Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit that can help with extra living costs if you have both a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability if you have difficulty doing everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition.
PIP can be applied for even if you’re working, have savings or are getting most other benefits.
A Mandatory Reconsideration is the first step of challenging a PIP decision. This involves asking the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to look at their decision again. A Mandatory Reconsideration has to be applied for within one month of the decision date (the date that is given on the decision letter).
Reports show that the latest PIP statistics give show that Mandatory Reconsiderations success rates have fallen for almost every single month since October of 2021. The statistics go on to show that the success rates have dropped from 45% in October 2021 to just 26% in April of 2022. When questioned the DWP have offered no explanation for this inexorable decline in Mandatory Reconsideration success rates.
In 2019 the DWP implemented a new system of contacting claimants who lodged a mandatory reconsideration in order to collect further evidence. As a result Mandatory Reconsideration success rates rose considerably.
Moving forward to 2022 the DWP are now struggling to cope with an 18% increase in new PIP claims.This has resulted in a 9% increase in requests for mandatory reconsiderations which in turn has caused significant stress on an already overwhelmed system.
There are various reasons as to what the cause is but one notable one is that the DWP appear to no longer take the time to contact claimants if they’ve failed an assessment therefore success rates have fallen back to their previous levels before 2019.
Invariably this has resulted in thousands of claimants becoming disheartened and forgoing applying for a Mandatory Reconsideration. If a claimant makes the decision to challenge the DWPs decision they often have to wait months before going through the ordeal of an appeal tribunal. This results in already vulnerable people in a distressed state unable to continue with their day to day activities that their PIP award enabled them to do.
People living with a disability or illness have long bared the brunt of the governments cruelty being neglected, ignored and often left to cope with relentless cuts to their benefit payments and help that most need to continue with their day to day activities.
The governments relentless targeting of the most vulnerable in society needs to stop but sadly its very likely that this won’t happen whilst the Tory government are still in power. Instead they prefer to have parties and sing on karaokes whilst thousands of people suffer as a result of their actions.
Please read, share and tweet this blog post, every share helps massively to raise awareness which is vitally important.
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A huge thank you to everyone that supports my blog and campaign. Every penny makes a huge difference and enables me to continue with my work. I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do and its a huge struggle for me.
A recent report undertaken by Money Advice has uncovered that Council Tax arrears are rising dramatically and are expected to grow exponentially.
As detailed inthe report the total amount of arrears owing now stands at over £4.9 billion, this is an increase of £521 million (12%) on last year (2021).
With the ever increasing cost of living costs and energy bills it comes as no surprise that many are struggling to pay council tax.This has been happening for years and it shows no sign of improving.
The analysis conducted by Money Advice suggests that the problem is worsening showing that in the past 5 years the average CouncilTax bill in England has risen by 24%. At the same time arrears have risen profoundly by 74% over the same time period
This leaves an ever increasing amount of households that are struggling to afford their bills and everyday costs therefore falling deeper into arrears unable to meet the payments.
The truth is that the current system of collecting council tax isn’t working, it often costs local authorities more to implement than they actually are able to collect. Households are already struggling to pay and local councils are trying to cope with the deficit of payments whilst trying to keep essential services going as many rely upon council tax payments to provide such services.
The rules that govern council tax collection are approximately 30 years old and are no longer working for today’s financial climate. The whole council tax system needs to be changed for it to work fairly both for households and local authorities.
Money Advice suggests that the Government needs to urgently take a duel approach both for households and councils.
They suggest that:
The government increases and ring-fence funding for Council Tax Support to stop people falling behind enabling more people to get help paying.
Change and reform collection rules so that households are treated fairly and not met with intimidating behaviour from bailiff sent out to collect arrears. This creates distress and doesn’t actually work to help people pay, instead it increases debt due to having to pay bailiff costs as well.
In an ideal world there would be new, fair system created that is affordable and doesn’t cause increasing poverty and spiralling into further debt.
