Man given eight-month sanction for missing an appointment. Can we stop sanctioning people, please?

Dear readers, I apologise for the lateness of my blog. As you may have heard Esther Mcvey has resigned from her role as the DWP minister because she doesn’t agree with the deal put forward by Theresa May, she actually stated that she wouldn’t be able to look her constituents in the eye. I found this quite hypocritical because she has no problem looking in the eyes of the disabled, poor, working poor and the families of those who have died as a result of her cruel decisions whilst in office.

Don’t celebrate yet because she’ll be back, she’s done this before, and anyway, they’ll replace her with someone equally as odious and stone-hearted. We shouldn’t start celebrating until we have a general election and Labour win, and if this happened it’d take us years to repair the damage.

Anyway, the blogs late because I had to go to Salford Quays to be interviewed by Granada news regarding this. So my apologies once again.

Once again can I remind people that we handed out five food parcels, we helped and advised everyone that we spoke to and signposted everyone that needed to be signposted. We also act as an impromptu councilling group and we offer advice concerning other matters also.

The campaign doesn’t end at 12pm on Thursday, for me, it lasts for seven days a week.

Yesterday was a little warmer even though it was dull. armed with a cup of decaf I walked over to the Jobcentre. I was greeted by a woman who we’ve been helping for a while now. She’s a shy woman and yesterday we had a breakthrough, she opened up about her situation and we can now help her further.

Due to circumstances out of her control, she’s had to make changes to her claim for universal credit and as a result, she’s not going to receive any payments so I handed her a food parcel.

It’s so sad to see someone that’s desperately trying to improve her situation being pushed further down into poverty. This won’t enrich her life, it’ll make life much harder for her and to be honest I’m worried about her.

 

I spotted a lady walking out of the Jobcentre with two small children, one in a pram. She told me that she’s had to make a new claim for universal credit and she has been forced to take a loan from the DWP to survive.

It shouldn’t be like this, children shouldn’t be forced by the government to go hungry, not to forget their mother will be hungry and no doubt their health will suffer. It takes a government of psychopaths to inflict cruelty such as this.

 

A woman stopped Gordon and she explained her situation, which unfortunately isn’t uncommon. Her situation is this. She’s currently claiming JSA and has been offered a job. Brilliant you might say, and it is, however, there’s a problem. Her job is a part-time position and it would take her over the threshold that’s allowed when claiming JSA, she’d have to move over to universal credit and the thought of this scares her.

She knows that she’ll have to go without any payments for at least five weeks, she knows that the conditions of universal credit would damage her both physically and mentally. Basically, she’s scared.

We had a chat and we’re hoping that her situation has been rectified, but once again it shouldn’t be like this. Making a claim for universal credit feels like you’re being punished, and it’s a fact, to be honest. We’re being punished for being poor, for needing help and it’s cruel and unnecessary.

 

I was stopped by a man that myself and the law centre have been helping told me that his mandatory consideration. He’s beginning to gain confidence, mainly because he knows that he’s being supported, listened to, understood and respected. Being cruel certainly doesn’t encourage people does it.

 

We noticed a man walking around confused. He’d been told that he needs to provide proof of his address. Simple you might think, but it isn’t for many. People move homes, are homeless, have had to leave a property in a rush and are staying in temporary accommodation. Some people have chaotic lives, but it doesn’t mean that they should be punished for this, unfortunately, they are. There’s a massive lack of understanding not only from within the DWP but in all governmental and local governmental departments. Often the receptionists at these places can appear uncaring which doesn’t help.

 

Gordon and myself were stopped by a woman who I shall name Dot.

Dot is an older lady, her husband died in March and Dot is still grieving. She’s depressed and is finding life very difficult.

Dot is claiming the sickness (ESA) related element of universal credit and she’s struggling. She’s constantly worried and she’s being reminded that she’ll soon have to return to work.

Dot should be allowed to recover and grieve, but there’s no way that the DWP will allow this.

Dot’s future doesn’t look good thanks to this government.

 

I spoke to a man whom I shall name Jim.

Jim walked out of the Jobcentre looking confused, he’s an older chap.

Jim had spent three days trying to make an online claim for universal credit. Three days folks, because he was struggling with the system. In his words, he ‘doesn’t get along’ with computers and he was constantly being thrown off the website for one reason or another.

Jim went to see his advisor and he was told that he shouldn’t be making a claim for universal credit, he should be claiming ESA. He was told by a different advisor that he should apply for universal credit.

You can see why Jim is confused, can’t you? I can. Honestly how hard is it to ensure that you give the correct advice? Impossible I fear.

Does the DWP care about Jim? Not one bit.

 

I was stopped by a woman, she had been made redundant. She was told to go to the Jobcentre to start her universal credit claim. Simple you’d think. Nope. She told me that she was being sent to a different building to make her claim.

 

A rather frustrated man stormed out of the Jobcentre, he shouted ‘Theresa May is an old bag, shes horrible’. It’s hard to disagree with that, isn’t it?

 

I had a brief conversation with a man who told me that he’d been sanctioned for eight months. Yes, eight months. His reason for missing his appointment was that he had to help his father move into a nursing home out of the area. He provided evidence of this, he appealed and they refused his appeal. So he went without money for eight months.

I advised him on what he should do, but you might ask how does someone survive for eight months with no income. To put it bluntly many don’t. Many die, most are hungry and many lose their homes.

Sanctions and universal credit are two of the main reasons why people become homeless, but many are forgetting about sanctions and their impact on people, just like they are forgetting about the two-child limit, the benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the council tax supplement. I often feel that I’m a lone voice when talking about these issues because some have forgotten about them, many have accepted it as the norm.

 

I then had a conversation with a Kurdish man who had been temporarily employed by an agency. He didn’t understand that he had to make a new claim for universal credit and would have to wait for around five weeks or more for his claim to be processed.

The system is too complicated, it makes you financially worse off, combine this with a limited understanding of the English language and you’re certain to fail. Can I say that I hate this government?

 

Last but not least, I spoke to a woman who I shall name Jenny.

Jenny has been sanctioned. Jenny has children.

Jenny has been sanctioned because she didn’t see the message on her universal credit account to attend an appointment.

Jenny doesn’t have a computer, Jenny doesn’t know how to use a computer. Jenny struggles to access the places where she can use a computer.

Jenny is being punished because she can’t understand the system because she has a disability and the DWP don’t care.

We advised Jenny but for her and people like her, their future is very bleak. It’s ok for local governments and organisations to provide internet access locally, but it’s completely useless for someone without a computer, who doesn’t know how to use a computer and can’t afford one also. We need a paper system, one that everyone understands and we should also be campaigning for this.

 

This all happened over two hours and we do this every week. We work hard helping people in cold and often with abuse from passers-by. I can’t thank everyone that comes along to help enough. You’re all amazing, you keep me going especially when I feel fed up like I do now. The work that we do is much needed and has become essential.

 

Thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog. I receive no funding for this and any donation however small will be most welcome and put to good use. Thank you to everyone that has supported my blog. Thank you.

We’ll be back next week and every week.

 

 

 

 

Failed PIP assessment, wrongfully forced onto universal credit, now £250 a month worse off. It’s getting worse.

What can I say except that today was dire, the weather was awful and it appears that winter has set in now.

Today we were joined by a new member, Glynn and also the gang from Rochdale and Stockport. This cheered me up immensely because last week I was very despondent and was wondering if I should continue with the campaign. It’s hard work, and I do have weeks like this. Anyway, blip over and onward I shall continue.

Just to make it clear we handed out five food parcels and offered help, advice, leaflets and signposting to everyone that we spoke to today. No one left without receiving any help. We also helped out with things such as bus fares and other issues.

 

I arrived at ten on the dot and was almost immediately met by Gordon and then Glynn. A few people were waiting for food parcels and I had a chat with a fella that’s trying to overcome several issues. I like our conversations and he’s looking a bit better, to be honest, I’d worry if I didn’t see him.

We unloaded the food parcels and settled into our morning.

 

I first noticed a young man walking out of the Jobcentre shouting ‘Universal credit is a ball ache and they are all a bunch of w*****s’. He didn’t stop to talk but I guessed that he was unhappy. He obviously isn’t feeling supported by the system like  Theresa May keeps spouting out the lie that everyone is supported. Absolute rubbish, its survival of the fittest nothing more.

 

A young man caught my eye, he was walking out of the Jobcentre wearing very thin clothing totally unsuitable for this weather. I asked him how things were going, he told me that he was only just coping.

He’s in receipt of universal credit and had to wait around five weeks for his first payment. In the meantime, he had to apply for loans from the DWP to pay his rent so he now has to pay that back out of his monthly payment.

He expressed his concern that whilst his repayments are £20 a month, he knows people that are having to pay back their loans at a much higher rate, and he wanted to know what there isn’t an official set repayment scheme that’s low enough to enable people to survive. He’s still reliant upon food parcels to survive because he has to contribute towards his rent.

He asked a good question, there should be a low, set payment programme in place and not a random one that makes it impossible to live. Maybe there is, but its rarely enforced not unusual for this farce of a system.

 

A man walked out of the Jobcentre and I asked him if he was ok, he looked at me and said ‘same old crap’ and walked off.

 

I then spoke to a fella whom I shall name Brian. Brians an older chap and has been thrust into this system by no fault of his own.

Brian is in receipt of a small private pension and was claiming JSA (Jobseekers allowance). He had £6 taken from his JSA because of his pension.

Brian was visited by a member of staff from a local housing association and was told by them that he had to immediately stop claiming JSA and make a claim for universal credit otherwise his rent wouldn’t be paid.

They were wrong. Brian could and should have stayed on JSA until the DWP transferred him, they should never have told him this. So thanks to their wrong advice Brian is now £250 a month worse off. He’s an older chap, he’s struggling and all because his landlord decided to get greedy and demand that he move onto universal credit.

Brians an older man who was brought up in another time, a time when you could trust people and were looked after. Brian isn’t to blame for this, the blame lies at the housing associations feet.

I’ve spoken about this before, one week we had about five or six people stop us and tell us that they had been told this also. I’ve also had neighbours knock on my door telling me the same thing, so I know it to be true.

We are taking further action on this though. They shouldn’t be lying to people like this, they are responsible for the suffering of people and we can’t allow this to go unchecked. This housing association recently merged with another organisation and have kicked all of the local councillors off their board and as a result appear to be doing whatever they want. Rumour has it that they aren’t good employers and they aren’t as supportive to tenants as they could be.

 

We were then introduced to another older man whom I shall name Terry.

Terry had worked all of his adult life until he became ill, he was proud of working and smiled when he spoke of his younger days. Terry is a lovely man that deserves much better than what he told us.

Terry had to go for his PIP assessment, he’s new to this and the system confuses him. They asked him the usual questions and he left the assessment thinking that he’d be ok.

Terry was wrong, in fact, he couldn’t be more wrong. He failed the examination on the basis that he hadn’t had a fit in his kitchen and he looked too smart.

Terry assured us that he wasn’t dressed too smart, he isn’t well off and was wearing the same clothes that he wears every day. And as for not fitting in the kitchen, that’s ridiculous. Like he says he can’t predict where and when he will have a fit. It’s ridiculous.

Terry is appealing this decision, he’s angry that he’s being treated in this manner. Terry is also an older man whose health is failing and is especially vulnerable.

The government doesn’t give a toss about Terry, they just want him off the unemployment statistics and will do so by any means possible, especially by employing people to lie like this.

 

I heard a conversation behind me so turned round to join in. Here’s a rundown of the conversation. I’ll name the person concerned Paul. Paul is also an older man.

Paul has always worked and is proud of this.

Paul became ill with diabetes and lost his leg and toes.

Paul feels like he’s always being scrutinised by the DWP. They keep sending him to medical assessments etc.

Paul hasn’t got a clue how the system works.

Paul is terrified of being moved onto universal credit.

Paul says it’s not fair and they shouldn’t be doing this to him. Paul is correct, but thankfully Paul now knows that we are thinking about him and he can chat to us whenever he wants to.

Paul is just another statistic and this makes me angry.

 

We all need to fight in our own way for people like the above if you’re not in a position similar to theirs you could be in the future. Say hello to your neighbour, to the stranger in the street. That can make a massive difference.

 

We spoke to lots of other people, and we helped lots of people.

We also helped a homeless man reach his next destination for a nights sleep. He speaks poor English but doesn’t have an address so therefore has no money. He was sent to another town to get a bed for the night, but what he clearly needs is a translator and support. I can’t imagine how scared he might be. He’s aware of local organisations but has to go where there’s a bed. What an awful life

 

This made us smile, someone left us a calling card. Thank you! We love it.

BTW if one of my readers left this sticker, please email me I wouldn’t mind some. Thanks.

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We don’t receive any funding for the work that we do, nor do I receive any funding for the blog etc. If anyone would like to donate there’s a button above and to the side. I would be very grateful, and a massive thank you to everyone that has supported my blog and also to everyone that reads and shares my blog. Thank you!!

In the past week, I’ve been on Granada Reports, Talk Radio, filmed with RT News and have been interviewed for a magazine. None of which are paid, but it’s important to get the word out there. The campaign certainly doesn’t finish on Thursday afternoons.

 

Sixty-year-old man proclaimed fit for work despite having a stroke. The DWP have destroyed me.

Dear readers, I found it particularly hard this week, not only because it was freezing cold but I think its one of those weeks when the enormity of the situation hits me like a brick. This happens every now and then because I’m all too aware of the situation, of our situation.

Anyway, enough about me, you probably aren’t here to hear about me. The weather was very cold and we were ill prepared for this sudden onslaught of winter weather. I had left my home after forgetting my telephone also. Not a good start to the day.

The Queue had already formed for the food parcels, all given to people either working and claiming Universal Credit or being shifted over to Universal Credit from another benefit. They had no choice but to take out a loan from the DWP which is now making their universal credit payments incredibly small, usually unmanageable.

It did appear to be a bit quieter than normal, but we also see this a lot. Some weeks are busier than others, but the problems are still life changing.

 

The first thing that I noticed upon arriving at the Jobcentre was the number of staff and security guards at the front desk. They may have put up a reflective screen to prevent us from seeing inside but I can still catch glimpses from the outside. It’s a tad excessive and is very intimidating upon walking into the building. There’s just no need for it. It’s simply to remind us of where we stand in the situation, an enemy, someone to take the pee out of, to abuse.

 

As Gordon passed me the food parcels I was handing them out to people, many of whom are hungry. When claiming universal credit it’s impossible to pay your bills and buy food, gas and electric at the same time. Food parcels keep people going, they keep people alive. Instead of condemning their use, the government actually love them. They take the problem out of their hands. As a nation, we should be constantly challenging the government about their use, many of us already are. Please join us in doing so.

 

I was stopped by a man walking out of the Jobcentre. Clutching a folded piece of paper he told me that he had been without money for months. He needed food and advice. We provided both happily.

