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Citizens Advice Cymru warns that many people on benefits are struggling to cope due to welfare reforms

8 July 2014

A report, ‘One Day at a Time’ launched today by Citizens Advice Cymru highlights that many of the most vulnerable in Wales are being forced into hardship due to the biggest changes to the welfare system in over sixty years.

The report is based on evidence from across the Citizens Advice Bureaux network in Wales as well as bespoke qualitative research commissioned by Citizens Advice Cymru to explore the ‘lived experience’ of the recent benefit changes.

Fran Targett, Director Citizens Advice Cymru said:

“The research highlights that the reduction in income caused by the benefit changes is  hitting  people that are already on a low income very hard.

“The impact it is having on peoples mental and physical health is particularly worrying.   Unless people receive the support they need early on to help them manage  these benefit changes, it will likely lead to more costly interventions down the line, putting additional pressures on health and social care services which are already under considerable strain.

“A tougher sanctions regime and delays in decision making processes mean some people have no income at all for long periods of time which has only added to the hardship they are facing.

“We know many people who come into bureaux and who we spoke to as part of this research are struggling to maintain a decent standard of living, frequently going  without basic essentials including food, adequate heating in their homes and clothes so that they can keep up with rent payments and afford essential houshold bills. More and more people  are being forced to rely on foodbanks.”

Many who took part in the research spoke of feeling humiliated and ashamed to find themselves in their current situation and this has been made worse by  the negative media portrayals of people on benefits.

To counteract the negative coverage participants thought that the media should do more to show the truth of what it is like for people living on benefits. They want an honest portrayal which shows the efforts they are making to look for work, the struggles of living on such a low income and the reality of people who are disabled, or have a long term health condition and are unable to work.

The Department of Work and Pensions came in for significant criticism for the way they communicated with claimants, especially people with long term health conditions. It was reported that there was a lack of empathy, that they didn’t deal with peoples issues sensitively and in general offered a lack of support.

Effectively managing and co-ordinating how different agencies in Wales and key UK agencies, including DWP and Jobcentre Plus can work better together to help people affected by welfare reform will be fundamental if people’s future support needs are going to be met.

Mitigating the impact of welfare reform is already a key component of the Tackling Poverty Action Plan however the Welsh Government has an important role to play in providing further strategic direction to key players in Wales who come into daily contact with benefit claimants and potential benefit claimants. This includes local authorities, housing associations, and all health and social care services.

Another finding emphasised the importance of providing holistic support to claimants, linking information on benefit changes with advice to address financial capability needs and budgeting support; debt advice; income maximisation; housing advice and mental and physical health support.

Jeff Cuthbert AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty said:

“The Welsh Government has repeatedly called for the UK Government to rethink its planned roll-out of Universal Credit. We are not against the idea of welfare reform but have made clear our concerns about the scale and planned speed of change. The slow down in the UK Government’s plans suggest we were right to be concerned.

“We believe that responsible reform should be delivered alongside the right help for those that need it and protection for those at greatest risk.”

Fran Targett, Director Citizens Advice Cymru said:

“We recognise that both Welsh Government and Local Government finances are under considerable pressure and that this is likely to continue for many years to come. We also acknowledge the work that has been done to date by Welsh Government and others in helping the tens of thousands of people in Wales who have been affected by the welfare changes. However with even bigger reforms around the corner the need for a multi-agency approach has never been greater in order to ensure claimants feel able to confidently manage changes in the future and to prevent further poverty and hardship”.

Cyngor ar Bopeth Cymru yn rhybuddio bod llawer o bobl yn ei chael hi’n anodd ymdopi yn sgil y diwygiadau lles

Yn ôl adroddiad ‘Un Dydd ar y Tro’ sy’n cael ei lansio heddiw gan Cyngor ar Bopeth Cymru, mae llawer o’r bobl fwyaf agored i niwed yng Nghymru yn cael eu gorfodi i fyw mewn cyni yn sgil y newidiadau mwyaf i’r system les mewn mwy na chweugain mlynedd.

Mae’r adroddiad yn seiliedig ar dystiolaeth o bob un o’r Canolfannau Cyngor ar Bopeth yng Nghymru yn ogystal â gwaith ymchwil ansoddol pwrpasol a gomisiynwyd gan Cyngor ar Bopeth Cymru i gael darlun o brofiad go iawn pobl o’r newidiadau diweddar i fudd-daliadau.

Meddai Fran Targett, Cyfarwyddwr Cyngor ar Bopeth Cymru:

“Mae’r ymchwil yn dangos bod y lleihad mewn incwm yn sgil y newidiadau i fudd-daliadau yn cael effaith enfawr ar bobl sydd ar incwm isel eisoes.

