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford is also campaigning for the government to tackle food poverty among children, including by extending the free school meals scheme through the half-term and Christmas holidays. A petition he launched has been signed by more than 290,000 people. Several Conservative backbenchers, including the chair of the education select committee, Robert Halfon, have supported calls for vouchers to be provided at half-term. When schools were closed during the spring lockdown, families were issued with vouchers. This continued through the summer break with a “Covid food fund” after a successful campaign by Rashford and a U-turn by the government. Education unions have joined the calls to end holiday hunger. Pledges to fix social care could cost Boris Johnson dearly. Boris Johnson could not have been clearer in his first speech as prime minister about his intention to finally come up with a solution to one of the great policy failures of the last 20 years.

Pledges to fix social care could cost Boris Johnson dearly

“My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care,” he said. “And so I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all, and with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.” This was perhaps the boldest among Johnson’s pledges on key domestic issues: fixing social care in England and Wales has proved intractable and politically perilous for both Labour and Conservative governments in recent years. 'You can’t really win': 4m Britons in poverty despite having jobs. “I’m a bit scatty with things like this,” Gemma* admits when talking about her finances.

'You can’t really win': 4m Britons in poverty despite having jobs

It was not scattiness that meant she struggled to make ends meet when taking home £399.69 a month for working 18 hours a week as a cashier at Betfred. Even with tax credits and child benefit topping up her meagre wages, it was a constant struggle to pay for the essentials and Gemma fell behind on her bills. She was already receiving letters, phone calls, texts and emails threatening legal action over previous unpaid bills, as well as £400 of benefit overpayments that had to be repaid. Her son’s birthday was an added pressure but, she says with a weak smile: “I always seem to pull it out of the bag somehow.” Having scraped through the month, she then put whatever she could afford – usually about £20 – towards her debts. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, appeared to acknowledge the depth of this crisis last week, when he raised the possibility of increasing the minimum wage to 66% of median earnings.


Pret a Manger charity to invest in homeless hostel in London. Pret a Manger’s charitable foundation is to invest in a homeless hostel in London as part of a project to provide jobs and training for people who once lived on the street.

Pret a Manger charity to invest in homeless hostel in London

The Pret Foundation is funded by the sale of some products and customer donations and will invest more than £200,000 a year. The project will be run in conjunction with the Methodist church’s West London Mission in Kennington, south London. Universal credit not solely to blame for food bank rise, minister says. Universal credit cannot be solely blamed for the rise in food bank use in areas where the benefit is being rolled out, the minister for employment has said.

Universal credit not solely to blame for food bank rise, minister says

Alok Sharma was responding to a report from a committee of MPs that found the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had a “fortress mentality” that prevented it from tackling the “unacceptable hardship” created by the switch to universal credit. With the chancellor under intense pressure to act in his budget next Monday to cushion the impact of the new system, the public accounts committee said the government had ignored the concerns of those affected. Tory MPs Block Public From Seeing Universal Credit Impact Papers. HuffPost is part of Oath.

Tory MPs Block Public From Seeing Universal Credit Impact Papers

Oath and our partners need your consent to access your device and use your data (including location) to understand your interests, and provide and measure personalised ads. Oath will also provide you with personalised ads on partner products. Learn more. To give you a better overall experience, we want to provide relevant ads that are more useful to you. At least 440 homeless people died in UK in past year, study shows. More than 440 homeless people have died on streets or in temporary accommodation in the UK in the past year, an investigation has found.

At least 440 homeless people died in UK in past year, study shows

A former soldier, an astrophysicist and a Big Issue seller are among the hundreds who have died since October 2017. They were found dead in shop doorways, hostels and camping in tents in woodland, with some lying dead for months before their bodies were discovered, requiring forensic testing for identification. Charities have called the deaths a national disgrace and have blamed soaring homelessness on austerity, expensive private rents and a lack of social housing.

They called on local authorities to hold investigations into every death as standard. The miller’s tale: poverty, obesity and the 45p loaf. Cinnamon Square craft bakery, in a historic building in Rickmansworth, near Watford, has been full of children on their half-term break learning the ancient art of proving and kneading dough.