 

A man then stopped me and told me his story. He had been released from prison not long ago and was told to go to the Jobcentre to claim universal credit. He did just that and he got an advance loan from them to tide him over. Out of that, he had to pay his rent and other expenses so now he’s left with nothing, yet despite struggling he’s very proud that he’s managing to stay on the straight and narrow “It’s almost as if they’re trying to send me back inside”. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

 

Another man stopped me and told me of his plight. He’s receiving his universal credit payments, he has to put towards his rent, he has to pay his bills, buy food etc. He’d taken an advance loan out whilst awaiting his universal credit payments which he now has to pay back at £30 a month. He also has to pay a debt that he was paying back whilst claiming his previous benefit at almost £30 a month, so he’s £60 down already.

Yes, people are expected to live like this because they just don’t care.

 

We then spoke to a young man desperately trying to make a good life for himself. He had lost his job and then subsequently lost his home and had become homeless. He’s not living on the street but instead was a sofa surfer until finding accommodation.

He honestly couldn’t try any harder than he is doing now. He dresses smart and is always looking for work, he would be a credit to any employer. However finding suitable employment is proving to be impossible because he’s got an unspent criminal conviction, that happened when he got when like he said ‘was having a bad patch’. His speciality of work is in finance.

Poor fella, trying his best and getting constant knockbacks. The only employment that he can find is fairly rubbish agency work. In reality, he’s most likely going to have to live like this until his conviction is spent, and he really does regret it. Magic wand anyone?

He told me that he feels so much pressure from the DWP and other organisations that it’s hard to stay focused at times but he wants to improve his life.

 

I spoke to an older man who told me quickly that the DWP have destroyed his life. He then walked off.

 

It was then when we noticed an older chap walking out from the Jobcentre clutching a piece of paper whilst looking confused. I asked him if we could help, he then told me his story.

He’s 60 years of age, in poor health and is recovering from a stroke. He’s also prone to getting more strokes. He was claiming ESA but he was declared fit for work at Albert Bridge house. To be brutally honest he didn’t have a clue about what he had to.

This gentleman was brought up in what seems now was a totally different world. A world where people were respected, elders were acknowledged and also respected and everyone was looked after. Now, he’s left with nothing, computer-like sentences uttered by people that are supposed to help him but don’t.

Can you imagine feeling this lost? It must be a truly awful feeling. We advised him, signposted him and showed him compassion.

 

We spoke to a woman that has just found a job totally independent from the Jobcentre. We were so happy for her, her life will now begin again.

 

We advised a woman to go and see the local council about a housing benefit enquiry. Universal credit is making her so skint that she’s struggling to cope.

 

Not long afterwards we spoke to a young man who had been made homeless but had totally changed his life around all by himself. He told us that this was because of his strong personality, he knew that he had to survive. He had also never become involved with drugs or drink. Anyway, to cut a long story short, he’s totally inspirational. a credit to his family and I’ll never forget our conversation.

 

So here we have it, another week and more awful stories. We left half an hour early due to being freezing cold and ill-prepared (we were freezing) and I had ran out of electric so had to return home to ensure that my daughter wasn’t freezing cold. You know the score, this happens to many of my readers.

 

We helped and signposted everyone that we spoke to. We offered words of hope and comfort, we fed people and gave them hope and we will return next week to do the same thing.

 

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Many thanks to all my readers and supporters of my blog I thank  you all because you keep me going.

We don’t receive any funding for the work that we do, nor do I receive anything for writing my blog. I do this all on an extremely low budget. If anyone would like to donate please click on the donate button above and on the sidebar. Any donations would enable me to carry on with this work, and continue with the blog. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to kill myself last month, they’re going to stop my money, I don’t know what to do.

Dear readers it’s Thursday again, it comes around far too quickly. Today the weather was very cold and rainy, I’ll have to dig out my thermals for next week.

Today we were joined by members of Glossop Labour club, and a local councillor. Everyone got stuck right in and no one left without receiving help, advice, a copy of our leaflets and a food parcel if needed. We had our usual food parcels and the gang from Glossop brought up some extras. All went extremely quickly most likely because it’s the end of the month and most people are without money awaiting their universal credit payment next month.

It never gets any easier, seeing people struggle like they do, yet these people are the kindest people that you could ever meet. The government might want to take everything away from them but they can’t take away their kindness and understanding.

Jenny was the first person that I spoke to this week. She arrived with her boyfriend whom she doesn’t live with. She can’t tell the DWP that she has a boyfriend because they will accuse her of cohabiting when she isn’t. They’ve done this to her before and I know that this is fairly commonplace.

Jenny asked for a food parcel and started to talk to me. She told me that she had been in the hospital because she attempted to commit suicide.

She told me that ‘Enough is enough, I couldn’t attend my ESA assessment because my anxiety was high, I just couldn’t cope. I forgot that I had a medical assessment and I telephoned them as soon as I remembered. They didn’t issue a new appointment though, they just sent me a form to fill in and I was scared that they are going to stop my money. So I thought that I’d be better off dead because without my payments I can’t cope.’

Luckily she received medical help but is still living in fear that she won’t receive her payment. The reality is that she won’t either. From my experience, they usually offer a new appointment upon phoning them. If this is the case then I will help her to appeal this etc.

But ask yourself this. Why is this happening? Why are thousands upon thousands of disabled people forced to attend these farces of a medical assessment, when a doctors or consultants letter should be enough?

It’s all about punishing disabled people and unemployed people. The government see them all as an unwanted burden, they’d rather that we weren’t here at all. So they literally starve us into submission and set a cruel regime that purely punishes and degrades a person to such a level that they will agree to anything that the government asks them to do.

The DWP are their foot soldiers, doing their dirty work for them. Not happy with that the government then offer to fund to struggling charities that always come with a gagging order. Take, for example, their latest victim Citizens Advice which will now also be enabling the government to roll out the next phase of Universal Credit. They should be opposing it.

The government are cruel, callous and care not one bit about the heartache, struggle and deaths that they cause. Don’t forget this.

Bill then stopped to chat with me. He had recently failed his ESA medical and not knowing that he can appeal they shifted him onto universal credit.

There’s a problem though. Bill can’t use a computer, he’s dyslexic and has never used a computer in his life. He also doesn’t have a mobile phone, he can’t afford one. These are the essentials when making an application for universal credit, so he’s stuck at the first hurdle.

Bill also has heart and circulation problems, his health is poor hence his previous claim for ESA. But Bill is expected to continue down the universal credit path, which he could fail because the odds of him succeeding aren’t good.

I spoke to a homeless chap that had to go into the Jobcentre to collect a form. Simple enough you’d think. But no, he was told that he had to travel to Hyde Jobcentre to collect it. Think about it, he’s homeless, living in a tent and has no money so he has to walk.

I offered him some bus fare but he told me that he would walk, so walk he did. I hope that Hyde Jobcentre didn’t turn him away as well. It’s a long way to walk for anyone, especially someone that’s hungry and cold, and it was freezing today.

I also spoke to his representative from Shelter and he uttered his frustration that the work that needs to be done in the Greater Manchester area isn’t being authorised as quickly as it should be. Shelter and other organisations desperately want to house people before the winter sets in.

I spoke to Cath who was hoping to claim ESA. She has serious health problems but in my area the odds against this happening are high.

John stopped me for a chat. John is homeless but is receiving assistance from Shelter and a local organisation. He’s extremely confused as to what benefit he is receiving etc and without representation, it would be quite honestly a disaster. Thankfully he has assistance.

Having no idea of what benefit that a person is claiming is a massive problem. I have to try and describe a benefit in ways such as this, universal credit is the one that you have to go without money for at least five weeks’ etc. The system is so complex that they haven’t got a clue and it’s a massive problem that few have the time to address.

We then all gasped when we noticed a man with both legs heavily bandaged whilst using a wheelchair enter the Jobcentre. He was obviously there for an appointment because he was in there for a while.

This is about as bad as it gets. The government deliberately no notice of his disability and still demands that he attends the Jobcentre. He couldn’t even open the doors Gordon helped him.

Janet then had a chat with Roy. Janet has two children and after all the deductions to her benefits, she’s left with £50 a week to feed herself and her two children. Janet also has to pay £75 a month top up for her rent. Janet did apply for a DHP but has been refused because the council changing are the goalposts so to speak because the council are short of funding.

So the likelihood of Janet and her children becoming homeless are high. Janet also has complex needs that can’t be addressed in temporary accommodation. Her future is looking very bleak.

We did speak to many more people and offered them help and advice. I also offered to accompany someone to an ESA assessment and I’m also helping other people this week.

The campaign doesn’t stop when we leave. I work extremely hard on pushing the need to stop and scrap universal credit, and I also work hard raising awareness of all the issues that we encounter.

However, it does feel that both myself and other campaigners are on our own with this. We try extremely hard to raise awareness but the Labour Party are yet to make a concrete decision and are flip-flopping around indecisively whilst the rest of us are looking for their support.

We are awaiting a positive decision from the Labour party.

For anyone interested, I’m on Sky News tomorrow via Skpe at 15.45, 3.45pm talking about universal credit. It will be aired four hours later on YouTube. I’ll post a link under ‘media’ above.

Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog and our campaign. Please read, share, email my blog etc.

Huge thanks to my fellow campaigners, activists, bloggers, journalists etc for all the hard work that you do.

We will be back next week, but wearing thermals!

I write my blog on an extremely low budget and I’m not paid for this or the campaign work that I do. Any donation, no matter how small will help me to continue with my work and it really is appreciated. Thank you!

Roll out of new DWP computer system causes confusion and worry. Universal Credit destroys life’s.

Dear readers, it’s Thursday again so here’s this weeks blog. I hope that you are all ok, I do think about you all and wonder how you are coping. I wish that I had a magic wand to stop this madness, but there isn’t one and I shall continue campaigning against the government’s abhorrent treatment of the poor and disabled. I’ll also continue to document what I can also.

I’ll document today’s conversations, as usual, please note that everyone was signposted to relevant organisations, help advice and survival guides were handed out. We also gave food parcels to those in need.  Also, my words can’t express the intensity of the two hours that we are outside the Jobcentre. We have to deal with so many different issues and often at a fast pace.

Also a massive thank you to everyone for that came along to help today and helped, I appreciate the hard work that you do thank you all so much.

 

Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre is now introducing the new computer system, which also coincides with the next phase of the Universal Credit rollout which is well under way now. This is causing a lot of confusion, and because of this it also demands that claimants also provide proof of their identity again. Of course, the DWP system won’t take into account the fact that they have already done so. Most of the people that I spoke to today don’t have photo ID, and nor do they have the money to get this. Also, people’s circumstances change and they might not have access to the proof of ID that they had already shown. You’ll read of a few conversations that I had with people regarding this.

 

It always breaks my heart when I see vulnerable people forced into having to go into the Jobcentre in the attempt to get some help. Here is one such case, I’ll call her Mary.

Mary approached the Jobcentre struggling to walk whilst using two crutches. She is an older lady who is in constant pain. Her husband is working but they need to make a claim for some help because she can no longer work. In an ideal world, there would be a fact sheet that tells a person what they can claim, what ID they need and how to do it. There isn’t though, so she was sent home none the wiser. However, she was told that she needs to provide proof of ID. So now she has to go home and return.

So a disabled woman is forced to make an arduous journey to provide ID. Whilst I appreciate the need to prove who you are they could make it a bit easier.

 

A woman with children asked me for a food parcel. She’s now receiving her Universal Credit payments after a long wait, but out of her first payment she’s had to pay all of the bills that she owed, so she’s left with nothing. What can I say except that it’s unacceptable that people are put into this situation. Claiming Universal Credit has plunged her into the pits of poverty and I doubt that she will be able to climb out for a long time if ever.

 

I spoke to a lovely gentleman that told me that he had been declared fit for work when he obviously isn’t. He also told me that they were trying to move him over to Universal Credit. Just what he doesn’t need.

 

Not long after I spoke to a woman whom I shall name Sharon. Sharon was visibly distressed, and this reflected in our conversation. Sharon went on to tell me of her experience of Universal Credit saying “People don’t know what they are getting themselves into, they don’t know what they are entitled to either. I can’t cope with this system, it’s crippling me to the point that I don’t know how I can continue. I’m relying on food banks and the goodwill of friends but that won’t last forever.”

Sharon also went onto say that she felt that it was the last straw for her to be asked to bring in proof of her ID again, shes already done it before so why should she have to do it again was her point.

Sharon doesn’t deserve to be treated in this manner but there are thousands and thousands of Sharon’s out there. Universal Credit doesn’t help people, instead, it hinders them from being able to improve their lives.

When a person can’t find all the ID that’s required they won’t allow a person to receive their payments, even though they have already provided this Id. No proof of ID, no payments. It’s a good way for the DWP to knock people off the system, to lower the unemployment figures.

I also take issue with a system that’s also controlled by a computer system. Computers make mistakes, especially DWP computer systems. You can’t talk to a computer system nor can you rely on them to be fully accurate. This new system might have the ability to decide that a person isn’t fulfilling their job search requirements even if they are, not everyone has access to a computer etc. I’m extremely dubious about this, and to be honest I haven’t got a lot of faith in it.

 

I had a conversation with a man that claims universal credit and who also works for an agency on a zero hour contract. He told me that it’s extremely hard for him to cope, he has to constantly reapply for universal credit, thus waiting for around six weeks for a payment, only to be thrown off it again because he actually got paid. He’s also been asked to provide new ID and he was struggling to find some.

As Roy said ‘People don’t find work they find another form of slavery’.

 

I advised a man on how to claim ESA.

 

I spoke to a man that needed advice regarding an ESA tribunal for a friend.

 

Roy had a conversation with a man who was telling him his experience of his ESA assessment. Upon showing the assessor his medicines the assessor asked him if his doctor knew that he was taking these medicines. Of course, the doctor does, they prescribed them. Yep. Really.

 

Here’s Kevin’s situation, typical of many.

Kevin applied for universal credit because he was advised to.

Kevin was given an initial universal credit payment.

Kevin was informed that he now needed to claim ESA.

Kevin does this but now has to pay back the initial payment.

Kevin hasn’t received a penny since the 22nd of May.

Kevin is angry, upset and is hungry.

We advised Kevin and signposted him to local organisations that will help.

 

 

I had a conversation with a woman that I’ll name Janet.

Janet had to wait weeks for her first universal credit payment, she now owes rent and she has to pay the bedroom tax and a portion of her council tax.

Janet told me that she receives £100 a fortnight. Her housing association are demanding that she pays the rent that she’s owed at the rate of £50 a week. Yes £50 a week. The housing association don’t care that she will be struggling. She’s devastated.

Janet is 60 years old and will be living in abject poverty until she’s finally able to retire. Janet deserves better than this.

 

I spoke to a man that was unsure of what he could claim and how to do it. I advised hom upon this and signposted him to all relevant organisations.

