Universal Credit and Implications for Housing Benefit Staff

On 20 July 2016 the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions made a Ministerial Statement on the future of Universal Credit.

The government is delaying some aspects of the rollout.

First, the pace of the rollout of the digital service – the software that enables everyone to go onto Universal Credit not just single people – has been slowed.

The digital service will now be rolled out at a rate of 5 jobcentres a month until June 2017. It will then rollout at 30 jobcentres a month from July 2017, rising to 55 jobcentres a month from October to December 2017, rising to 65 jobcentres a month from February 2018 and to the last 57 jobcentres in September 2018.

Second, the managed migration of the existing caseload will now not start until July 2019.

The government has decided that the managed migration of existing housing benefit claims will not start until July 2019 and will finish in March 2022. This means that local authorities will continue to administer the existing housing benefit caseload for working age applicants until at least July 2019.

An earlier Ministerial statement stated:

8. Phase three will consist of managed migrations where existing claimants whose circumstances have not changed will be transferred, starting in autumn 2014 to end 2017. The Department is working on the approach as to how this phase will be ordered; with the expectation to start with households with people that are in part time work or that are economically inactive.

It is remarkable that the managed migration will now not start until July 2019 – at least two years after it was originally planned to finish – at the end of 2017.

Third, the incorporation of housing benefit for pensioners into pension credit will not take place until after the completion of the Universal Credit rollout, i.e. after March 2022.

This means that local authorities will continue to administer the existing housing benefit caseload for pensioner applicants until at least March 2022.

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NPC Report for 2016

Branch retired members Verena Beane, Sue Clark, Rochana Lowton and Allen Hawley attended as delegates the NPC Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on 14-16 June 2016.

Click here to read their comprehensive report of the conference.

 Ret mem at NPC


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Kensington and Chelsea Branch Meeting, 18 July 2016-07-18

Speaker: Roger McKenzie Assistant General Secretary at UNISON

The referendum has resulted in an increase in racist abuse. Some people where taken in byRoger the rhetoric that divides people, saying some of us are better than others and life would be better without those kinds of people around. Even some people from black community have been heard saying things against Eastern Europeans. It has made for a poisonous atmosphere.

The message has been there’s no point standing together -it’s everyone for themselves.

Many UNISON members working in the UK who originating from the EU report feeling unwelcome in the UK now. “Why do they want us to go?” they ask.

170,000 people join UNISON year.

60% of those who join UNISON come from the private sector. Recognition is difficult in this sector because many private sectors employers are hostile and the only thing we can do it go in on the back of the member’s right to be accompanied. This does not give the union the means to negotiate or consult on pay and conditions with the employer.

On the other side, lots of people have been leaving UNISON because they are made redundant or have had enough of working in public service. Higher workloads caused by fewer staff compounded by continuous job uncertainly and near zero pay increases have all contributed towards poor morale and staff leaving.

Gateshead UNISON says that they now have more staff who want to go on redundancy than there are jobs being made redundant

High levels of Privatisation in the Home Office is a warning that the new prime minister will be pursuing the privatising agenda.

Roger will be doing a number of road shows supporting EU members in the workplaces across the UK Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants. The trade union movement will have to support those under attack.

Now is the time to get the message across to the politicians processing leaving Europe; that we value other EU nationals working in the UK and that we want to retain our employment rights.

UNISON needs to be well organised on the ground with reps to assist members and recruit.

We have shown that we can fight anti-union legislation, managing to stop the removal of DOCAS by the Trade Union Bill. However history tells us that the government will come back for more.

Working people may have their disagreements but we need to stick together. Need to build together and build the movement for working people.

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Professional standards for Teaching Assistants launched

UNISON, working with a range of partners, has produced a Link that will enhance the work and profile of teaching assistants.

UNISON began work on the standards three years ago, working with the National Education Trust. Our work was picked up by the Department for Education (DfE) who set up a working party to develop the standards. Unfortunately the new government decided not to publish the final draft.

The DfE intervention unfortunately wasted two years, during which time we could have implemented the standards and get them up and running in schools. During this period UNISON has been involved in the production of standards for other schools staff including Link and Link

These new teaching assistant standards continue the professional work that UNISON does for our school support staff members.

We have taken the opportunity of reviewing the DfEs final draft and worked with a wider group of partners so the new standards are now produced and endorsed by UNISON, NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers), NET (National Education Trust), London Leadership Strategy, and Maximising TAs, with involvement and support from Rob Webster (UCL Institute of Education), Paula Bosanquet (University of East London), Maria Constantinou, schools-based practitioner, and Dame Kate Dethridge NLE, Headteacher of Churchend Academy Teaching School (home of the Reading Teaching School Alliance) and former chair of the DfE working group that drafted the standards.

You can find a copy of the standards here .

An article on story of the standards appears in Schools Week magazine: Link

The new standards will bring teaching assistants into line with their teacher and head teacher colleagues, both of whom already have their own sets of standards. The standards help to clarify the roles of teaching assistants as well as training and development expectations.

Ruth Levin education@unison.co.uk  

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Rise in Hate Crime after EU Referendum Vote will not be tolerated, say Councillors

Racist, religious and faith motivated hate crimes were already rising in Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea over the past year due to international events and the lead up to the divisive European Union Referendum campaign, but after the Brexit vote on 23rd May, a substantial minority of misguided people in London and the UK believe they have the right to racially abuse and attack anyone they decide is either not British or should not be present in the UK.