Food prices are predicted to increase by 15% in the UK this summer. This is the highest level in more than 20 years. This is predicted to rise alongside inflation which could last until the middle of next year, according to a report by The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)
This is a result of the ever increasing prices of meat, cereal, dairy, fruit and vegetable products caused by the rise in costs of wheat prices as a result of the war in Ukraine.
The Ukraine is a big supplier of wheat to the UK, combined with sanctions imposed upon Russia will undoubtably cause a hike in prices and also a probable wheat shortage. Also predicted by the grocery trade body IGD.com is a rise in costs of food items caused by production lockdowns in China and export bans on food products such as palm oil from Indonesia and wheat from India.
What does this mean?
Food costs are going to rise dramatically again making it extremely difficult for low income households to be able to afford to buy much needed food essentials. According to a survey undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) there has been an increase in the number of people spending less on food and household essentials which has risen from 36% to 41%.
This figure is set to rise again in the Autumn when as predicted by The Bank of England inflation is predicted to reach to 11%, which is the highest since the 1970s.
Rising energy costs
Households are still struggling to cope with the rise in energy costs with government payments set to be sent out to household in July. This scheme is not without its faults though leaving some low income households and disabled people exempt from this scheme.
After the second payments given by the government in October there are so far no plans to extend this to the winter and beyond, leaving many forced to live in cold homes unable to cook food.
A recent survey also carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that 52% of low income households are being forced to use less gas and electricity because they can no longer afford the cost. This in turn will also affect a households ability to cook meals.
Why does this matter?
Low income households are already burdened with an ever increasing cost of living that they can no longer afford to keep up with. Already overwhelmed with these costs and the lack of affordable food this will undoubtably cause mental distress and illness as a result of not being able to provide the basics for themselves and their families.
The lack of financial support from the government in helping the public with these costs is sadly lacking. In work and out of work benefits such as universal credit, working tax credits, ESA and PIP have failed to rise with inflation leaving households with a huge financial deficit.
The poorest can no longer be expected to bear the brunt of these ever increasing costs. Permanent financial help from the government needs to be offered before winter, if not thousands will undoubtedly become ill or worse as a result of living in cold homes unable to provide food for themselves and their families.
Please read, share and tweet this article it helps massively to raise awareness about the real issues facing working class people in the UK.
I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do, and like yourselves I’m struggling to be able to cope with the increasing costs of everything.
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A huge thank you to everyone that’s helped to support my blog and campaign I really couldn’t do this without you. Thank you.
UK doctors suffering from Long Covid have been denied PIP according to a recent report by The Guardian.
Long Covid can be very debilitating leaving sufferers unable to do the most basic tasks without some help and assistance.
The report describes how badly the doctors are being treated by the DWP.
For example a respiratory consultant has described how they were refused PIP (Personal Independent Payments) whilst having urinary incontinence, difficulty standing, preparing food, eating, washing, dressing or engaging with people face to face. They also stated that they can’t stand for more than 10 minutes, find it very difficult to prepare food.
They went on to say “I thought that I had illustrated quite clearly what my disability was.” “When I got the report back, I thought is this about me?’”
The article also reveals that the process of making a PIP claim was so hard and mentally exhausted that it worsened their symptoms leaving them feeling much worse than before making their claim.
Some describing that they’ve been forced to use almost all their savings on private treatments and have considering selling their home as a result of this process.
For example an infectious disease expert that developed Long Covid found that their claim was rejected in part because they can drive a car, the assessor stating in their report that they showed “significant physical function” and “substantial cognitive powers”.
According to the Office for National Statistics from May 1st 2022 an estimated two million people in the UK have reported having Long Covid and it also beggars the question how many people having Long Covid are being refused their PIP payments despite having these symptoms and worse.
For many years now the whole PIP testing system has been heavily criticised and is flawed against the person applying for it. Many give up and try to continue without it because the process is too arduous and painful. It is noted that approximately 70% of PIP claimants win their appeal if they choose to do so.