 

Lastly, I spoke to a scared young man. I say scared because he walked away crying. He spoke only French and he went into the Jobcentre for advice, most likely he had been told to go there. The Jobcentre refused to use their translation service and he didn’t know what to do, so we advised him using google translate on our phones and we signposted him. Many thanks to my colleague for this help.

Why didn’t they use the translation service? Can you imagine how scared he must have been? My heart went out to him and to everyone else in the same situation.

 

So this all happened within two hours, we helped lots of people and we will continue to do so.

 

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Many thanks to everyone already supporting my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son doesn’t have enough money to survive. I’m over £300 worse off a month whilst working and on Universal credit.

Dear readers, I’m sorry about the lateness of this blog, yesterday was extremely busy and I returned home late, then had to go to parent’s evening that appeared to go on forever. Things have changed so much since my oldest children were at secondary school, it certainly felt more corporate than it used to and buzzwords were being flown around by the head teacher at great speed.

Anyway, I digress, it was a busy day outside Ashton Jobcentre. It started off very quietly but became very busy. So many people are suffering and it breaks my heart. I try to keep a brave face but it’s damn hard when you know that people are upset, hungry and haven’t got a clue what to do. They certainly aren’t in any position to be able to make things better either, their life’s are controlled by the DWP. Can you imagine having to live like this? I realize that many of my readers are in this position and fully understand what I’m talking about. It’s a culture of fear, the survival of the fittest but even the fittest become ill and many die as a result of the DWPs cruel regime.

Make no mistake, the government are aware of this, but intend to do nothing to help either. They like the system, it serves them well. Creating poverty and suffering should be their moto and they mock us when they create positions such as ‘Minister for suicide’ etc. They cause the suffering and deaths, they are intent on continuing whilst also taking away funding from much needed services that could and do save life’s.

Please note that EVERYONE that we spoke to received the help and advice that they needed, everyone was handed a leaflet or two and no one left us unaided in some way.

 

I’ll list yesterdays conversations, its easier that way.

 

The food parcels went within 10 minutes, and I’m certain that there will be a bigger need for them as the winter weather draws in and more people are transferred over to Universal Credit.  It’s apparently going to be a bad winter, which in itself will bring it’s own problems such as warmth, clothing and shelter. People are hungry, many with children. What sort of a government do we live under that allows such things? A cruel, heartless corrupt government that cares nothing about human life except their own.

 

I said hello to a couple of men that I speak to every week, lovely men just trying to survive under difficult circumstances. They make my week, yet some would pass them by without a second thought because their poverty is apparent. Never judge anyone by their appearance, it’s wrong to do so.

 

I was then approached by a man that I spoke to last week, I mentioned his details in last weeks blog. He wanted to update me about his situation and he appeared to be a bit happier. He told me that he had contacted Greater Manchester Law Centre like I had advised and he was overjoyed with the help that they have and will be giving him. Saying that they couldn’t do enough to help him, and they’ve told him that they are hoping for a very positive outcome for his situation.

To put it simply, he’s been given hope, he felt that they cared, he feels valued and they will fight his corner for him and will go out of their way to do so. This my friends, makes all the difference and I’m hoping for some more good news from him next week.

Greater Manchester Law Centre you are simply brilliant and I can’t thank you enough for the hard work that you all do.

 

Not long afterwards I had a conversation with a politics graduate. She has been advised by the DWP to find a job stacking shelves. Whilst this is far from unusual, it does however reflect the lack of respect and understanding that the DWP have for education and real job searching. They haven’t got a clue, its all about punishing people. I mean how dare a graduate ask for help…. That’s how the DWP see it.

 

A polish man stopped me and asked for a leaflet. He’s been living and working in the UK for seven years, but has recently had an accident. His arm was in a sling and he was struggling with understanding the DWP system. This concerned me, because the DWP don’t have a good track record of being nice or honest  to people like this gentleman and I referred him to local services and the law centre for further help.

 

I then noticed an older lady walking out of the Jobcentre bemused, confused and more than a bit unhappy. I asked her if I could help and she told me her situation. She fits into the category of being a WASPI woman, who ideally should be retired but is unable to do so. She’s ill, disabled and is claiming ESA and has been placed in the support group. She had attended an appointment at the Jobcentre only to be told that she needs to find work. They lied to her, no she doesn’t, she’s in the support group. They also told her that they are going to be keeping an eye on her and want to see her again in six weeks.

Not only have they lied to her, they are now in effect bullying her. I explained her legal rights to her and informed her that she could really do with taking a witness in with her for this future meeting.

So the DWP are bullying an older lady. They don’t care, not one bit.

 

I handed a leaflet to a young woman with children. She claims Universal Credit but is struggling to cope. I advised her to the best of my ability.

 

I then had a conversation with an elderly lady, she appeared to be distressed so I asked her if I could help. She told me that her son is claiming Universal Credit, but she is also having to constantly help her son out with money and food.

She told me that out of her small pension she has to help him daily because after her son’s rent has been paid and the money has been deducted from his Universal Credit payment he’s left with almost anything and he doesn’t have enough money to survive.

She went on to say that people can’t survive like this, how are they expected to live? She’s also worried that she can’t keep on helping him because she can’t afford to. It’s plunging them both into poverty and their health is suffering.

So a poor elderly woman is expected to provide for her son, yep. This is reality folks Universal Credit isn’t working.

 

I was then stopped by a man who was visibly  frustrated and hungry. He hasn’t had a Universal Credit payment system since July. We are now in October. He had been migrated over onto Universal Credit after failing his ESA medical. He told me that his health was declining and he has lost over one and a half stones in weight.

Yes he’s lost one and a half stones in weight. He’s also disabled.

He showed me his paperwork and the DWP are giving him the runaround. Why? Most likely because not one department communicates with another, they don’t communicate effectively with claimants and because they can do. So they’ve left a disabled man in this situation. I referred him to the law centre and other local services,  he promised that he would be contacting them.

 

Gordon then asked me to talk to a young lady, she looked frustrated so I asked her if I could help her. Here’s her situation.

She works part time, she’s been moved over to Universal Credit and is now £310 a month worse off than she was when she was previously claiming working tax credits. She also has children to look after, bills to pay etc.

When she approached the Jobcentre asking for help she was told that she shouldn’t complain because there are people more worse off than her. Yep you heard it right, she shouldn’t complain.

I believe that she should complain, because now both herself and her children are living in poverty, poverty caused by being forced to claim Universal credit. She was much better off whilst claiming working tax credits, and she can’t understand why the government have been allowed to take all this money off people and get away with it.

Once again this shows that work does not pay whilst claiming universal credit, the only thing that universal credit does do is create poverty, suffering and the deaths of thousands of people.

A message for the G4S security guard that is intent on continually staring at us in an intimidating manner whilst thinking that we can’t see you, we can. So stop it. We’ve made official complaints about you before and we will do this again.

A massive thank you to everyone that came along today I really do appreciate it.

 

So here we have it, another Thursday but this is replicated day in day out throughout the country. I do realize that we are further on with the rollout because we were a pilot area, but take note this is coming your way.

 

 

Please read, share, email and talk about my blog. Please support the work that we do, we really need it and for everyone that already does and has thank you so much.

Also please support my blog, I don’t receive any funding for the work that I do and it would be brilliant if I could continue with my work. Thank you.

 

John McDonell reveals that Labour will scrap Universal Credit.

Good news folks, the Labour Party are very close to committing to our stop and scrap universal credit stance.

This has taken many years of campaigning and lobbying by campaigners including myself. For too long they had stuck to the ‘let’s fix it’ viewpoint.

John McDonnell

John McDonnell agrees that the ‘reforms haven’t worked’The Shadow Chancellor said he had been listening to the experiences of those on the combined benefit system and that it was beyond saving.

The shadow chancellor stated “I have been listening to people over the last few weeks about the roll-out in their particular areas, I’ve been looking at what the Government has said about how they are seeking to reform it. The reforms haven’t worked.
“I think we’re at that stage now that it’s not sustainable any more.
“It’s not a system that can work. It’s not a system that’s providing the safety net that people expect when they need support.
“I think we are moving to a position now where it is just not sustainable. It will have to go.

So what happens now? We continue to put pressure on the Labour Party to commit to this. We need the Labour Party to fully commit to this and before any general election is announced.

However, this has given us a glimmer of hope, maybe a light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t prevent the suffering that people are having to endure on a daily basis caused by Universal Credit, nor will it stop, for the time being, the poverty that we are forced to live in. But it does give us hope and adds a bit of strength to our campaign to stop and scrap Universal Credit.

Unite the union have also announced their stop Universal Credit stance also, adding further fuel to our campaign but we also need other trade unions to also agree to this also.

Good news indeed now let’s ensure that the Labour Party fully commit to stop and scrap Universal Credit.

Sanctioned for being sacked, refusal to help, no disability adviser at Ashton Jobcentre. Universal Credit isn’t working.

Dear readers, Thursday seems to arrive very quickly. Today was cooler with a bit of rain and I think that we all felt the difference. Many thanks to everyone that sent their best wishes to us all this morning via Facebook and Twitter. Believe me, we need it, numbers are low these days and your kind thoughts make all the difference.

I’ll list the cases that we came across today like I usually do, please note that everyone was handed a food parcel if needed, copies of our survival guide and the leaflet from Unite Community. I also checked that everyone was ok and if needing signposting we signposted them.

 

I arrived five minutes early and there was already a queue for the food parcels. I had a chat with everyone asking how they were and if there had been any updates with their situations. Sadly no one has a magic wand and local organisations help but the specialised services that they need are either struggling for resources or have shut down. We all do our best but it feels that it isn’t good enough.

 

The first person that I spoke to was a young man, he had waited for almost three months for his first Universal Credit payment. Nothing like the five weeks advertised. Reasons for this vary and usually, it’s the fault of one DWP department not communicating with another or information going missing or a combination of all of the above.

The system isn’t working, their computer system is rubbish and can’t handle it and staff aren’t trained adequately. It can’t be fixed because it’s full of flaws, ever tried to collect water with a sieve? It’s not dissimilar.

As the man walked off he said to me “The government are bastards, they really are. But you are all amazing god bless you” He isn’t wrong though.

Anyway because of the DWP’s failings a young man had to wait much longer than they should have had to wait. This could have had catastrophic consequences. The government has no sympathy so there’s no point in asking for their help they won’t listen.

 

The next case is a very good example of how unhelpful and rude the DWP can be. Honestly, they could do with learning some basic manners etc.

An older lady walked out of the Jobcentre looking perplexed and confused. We asked her what was wrong and could we help. I handed her a leaflet and as I did so she explained her situation.

Her son who is disabled is claiming Universal Credit but the disability element. He had to fill in and return a form regarding a DWP medical. He lost the return envelope so she went into the Jobcentre to ask for one.

A simple request you’d have thought. The security guards told her that she couldn’t have an envelope, they refused to send it as well and told her that she needed to phone up a number on the form.

She had no idea which number to phone. We informed her that they should have helped her with this so she went back into the Jobcentre.

They still refused uttering words similar to “Don’t listen to them they know nowt”. Actually, we know a damn sight more than they do because at least we were helping her.

Their only help was to thrust a piece of paper into her hands saying ‘Phone this number’. She tried but it was a Welsh telephone number, no use in England.

We then persuaded her to go to the local branch of CAB. (Yes they are in my bad books atm but they can help with this). Pat took her, where she did get the help and advice that she was needing. The correct telephone number to get a new envelope.

Absolutely ridiculous. They could have helped but refused and were ill-mannered in the process. There’s no need for it none at all. And anyway security guards should not be advising people, only people employed by the DWP are allowed to by law.

 

I spoke to a middle-aged man who spoke poor English. He told me that he used to have a good life, he had always worked until one day he had a stroke. This has left him with memory problems and he can no longer use his left arm.

Anyway, he was told to claim Universal Credit which he is doing but he wasn’t told that he could claim the disability element. I wasn’t surprised though, they don’t like informing people correctly. I told him what to do and he was grateful that we had helped him.

His message is this “This has completely changed my life, my life is awful now. I sometimes don’t want to wake up. This can happen to anyone”

 

I spoke to a homeless man that said that he was being harassed to find a job. He lives in temporary accommodation, the rent is very high and until he finds permanent accommodation he’s in no place to do so. If he did he would end up back on the streets again. Do the DWP care? Not one jot, they’ve all got nice homes to go home to.

He went on to tell me that the battle to keep on top of things regarding the DWP is unbelievable, overwhelming and he’s just managing to keep it together. The government should be ashamed, but I feel that they would wear it as a badge of honour under their ‘making work pay’ banner. Only it doesn’t.

 

We spoke to a young man that has been informed that he can no longer see his designated disability advisor because there isn’t one anymore. You heard it right, apparently, there is no longer a disability advisor at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre anymore. So what’s going to happen when the full rollout occurs, when everyone is migrated over? That’s a lot of disabled people that are going to go without the help they require.

So the DWP no longer believe that disabled people should see a disability advisor. You heard it here.

 

The next case is another case where the DWP appear to be devoid of any compassion or common sense. I’ll call her Joan to make it easier, that’s obviously not her real name.

Joan is a single parent to a child aged approximately five. Janes daughter has been diagnosed with autism and struggles with busy, noisy environments with lights etc.

Joan has been told that she has to claim Universal Credit and she has to wait at least five weeks for her first payment. In the meantime, Joan has been told that she has to find a job to see her through the waiting period.

Hang on. She’s the carer of a disabled child and as such should be making a claim relevant to that and they should have advised her as such. But they didn’t.

She can’t work, she can’t leave her child on her own, nor can she leave a child anywhere that doesn’t have the specialised facilities etc that her daughter needs. But she’s told that she has to work.

Furious, and as a parent of an autistic child I can fully understand and sympathise with her situation. I advised her correctly and informed her of her legal rights being that of a parent of a disabled child. This folks is how the DWP regard people with a disability. They don’t regard them at all, they expect everyone to work regardless of their ability to do so. This needs to change and fast, but the likelihood of it changing at the moment is zero.

 

Last but not least I spoke to a lovely lady, another single parent struggling with the Universal Credit system. I’ll call her Anne, it makes it easier. That isn’t her real name of course.

Anne is a single parent, she had lost her job due to a fall out with her ex-boss that was also her friend, so her friend fired her, awful in itself.

Anne had been sanctioned for four months, yes four months for losing her job. Yes, they even do this when there are children involved.

Anne has now been told that they have suspended her claim but never thought to tell her this until she went to the bank to find that her payment hadn’t been made. She phoned the DWP up to find out why and they told her that she hadn’t provided all the evidence of her previous childcare costs.

But she had done. She had done exactly what had been asked to do but they now wanted more information. So that’s what she was doing today, handing in further proof of previous childcare costs.

Anne told me that Universal Credit is the worst thing ever, she hasn’t got enough money to live on and she wishes that it hadn’t been invented. I agree with her.