Kensington and Chelsea Labour Councillors will absolutely not tolerate any sort of racist orhate crime discriminatory behaviour or attacks against the residents and communities that we are elected to represent, nor tolerate hate crime behaviour against visitors and people who work in the Borough and who commute from other parts of London.

Labour Councillors have held meetings with Kensington and Chelsea’s Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Tariq Sarwar, to impress on him the importance of the police taking action to protect our residents, their places of worship and community centres from the possibility of hate crime incidents at this time.

The police have assured Councillors that they will not tolerate hate crime now or at any time, that they are carrying out hate crime reviews every 24 hours, that there are extra police patrols on the streets, and that they are working with Ward Councillors, the Council and leading community members to give reassurance and support.

Labour Councillor, Pat Mason, who is also Chair of the Council’s Crime and Disorder Committee, said:

“We have had some hate incidents in the Borough in recent days, including racist graffiti sprayed on a school in Golborne, so I have to say that if anyone is caught doing this or racially abusing or attacking our residents, they will face the wrath of local people and the full force of the law. There are more than 40 different nationalities living in peaceful togetherness in RBKC and North Kensington and we are not going to tolerate anyone who thinks they have the right to play out their twisted views on our streets”.

Labour Councillor Emma Dent Coad, who also sits on the Crime and Disorder Committee, said: ‘We must establish zero tolerance for hate crime. Please report it immediately with as full a description as possible, with photos if this does not put you in danger. Call the police on 101, or do not hesitate to call 999 if violence is threatened. Some of us are wearing a safety pin to denote that we will stand against hate crime and intervene if we can. Remember that making racist comments is a crime; report it.’


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Government Back Down on Forced Academies

On the 17th March, Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education (England), launched a new government White Paper for England: ‘Educational Excellence for Everyone’, building on announcements made in the Budget the day before.

The proposals would have: forced every school in England to become an academy by 2022 and take away many responsibilities for schools from local authorities; make sure most of  new academies are part of Multi Academy Trusts; produce new accountability measure and league tables for Multi Academy Trusts; give additional powers on school improvement  to regional schools commissioners; remove the requirement for parent governors; replace Qualified Teacher Status and review other aspects of teacher training and CPD; transform Ofsted inspection criteria; streamline admissions objectives; reform alternative provision; and publish a strategy for improved careers provision. The full white paper can be found at: White Paper

UNISON immediately condemned aspects of the white paper, in particular proposals to force all schools to become academies and the undermining of the role of parent governors.  Joint union work also targeted the media: Other teacher and headteacher unions have also passed motions allowing for industrial action if necessary.

In the political world as well as the opposition parties the Conservative led Local Government Association and County Council Network also condemned the proposals, as did a significant number of Tory MPs.

Government step back

In response to this vigorous campaigning, the government backed down from proposals to legislate to force all schools to become academies by 2022. However it did announce proposals that would give it additional powers to force some more maintained schools to become academies.

These amended proposals, outlined in the Queen’s Speech on the 18th May will form part of a new bill called the Education for All Bill.  This bill, if passed, would:

  • enable the government to convert schools to academies in ‘under-performing and unviable local authorities’
  • Make the process of becoming an academy ‘swifter and smoother’.
  • Shift responsibility for school improvement from local authorities to schools
  • Set out a new National Funding Formula
  • Make schools responsible for finding the right provider for their excluded pupils, and accountable for their education.

Continued campaigning

Clearly the government has suffered a setback, however it still wants all schools to become academies and the new proposed legislation would allow them to force more schools in that direction.

UNISON will continue to work closely with sister unions and other interested parties to oppose the government’s new proposals. The unions in the coalition issued a joint statement just before the Queen’s speech condemning the government’s increased obsession with school structures, when there were far more pressing issues to deal with: Link

UNISON’s Local Government Conference in June will also see a debate on the government’s plans and the next steps.

National funding formula

The Department for Education published an initial consultation on the principles of a proposed new national funding formula (NFF) in April. They are yet to publish their response to the consultation. It is likely that there will be a further consultation with greater details of the impact and likely changes. However, it seems unlikely that this will be published ahead of the EU referendum. UNISON remains concerned about the potential impact of the new NFF.  It is expected that rather than increasing funding to bring all schools up to the levels of the best  funded, the government will re-distribute funds, ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’, which would have a severe detrimental  impact on many  schools. Further advice and guidance will be issued when more information is available.

Jon Richards – National Secretary -Education and Children’s Services

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2016 And 2017 NJC Payscales & Allowances

The NJC Joint Secretaries have now sent official notification to local authorities to implement the 2016-18 pay offer. Details of this notification – with the new rates of pay applicable from

The pay scales for 1 April 2016 and 1 April 2017 can be downloaded here: Pay Scales

The UNISON NJC Committee will meet on 8 June 2016 to consider issues arising from this year’s pay round.

As agreed in the pay offer, the NJC will carry out joint reviews of term-time working and the NJC pay spine. The Terms of Reference and timetables for these reviews will be agreed and published shortly.


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