The whole process urgently needs a huge reform and claims need to be processed correctly and fairly whilst taking into account the true symptoms and difficulties that PIP claimants report. Many PIP claims are refused upon the basis of lies made by the assessors conducting PIP assessments.
Sadly whilst the Conservative government remains in power any changes to the system remain very unlikely.
If you are also finding it hard to claim PIP or/and ESA for Long Covid related illnesses please comment below or tweet your difficulties via this blog on Twitter or Facebook. Let’s get our voices heard!
Please read and share it helps massively to raise awareness .
I receive no payment for any of the work or campaigning that I do and it’s a huge struggle for myself like it is for you. If you can afford and would like to donate to enable me to continue with my work theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does help support my work. Every penny makes a massive difference and enables me to continue.
New regulations have been issued to enable registered nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists to issue fit notes.
This will extend the categories of people that can issue fit notes. New statutory instrument
The new regulations will commence from 1 July 2022.
These regulations being Social Security (Medical Evidence) and Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 (SI.No.630/2022) amend the Social Security (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1976 and the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1985.
The new regulations also make amendments to sets of regulations which refer to medical evidence as having been signed by doctors or registered medical practitioners.
The explanatory memorandum to the regulations advises that –
‘Currently only doctors can certify fit notes. This is not reflective of modern ways of multi-disciplinary working in healthcare where alternative healthcare professionals (HCPs) such as nurses often lead a patient’s diagnosis and healthcare management.
Expanding certification to a wider group of HCPs will better enable relevant HCPs to undertake health and work conversations to issue and certify fit notes without having to refer patients to their doctors.’
Commenting on the regulations, DWP Minister Chloe Smith said today –
‘The extension of fit note certification is fantastic news for patients, making it easier for them to get the support and advice they need from the right place, ensuring where possible that they are able to remain in work.’
These latest fit note changes recognise the valuable role other professions play in helping manage people’s health, and I hope this will also help reduce unnecessary bureaucracy for doctors and general practice more widely.’
This is welcome news for people struggling to provide fit notes for the DWP which can be a struggle for many.
SI.No.630/2022 is available from legislation.gov.uk
Thanks to Rightsnet for providing this information.
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A recent report by Healthwatch England has revealed a huge crisis looming within the UK NHS system. The report shows that people in the Uk are struggling to find a NHS dentist or be forced to pay for dental care that they can’t afford to pay for.
It has become near impossible for many to access any NHS dental care which forces them to either to pay for private dentistry services or to go without. This leaves many left suffering excruciating pain and also worsening health conditions as an effect of not being able to access dental care.
Healthcare Watch Report
A recent poll undertaken by Healthcare Watch revealed that of 2,026 adults based in England, nearly half (49%) of respondents, felt that NHS dental charges were unfair.
The poll also looked at people’s experiences of NHS dentistry revealed the following:
• 54% of people who had an NHS dentist appointment had problems doing so, showing that 63% respondents found it difficult to book an NHS appointment with more than three in ten people (31%) unable to access all the treatments they needed.
The Report Also ShowedThat:
46% of people had problems with the costs associated with their NHS dental care.
Revealing that(34% of respondents said they had no option but to pay privately to get all the required treatment that they needed, Showing that 24% commented saying that their NHS dentist didn’t explain the cost before starting treatment.
Approximately one in five people reported that their NHS dentist charged them more for their treatment than the advertised NHS charges.
21% of people that couldn’t access NHS treatment revealed that they suffered as a result of being unable to access treatment Of this, one in three (34%) respondents said a lack of access to dental care that inevitably led to more serious health problems.
Respondents also revealed that a lack of dental care made it hard to eat or speak properly leaving 19% of people avoiding people and social situations.
Why is there a shortage of NHS treatment?
Accessibility to NHS dental services has been gradually worsening over the last 10 years. Some years before 2020, the National Audit Office (NAO) reported that the remuneration system for dentists ‘was purely activity-based and had done nothing to incentivise tooth decay and care prevention.One of the main causes for the shortage being the Units of Dental Activity system.