So Anne worked and this is the thanks that she gets. This is how they treat people, with no respect, nothing except hatred.  We will NEVER forget, nor will we forgive either.

 

This all happened within two hours, this is replicated at almost every Jobcentre throughout the country. Unemployed and disabled people do not deserve to be treated in this manner, in my eyes it’s horrific and it needs to stop.

Many thanks to everyone that turned up to help today it means the world to me.

Thanks also to Johnathon Reynolds a local MP for coming and saying hello. He didn’t have to but he did and it means a lot also.

 

Please support our work in whatever way that you can, we need to continue this work it’s hard but it needs to be done.  We will be back next week, regardless of health problems, Whilst there is a need and I’m able I will be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rent arrears caused by transferring to Universal Credit. A disaster waiting to happen.

Well, what can I say about today except that it wasn’t a good morning. Universal Credit is causing people to have numerous problems, all of which I have documented previously.

Today, however, was a day almost all taken up by people in rent arrears due to being transferred onto Universal Credit. If I tell you that it’s a disaster waiting to happen it would be an understatement. When the final phase of the Universal Credit roll-out takes place next year we are definitely going to see homelessness on an unprecedented scale. This will not be helped by unscrupulous landlords and housing associations that are far from understanding it’s very worrying indeed. We are talking about disabled people, ill people, families with children.

My question is where will they go? Who will be able to help them? Who’s going to pay for their temporary accommodation which will be hard to get anyway because they will be judged as making themselves homeless due to not being able to pay their rent.

It’s diabolical that anyone is put into this situation in the first place, everyone deserves a decent home to live in, but it appears that the government doesn’t agree. They see us as being a drain on society, useless and in some cases, they wish that we didn’t exist. But we do, and we need to demand that the government stops the final roll out and that a future government scraps it.

Rant over I’ll list some of today’s cases as usual. Please note that EVERYONE that we spoke to received help and advice and when needed a food parcel. No one leaves empty-handed. We do this independently also and aren’t linked to any big group although we do support many and talk to them.

 

I spoke to a man that looked worn out, fed up and hungry. I asked him if he needed any help and he responded yes, he needed some advice and he also wanted to rant. Understandable I thought.

His situation is this. He’s been transferred over to Universal Credit and this has caused him numerous problems, amongst them hunger and the threat of eviction.

Whilst a person is waiting for a Universal Credit claim to be processed you aren’t allowed to claim housing benefit because it’s all part and parcel of the Universal Credit claim. The waiting times are long, officially its supposed to take five weeks, but its often longer than that. In the time that it takes to process nearly everyone generates rent arrears. These rent arrears can, and often do lead to their eviction from their home unless they have an understanding private landlord or housing association. This man doesn’t, his housing association is being far from understanding and have already threatened him with eviction.

He’s tried to contact the DWP concerning his claim but was left waiting on the phone for two hours, it took over two hours for someone to answer. Many have waited longer than this. How on earth is this acceptable from a government organisation? It isn’t but they do what they like.

He went on to say that the government have shafted him. He’s worked for nearly all of his working age life and this is how they treat him. There are no thanks for his contributions and any monies that are due to him are withheld for as long as the government sees fit.

So here we have an older man, tired, hungry, frustrated and worried. He isn’t a number on a computer screen, he is a person with feelings and needs neither of which are respected by the government or the DWP.

 

I then spoke to another older gentleman, he had started a conversation with Gordon but I interjected and asked him if he was ok. He wasn’t.

He told me that he was having world war three with the DWP. He also has been transferred over to Universal Credit. He’s awaiting his first payment and has been waiting for some time. As a result, he now owes rent and his landlord has decided to take him to court to evict him. Luckily he has some knowledge of the procedure and he has contacted the courts himself and has had the possession order suspended until November.

I advised him to contact the law centre in Manchester to get advice and hopefully some representation. I advise everyone to do this, they have some spaces available for housing problems for next week. Their telephone number is 0161 769 2244. If you can get there please do. They know their stuff better than most and a solicitor that specialises with housing-related problems will help you.

He’s an older man, unwell at that and his wife is unwell also. If they become homeless then it’s going to be disastrous for their health and well being. I’m worried about them so will be popping round to visit them in the next few days.

If he hadn’t had the knowledge that he could have the possession order suspended then he and his wife would have been made homeless in a matter of weeks. The housing association concerned like to do this as quickly as possible. Shame on them, and this won’t be the end of it. Watch this space.

 

I then spoke to a man whose wife had been sanctioned since May for not attending an appointment that she didn’t know about. Yes, folks, she didn’t receive any notification of the appointment and it’s the case of the missing letter AGAIN.

Anyway, they sanctioned her, but not just her they sanctioned the whole family, her husband and children as well. They didn’t know that they could appeal nor did they know that it was wrong of the DWP to do this either.

So a family with children have all been sanctioned since May. That’s a long time to go without food etc, isn’t it?

He visited Citizens Advice who thankfully put him right, and he then went into the Jobcentre for his appointment. He told his advisor that they shouldn’t have sanctioned the whole family and also that they should have told him of their right to appeal.

The advisor apparently shrugged their shoulders and said ‘Well, that’s the way that it is’ only it isn’t. He informed the advisor of his legal rights regarding payments for himself and his children. They then decided that they would be making a payment to him. Yippee, you might think, but nope. Most of that payment will now have to go towards the rent that they owe. So they will be left with next to nothing.

Oh and they weren’t aware that they could appeal the sanction and his wife is now still sanctioned for 146 days which will put them into even more hardship.

I advised them of where to go for help and who to ask for help, but this system is hellish. It needs to be stopped.

 

I then spoke to a man who had originally just gone into the Jobcentre to hand in a fit note. It didn’t go to plan though. Straightway he was stopped by a person at the front desk and told that he had to use the new digital system that they are transferring most people over to. He was told to go over to a computer to log in with a username and password. Well, he didn’t have a clue what this was about but he was told to continue trying.

As time went on he became more frustrated and he asked the person on the front desk again what to do, his usual username and password didn’t work… It was then that another member of staff shouted over that he hasn’t been enrolled onto the system yet…..  Unbelievable but kudos to the staff member that pointed this out and went on to help him. It’s not hard to check if a person has been enrolled in a system or not, so check next time, please.

 

We then spoke to a young man that had just undergone a PIP medical assessment. He told us that the assessment made him ill, that he wasn’t allowed to talk during the assessment except to answer questions.

Luckily he had someone with him but his treatment was appalling. Now how he has the worry of finding out if he will be awarded his PIP entitlement. No one should have to go through these cruel, demeaning assessments. A doctors letter should be enough.

Now he has to wait. Combine this with anxiety and depression and imagine how he must be feeling. He told me that the assessment made him ill, it nearly hospitialised him he said.

 

Comments made about the DWP today were as follows;

They talk to me like I’m an idiot.

They talk to me like I’m a five-year-old child.

They treat us like crap.

They treat us like we are something on the bottom of their shoes.

 

How about the DWP staff started to talk to people with some respect eh.. Then they would get respect back. Call me old fashioned but it’s the way to do things. For those that do this, thank you, you could possibly be preventing another death by doing so.

 

DSC03548

 

We will be back next week, as usual, please come and say hi or send us your support. We do need it and appreciate it. It’s hard hitting but it’s reality folks and this is what the government is doing to people.

Many thanks to everyone that came along to support us and help. I’ve been feeling a bit despondent of late and seeing you all really cheers me up and keeps me going. By the way, you are making a difference. A big difference.

 

Please read, share, email and talk about my blog. Even email it to your local Tory MP.

A massive thank you to everyone that supports my blog. Like I say we run independently, and it’s not easy. I’ve got meetings next week to try and clarify a few things regarding the eviction notices and the housing association processes above, this will be positive though and the Law Centre is amazing.

I sit at home and often ask myself when will this end? My answer is this, it won’t until we vote this government out. PLEASE register to vote and USE your vote. It’s never been as important to do so.

 

 

 

Debt collection agencies contracted to collect so called Universal Credit debt. Woman forced to attend appointment four days after giving birth. Welcome to Universal Credit hell.

Dear readers, its Thursday gain and I have just returned home from our weekly demo/ advice session. I’m knackered because I’m still recovering from my hospital stay and I’ve just had my flu jab. Thank you all for your good wishes, they have really cheered me up.

Please can I point out that everyone that we spoke to was given the help and advice appropriate to their needs and everyone that needed a food parcel was given one. We handed out five. Yes five in the space of two hours. Also everyone that needed to be signposted were signposted. I remarked to Roy that I felt like a member of staff working at Citizens Advice and the like.

It was busy from the get go so I will list everything as usual and will try not to complicate things.

The first person was a young man who has asked us for help today. He looked worried and was clutching two pieces of paper. I asked him if he was ok, he looked at me and said that he didn’t have a clue what this was about. He didn’t understand it.

I asked him if he had taken a Universal Credit advance? Because this is what they have stated in the letter. He said that he had applied for one but he was forced to move out of the property that he was living in so he didn’t sign the acceptance letter.

So he applied for an advance but didn’t receive it because he didn’t sign the return form. He didn’t receive the money and can provide bank statements to prove this.

So it appears that the DWP have presumed from the application that he has recieved the money and are now employing a debt collection agency to collect this money from him.

None of this adds up. The amounts don’t add up, the dates don’t add up and he stated that he didn’t owe this money in the first place.

This is a fine example of how incompetent the whole Universal Credit system is. Not one department talks to another, and instead of contacting this man or the relevant DWP first they just sent out a threatening debt collection letter. Not only are most people forced to claim Universal Credit constantly worried and anxious many it appears might also be facing a letter from a debt collection agency.

I also find this to be very intimidating. Many of my readers will already realise that most Universal Credit claimants are already in debt and letters like this could send a vulnerable person over the edge.

But do the DWP care? No, not one bit. Does the government care? No not a bit, infact they encourage this kind of treatment. They like to punish the most vulnerable for their poverty or disability, and I can tell you that this man has had a hard time of it already. Thank god we were there.

One question though, and its a rhetorical one. What the hell are the DWP doing employing a debt collection agency? And how much is that costing the tax payer, usually the poor tax payer at that? This man is still claiming Universal Credit and they could have contacted him but they didn’t.

We advised him and I phoned my local MPs office (Angela Rayner) and he is seeing a member of her staff tomorrow. We can only do so much and we are on the street, Angela’s staff will get to the bottom of this and find some answers for him. He is of a honest character and had no reason to lie about anything.

Anyway I’m disgusted. Unemployed people are often seen as the underclass, not deserving of anything and there is little sympathy for their situation. To echo this we were heckled by two people, possibly a third because I wasn’t sure of what they said.

Because we were stood outside a Jobcentre, helping people we were called scroungers and the like. For all of those working for the right wing media reading this, give yourself a tap on the back. It worked, your divide and conquer techniques worked. People like myself and those that help me are left to deal with the mess that you created. Be thankful that it wasn’t you… But it could be one day….

A man looking rather angry walked in and out of the Jobcentre on numerous occasions. We could see the frustration in his face and it was obvious that he didn’t want to talk to anyone, maybe he will next week. Just think what on earth could be making him feel this angry. They are the problem not him.

I spoke to a woman that was struggling to understand what was happening to her. English is her second language and Universal Credit is very complicated. How on earth is she supposed to understand it?

She showed me her letter of entitlement, she will be recieving £317 a month. Take rent top ups, gas, electric and other expenses out of that and she is left with very little to live on. Of course the government believe that this is acceptable because they are in the opinion that we are to blame for our own poverty. Meanwhile they couldn’t live off that amount of money, it probably wouldn’t last them half a day. We know how they like to live the high life at our expense.

Ryan the lovely young man came to say hello to us, I hugged him so tight and gave him all of your best wishes. He’s doing ok and he wants to say thank you for your best wishes. We had a good chat.

I spoke to a man that was working and claiming Universal Credit. He told me that he was working so classes himself as not claiming anything even though he is. The mind boggles. I handed him a leaflet anyway and wished him well.

I spoke to a young man that claims Universal credit and has been sanctioned. He told me that he had been arrested so couldn’t attend his signing on appointment. The DWP in their infinite wisdom decided that this isn’t a good enough excuse to miss your signing on appointment. Maybe the police should have marched him to the Jobcentre to sign on….. But they’ve got better things to do like solve crimes.

It’s not my place to judge him about his arrest but I can judge the DWPs decision as being completely unreasonable. What’s new eh….

I spoke to a young woman that is claiming Universal Credit. She told me that she’s never struggled as much in her life, that she’s never been as worse off as she is now. She can’t afford to buy presents for her children for birthdays and Christmas. She went on to say that shes reduced to tears, that she’s hungry and can’t see her way out. I had a long chat with her, handed her a food parcel and signposted her to relevant places.

I challenge anyone that believes that Universal Credit is a good thing, come and join us one week and look at this woman, look into her eyes, look how thin she is and then tell me that it’s a good thing.

I spoke to a young woman who arrived at the Jobcentre with her mother and newborn baby. Her baby is four days old, yes four days old. She was forced to attend an appointment so that she could hand her babies birth certificate to an andvisor so that she can claim the money for her baby. The DWP had refused to allow her mother to hand it in because they demanded her signature. She was struggling to walk, it had been a difficult birth. It’s obscene.

Last but not least. A person leaving the Jobcentre stopped me and asked to speak to me. This isn’t unusual by the way. They told me that they had witnessed a what looked like an elderly woman attend her appointment nearby. She was struggling to walk, and to be fair the first person that she spoke to was nice to her.

She struggled with the aide of others to attend her next appointment with another advisor, this time her treatment wasn’t as good. Questions were asked of her and lots of them.

“What’s wrong with you” she replied “I have heart failure”.

”Do you know WHY you have heart failure”………….

The questions continued, but my source was asked to leave the building so they didn’t hear them. Judging by her inability to do anything, standing was a struggle,it’s clear that she shouldn’t have been there.

As for asking her why she has heart failure…. Are DWP employees now medically trained? She’s got heart failure and clearly shouldn’t be there but is forced to be. There is not a job available that would suit her and no one would employ her because she has heart failure. JUST LEAVE HER ALONE.

Folks, this is a good example of how Universal Credit isn’t working for everyone. When claiming the ESA element of Universal Credit you still have to attend Jobcentre appointments. It’s obscene, and a very good reason why Universal Credit needs to be stopped and scrapped. it’s inhumane.

Just to be clear once again she was interviewed for a universal credit claim not ESA, but the element that replaces ESA.

Many thanks to everyone that came and helped today.

Many thanks to my readers and supporters of my blog, please like, share and RT my blog.

For anyone wishing to donate, there are donation buttons above and at the side. I do this off my own back and I’m not part of any big organisation. Every penny helps, thank you.

Jobcentre staff refuse to print off proof of income for a vulnerable person. Man waits three months for first Universal Credit payment.

