Katy Clark MP

working hard for North Ayrshire and Arran

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Katy has reacted with alarm at the significant increase in the number of people using foodbanks, both in North Ayrshire and across the whole United Kingdom. 

Research from the Trussell Trust has highlighted that there was a more than tenfold increase in the number of people who received over three days worth of emergency food from their foodbanks in North Ayrshire. The figures show that in 2013/14 4,063 people received over three days worth of emergency food in North Ayrshire up from 364 in 2012/13. The number of children receiving such support jumped from 119 to 1,320.

Across the United Kingdom in 2013/14 over 913,138 people received over three days worth of emergency food from their foodbanks, up from 346,992 in 2012/13 and 61,468 in 2010/11. The Trussell Trust has identified that half of referrals to foodbanks in 2013-14 were a result of benefit delays or changes.

Speaking on the subject Katy said

“The jump in the number of people requiring support from foodbanks in North Ayrshire is simply appalling. It cannot be an acceptable that in the sixth largest economy in 2014, nearly one million people do not have enough food to eat. It is a damning indictment of four years of this Government’s austerity measures.”

“The Trussell Trust has identified that the three biggest reasons for people turning to foodbanks were delays in benefit payments, low pay and benefit changes. There can now be no denying that this huge increase in foodbank use is a direct consequence of the policies which this Government has pursued. We are now seeing the human cost which punitive measures such as the Government’s bedroom tax and sanctions regime are having on our communities.”

“It is important to pay tribute to the fantastic work which all those who have volunteered in foodbanks over the past year have done, particularly those who have worked so hard at the North Ayrshire foodbank in Ardrossan. I very much hope that their workload will be reduced over the coming year. Sadly however unless the Government changes course this will not happen.”

Massive Increase in North Ayrshire Foodbank Figures

Katy has reacted with alarm at the significant increase in the number of people using foodbanks, both in North Ayrshire and across the whole United Kingdom. 

Katy is supporting the shop workers union Usdaw in their campaign to persuade the Government to change Universal Credit rules that mean working people will only be allowed to keep 24p in every extra pound they earn.

Shopworkers trade union leader John Hannett believes that the huge 76% claw-back of additional earnings from workers on Universal Credit is unfair and a massive disincentive for people to look for ways to increase their income and work their way off benefits altogether.

Katy says: “Usdaw are right to highlight this problem with the Government’s Universal Credit and I hope Ministers will listen and act before the scheme is fully rolled out. Many working people will be clobbered by this 76% marginal deduction rate for taxpayers on Universal Credit. That will put off claimants from working longer hours and potential second earners from working at all, perpetuating the poverty trap for families on low pay.

“I was shocked to learn that Usdaw members and of course many others will be thousands of pounds worse off under Universal Credit, and am concerned that thousands of local people would also lose out under the Government’s current plans. I want to hear from people in North Ayrshire and Arran about how they will be affected. You can check out your Universal Credit entitlement by visiting www.entitledto.com

“I am calling on the Government to reduce the net earnings claw-back to 55%, as originally proposed by the Centre for Social Justice, to ensure that the aims of Universal Credit are fulfilled so that extra work will always pay and to support hard working families.”

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are grateful for the support of Katy Clark MP. Whilst Universal Credit affects households differently, many of our members working long hours are going to be worse off when they are transferred onto Universal Credit. That loss of income is compounded because they will find it incredibly difficult to make up the shortfall by working longer hours. That is why the claw-back from additional earnings is incredibly unfair, trapping households in poverty and creating a disincentive to work. So we want the Government to ensure that work does pay by lowering the claw-back to 55p in the pound.”

 

Katy backs Usdaw’s campaign to stop the Universal Credit disincentive to work

Katy is supporting the shop workers union Usdaw in their campaign to persuade the Government to change Universal Credit rules that mean working people will only be allowed to keep...

Following the publication by the Scottish Government of the latest figures of spend on Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) and the Welfare Fund Katy has called for more to be done to provide those affected by welfare reform with the necessary financial support.

The figures show that North Ayrshire Council overspent their DHP funding in 2013/14 by £9000. The total pot was £894,558 and total spending was £903,735. However, they could have received a further top up from the DWP reserve fund which would taken the pot up to £1,074,557 if they had wished. 

In terms of the Welfare Fund only 51.5% of the £362,252 Crisis Grant budget was spent leaving a huge underspend of £175,596. There was also a 3.4% underspend on Community Care Grants with £23,686 of the £705,792 budget not being spent. Only 71.4% of Crisis Grant applications were awarded  whilst 57% of Community Care Grants were. 

Speaking on the figures Katy said, 

“These figures show that more needs to be done to get this vital funding to those who need it.” 

“On DHP the council may have overspent the pot they had but they could have asked for a further top up from the DWP reserve fund and I would have to question why, with the Bedroom Tax affecting thousands of local people, they didn’t do so.” 

“But even more staggering is the underspend in Crisis Grants. Around 4000 people in North Ayrshire received food parcels from the North Ayrshire Foodbank in the last year yet here is a fund, which is meant to help people facing financial hardship, which is underspent by 48.5%.” 

“Given the scale of need, money sitting in budgets and not in the hands of the most vulnerable in society is nothing to be proud of. The Scottish Government has failed to advertise the Welfare Fund sufficiently and failed to support council’s in getting the money out of the door. The Welfare Reform Minister Margaret Burgess must provide greater leadership this financial year and make sure that council’s, like SNP led North Ayrshire Council, deliver the support that many local people need from these funds.

DHP and Crisis Grants must be given to those in need says Katy

Following the publication by the Scottish Government of the latest figures of spend on Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) and the Welfare Fund Katy has called for more to be done...


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