Under the present system dentists are only being paid for Units of Dental Activity (UDA’s)for example doing treatment on tooth problems instead of offering regular check-ups and preventative treatments.
This has resulted in dental problems being left too long which eventually in a general decline in oral and physical health.
This along with the fact that the UDA targets for dental practices are notably unachievable has resulted in dentists moving away from offering NHS services and operating private services and no longer NHS treatment. As a result of the present UDA system the demand for public dental services has overtook the availability of NHS treatment for years.
In 2002, the NAO raised their concerns about the estimated shortage of NHS dentists. This resulted in approximately two million people being unable to register with an NHS dentist, unable to do so.Sadly since 2002 the demand for services has risen but the availability of services has reduced leaving a huge deficit.
The need for a complete reformation of the UDA system is greater than ever. Dentists should be offered renumeration for all NHS services and the attraction to work within the NHS system should be prioritised.
Address the funding crisis to ensure that funding is appropriate and adequate for the level of demand expected by the current population.
Attract newly qualified practitioners into the industry through apprenticeships, links with universities and advanced training programmes.
Incentivise practices to commit to NHS dentistry by reviewing targets, penalties and credit units.
Add dental health roles to the list of national shortages to ease accessibility into the industry for EU citizens.
The UK is experiencing a NHS dental crisis which at the same time is risking the health of thousands of people suffering from dental problems.
Not only does the lack of NHS dental services cause dental problems it can also affect a persons physical health which can deteriorate as a result of not being able to access dental services.
Resolving this crisis is more important now than ever.
Are you experiencing dental problems and unable to access any NHS dental services? Feel free to comment below and tell me about your experiences.
A record level number of Universal Credit (UC) sanctions has recently been published by the Department of Work and Pensions on the 22nd May 2022.
It is reported by the DWP that the amount of UC sanctions had reached a record high in January 2022 this is according to statistics released by the DWP in May.
This follows the restrictions during the the pandemic when the DWP had been pressurised to remove work search and availability requirements for UC claimants also suspending face-to-face interviews due to the health risks involved. Work search and availability requirements were reintroduced gradually and are now fully implemented.
According to the latest figures released by the DWP UC sanctions prior to the pandemic consisted of 2.51% of UC claimants being sanctioned. In February 2022 sanction levels had risen dramatically to 3.90%.
According to the report in January 2022 there were reported 38,200 adverse sanction decisions showing the highest number of adverse sanction decisions on UC full service ever recorded, leaving many claimants dragging claimants further into poverty.
According to the DWP statistics released in February 2022 36.3% of UC claimants were in the conditionality groups that could be subject to sanctions, this includes claimants in the “searching for work”, “planning for work”, “preparing for work” or “unknown” conditionality groups.
It appears that the DWP have wasted no time in hitting claimants with sanctions and this is what they do best. Instead of helping claimants they find it more beneficial to unfairly sanction some of the most vulnerable people.
The conditionality requirements are confusing especially after the pandemic with many claimants not realising that their requirements had returned to normal. It’ll also be interesting to find out how many of them were affected by long Covid or indeed Covid itself and of course they wouldn’t have been able to reach out for sympathy from the DWP.
Not only will these sanctions have a terrible affect upon a persons health and well-being they will also put even more pressure upon already over subscribed food banks that were already struggling before the pandemic.
Whilst the nation is supposed to be celebrating the queens jubilee, a woman with an immense amount of privilege and wealth, thousands will be left suffering in extreme poverty unable to afford even the most basic things. It’s time that we should highlight their plights instead of celebrating the jubilee.
Once again thanks to Benefits And Work for inspiring this weeks blog.
Please share it really helps massively to raise awareness about the suffering of many people totally abandoned by the government.
I receive no payment for any of the work that I do and to say that I’m struggling is an understatement. Every penny donated helps me to continue blogging and campaigning and I would really like to be able to do so.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support the blog and campaign. The past two years have been a nightmare for me and I really couldn’t have done this without you.
