Updating our campaign and our website!

Please note that we are relaunching Leeds Welfare Fightback to focus on resisting the shift to Universal Credit. Of course, this still means that we campaign against sanctions  (which are at the core of UC), and all the benefit cuts and cruel assessments that are pushing people into despair and destitution.

Obviously a lot of the information on this site is now out of date, and we will be addressing this bit by bit as time allows, so please bear with us. In the meantime, our Facebook page Leeds Welfare Fightback – Against Sanctions, Benefit Cuts and Work Misery – is still going and will carry info about meetings etc.

Please note that you should now contact us on leedsagainstuc@gmail.com

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Updating our contact list – please subscribe to stay in touch

Leeds Welfare Fightback  is updating its contact list, and we need your help.
We know we have a lot of people on the list who may have left Leeds, or may simply have joined our contact list and never got round to opening our emails. We don’t want to annoy anyone, and we want to make sure we’re not holding anyone’s contact details illegally.
If you don’t want to be on our list any more, you can ignore this message and (of course, you can still contact us at any time by email at leedsagainstsanctions@gmail.com, by phone or via our Facebook page).
If you would like to remain on the contact list can you please indicate by sending us an email, writing “Subscribe” in the subject line or in the body of the email. That’s all you need to do – but see below for additional options.
We will use the email list to send out occasional updates about the following:
  • Relevant changes in policy regarding welfare benefits and issues facing claimants
  • Changes in government or council policy relevant to the provision of council housing and other social housing, and conditions in the private rented sector as these interact with benefits policies
  • News about campaigns and events related to these issues
  • Information about resources useful to claimants and their supporters, or agencies offering information and support
  • We may occasionally ask for your help with campaign activities, suggest things you can do individually or with friends and neighbours, or invite you to share information which may help with our campaign.
Messages will not normally be more than about twice a month. We will never share your information or contact details with anyone without your express permission, and we will never put pressure on anyone to take part in any activity.
If you are happy for us to retain your postal address and telephone number, can you please state these details in the body of your email (and the name you would like to be addressed by). 
The purpose of this is to enable us to identify people who might be interested in a local campaign activity or event, or to gather more information about conditions in a particular neighbourhood. Therefore, we need to know whether you want to be contacted only by email (in which case we only need to know which area or postcode you live in), or whether you are willing to receive a personal phone call or letter, or a home visit if appropriate.
Please do contact us if you want us to keep in touch in any of these ways. We will keep any personal information/contact details for the duration of the campaign or until you tell us you no longer want to to keep it. (We delete contact information immediately if a contact asks us to).
If you are unable to contact us immediately you can of course contact us at any time and ask to be put onto the new list! We may change the address of the updated announcements list on Riseup, to better reflect the issues addressed in benefits campaigning, but we will keep this Gmail address to make sure you can still contact us.
Thanks for your support, and best wishes to all.
Ellen
Leeds Welfare Fightback: Against Sanctions, Benefit Cuts and Work Misery!

Contact: email leedsagainstsanctions@gmail.com, or phone/text 07930966205

Vote Labour for Housing – You know it makes sense! — SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites)

The Labour Party manifesto will abandon the bedroom tax and will restore housing benefit for those under 22 (page 54) and will abandon the LHA Maxima Cap policy (page 64) which seriously threatens the closure of existing supported housing and all new homeless hostels, refuges, disabled housing projects and sheltered housing. If you are a social […]

via Vote Labour for Housing – You know it makes sense! — SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites)

NEW OVERALL HOUSEHOLD BENEFIT CAP – COMING VERY SOON!

New Lower Overall Household Benefit Cap coming: please read this post if it’s the only thing from HOOH you ever read!