Dear readers, after a rather traumatic last week, I’m back although I’m following doctors orders and taking it easy so to speak. God knows what that means when you are a single parent on a very low income, but I’m doing my best. Anyway I was back outside the Jobcentre this morning.

The weather was cooler, and I fear that it won’t be long before winter is here, and for those that are street homeless its a nightmare. My heart goes out to them, everyone deserves a home to live in.

I’ll list the cases that we came across today as usual. Please note that everyone was given one, or two of our leaflets depending on their situation. Those that needed a food parcel were given one and if a person needed to be signposted they were.

 

The first man that I spoke to was a street homeless man that I’ve been talking to and trying to help for years. He flits between the different services available and the local charities, many do this just to survive. He told me that he has now got a flat, somewhere to live after three years on the streets. I was really happy to hear this, the thought of him being on the streets for another winter sends shivers down my spine. At least he will be warm and off the streets, I just hope that he is now able to maintain the tenancy. This can be very hard for many people who have been street homeless for years. We congratulated him and wish him all the luck in the world.

 

I spoke to a young man who had jut made his first application for Universal Credit. He didin’t have a clue how to navigate the system, what to do, and how it worked. No one had really explained it to him. So I explained it, gave him copies of our two leaflets and he walked away much more confident.

 

We then had a bit of excitement. The fire alarm went off inside the Jobcentre, so everyone was sent out of the building including staff members who hurriedly rushed past us. Honestly it’s terrible that they have this attitude. Anyway we saw this as a good opportunity to advise the claimants standing outside and we gave most of them a leaflet. Most of them thanked us,and we helped the people that had arrived for their appointments before we arrived. We saw that as being a good thing.

They were all sent back inside the building, I just hope that no one is sanctioned due to being late because of the fire alarm going off, I wouldn’t put it past the DWP to do this. I’ve recorded the time of the alarm going off for anyone needing any future assistance.

 

Gordon spoke to a woman that claimed that most unelmployed people claiming benefits don’t want to work. Apart from her being totally wrong, it was a sure sign that she has been fully indoctrinated by the right wing press and television.We did note that it was a tad ironic that both herself and her husband were having to go into the Jobcentre for advise about their financial situation. Ironic isn’t it.

 

I started chatting with a young man, who is a singe parent that has had a hell of a time whilst trying to claim Universal Credit. He told me that they demanded that he must use the internet to search for jobs (yes this is standard) so he tried to use the Jobcentres computers to do this. There was a problem though… He had his very young daughter with him and he was told that is daughter wasn’t allowed to be with him in the Jobcentre whilst he looked for a job. He challenged this and they said ‘Tough, go to the library”. They also forget that the library isn’t open every day and they had told him previously that he could use the public computers.

So once again, children are being frowned upon, even though the system demands that a person looks for work despite having a small child. A member of staff requested that he gets the internet at home. Of course he explained that he couldn’t do this, he hardly gets enough money to feed both himself and his daughter nevermind the internet.

I personally think that this system is ludicrous. There was nothing wrong with the old fashioned job searches, written on paper because near enough everyone could do this. Those with difficulty doing this were either assisted of excused. Making demands like this is simply unfair, and not everyone is computer literate.

He told me that he had waited 11 weeks for his first Universal Credit payment for himself and his daughter, he told me that he was literally climbing the walls with both hunger and frustration. As a result he was in arrears with everything including council tax. He had to attend court concerning this, and the person from the council had worked out an unreasonable payment plan that he will struggle to keep to. Heat or eat, council tax or eat? What would you do?

 

A disabled woman pushed in her wheelchair was noted entering the building, they were in there for quite a while and it sickens me to the stomach that someone so vulnerable and obviously disabled is being targeted by the government like this.

 

We said hello and handed a leaflet to a young woman who is 32 weeks pregnant. she looked very pale, and we were concerned about her health. We helped and advised her.

 

We spoke to a lovely lady who was struggling to walk with two walking sticks. She told us that she had to attend the Jobcentre in ther words “To justify my disability” despite it being very obvious. She claims the new sickness related element of Universal Credit and that in itself is a nightmare.

Upon leaving the Jobcentre, she thanked us for the leaflets, stating that they were very helpful indeed and that she will use them, oh and to keep up the good work.

 

We then spoke to a young 18yr old care leaver who is due to be moved on from his accomodation from social services. He was with his carer, who to be honest is nothing short of amazing, he was helping him out of his own time, because he cares for him and knows that the DWP will do little to help him.

The situation was this. To receive accomodation from our local housing options department he needs proof of income. The DWP were steadfastly refusing to print out his proof of income, and refused even to do so when requested to do so by both another DWP department and his caseworker. One of the excuses that they used.. Wait for it its a corker… Is that they don’t have any printers…. What a load of rubbish. Of course they have a printer, they must have taken them for fools.

They then walked out of the building disheartened, they were getting nowhere. I explained that his bank will provide a statement for nothing and I asked them once again to go back inside the building to ask for a print off.

Somehow, like a miracle the DWP official told them that they would email it to his Universal Credit account and he could print it off from there, however he now had to find a printer. I directed them to the local library where he could do this, and I hope that its sorted now.

This is how cruel and callous the DWP are. This young man was lucky to have someone with him, and ourselves stood outside to help him. They don’t care that they are literally throwing a very vulnerable 18yr old on the streets, who would most likely be prayed upon by dubious characters along the way.

How hard is it to print off a one sided piece of paper. Apparently that’s impossible, but for some its a matter of life and death. I honestly have never witnessed such cruelty in the past as I am seeing now. They just don’t care, no one matters to them, we are just a number.

 

We spoke to a woman who had lost her job in the NHS due to ill health. She had worked there for 30 years and was honestly baffled by this system. She described how intimidated she feels upon entering the Jobcentre, saying that they ‘Look at you like dirt, and talk to you like that as well’

She didn’t know where to go for advise and support, so we showed her, talked to her and explained things. I hope that she’s ok. In all honesty, she shouldnt be forced to go through this, a lovely woman at the mercy of the DWP.

 

 

We noted that the security guards refused to admit a small child with some food into the Jobcentre. He was told to leave his food outside. Hang on this is a child, having to enter a building that isn’t exactly welcoming. His mother has been told to attend an appointment but you deny her child food whilst shes waiting? it’s ridiculous.

 

Last but not least I spoke to a man due his first Universal Credit payment today. His payment wasn’t in his bank account, and his advisor refused to chase it up. He was told to ‘Go home and phone them yourself’. There is hardly any customer care is there. His advisor could have telephoned but wouldn’t. Luckily he has got credit on his phone but if he didn’t he would never find out what had happened. It’s sickening.

 

There you have it, all this and more happened within two hours and I dread to think of what it’s like day in, day out. It’s horrific. People suffering when there is no need.

We handed out all of the food parcels, handed out lots of leaflets and helped lots of people. We did a good job and we will be back again next week, with myself hopefully in better health.

 

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For anyone wishing to donate there is a donate button above and at the side. A massive thanks to everyone that already supports our campaign and my blog. I couldn’t do it without you.

A massive thanks to Roy, Gordon and Pat for helping today, you are all my rocks xxx.

 

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Can’t cope with monthly Universal Credit payments… Tough. Haven’t recieved a payment for eight weeks. Universal credit strikes again.

Dear readers, yes its Thursday again and I have just returned home after our weekly demo and advice session outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, we have been doing this for over four years now and like I’ve mentioned before its getting worse and not better. Ignore the government they lie, almost every person that I’ve spoken to over the years have been set up to fail.

I’ll list today’s conversations and I apologise if the blog is short, lack of sleep and poor health has left me feeling fed up. Also I can’t stress how hard this time of the year is when you are poor and have children. Expensive school uniforms, school shoes. Stationary etc etc . It’s hard, it’s stressful and I feel it as well. My thoughts and solidarity are with you all.

Please note that everyone that we spoke to was offered a food parcel if they needed one and everyone recieved a copy of our leaflets. We try to help everyone and no one walks away without help.

I was greeted by a woman that told me she was struggling with her monthly Universal Credit payments. The money just doesn’t stretch far enough and she’s living in more poverty than she was previously. Not having the guarantee of a payment has quite literally made her ill .

 

I spoke to a man that had failed his ESA medical. He had appealed this decision, but the DWP upheld their decision so now hes taking his case to tribunal. Trying to keep his head above water is a full time job, one that he says he fails at times.

 

I spoke to a woman that we have been helping regularly for a while now. She grabbed hold of her food parcels, looked at me and smiled, saying that she might get a payment in a weeks time. Shes waited eight weeks now and it’s a miracle that shes coped for as long as she has done.

 

I handed a young lad a leaflet and I felt desperately sad for him. He’s at the start of his life and should be looking forward to his future, but he isn’t because the government won’t allow him to.

 

Today we noticed an increasing number of older women and men, it’s heartbreaking  to see them be forced into searching for non existent jobs and having to jump through ever increasing hurdles. For gawds sake, leave them alone. They are worn out, fed up and their bodies and minds need to rest.

 

A young man thanked me for a leaflet, perhaps the only bit of useful information that he had recieved today.

 

A man stormed out of the Jobcentre shouting ‘F***k off’ in the direction of the Jobcentre doors. He was visibly angry and frustrated. Poor fella if they just treated people with more understanding and compassion he wouldn’t feel like this in the first place.

 

We spoke to a woman that is claiming PIP at the moment. She’s very worried about her future move over to Universal Credit and quite rightly so. She knows that she’s going to have to go without the basics for a long while and she’s scared.

 

I noticed a man dashing into the Jobcentre clutching a piece of paper in his hand. He was staring at it intently, perhaps hoping that his situation would become better today. Sadly it wasn’t.

We spoke to an older man that we say hello to every week. He’s coping but only just. He shouted ‘Into the lions den’. Yes it literally feels like that.

 

We spoke to a woman and her support worker outside the Jobcentre. English is her second language and even her support worker was confused by the system. She enquired if her rent payments would be included in her first universal credit Payment. We confirmed this and we encouraged her to inform her landlord of her situation. This is so important because if you don’t landlords won’t have a clue what’s happening and an eviction process can be commenced.

 

We noticed a few more people going into the Jobcentre with their support workers. This is good because they are recieving some help, but they still neeed a leaflet and advice. Universal credit is so complicated, and purposely so and we like to help people.

 

I spoke to a man that was confused by his transfer over to Universal Credit. he told me that he didnt have a clue what was happening and was struggling.

 

I spoke to a man that struggles to use computers and technology. He’s dyslexic and can’t cope with it. He also doesn’t have a personal computer, and like he said he wouldn’t know how to use one if he did. So he’s stuck trying to cope with a system that fails to recognise his disability.

Last but not least, we spoke to a man of pensionable age. He told us that he was very confused with the new system and had been shocked to discover that he’s no longer entitled to free dental care etc. Visibly distressed he couldn’t understand why the system is like this.

But here’s the deal, the government purposely created this system purposely to punish the poorest and most vulnerable for their poverty, age, sex and any disability that they might have. Don’t expect any compassion from the government because there is none. We all need to fight for change because if we don’t we could be left to suffer like this for forever.

 

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Please read, share, tweet and email my blog we really need to get the word out that people are being forced to suffer like this.

Many thanks to all the readers and supporters of my blog. I couldn’t do this without you and the team for whom I’m eternally grateful.

 

There’s also a donate button above for anyone wishing to contribute. Thank you! It’s very hard work, especially when you aren’t well etc, but I plod on hoping that one day things will change.

Sanctions,ESA medical failures. The DWP system sets everyone up to fail.

Dear readers, today’s blog might be shorter than usual because I had to leave half a hour early. This was due to an appointment and I feel generally shitty. My friend suddenly died and his funeral hit me hard, so please try to understand that I’m trying my best.

Anyway, the weather has cooled down and autumn appears to be well and truly on the way, rainy and cold weather seems to be the way forward now. The colder weather causes so many problems for so many of us either health wise or monetary wise. Yes folks we are going to have to start paying an absolute fortune to stay warm again. Fantastic. Not.

 

Today started quietly but it soon picked up, when the weather is bad the town centre tends to be a bit quieter and to be honest not a lot of people have the money to go shopping all the time anymore. I’ll list everything as usual, it’s easier that way.

 

I spoke to a man who told me that he was working but still has to sign on. Yes when claiming Universal credit you do HAVE to sign on if you work less than full time hours. It’s ridiculous especially when finding a full time job is extremely hard. But they label such people as ‘under employed’ and stigmatised them for being such. Lovely.

 

I was met by a woman that I have been helping on a regular basis. She’s been told that she will receive her first Universal Credit payment in around two to three weeks. She was happy… But seriously, shes waited ages now and she has children to feed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no real reason as to why people are being forced to wait so long. The whole process could and should be a whole lot quicker than it is. But the government likes to make them suffer, what other reaso n could there be?

 

I spotted a woman walking into the Jobcentre, she looked totally done in, depressed, fed up and her body language was shouting ‘get me out of here’. She walked into the Jobcentre head down, not wanting to be noticed. I really hope that life starts to treat her better soon.

 

I spoke to a young woman who’s partner is grabbing any kind of agency work that he can find. Unfortunately because she’s not working and they claim universal Credit she still has to sign on.

She told me that she isn’t well, shes waiting for an operation to have her Gaul bladder removed and is in constant pain. Her advisor telephoned her to ask her to attend the Jobcentre at short notice. So she did. She rushed straight from her doctors appointment to the Jobcentre. Upon leaving she told me that the appointment could have been conducted on the telephone, and given her circumstances it should have been. But nope, drag her down to the Jobcentre when shes in agony appeared to be the better option for the DWP.

 

I spoke to a man who is recieving help from other agencies but still wanted to chat to us. His story is a tad complicated, they often are. With a complicated system comes complicated situations that are certainly not helped by their circumstances.

In essence he is appealing the decision to stop his ESA, and he has been waiting a long time. He’s hungry, flitting between services, trying to make the best of it but he has nothing. The system as ensured that his life is chaotic, complicated and unhappy.

He told us that the DWP are making his life harder everyday. He said “The Tory b******S more for them and less for us”. Spot on fella.

We gave him a food parcel and he tried to give us 50p. Of course we refused, he has nothing. Honestly those that have the least always try to give the most, of course there will be exceptions to this I know.

This government literally makes me feel sick with anger, you can bet that they wouldn’t hand over 50p to anyone..

 

I quickly spoke to a woman who was being pushed in a wheelchair, she was leaving the building. I asked her if she was ok and that I hoped that she was recieving some support. She told me that she wasn’t in receipt of any DWP payments and was waiting her first payment, that the DWP had ruined her life and why can’t they just leave her alone.

I totally agree, it shouldn’t be like this, everyone and I repeat everyone has the right to shelter, food, water and clothing. Someone had better remind the government of this, but hang on they already know and don’t care.

 

Sorry the blog is short, it’ll be back to normal next week. Everyone that we spoke to (including those that I haven’t mentioned in this blog) recieved help, support, guidance, signposting, one of our leaflets and a food parcel if needed. I wish that we didnt need to do this but we do, so as usual we will return next week to help people.