Pre-paid funeral plans are used by many people to cover the cost of funerals, they operate by paying money received either by instalments or lump sum payments to a funeral plan provider chosen by the customer. The funeral plan provider then invests the money paid into an insurance policy or an independent trust fund.
Pre-paid funeral plans are available to buy at most funeral directors in the UK.
Although the conditions of pre-paid funeral providers vary essentially the plan that is purchased should cover the full cost of a funeral paid for and should also fulfil the plan holder’s final wishes for any funeral arrangements.
When are the pre-paid funeral providers to be regulated?
The Financial Conduct Authority will start to regulate providers that provide and arrange pre-paid funerals from 29 July 2022.
From July all providers must apply to the FCA for authorisation. The FCA provides a list which shows the status of each provider. They also provide a list of existing providers who will not be applying for authorisation or have withdrawn their applications: providers who will not be authorised.
It’s vitally important to check these lists before purchasing a pre paid funeral plan.
What will happen once the funeral plan providers are regulated?
From 29 July 2022 all funeral plan providers must be authorised by the FCA. Any providers that aren’t authorised will be committing a criminal offence if they even attempt to sell or administer a funeral plan contract. This is because they won’t be able to deliver the plans that have been paid for.
The FCA saying ‘We want to make sure that you have access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) from the first day of regulation, so your money is protected if the firm fails.’
In July the FCA will introduce a range of measures to protect the consumer which will include a ban on pre-paid funeral companies from cold calling potential customers.
Why the need for regulation?
Safe Hands pre-paid funeral plans went into Administration in March 2022, upon doing so they withdrew their application for FCA authorisation in February. Safe Hands was at one time registered with the Funeral Planning Authority but is no longer included in the FPA list of Prepaid funeral plan providers.
When Safe Hands pre-paid funeral plans went under administration its understood that they had approximately 46,000 plan holders. Because Safe Hands aren’t within the ombudsman’s jurisdiction they are unable to help any customers of Safe Hands Plans Limited.
At the time of writing the administrators estimate that the process of realising assets and issuing partial repayments to plan holders will be a significant undertaking. Thus being so it will take some time to complete.
Is there any help for the customers of Safe Hands customers?
To help the plan holders the administrators will contact plan holders directly. if necessary for them to make a claim they will provide details of how to make a claim and what you can claim for.
Any plan holders that have paid any or of their funeral plan instalments via a credit card or have paid fully via credit card may be entitled to register a claim with their credit card provider under s75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
What Dignity PLC can do to help.
Dignity plc is one of the UK’s largest providers of funeral plans. They have sent a plan to the administrators that would allow them to cover some of the pre-paid funeral plans and will offer any support thats urgently needed to help families to find any solutions that will hopefully provide a solution so that any customers won’t be left without anything in place.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, expressed his gratitude to Dignity for stepping in “to provide funerals on behalf of Safe Hands’ customers in the immediate period after the firm entered into administration” and agreeing to do that “for a further six months”.
What you can do.
If you have purchased a pre-paid funeral check who you purchased it from. If you find that you have purchased it from Safe hands then follow the advice given above to see if you can get any of your payments back.
It’s despicable that vulnerable people and their families have been treated in this manner, hopefully the regulation in July 2022 will prevent this from happening again.
I receive no payment for any of the work that I do. If you can afford to and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this article.
I really couldn’t do this without your help because I’m on a very low income.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign, I’m truly grateful and I couldn’t do this without you.
The current price cap, which is set to rise in October, is £1,971 a year which was already a £693 rise (54%) from the previous cap six months earlier.
Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that in October it will increase to “in the region of £2,800”.
With this announcement comes the question of how people are going to be able to afford this extortionate price increase.
Already we are seeing thousands of people unable to use their gas and electric because they can’t afford it, no longer is they’re going to be a choice of heating or eating, they won’t be able to do either.