The miller’s tale: poverty, obesity and the 45p loaf

Its owner, Paul Barker, likes to set a test to help them see how different “real” bread is from the white, sliced factory loaf most of them are used to. Take a piece of white sliced and rub it in your hands; it quickly turns in to a grey, tacky ball that looks as unappetising as old chewing gum. Set Brexit aside – here are the political issues you mustn’t lose sight of in 2018. As we go into 2018, Brexit is set to be the all-consuming story of the year once again. But important as it is, at a time when unprecedented government cuts are taking hold we can’t take our eyes off what is happening elsewhere. Tory MP condemns universal basic income 'on moral grounds' Influential Tory former minister Nick Boles has condemned the idea of a universal basic income to cushion workers against the rise of robots as “dangerous nonsense”.

Universal basic income, or UBI, has won backers ranging from Silicon Valley to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, as a way of guaranteeing workers a minimum income and ensuring they are not left behind by automation. The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has promised to examine the idea, which would replace means-tested benefits with a single payment to every adult. 'My double life going to work from a homeless hostel' Inquiry into disability benefits 'deluged' by tales of despair.

A House of Commons inquiry into disability benefits has heard from more than 3,000 people in despair at the system, including dozens who say they have been driven to suicidal thoughts by the process. Frank Field, the chair of the work and pensions committee, said it would be usual to receive about 100 responses, but the inquiry had been deluged by people sharing stories about being denied disability benefits or battles to keep their entitlements. The evidence includes testimony from many saying their mental health had deteriorated as a result of trying to claim the employment support allowance (ESA) for daily living costs and/or the personal independence payment (PIP) to cover the extra costs caused by long-term disability.

Universal credit wait reduced to five weeks. Universal credit claimants will only have to wait five instead of six weeks for their first benefit payments after Philip Hammond bowed to pressure to ease hardship caused by the new welfare system. Conservative MPs had threatened to revolt over the suffering caused by the long wait, which charities and councils have said was leading to evictions and increased use of food banks. The chancellor will also allow housing benefit to continue for an extra two weeks after the start of a universal credit claim to reduce the threat of eviction. 'It's just mistake after mistake' – stories from the universal credit catastrophe. Sue hit her lowest point at the end of 2016. Unable to buy food and behind with her rent, she phoned the finance company about the debt on her car.

She and her family live in a town between Bristol and Bath, the kind of place where getting around with three children – not least to the nearest jobcentre, which is nine miles away – makes having your own transport essential. Landlady left with £9,500 rent arrears by tenant on universal credit. Landlord defends sending eviction letters ahead of universal credit rollout. An NHS for housing and food? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Penalised for caring: Alyssa and the two-child benefits trap - video. 'Kinship carers' denied thousands of pounds over two-child cap. Theresa May urged to halt Universal Credit rollout. Media playback is unsupported on your device Families could be left homeless and destitute if Theresa May insists on pressing ahead with Universal Credit, a former top adviser has warned. Dame Louise Casey urged the prime minister to pause the rollout of the new benefit system so it can be fixed. Twelve Tory MPs have written to the government urging the same thing. Universal credit rollout should be paused, say Tory MPs. Jeremy Corbyn has declared war on Labour councils over housing. At the final day of their party conference, we heard a Labour leader making the strongest commitment to social housing in over three decades.

In doing so, he is effectively going to war with some of the most powerful Labour councils. Rent controls in cities, a tax on landbanking by big developers, and forcing slumlords to bring their homes up to scratch: in what was easily the best speech Jeremy Corbyn has made as party leader, the strongest section was on housing. Within minutes, he moved Labour policy forward by miles. Social housing crisis can no longer be ignored, says housing chief. The government must act urgently to address a lack of new social housing, and the Grenfell Tower fire shows this is a crisis that can no longer be ignored, according to the head of the organisation representing housing associations. Lord Sainsbury: ‘This is why I believe in the welfare state. Certain things should be a right’