 

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Forced to travel miles to attend a DWP mandatory course. Five month wait for Universal Credit payment. The system isn’t working..

Good afternoon readers, this weeks demo was busy as usual. Sadly far too many people were walking in and out of the Jobcentre with their heads down, eyes to the ground. To be honest they looked worn out, fed up, depressed and a step away from giving up. it’s a cruel system that cares nothing for those forced to comply with it.

it’s no mistake that I use the words ‘comply’ and ‘forced’ because thats exactly what it is. Claimants have absolutely no choice but to comply with often unreasonable demands made from the DWP. They are forced to attend DWP regulated courses, attend the Jobcentre whenever it is demanded of them , wait more than the official five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment. They are forced into a life of poverty, many for the first time. It really is an inhumane system and it needs to stop now.

 

I shall list the differing problems that we addressed whilst speaking to people outside the Jobcentre, everyone that we spoke to were given advice, a survival guide, signposted and if needed a food parcel issued.

Sadly the food parcels were very popular and all were gone within five minutes. I arrived ten minutes early and there was already a queue. I also took a woman to the shop next to the Jobcentre to buy her some food because we had run out. it’s awful.

Universal credit payments (if you are lucky enough to receive one) are not enough to enable people to survive for a month. Most of the people that I speak to have deductions taken out of their payment for the loan that they have been forced to take  whilst awaiting for their claim to be processed. Add to this other DWP loan repayments, rent top up and other debts its nearly impossible to survive.

 

Roy spoke to a man that said he has just been rehoused into a flat. Although he’s very grateful to have a roof over his head, he told Roy that the flat is inhabitiable. Various problems with the state of the flat and a concrete floor that he can’t afford to carpet. Roy signposted him to a local organisation that might be able to help with this.

 

We spoke to a woman that had been told that she had been migrated over to Universal Credit without her knowledge. She’s worried how she will survive. Would it not be too much to ask that the DWP inform all claimants at least a few weeks before they are transferred over? Apparently it is.

 

I noticed a man walking in and out of the Jobcentre for what appeared to be every five minutes. He was obviously agitated and fed up and clearly didn’t want to talk. my heart went out to him, a man totally degraded and humiliated by a system that clearly cares nothing for him.

 

I spoke to a young woman leaving the Jobcentre with her partner and children, she looked frustrated, fed up and angry. I ran over to her and asked her if I could help her with anything.

She went on to say that she had been locked out out of her Universal Jobmatch account, she wasn’t certain if she had forgotten her password or if the system was at fault. Honestly it’s hard to tell at times because the system drives you to distraction.

She had visited the Jobcentre to find out if she could get any help with this, but was faced with a big unanimous no. No they couldn’t help, they wouldn’t help but nevermind here’s a telephone number, phone them up and then make an appointment with an advisor to get the code.

Yes you read that correctly. This is another case of DWP burocracy gone mad. Why oh why couldn’t she be given a quick and easy solution to this? An email or a telephone appointment? Nope that’s too easy, so she has left to attempt to make a lengthy telephone call, most likely be sent on a wild goose chase through different departments, wait a while for her appointment and then hopefully, and I say hopefully receive her login code.

Oh and by the way because she can’t access her account she also runs the risk of being sanctioned for not complying. The longer she is forced to wait for her code the higher the risk of this happening. It’s almost as if they want this to happen isn’t it…….

 

More people were walking into and out of the Jobcentre with their eyes to the ground. Not wanting to be noticed, not wanting to be there. They could of course be doing something more productive rather than being told things like they ‘must try harder to find work’ ‘Their efforts aren’t good enough” etc etc. You get the jist.

 

I spoke to an older woman that unofficially cares for her son. He’s 46 years old, had to finish work because of a heart condition which is aggravated by stress. Instead of being able to heal he’s forced to comply with a system that is extremely complicated.

She told me that he had been confused with the computer system because no one had taken the time to correctly explain the procedure of handing in fitnotes and uploading them online onto his journal. He incorrectly was in the belief that it would be enough to just upload them to his Universal credit account online, he didn’t realise because he hadn’t been instructed correctly.

As a result his payments were delayed and he waited five months for his first payment. Yes an unwell man was forced to wait five months. Luckily his mother had helped him but this has put a fair amount of stress on their relationship. “ I shouldn’t have had to look after him, I’m a pensioner, but if he didn’t have me he might not have survived”. Correct, this a terrible reality for thousands of people.

 

I spoke to a man as he was leaving the Jobcentre. He was clutching a piece of paper and was clearly stressed. I stopped him and asked if I could help.

Whilst attending his appointment he was informed that he had to attend an interview for a course in an area that is quite a distance away from his home, indeed it isn’t even in Tameside. Walking would take a few hours and public transport is both expensive and complicated, there’s no straight route there. The journey would entail a tram journey into Manchester then a tram journey back out of Manchester and THEN a long walk.

Whilst some reading this might be under the impression that this is reasonable it clearly isn’t. He doesn’t have the money upfront to pay for the tram journey. He might be able to get this refunded but he has to pay upfront first. I did advise him to ask for help from the Jobcentre regarding this.  However his words were heartbreaking. “They are expecting me to do this for four weeks. I don’t know how I will get there, how I will be able to get there that early in the morning it seems impossible. We don’t all have cars and I don’t know what to do, so I will have to accept a sanction because I can’t do it. I’ll try but it’s going to be very hard”.

Another case of unreasonable demands on a poverty stricken person. To be honest it makes me feel sick, they are setting vulnerable people up to fail and they know it. But hey, anything to lower the unemployment figures eh….

 

This weeks problems are not unusual they are commonplace, this is replicated up and down the country and there is no doubt at all that thousands of people are being  forced to suffer needlessly. I say needlessly because there is no real excuse for treating people like this. The government have made a conscious decision to do so and in my eyes they’ve got blood on their hands.

 

Many thanks to everyone that came along to help. It’s been a very stressful week for myself and your support and solidarity has kept me going.

A huge thank you to my online friends and supporters, and also thank you to my friends in my local Labour Party, like I said its been a tough week and you ALL keep me going.

A massive thanks also to the readers of my blog and the supporters of my blog. I can’t thank you enough. Please read, share, rt and email my blog. We can’t allow this suffering to continue for much longer, it’s horrific.

 

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Bad landlords, bad communication, DWP intimidation. Universal credit strikes again.

Dear readers, its been a stressful week for myself however I don’t want to dwell on that, helping people today has ensured that I continue because helping people is the most important thing to me. Thank you to all my friends and colleagues for helping me and being a support.

 

Anyway, coming back to today. The weather was cooler and we had a return of the northern rain, it never fails to do it’s best and we were caught out by it as were the people that we were helping.

To make it very clear, we helped and signposted everyone that we spoke to, no one was left in the lurch and we handed six food parcels out to hungry people. Universal Credit and the process of claiming it makes people hungry and depressed and we need to continue to be a support to them, remember this can happen to anyone, no one is immune from this system unless you are rich or are of means.

Universal Credit engulfs a person’s life, controls it and makes a person feel as if they have no control over their life anymore. In effect they don’t because if they don’t do as they are told they will be sanctioned and the DWP can withdraw their payments at any given time whether it be a computer glitch, a transfer over to Universal Credit or a sanction. The threat is there and all too real.

 

As soon as I arrived this morning Roy was already there having a conversation with a lady that I hadn’t seen before. She told me that upon applying for Universal Credit she had been advised that there was no sickness element within the Universal Credit framework. Luckily she knew that this wasn’t the case so she appealed this decision and won. She stated that they were nothing but a ‘bunch of liars, and they push you from pillar to post’. To be honest, this isn’t unusual but it shouldn’t be happening at all.

Her main problem today concerned a bad private landlord. She wanted to know if she could complain, and where to complain. Luckily a colleague of mine, a local councillor friend had a contact and found out straight away.

Her list of complaints concerning her landlord was a long one and no one should have to live like that. However with the absence of social housing people have no choice to choose this option and rogue landlords know this and take full advantage of this.

Her list consists of, the landlord refusing to do repairs, no electricity in the kitchen, mail tampering due to a communal mail area, damp living conditions, an infestation of rats and mice and a landlord that can let themselves in her home at any time they like.

This is how thousands of people are forced to live, mix this with the uncertainty of tenure its a complete nightmare. She was given details of how to make an official complaint and who to contact.

 

I spoke to a man who had just been transferred over to Universal Credit. He told me that the whole process has been a complete nightmare and in his words ‘Bloody awful’

 

I spoke to a woman that had just been made redundant, she was very nervous, had never been through the process before and is scared of going hungry. We advised her, gave her a survival guide and let her know that we are here to help her.

 

I spoke to a man that had failed his ESA assessment and  as a result had been forced to claim Universal Credit. He didn’t know about his right to appeal, and he only has 12 months to wait until he receives his pension. Let’s get real. No  one will employ a disabled older person, but the DWP will still continue to pursue him. They should leave him alone and everyone else in his position. The level of disrespect that the government shows our older population is disgusting and there is no excuse for it. But they don’t care so they will continue,

 

I spoke briefly to an older bemused lady. It was her first time visiting the Jobcentre, she had never been through the system before and had worked all her life. She hasn’t a clue how to use a computer and she’s struggling to understand it all.  In the past she would have been enjoying her pension, now she’s being tormented by the DWP and made to jump through constant, moving hoops.

 

We had an interesting conversation with a woman that wanted to share her sons experience of claiming Universal Credit with us. Her son had been working abroad in a European country for a few years, a zero hour contract with no chance of a permanent hours being given. His job sadly ended so he returned home and applied for Universal Credit. He was turned down at first because he was told that he couldn’t apply if he had been working abroad. Luckily he knew his rights and appealed this decision and won.

Claiming Universal Credit is often complicated, conflicting advice given, and appealing against any decision is very important. Don’t just take the DWP’s word for it, appeal and complain, you have the legal right to do so.

 

I spoke to a man leaving the Jobcentre. He muttered that he was ok, but being met by 5 DWP members of staff at the front desk was very intimidating. They asked him for proof of appointment, but did it in a way that could have made him feel anxious if he was so inclined. There’s no need at all for so many staff to be ‘guarding’ the doors. Maybe they are guarding the building against us, but we’ve never caused them a problem and Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre likes to over react at times. Kudos to the advisors working there that may have thought this to be ridiculous also.

 

We spoke to an older lady that complained about the cost of public transport. She has no choice but to rely on buses for transport, she lives miles away at the top end of Stalybridge, is older and not in good health. She wasn’t one of the lucky few to have been given a bus pass through Andy Burnhams scheme, so she has to pay full price. When you have nothing, bus fare can mean the difference between eating and surviving or not doing so. Bus fare is essential, buses shouldn’t be expensive and they should be regulated by the local authority. In the meantime people are suffering and to be honest it’s simply not acceptable is it.

 

This all happened within two hours, we tackled lots of differing problems and helped with them also. We do a lot of work, and we all do this on a voluntary basis because we want to help, we can’t abide suffering of any kind and we want the system to change. Come and join us one week we would welcome you with open arms.

 

Please read, share, email and talk about this blog. Be a friend to someone because being lonely is awful, and poverty isolates you. Talking is important.

Many thanks to everyone that came along and helped, you keep me going. Thank you Lorraine for helping even though I know that you aren’t well.

A huge thank you to everyone that reads and supports my blog and my work. Thank you so much.

 

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Photo taken at a previous demo.

No internet, don’t know how to use a computer, risk being sanctioned. Non payment of Universal Credit on promised date and no reponse to communication efforts. DWP system fails again.

Dear readers and new readers welcome to this weeks update. It’s been a busy week and as you will read things really aren’t getting better. I’m sorry if reading this depresses you but its the reality of the situation. The government are literally killing people in both body and mind. Sounds extreme? Well yes, THEY are extreme in their behaviour to the poorest and most vulnerable.

I’d also like to thank everyone for reading my blog, sharing and supporting my work. You really don’t know how much this means to me so thank you again.

 

Today we were met with a variety of problems, ranging from Universal Credit, ESA and PIP, housing etc. This is always the case, but we help it’s what we do.

 

The first woman that I spoke to is trying to support her children on effectively a zero income. She was forced to claim Universal Credit for the first time and was told eight weeks ago that she would recieve a payment at the end of last week. She didn’t and she’s tried phoning the DWP, has left messages in her DWP online account but NO ONE has responded. She’s at her wit’s end, and she feels like she’s in limbo. To say she is feeling defeated is an understatement. She’s done everything right but the system doesn’t regard this. It also doesn’t take into account that she has children. she’s just another number on their computer generated list.

Taking human interaction away from a person making a claim was never going to work. A computer can’t sense the urgency of any situation and they make mistakes. You simply cannot provide people with the help and support that they need. I feel that this was done purposely to put people off from claiming the social security that they quite rightly deserve.

We had a long chat and I referred her to local organisations. She told me that she’s not ready for that yet, she feels that she’s letting people down. I hope to encourage her to do so. I gave her a couple of food parcels and a hug.

 

I spoke to a man that is struggling with the computer based system. He had never used a computer before trying to apply for Universal Credit in his life. He knows that he’s failing but feels powerless to change that. He also has no mobile phone and the DWP send appointments via mobile phone messages now.

Today he was attending his appointment and asking his advisor if his appointments can be sent to his partners telephone. I also advised him to stress the point that he has no computer access at home and is computer illiterate. They cannot continue to assume that everyone has access to a computer or has computer skills, it’s ridiculous. Trying to feed yourself is priority not trying to get a computer from places such as Brighthouse and become encompassed in a never ending circle of debt. We, as society need to bring this back up in conversation, it’s important. People are going hungry because they either haven’t got a computer device or the knowledge of how to use the internet.

If they don’t use the computer system the reality of being sanctioned is very high yet they offer NO help with computer skills. It’s almost as if they want the most disadvantaged to fail at the first hurdle isn’t it.

We spoke to a woman that has a great deal of knowledge about the DWP system. She worked as a councillor listening to and helping people in a nearby town. She told me that she saw a massive increase in the numbers of people needing her Council Long services. More and more people of both sexes are feeling suicidal, depressed and can’t cope. Thanks to her dedication and hard work she helped people forced to live in extreme poverty.

I can’t respect her and everyone else that does this very hard job enough. They work extremely hard and save life’s. Unfortunately the government likes to strip away funding from these services and getting an appointment to see a councillor usually results in a very long wait.

 

I spoke to a woman that was leaving the Jobcentre. She told me that she was sick and tired of being treated with disrespect, her words were ‘being treated like dirt’. She’s correct, no one should be treated like this, everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

 

I spoke to a man that had been told to upload his CV onto the DWP system. He has hardly and computer skills and his family have few also. I signposted him to where he can get help and also advised him to inform the DWP that he doesn’t have the computer skills required. Will the DWP listen? I doubt it, but he needs to do this.