Whilst campaigners such as Martin Lewis are questioning the government as to how the public are going to cope, their words fall upon deaf ears and are ignored by the government that clearly appears not to care.
The truth is that we are dependant upon being able to heat our homes. It’s essential to have an electric supply to get by on a day to day basis, especially if disabled and have additional needs. Being forced to live in cold dark homes puts people at a very high risk of becoming ill or even dying.
It makes no difference how much you can budget and save when every penny is having to be spent on the ever increasing energy prices, although the likelihood is that bills won’t be paid because of a lack of ability to do do.
Not only will this affect the consumer it will also affect the energy suppliers that are dependant on their customers paying their bills to continue trading. I suspect that many more will be forced to shut therefore leaving both the consumer and the economy in a very precarious position.
The truth is that yet again the obscene energy price increases are yet another devestating choice that’s been made by the government. It’s pretty obvious that they don’t care how the average person will suffer and what a detrimental affect this will have to the public and to the economy.
It’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode and something has to give before we start to see the serious ramifications of the ever increasing energy costs. I and others predict that thousands are at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying. We must do everything that we can do to prevent this from happening.
Please read, share and tweet my blog posts, its essential to raise awareness and doing this really helps to do so.
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A huge thank you to everyone that shares and supports both my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t dp this without you.
In a recent report by Benefits and Work the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be giving their officers the power to mass-request bank data more efficiently to enable them to conduct more spot-checks to see if people are committing benefit fraud..
The new powers to be given will enable DWP officers to make arrests, execute warrants, conduct searches and seize evidence themselves instead of informing the police and involving them. This will allow the DWP to dish out civil fines similar to those issued by HMRC even if a case does not make it to court.
It is estimated that approximately two million claimants will face having supposed fraud cases dredged up and to be given fines for fraud even if they’re not convicted of a crime. New and existing claims could be flagged as being potentially suspicious over five years.
It is believed that Conservative ministers will be perceived to be appealing to their voter base because at the time of writing no timetable for these new laws has been made. It’s likely to take at least a year for these plans to commence. Many of these planned new powers will need an Act Of Parliament and is thought that if these plans are to commence they will be introduced from May 2023 at the earliest.
The proposed benefit fraud crackdown will have the potential to save the government £670m a year.
Giving DWP officers the power of arrest for supposed benefit fraud even if a case doesn’t make it to court has the potential to persecute innocent claimants is extremely worrying . For many years now I’ve assisted claimants in supposed benefit fraud meetings, the majority of which showed absolutely no evidence of fraud being committed.
I found these meetings to be yet another way for the DWP to intimidate and harass claimants and I have no doubt that if I hadn’t been able to represent these claimants they would have falsely been accused of fraud and would have faced their benefits being stopped or greatly reduced.
Given the fact that that benefit overpayments were estimated to be approximately £8.3bn in 2020/21 many of which were errors made by the DWP and not claimants, accusing them of fraud as a result of this would be totally wrong and immoral.
Claiming Universal Credit is already difficult and demeaning punishing claimants for being guilty before being found to be innocent. To allow DWP officers these powers would add to the pressure that claimants already feel whilst not knowing if their benefit advisor will report them for potential fraud which could result in their payments being reduced or stopped.
I suspect that the real reasoning behind these new proposed powers is yet another way for the government to save money whilst putting the well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable at risk.
Many thanks to Benefits and Work for once again being the inspiration for this article.
Are you interested in joining a group of likeminded people for solidarity and maybe some campaigning? You can’t go wrong if you join Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). They have lots of local branches that you can join.
The Lloyds Bank Foundation have expressed concerns about the way the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) recovers debts from claimants when they start claiming UC (Universal Credit)
The Foundation have issued a report earlier this month (May 2022) warning that automatic deductions recovered from UC payments are at the time of writing, leaving more than 2 million people already living in poverty, unable to afford basic necessities such as food, gas and electric. This therefore and drives them further into debt and poverty.