“Yn arbennig, mae pryder am yr effaith ar iechyd corfforol ac iechyd meddwl pobl. Os nad yw pobl yn cael y cymorth maen nhw ei angen ar y dechrau i’w helpu i ymdopi â’r newidiadau hyn i fudd-daliadau, bydd angen ymyriadau drutach maes o law yn ôl pob tebyg. Bydd hyn yn rhoi rhagor o bwysau ar wasanaethau iechyd a gofal cymdeithasol sydd eisoes o dan gryn straen.

“O ganlyniad i gosbau llymach ac oedi wrth wneud penderfyniadau, mae rhai pobl yn gorfod bod heb unrhyw incwm am gyfnodau hir. Mae hyn wedi ychwanegu at y caledi sy’n eu hwynebu.

“Gwyddom fod llawer o bobl sy’n dod i’n canolfannau ac y buom yn siarad â nhw fel rhan o’r gwaith ymchwil hwn yn ei chael hi’n anodd cynnal safon dderbyniol o fyw. Maen nhw’n aml yn mynd heb yr hanfodion yn cynnwys bwyd, gwres yn eu cartrefi a dillad er mwyn gallu talu’r rhent a biliau hanfodol. Mae mwy a mwy o bobl yn gorfod dibynnu ar fanciau bwyd.”

Dywedodd sawl un a gyfrannodd at yr ymchwil fod eu sefyllfa’n gwneud iddyn nhw deimlo’n benisel ac yn llawn cywilydd, a bod y portreadau negyddol o bobl sy’n derbyn budd-daliadau yn y cyfryngau yn gwneud pethau’n waeth.

Er mwyn gwrthbwyso’r sylw negyddol, roedd y bobl a holwyd o’r farn y dylai’r cyfryngau wneud mwy i ddangos sut beth yw byw ar fudd-daliadau mewn gwirionedd. Maen nhw eisiau portread gonest sy’n dangos eu hymdrechion i chwilio am waith, pa mor anodd yw hi i fyw ar incwm mor fach a’r realiti ar gyfer pobl anabl, neu bobl sydd â chyflwr iechyd hirdymor ac sy’n methu gweithio.

Cafodd yr Adran Gwaith a Phensiynau ei beirniadu’n hallt am y ffordd mae’n cyfathrebu â phobl sy’n hawlio budd-daliadau, yn enwedig pobl â chyflyrau iechyd hirdymor. Dywedwyd bod diffyg empathi ymysg staff, nad oedden nhw’n ymdrin yn sensitif â phroblemau pobl ac nad oedden nhw’n cynnig digon o gymorth yn gyffredinol.

Bydd rheoli a chydgysylltu’n effeithiol sut mae asiantaethau gwahanol yng Nghymru ac asiantaethau Prydeinig allweddol, yn cynnwys DWP a’r Canolfan Byd Gwaith, yn gallu cydweithio’n well i helpu pobl sy’n cael eu heffeithio gan y diwygiadau lles yn hollbwysig er mwyn diwallu anghenion pobl yn y dyfodol.

Mae lleihau effaith y diwygiadau lles eisoes yn elfen allweddol o’r Cynllun Gweithredu ar gyfer Trechu Tlodi ond mae gan Lywodraeth Cymru rôl bwysig o ran rhoi cyfarwyddyd strategol pellach i’r prif sefydliadau yng Nghymru sy’n dod i gysylltiad â hawlwyr budd-daliadau a darpar hawlwyr budd-daliadau o ddydd i ddydd. Mae’r rhain yn cynnwys awdurdodau lleol, cymdeithasau tai a’r holl wasanaethau iechyd a gofal cymdeithasol.

Roedd canfyddiad arall yn pwysleisio pwysigrwydd cynnig cymorth cyfannol i hawlwyr, gan roi gwybodaeth am newidiadau i fudd-daliadau law yn llaw â chyngor ar fynd i’r afael ag anghenion gallu ariannol a chymorth gyda chyllidebu; cyngor ar ddyledion; cynyddu incwm; cyngor ar dai a chymorth gydag iechyd meddwl ac iechyd corfforol.

Meddai Jeff Cuthbert AC, Y Gweinidog Cymunedau a Threchu Tlodi:

“Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi galw dro ar ôl tro ar Lywodraeth y DU i ailystyried ei bwriad i gyflwyno Credyd Cynhwysol. Nid ydym ni’n gwrthwynebu egwyddor y diwygiadau lles ond rydym ni wedi mynegi’n glir ein pryderon am raddfa a chyflymder y newid. Mae’r ffaith bod Llywodraeth y DU wedi arafu ei chynlluniau yn awgrymu ein bod ni wedi bod yn iawn i bryderu.

“Credwn y dylid cyflwyno diwygiadau cyfrifol ochr yn ochr â’r cymorth cywir ar gyfer y bobl sydd ei angen a’r sicrwydd bod y bobl yn y perygl mwyaf yn cael eu diogelu.”