 

I spoke to a WASPI lady that was struggling to understand that she won’t receive her pension until shes older. It’s hard for her to understand and she’s angry. Of course she is they literally  robbed these women of their pensions. I signposted her and gave advice.

 

An older man muttered to me as he was leaving that he felt like he had just left boot camp but not a nice one. Yep it feels like that.

 

I gave advice to a man starting on the Workprogramme in the next week. He went off to do some research as I suggested. People need to know their legal rights and obligations Knowledge is power.

 

I spoke to an older man struggling with the Universal Credit system. He had to give up work due to illness and he told us that he hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing and how to cope. We advised and signposted him.

 

We spoke to a man that has found employment after eight years of job searching. It’s manual work and he is very happy at this. But it took him eight years to find this work. Please don’t tell me that there are plenty of jobs available and it’s easy to find work. It isn’t.

 

We spoke to a landlord that is worried about his tenants rent payments. His tenant has been switched over to Universal Credit and they aren’t recieving any rent for them now.

Sadly this is what happens under the Universal Credit system. Whilst awaiting a first payment you can’t receive housing benefit. This is causing mass homelessness, huge rent arrears and decent, caring landlords are suffering. This needs to change as a matter of urgency. No one deserves to loose their home because of the governments incompetance in looking after the most vulnerable.

 

This is only a snapshot of what happens on Thursday mornings, we are very busy. Can you imagine how many people around the country are suffering on a daily basis? it beggars belief. Please support this campaign and others like it. People need urgent help.

Our food parcels were taken in a matter of minutes, this is heartbreaking. All foodbanks are struggling and children are going hungry. It’s not acceptable.

 

Please support, share rt, share and email my blog. It’s important to share the real stories and the reality of the situation. Thank you to everyone that already does. You are my heroes.

We will be back again next week to do some more.

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Two weeks away from being employed after volunteering… Told to stop volunteering there and start at a new place.. DWP hypocrisy at it’s best and worst.

Sorry this weeks blog is a bit late, all will be explained. I’ll start with the weather, sunny but chilly. There always seems to be a cold wind emanating from inside Ashton Jobcentre….

We were joined by our friend Kevin from DPAC, who had surprised me with a visit. I was over the moon, and so glad that he came along. There was only three of us there today because Roy wasn’t well. Get well soon Roy!!!

Anyway today was quite busy, some new faces and lots of differing problems, all of which could have been avoided if it wasn’t for the hypocrisy of the DWP and the cruel system that it operates. I’ll list the problems as usual, but everyone will remain anonymous due to the very real fear of DWP reprisals.

The first person that I spoke to was a man who had a chest infection. He told me that he was too scared of not attending his appointment because he didn’t want to be sanctioned again. I informed him that he is allowed to hand a sicknote in but he told me that it wasn’t worth the risk, and he had already had enough bother off the Jobcentre and he wanted a quiet life. So instead he forced himself to his appointment even though he wasn’t well enough to do so. Yes the DWP really do rule with fear.

I spoke to another man who told me that he hadn’t been told that he’s claim is being shifted over to Universal Credit, and had only just found out. I informed him of his legal rights, signposted him to where he can get further information so that he can empower himself. This is essential to prevent any wrongdoings by the DWP. He promised that he would be doing this and he was thankful that I had spoken to him, and he walked away less worried than he had arrived. it’s a mess and the DWP know it. They really need to start informing people correctly about the changes coming to them, and in plenty of time, not when it is nearly upon them like a thunder cloud.

I spoke to a lovely woman who I spoke to last week. I wish that I could say that she was in a better financial and emotional state but she isn’t. She’s afraid that she might loose her home and is also hungry. I gave her a food parcel and really urged her to contact local services that can and will help her. She also has my telephone number and knows that she can phone me at any time.

Some people think that it’s easy to signpost people, and that they should access the services offered straight away but it isn’t. When you’ve had a pretty c***p life, been treated badly and have nothing many people learn to trust only familiar faces. I totally understand this and will help her to build her confidence up so that she is able to do this. But in a decent world she wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place would she.

Then we had another regular heckler approach us, he appeared to be in a bad mood.  He approached Gordon and proceeded to tell us that all the problems that we are having in this country are caused by ‘all the foreigners being let in…. And foreign aid’’. Gordon tried to talk reasonably and kindly to him but he wasn’t having this, so proceeded to shout to us all that were all ‘talking rubbish’. He then walked off, looking dissatisfied that we hadn’t given him the response that he wanted, whatever that might have been.

They never give up do they, spouting their racist, ill informed lies. I had a day of it myself on twitter yesterday (Wednesday) when local elected Tories decided that they’d have a go at me and what seemed to be half the FLA tweeting me. This shows that we have a lot of work to be done in this area doesn’t it.

I spoke to a young man who is a carer for his grandmother. He just wanted someone to talk to, have a chat because seeing his grandmother become ill has upset him a lot. We had a good chat and I signposted him to local and national groups that he can join for support.

I spoke to a man who I regularly speak to, he has very limited vision and is registered blind. His partner is dyslexic and also struggles reading. Despite more than a few letters of support to the DWP and their advisor at the Jobcentre they are still being sent written letters for appointments etc, and are asked to respond to them. How hard is it for the DWP to recognise that they can’t SEE the writing, and can’t READ them correctly either. All appointments etc have to be made via a telephone call, but this rarely happens.

Honestly they set disabled people up to fail constantly and it’s a good job that people like myself and their friends can read the letters for them. Just STOP discriminating against them please DWP and treat them like the decent human beings that they are. It’s not hard is it.

I spoke to a woman who has been volunteering at a placement for a while now. Her placement were so impressed with her work that they have offered her employment, but she has to wait a fortnight to start her job. In the meanwhile she has to continue volunteering.

She was over the moon about this, because it hasn’t been easy for her and she told her advisor. Her advisor then told her that she had to finish her placement there, even though she is starting work in a fortnight and start somewhere else.

This means that she will loose her job offer, and she’s depending on this job, like she said to me ‘It’s a massive achievement and I thought that my life would change for the better’

What exactly is the DWP playing at? She’s found a job yet they are actively preventing her from starting her job. Complete madness, their slogan ‘Making work pay’ is total hypocrisy, it’s madness.  Honestly you couldn’t make it up.

I signposted her straight away and told her of what she can do to prevent this happening.

I spoke to a man in passing and he told me that the Jobcentre is ‘Bloody pathetic and that they should change their name’. Yep.

I spoke to a person who will remain totally anonymous. They suffer from several disabilities and illnesses and to say that their struggle to survive every day is an understatement.

They had failed their ESA medical because they were too ill to attend it. No one had told them that they could remake an appointment or appeal against this decision. Letters from the DWP now scare them, so much so that they can now  cause a panic attack, their ESA element has now been stopped and they are living on the bare minimum, just buying food and not paying bills.

They started to cry, and told me that they didn’t know what to do. This system is cruel, heartless especially to the disabled, and this makes me both upset and angry.

I did what was the DWP should have done in the first place, which is basically their job in the ‘good old days’. I told them that they can appeal, that they should appeal and informed them of all the local help available etc. I’m very confident that after a good long chat today that they are feeling a bit better and will start the process of appealing.

I asked a young man how things were going and his response was ‘They are f****g idiots’ pointing to the Jobcentre. Obviously something wasn’t right but he wouldn’t elaborate and to be honest I can’t blame him. He probably wanted to get away as fast as possible.

I spoke to an older couple who are both trying to navigate the system. They have read our survival guide and now keep a good filing system and a good, written record. The man looked at me and said ‘I really thought that they would find me a job, I was wrong’ They both deserve so much better treatment than this, everyone does.

I spoke to a woman who has been trying to get a HC1 form from the front desk for what she said ‘ages now’. They had previously refused to give her a form. Today, like magic she was given her form at last. She told us that it was because we were standing there, and it wasn’t the awful G4S guard this time.

Polite reminder to G4S… You are SECURITY GUARDS, employed to do that only, and you are not employed to take personal details or hand forms out to people. STOP IT you are actually breaking the law.

I spoke to a person who has now been waiting 9 weeks for their ‘Limited Capability Assesment’ as part of their Universal Credit claim. Despite having a recent ESA assement, being transferred to Universal Credit has made this assessment null and void. So now a disabled person has been waiting for 9 weeks to have an assessment by the same company that did the original ESA assessment.

Nine weeks living on a bare minimum income, which doesn’t provide for their disability needs. Nine weeks. I hate Universal Credit, it’s abhorrent that disabled, vulnerable people are treated in this manner. It’s almost as if they are trying to starve people into submission or death, and in many cases this has worked.

I advised them etc, but this system makes me feel sick. Theresa May you should be ashamed (but you aren’t). The system is serving you very well isn’t it. Remember that this won’t last forever.

After the demo, I went for a cuppa with Kevin who had travelled miles to be with us, then I collected my daughter from school. Sats are now finished yippee!!!!

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Please read, share, RT and email my blog. I really do appreciate this. Also a massive thank you to all the supporters of my blog. You all, as well as the team make this possible. Thank you!!

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They make me feel like a criminal and I’m not. Welcome to Universal Credit.

Hi readers, I need to apologise. I’m extremely late in publishing the blog this week because I have only just returned home. We went for a cuppa after the demo to warm up and I then had a meeting. After that I had to collect my daughter from school etc. Thank you for your patience.

Today was freezing cold, the warm weather that we had last week has long gone. I do worry how this is affecting everyone who is either street homeless or unable to buy gas and electric. I suppose that we shouldn’t have got too confident with the very short warm spell.

It was extremely busy today, it never stopped. Nearly every person that I speak to is vulnerable in one way or another, many are disabled but constantly punished by this punitive system. The full Universal Credit roll out is having a very negative effect on people, especially disabled people whom are now forced to claim the disability element of Universal Credit.

The first person that I spoke to had recently been taken off ESA. The reason being that he didn’t attend an appointment because he didn’t receive it. For anyone that says that this does’t happen I can assure you that it does, and it happens a lot. However there is no excuse for the DWP not to ensure that every claimant receives their letter on time or at all, there really is NO viable excuse. Of course they deny that this happens but you only have to spend some time outside your local Jobcentre and ask people if it’s happened to them.

I spoke to a man who likes to come and have a chat with me. He’s a lovely man and we could well be the only people that he sees in the week that aren’t of an official capacity. He told me that he wasn’t well and had just been to see his doctor who has told him that he has a chest infection. I gave him my coffee to take his tablet.

He told me that he is now ready to seek further help and is excited about doing this. This is wonderful news, and for anyone thinking that it’s easy to get people to engage it isn’t. Life is difficult, situations are difficult and it’s hard to trust folk. I’m positive that the next time that I see him he will be much healthier.

I spoke to a person who is sofa surfing, they also like to come and have a chat with us. They are recieving help from other local organisations but they like to come and chat. We like that because it’s so important to do so. Sofa surfing is very common indeed but it shouldnt be so.

I am not an expert on homelessness, I leave that to the experts and other local organisations however I have been homeless in the past and do have a certain level of understanding and can relate to people in that position. Hearing a kind word really does make a massive difference.

We spoke to some people who are living in temporary accomodation. They are also liaising with other local organisations but like to come and have a chat. I really enjoy speaking to them also. They are now navigating the benefit system but luckily they have a nice advisor atm. I know who this advisor is but can’t name them. Thank you for being kind.

I spoke to a person who had travelled quite a distance to attend an appointment that had been given to them on the telephone. They arrived was told abruptly that there wasn’t an appointment and that they had to leave.

There really is no excuse for this, we all know that the DWP’s computer system is rubbish at best but please, confirm that the appointment is still happening. People often travel a long way and are nervous about attending. Sort it out DWP.

I spoke to a person who has been unemployed for two weeks and are making their first Universal Credit claim. They told me that ‘It’s bloody ridiculous, how do they expect us to wait at least five weeks? They told me that I can get a loan but I have to pay it back so I won’t be doing that, it will make things even worse. How do they get away with this?’

He is of course correct.

I spotted quite a few people wearing uniforms having to use the Jobcentre. Don’t forget that even if you are working once you are transferred over to Universal Credit you have to sign on and comply to strict rules especially if you work part time. They tell you that you are ‘under employed’ so therefore have to find more work, ignoring of course childcare obligations etc. The DWP needs to stop doing this as well. It doesn’t encourage anyone, it just makes matters even worse.

I spoke to a person who was also having to claim Universal Credit for the first time. They told me that they are finding it hard because they struggle to read. We advised them and referred them to where they can get further help.

I spoke to a young person who told me that they are struggling because they have aspergers. They are claiming the disability element of Universal Credit and are really  struggling to cope with the system. They have been warned that if they don’t make more effort then they will be sanctioned.

For gods sake, they are trying. They are doing their best. I referred them to a local organisation, but they told me that they might find this difficult. Like I said, not everyone is able to access everything, nothing is straightforward. I handed them a leaflet, advised them and also told them where they can get free help and information online. They told me that they can and will do this. I also offered to accompany them to appointment to ensure that they are treated correctly, so I shall see if they take me up on my offer.

I briefly spoke to a person who was at first walking past us. I went to hand them a leaflet and they told me that they are on Universal Credit and are having to live on £96 a month. Yes a month. Please don’t tell me that this doesn’t happen because it does happen. Universal Credit is cruel, and relentless in it’s persecution of the poor. They took a leaflet and advice on where to get further help. They had nothing good to say about the system and I can’t blame him. Nor have I.

Lastly I spoke to a person whom was reluctant to speak at first. There are a lot of misconceptions about what we actually do outside the Jobcentre, and also people are nervous of speaking to anyone. It really does make people feel like that.

I handed him a leaflet and they asked us what we were doing so I told them. They took the leaflet and thanked me, looked me in the eyes and said ‘They are treating me like a criminal in there. I’m not a criminal and I hate it’

The DWP system does make people feel like this, because everyone is treated as being guilty for their own poverty. It’s intrinsic to the system, it’s designed to do so.

People shouldn’t be treated like this, the government are criminals for treating people like this and I hate it.

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This week has been an extremely busy week. We filmed with Sky News a while ago, and I wrote a short article alongside this. Ever since it has gone a bit crazy but in a good way. It has reminded me of how many good people there are in this country, people who care. THANK YOU.

https://news.sky.com/story/line-18-universal-credit-claimants-say-it-is-like-like-hell-on-earth-11339306

Have a read, theres also links to the video on the article. When I receive an update on the young man in the video I will let you know.

 

For anyone that still is under the misconception that the contents of my blog are untrue, or that its easy for people having to use the Jobcentre, or that there are plenty of suitable jobs out there come and join us. Come and see what it’s really like. Life is certainly not easy for most people.

A massive thanks to the usual crew who turned up today and to everyone that came to any hello, I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to speak properly.

Also a massive shout out to my friends over at Disabled People Against Cuts, and fellow blogger Kate Belgrave. Kate I owe you a cuppa.