On 7th November, the government begins to roll out the new Overall Household Benefit Cap.Under the new Cap, the maximum total benefits that a household can receive will be £384.62. (The limit for a single childless person will be £257.69; and higher limits will apply in London where rents are exceptionally high). This will affect a large number of Leeds families (but before you panic see below for groups who are exempt from the Cap).
As we understand it, people who are already affected by the current Benefit Cap will see their money cut again immediately from November 7th. The Leeds Benefits Service is expecting that the Cap will be applied to other Leeds claimants from early in 2017, but they have not yet been given an exact date by the DWP.
The DWP is intending to write to every household they expect to be affected by this cut. Some people will have received these letters already. If so, please check the letter carefully to see if all the details they have about your household are accurate – we have seen reports of many families being wrongly assessed and if this happens you need to tell the Housing Benefit Office (at your One Stop Centre) immediately. Please let us know as well as this information helps with the campaign against the Cap.
Leeds benefits officers are planning to speak to everyone they think will be affected. However, we do know that when the bedroom tax was implemented, a lot of people didn’t get the information they needed about things like Discretionary Housing Payment. So if you are, or think you will be, affected by the Cap and won’t be able to pay your rent, go to the Housing Benefit Office immediately and tell them you need help.  We can’t guarantee you’ll get it, but the quicker you act the better chance there is of keeping your housing situation under control. And do let us know how they respond, if you can.
How the Overall Household Benefit Cap works
The cut will be applied to Housing Benefit, or to the housing support component if you have been moved to Universal Credit. What this means is that, once you have added up your JSA, ESA or Income Support, your Child Benefit and your Child Tax Credit (ie, all the money you and your children are entitled to for basic living expenses), whatever is left from £384.62 is what you have to pay your rent with. Please see see here for some examples.
Please note, the Cap does not apply to households where someone is working enough hours to get Working Tax Credit. And some other groups are exempt, for example those in the Support Group of ESA, or getting DLA or PIP. Please see our flyer (please see here) for fuller details, and if in doubt check with a qualified advice worker (eg at CAB).
Given the typical rents in Leeds, it is obvious that very large numbers of families will not be left with enough money to pay their rent. At the moment there are about 250 families affected by the current Benefit Cap, but under the new limit many families of average as well as larger size will be affected. Large families could lose their entire rent allowance, with weekly shortfalls of more than £150. The DWP is estimating that around 1,400 families in Leeds will be affected, containing over 5,000 children. We think it may be far more.
The only way for most families to get out of the Cap is by getting paid work (enough to be eligible for Working Tax Credits). In practice, this is impossible for many families, for example because they are caring for very young children, or because they are not well enough. One of the many unfair things about the Cap is that it punishes groups who are supposed to be exempt from seeking paid work – for example, single parents of children under five, and people who are in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA because they have been assessed as currently too ill to work.
Households who are unable to pay their rent can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). However, we expect that the budget that the government allows the council for DHP will only be a fraction of the need, and there will also be many people needing help due to the roll-out of Universal Credit. We can only imagine that many people currently getting DHP will be refused it in future.
There are many knock-on effects of the Cap; for example, the Cap provides an incentive for the council to turn a blind eye to overcrowding (larger houses cost more in DHP support for families); private and housing association landlords may calculate that they can’t afford the financial risk of “benefit tenants”. And of course there will be evictions, which are enormously costly both in terms of human suffering and in pure financial terms as the council has a responsibility to house homeless families with children.
The survival of affordable social housing is under attack on many fronts – the combined effects of cuts-related arrears and compulsory 1% year-on-year rent reductions leave a huge hole in the projected budgets of council and housing association providers, just as the government is demanding sell-offs of council properties and using more of our money to subsidise private ownership and the corporate developer. We need a huge local and national campaign to challenge these policies, and we think this has every chance of becoming a reality as the effects of cuts and privatisations across all our public services (health, education, housing, social care and welfare) hit home for more and more people. Please get involved if you can!
The next Hands Off Our Homes meeting is on Wednesday 5th October, at 7pm at the UNISON offices on Woodhouse Lane, opposite the universities and the Fenton pub. Do give us a ring or drop us a text/email if you need more info. A version of our latest flyer is also attached and can be read here page 1 and page 2

The Benefit Cap in Leeds – a £93k PER DAY added cost to the council — SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites)

Last week I received details of the DWP scan from May 2016 which are the actual figures the DWP expects to be hit by the reducing overall benefit cap in Leeds. I strongly maintain the DWP figures are incredulously low and the actual number of households affected could double in Leeds and indeed nationally from the […]

via The Benefit Cap in Leeds – a £93k PER DAY added cost to the council — SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites)

Kill the Housing Bill – Secure Homes for All

Last Saturday (12th December) Hands Off Our Homes attended a national meeting called by Defend Council Housing, to help launch a campaign against the Housing and Planning Bill. If passed, this Bill would  significantly worsen the housing crisis and ultimately threaten the very existence of social housing. Continue reading Kill the Housing Bill – Secure Homes for All

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO THE YEP’S “HOUSING SUMMIT” THIS WEEK!

This Thursday (29th October) the Yorkshire Evening Post will be hosting a forum of public, private and charity-sector representatives to discuss the housing crisis in Leeds, and they are asking members of the public to submit comments and questions on housing to be put to the panellists. This is an excellent opportunity for Leeds residents to make their views and concerns known, so please  send your questions/letters by email to  yep.newsdesk@ypn.newspaper , by Twitter at @LeedsNews , or online via yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk . There is some background information below to help you write your questions or letters. Continue reading SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO THE YEP’S “HOUSING SUMMIT” THIS WEEK!