Meddai Fran Targett, Cyfarwyddwr Cyngor ar Bopeth Cymru:

“Rydym ni’n cydnabod bod Llywodraeth Cymru a Llywodraeth Leol dan gryn bwysau yn ariannol a bod hyn yn debygol o barhau am flynyddoedd lawer i ddod. Rydym ni’n cydnabod hefyd y gwaith sydd wedi’i wneud hyd yma gan Lywodraeth Cymru ac eraill i helpu’r degau o filoedd o bobl yng Nghymru sydd wedi cael eu heffeithio gan y newidiadau lles. Fodd bynnag, gyda diwygiadau mwy fyth ar y gorwel, mae angen dull gweithredu aml-asiantaeth yn fwy nag erioed er mwyn sicrhau bod hawlwyr yn teimlo y gallan nhw reoli newidiadau yn y dyfodol yn hyderus ac er mwyn atal rhagor o dlodi a chaledi.”

Notes to editors:

  1. In 2013/14 benefits and tax credits releated problems dealt with in bureaux accross Wales increased dramatically accounting for 42% (over two-fifths) of all problems in Wales during 2013/14 (over 141,500 problems).
  2. The qualiative research that informs much of this report was undertaken by Shelter Cymru. A total of 49 in-depth interviews were conducted with benefit claimants across Wales between February and March 2014.
  3. This year the Citizens Advice service celebrates its 75th anniversary. We’ve planned a year of activity running from January to December 2014. Contact the press office to find out more.
  4. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  5. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at www.adviceguide.org.uk
  7. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  8. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 6.6 million problems from April 2012 to March 2013. For full 2012/2013 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  9. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 22,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.

Nodiadau i olygyddion:

  1. Yn 2013/14, cynyddodd nifer y problemau yn ymwneud â budd-daliadau a chredydau treth a ddaeth i sylw’n canolfannau ledled Cymru yn aruthrol – dyma oedd 42% (mwy na dwy ym mhob pump) o’r holl broblemau yng Nghymru yn ystod 2013/14 (dros 141,500 o broblemau).
  2. Shelter Cymru gynhaliodd yr ymchwil ansoddol sy’n sail i gyfran helaeth o’r adroddiad hwn. Cynhaliwyd cyfanswm o 49 cyfweliad manwl gyda hawlwyr budd-daliadau ledled Cymru rhwng mis Chwefror a mis Mawrth 2014.
  3. Eleni bydd gwasanaeth Cyngor ar Bopeth yn dathlu 75 mlynedd o wasanaeth. Rydym wedi trefnu blwyddyn o ddathu rhwng Ionawr a Rhagfyr 2014. Cysylltwch a swyddfa’r wasg am fwy o wybodaeth.
  4. Mae gan Cyngor ar Bopeth rwydwaith o swyddfeydd lleol, sydd bob un yn elusen annibynnol, gwasanaeth defnyddwyr Cyngor ar Bopeth a’r elusen genedlaethol Cyngor ar Bopeth. Gyda’n gilydd, rydyn ni’n helpu pobl i ddatrys eu problemau ariannol a chyfreithiol a phroblemau eraill trwy ddarparu gwybodaeth a chyngor a thrwy ddylanwadu ar lunwyr polisi. I ddysgu rhagor ewch i wefan Cyngor ar Bopeth.
  5. Mae’r cyngor a ddarperir gan wasanaeth Cyngor ar Bopeth yn rhad ac am ddim, yn annibynnol, yn gyfrinachol ac yn ddiduedd, ac mae ar gael i bawb o bob hil, rhyw, anabledd, cyfeiriadedd rhywiol, crefydd, oed neu genedligrwydd.
  6. I ddod o hyd i’ch swyddfa leol yng Nghymru a Lloegr, ewch i www.citizensadvice.org.uk. Gallwch gael cyngor ar-lein hefyd yn www.adviceguide.org.uk
  7. Gallwch gael cyngor i ddefnyddwyr trwy ffonio gwasanaeth defnyddwyr Cyngor ar Bopeth ar 08454 04 05 06 neu’r llinell Gymraeg 08454 04 05 05
  8. Rhoddodd Cyngor ar Bopeth yng Nghymru a Lloegr gyngor i 2.1 miliwn o gleientiaid ynghylch 6.6 miliwn o broblemau rhwng Ebrill 2012 a Mawrth 2013. I weld ystadegau gwasanaeth llawn 2012/2013, ewch i’n rhifyn chwarterol Advice trends
  9. Mae staff gwasanaeth Cyngor ar Bopeth yn cael eu cefnogi gan dros 22,000 o wirfoddolwyr sydd wedi’u hyfforddi, ac sy’n gweithio yn 3,000 o leoliadau gwasanaeth ledled Cymru a Lloegr.