We handed out all of our food parcels, handed a lot of leaflets out and I’d like to think that we have made a difference in their lifes.

I also would like to think that we are helping to highlight and change this system, it’s hard work but we need to do this. Please use your vote in the upcoming local elections, this is very important. You are important.

 

Please read, share, tweet, reblog, email and talk about my blog and the contents of my blog. Send a copy to your MP, even if they are Tory.

 

We will return again next week, come and say hello we really do appreciate it. I just hope that the weather improves!!.

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Full Universal Credit roll out, man sat outside Jobcentre for over 2 hours in awful weather, rude staff member and rude passer by. Will it ever end?

I’m so sorry that the blog is once again late this week, Ive been extremley busy and fell behind due to being unwell late last week and not feeling well again until Tuesday this week. I shouldn’t complain because there are people far more worse off than myself as I know.

 

I was so glad that we didn’t have a repeat of the awful stormy, snowy weather last week. It was deadly for some and so far there could be an estimated 2,000 people that have died as a result of this very long cold spell this winter. Fuel prices have gone up, benefits cut or taken away, the benefit cap taking away money that would have been previously used for heating homes also taken away, the list is so long and I could go on for ever.

 

Last week, myself and others campaigned on Twitter for the DWP to issue an official statement for claimants to state that they didn’t have to attend their appointments at the Jobcentre because of the weather. They issued a statement at 6.30pm, which was far too late for many. Indeed I spoke to a man today that walked miles in the storm, cold and snow in thin clothing to attend his appointment. He hadn’t been informed that he didn’t have to attend, so in fear of being sanctioned he waited outside in the cold for over two hours. For gods sake he could have become ill or die from hypothermia. Where is the humanity? I know that some DWP staff members care, but some don’t and there lieth the problem. They need to improve their notification service and the DWP also needs to start responding to requests. Getting information from them is like getting water from a stone.

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Today was very cold again and we had been threatened with snow, I was not impressed with the thought of more snow but thankfully we were spared, instead we got sleet and rain. A total nightmare for our local homeless comunity.

 

As Gordon and myself were taking the food parcels out from the boot of his car I was approached by a young lad. He was visibly upset. He was carrying his worldly belongings in a large Ikea bag and a carrier bag. He started crying and told me that he had just become street homeless. My heart went out to him, he was very young, vulnerable and needed help urgently. I signposted him to the local housing office, he came back and then went to our local homeless organisation.

He had also gone inside the Jobcentre to ask for help, but instead they gave him the usual piece of paper with a number on it and told him to phone a number despite him telling them that he had no phone.

He was so lovely, at the start of his adult life and to him it must have felt like the end of the road. There is no real reliable safety net for young people like this man, the government relies on every young person to have a family that will support them and access to technology. This isn’t a reality though is is, many people have no family support etc and there is no safety net anymore. I really hope that he is ok tonight I’m very worried about him.

 

 

Today we had a visit from Sky News who are making a programme about DWP related issues, so things were even busier than usual. They appeared shocked at how busy we were today and the extremes of problems that we help people with. I’ve learnt to multi task very well, so have members of the team.

We had six food parcels and some lovely hot food cooked and brought to us by a friend off Facebook named Tina. This food was very welcome because many people haven’t ate nice hot food for a long time.

 

Ashton Under Lyne now has a full roll out of Universal Credit, so things will no doubt become much worse. I’ll keep you posted about this. I did try and raise awareness about this, but my voice isn’t loud at times but I try.

 

Here is another example of the stupidity of the DWP system and how they like to keep a claimant on their toes and under their control.

We spoke to an older chap who told us that he had only just started to claim benefits. His claim had gone through after a very long wait and this is an example of exactly what he has had to do this week.

He attended his signing on appointment on Monday, his FIRST one.

He was sent to a ‘careers advice’ course at the Jobcentre on Tuesday… These courses are generally pretty rubbish and if they had listened to him in the first place they would have known that he already had a profession, but just needs a job.

Thursday (today) he had to attend an appointment just to tell them what happened. For goodness sake, that could have been dealt with at his next signing on appointment. Give the chap time to breathe and to actually look for work.

He recieved a letter this morning (Thursday) telling him to attend an appointment, but the letter had two different appointment times on it… He had difficulty getting a correct answer as to when he should attend this appointment.

He said that getting an answer for this was hard, I can believe that. The system is broken, it just doesnt work, departments do not communicate with each other and nor are they making any effort to do so. As a result people are suffering, but hey, the government does not care one jot and nor should we expect them to.

 

I spoke to a man very briefly who told me that he receives his payments on a special payment card. Thats one to watch out for folks. He hadn’t recieved his usual payment and didn’t have a clue why. They gave him a telephone number that he couldn’t use due to having no phone. I signposted him to another local organisation because he needed extra help for some other issues also. Lovely men, just needing a helping hand.

 

A young woman said hello, then walked into the Jobcentre. Ten Minutes later she walked out and I asked her if she needed any help. She told me that she had recieved a letter to attend the Jobcentre today and she arrived at the time stated. She informed the front desk, and a member of staff  said to her very rudely “what makes you think that YOU have an appointment today” She answered “Because I have a letter” the member of staff then told her that she must return home to get the letter or they wouldn’t aknowledge that she had an appointment. She did just this, but was now late.

More DWP stupidity and a member of staff being pedantic and rude. This isn’t nice, and is bad practice. But thats the norm these days except for the odd nice member of staff.

 

 

We spoke to a lovely man and his wife. He had been in the army and was injured so as a result had to leave the army. His wife became his carer and this should have been allowed to continue, however it wasn’t. The DWP told her wrongly that she couldn’t be his carer anymore and that she had to claim Jobseekers Allowance. She was subsequently sanctioned three times as a result. Luckily they spent their time reading about their legal rights etc regarding their benefits and what they are entitled to. She is now her husbands carer again, but the stress of going through all that will never leave them. How dare the DWP do this to them,always arm yourself with the facts if faced with a situation like this. It’s so important to.

 

 

Our regaular heckler turned up again today, shouting at us and calling us all scroungers and scumbags whilst waving her umbrella at us all. She targeted John as usual. She was awful, and there is no need for this kind of behaviour. If she doesn’t like us then just walk past, but then again shes told us in the past that she hates all unemployed people, regardless of illness and disability. We shouldn’t have to put up with this. I informed her that I was phoning the police and she walked away rather quickly.

 

 

For the person that informed me that we have only been doing this for 3 1/2 months and ONLY hand out food parcels, I suggest that you read my blog correctly. In fact I found a video of us doing this from 2013. We work hard, I work very hard documenting all this and trying to raise awareness as well as writing about it. Please give us some more credit.

 

A massive thank you to everyone that arrived to help out today, it was lovely to see Roy, Keith and Ashley today as well as Gordon, John and Christine.

 

We handed out food parcels, warm food, some warm clothes donated by Ria, help, advice, survival guides, solidarity and have comforted people when they were feeling at their lowest. We need to stop and scrap this awful system because it’s failing EVERYONE.

 

 

Please read, share, email and talk about my blog. For all the readers and supporters of my blog and the campaign you literally keep me going, its extremely hard work.

This week I’ve attended meetings, had an article published in The Guardian (unpaid), spoke to people on the phone, had an article published in The Morning Star and have been interviewed by Sky News. This is all to raise awareness and I don’t get paid. We need to stop this barbaric system and soon.

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What’s the point in trying to stop them from sanctioning me? They do it anyway. A man defeated by the system.

I’m going to start this weeks blog by thanking all of my readers, supporters, followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook. Also I want to than all my activist friends for their support.

Today was absolutely freezing cold. Not only did I have to contend with walking the mile to school on what was effectively sheet ice, the wind chill was awful. I really don’t know how anyone that is street homeless survives in this weather. I only stood for nearly a couple of hours and I was chilled to the bone. The national and local severe weather emergency provision is unsatisfactory also. All different authorities use differing thermometers and rulings. Once the weather on their individual thermometers reaches above zero then there isn’t any provision.

They don’t keep in mind that their thermometers can be wrong, and people can and do still die on the streets in above zero temperatures. Today with the cold, and wind chill it’s much colder than they think. Ultimately it’s all about saving money though and denying responsibility. A national system needs to be introduced, where every local authority uses the same temperature measure, ideally the Met Office and take things like wind chill, feels like temperature and rain into account.

Anyway I have digressed from the demo, but it’s a subject that I’m passionate about. I speak to many street homeless folk and I can’t imagine the hell that they go through on a daily basis.

 

Anyway like I’ve said it was cold, so much so that we had to leave 20 minutes early. There was only three of us, and a couple of friends came to say hello, thank you! I’m always wary that I don’t want anyone to become ill. But I apologise anyway.

 

The first person that I spoke to today was a lady who told me that she was grieving. There had been a death in her family and she was trying to cope as well as keep up with the DWP regime. She had handed a sick note in, but unfortunately it had ran out so back on the treadmill she goes. I handed her a leaflet which she was thankful for.

 

I spoke to a lady who was new to the DWP system due to a relationship breakdown. She has two children, one still very young, but her advisor has given her an unreasonable job search time in her claimant commitment. I advised her and she will be taking this further. I gave her a survival guide which she was grateful for.

 

We spoke to an older man who’s son is claiming Universal Credit . His told us that his son is 50 years old and has a degree. He is looking for work and is doing his best. He told us that the DWP staff are ‘buggers’ who don’t help anyone but themselves. It must be awful seeing his son in this position and worrying about him also.

 

We spoke to a man who had won two tribunals to reinstate his JSA payments, but the DWP are still refusing to pay him. The DWP have given him all sorts of rubbish excuse that don’t amount to any substance at all, and they are ignoring the tribunals order to pay him his money. He will be appealing this though, he’s very knowledgeable and will hopefully be visiting the Law Centre in Manchester for further help.

 

I spoke to a few people that were walking out of the Jobcentre clutching colourful, glossy brochures. They informed me that they contain information about a health and wellbeing course at a local college. I will endeavour to get further details of these courses.

 

We spoke to an older man who looked very despondent. We asked him what the problem was and he told us that he was sick of that place (the Jobcentre). We handed him a leaflet and told him that it would help him, and hopefully prevent him from being sanctioned. He looked at the leaflet, looked at us and said “What’s the point? They do it anyway.” That, readers are the words of a defeated man. His pride has gone, and the system has ground him down as much as it can. This is what the system does to people, it takes a person’s spirit from them, I’ve seen it countless times and it sickens me.

 

I spoke to a lady who I speak to on a weekly basis. She’s so lovely and always has a smile for us despite having a hard time. She has had the flu, works for 12 hours a week and relies on the top up element of Universal Credit. Because she claims the top up element she still has to do a weekly job search which she keeps to stringently. Today her advisor told her that she hadn’t looked for work enough. Luckily for her she proved that she had done so. She was so close to wrongly having her top up wrongly sanctioned, and thanks to our advice she had the evidence. This is how easy it is to be sanctioned and it angers me.

 

We handed out 6 food parcels, all full to the top, handed out extra bread, handed out copies of our survival guides, gave comapssion, understanding and sympathy. All of those qualities the DWP are devoid of. I’m very sad to say that we had to leave early, 20 minutes early but we were really cold. I’m still cold. But we will return next week as usual and will be there for the full two hours.

Steve if you are reading this get well soon!

Thanks to my rocks Gordon and Roy for coming today. I’m very aware that it wasn’t easy for you so a massive thank you.

 

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How to stay warmer this winter.

This is a condensed version of my Twitter thread that @threadreader condensed for me. Most questions have already been answered on Twitter.

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Ok, as friends will know I live a very frugal life and need to save money whenever possible. Here’s some cheap tips to prepare your home for winter.

1. Check your windows and doors for any gaps that need to be filled. Don’t fill essential air vents though. Use filler, newspaper, rags or anything that you can find. If in rented accommodation report any repairs that need doing.

Bubble wrap is your friend here. Yes I hate plastic but I reuse my pieces every year. Cut pieces of bubble wrap to the size of your windows, spray the window with water and place the bubble wrap on the window flat side down.

You can use cling film, but I don’t find it as effective.

Who cares what it looks like you will be warmer.

If you have any kitchen foil and cardboard, measure a piece of cardboard to the size of the back of your radiators. Stick some foil onto it and place behind radiator. Foil reflects the heat back into your home. You can buy silver insulation rolls from Lidl etc for £5

These are easier to use but £5 is a lot of money. Same method applies. The heat is then drawn into your home instead of into the brick and then outside.

Make one of these. I use one every year in my living room, for larger rooms you need more than one. Use unpainted ceramic plant pots and unscented tea lights only. There’s plenty of tutorials on YouTube

They don’t cause carbon monoxide poisoning, but as with any use of candles be safety aware and have adequate ventilation in your room. They do bring the temperature of your room up by a few degrees.

I place mine on a baking tray and use a loaf tin. These are a life saver for me.

Wear layers. Layers are much better than a really thick jumper. You can take a layer off if too hot and it’s much more comfy.

When it gets really cold don’t be afraid of wearing a hat and gloves indoors. You loose a massive amount of heat through your head. I wear fingerless gloves they work best for me.

If you can, use a hot water bottle to keep warm and bring a blanket downstairs. Keep doors shut and use something at the bottom of your doors to keep the heat in

If you can put up a door curtain on your outside doors and living room doors. I need to do this this year because they really help to keep the heat in.

Use a blanket downstairs an encourage any children to do the same.

Fill a flask of hot water or tea or coffee to drink throughout the day. This will save boiling a kettle or pan and saves money. A good tip all year round tbh

If you have a dryer or an oven, use these for heating whilst they are in use. I always do this. I open the oven door once I’ve finished with it to let the heat out. Obviously you can’t do this if there are little children around.

Keep your feet covered and if possible dress for the weather. Not always easy I know. Snuggling up to a dog or cat helps as well

Use thick curtains in winter and keep them shut as often as possible. I know that many of us can’t afford thick curtains but this does help.

If you can eat warm foods. This is very hard I know as food, gas and electric is scarce. If you have friends and family local sit together. I do this.

If you can’t keep warm at home and need to save money on electric, if you can visit your local library, if you’ve got one a local Ikea. Free brews and WiFi at IKEA if you join up to their friends and family scheme. Ikea is my winter office.

Try and cook one pot meals. Saves in energy. @BootstrapCook has plenty of amazing recipes that you can access. If you can cook extra so it lasts a couple of days. This will save energy.

For example a bean spag Bol can be made into a chilli the next day. If you can cook veggie stews, soups, corned beef hash without the corned beef. It’ll last a few days

Use one room during the day, heat that one room. You can heat bedrooms for half a hour before bedtime. That’s if you can afford to do this.

Here’s the film we made last yearhttps://youtu.be/Y9h3VSYVIn0

I also make my own washing powder and I’m going to attempt soap again this year.

I’d love to try a sun oven but atm they are too expensive and are only on sale in the USA.