The Foundation report discloses that 44% of all UC claimants have money automatically deducted, the amount averaging £78 a month being taken. It also notes that many Universal Credit claimants are also having much larger deductions taken from their monthly payments.
Amongst the deductions are the advance payments given to UC claimants given to them whilst waiting five weeks for their first payment.
To add to this millions of new UC claimants find that they are unknowingly forced to pay back supposed Tax Credit overpayments that had occurred years earlier which were caused by an official error and no fault of the claimants.
The Lloyds Bank Foundation have therefore called for historic debts to be stopped and any advance payments changed from loans to grants and affordability checks to automatically be made before any deductions are taken from Universal Credit and other benefits.
It’s doubtful that the DWP will listen to any of the report or making changes based upon its recommendations in the future.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts, this helps to raise awareness of the unfairness of the DWP system.
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A huge thank you to everyone that reads, supports my blog and campaign and shares my articles. I couldn’t do this without you.
Lee Anderson Tory MP for Ashfield claimed that households in Britain can make nutritious meals on a budget of about 30p a day. He made these crass remarks during the queens speech debate in parliament.
He went on to say that his constituency administer a so called “brilliant scheme” where members of the public needing food donations have to register to join and are forced to attend mandatory budget cookery courses along side receiving food parcels.
Anderson claims that the scheme shows them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget and they can learn how to make a meal for about 30p a day, and this is cooking from scratch.
Mr Anderson went on to say that there’s not a massive use for food banks in the Uk despite record numbers of people being forced to use food banks every day. They can no longer afford to buy food and are having to make this humiliating decision.
According to Anderson poor people come from families that have generations of people from families that cannot cook properly. He went on to say that “They can’t cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget. The challenge is there.”
Ironically this is coming from Tory MP Lee Anderson that himself claimed £220,000 in expenses last year. Maybe he should attend budgeting classes.
Andersons comments are very telling, they highlight exactly how the Conservative party,MPs, councillors and members regard the working class, in particular people that are forced to take the distressing step to use food banks.
The truth is not being able to cook runs right through the class divide, people that live very comfortable lives don’t know how to cook properly also even though they’ve got the resources to do so. Should they be forced to attend mandatory cooking lessons as well?
Most people forced to live in poverty are very good at budgeting the very little money they receive, trying to prioritising their families need for food above their own. They know exactly how much their food costs and how to work within their budget.
The real problem lies within parliament, decisions have been made that have seen energy prices soar massively with food costs increasing dramatically resulting the cost of living being unattainable for many.
Benefit payments haven’t increased with inflation nor have wages leaving the public already starting at a loss before they even start trying to budget.
The truth is working class people are masters of budgeting, they know how to account for every penny and do prioritise their basic needs. Being able to cook however doesn’t lie with the ability to cook good meals it goes beyond that. As energy prices have increased its becoming exceedingly difficult to be able to afford the gas and electric needed to do so, a point that Mr Anderson fails to mention.
For this very reason thousands of people are forced to eat cold food such as sandwiches or having to make the decision as to if its cheaper to buy ready made food that isn’t necessarily healthy but it’s cheaper than the cost of cooking a meal.
Doing this exposes them to judgement from others and often abuse on social media, after all its easier to make a scapegoat out of poor people than it is to criticise a financially well off person.
The right wing press relish in shaming working class people rather than the policies that the government creates that are the cause of food bank use. It’s also easy for them to celebrate the opening of food banks, and laugh about it when, like Mr Anderson you don’t worry about the need for them.
In reality food bank donations are decreasing because many of the people donating can no longer afford to do so. I predict hundreds of much needed food banks being forced to close leaving the people needing them without the food that they desperately need. No amount of budgeting can change this.
Mr Anderson and his kind can take their prejudiced attitudes and fuck right off. The opening of food banks should never be celebrated its sick, crass and humiliating for the uk as a whole.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog its extremely important that the truth of life under the Tory government gets out there. It raises awareness and we need this more than ever.
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As reported by Benefits And Work the EHRC (Equality And Human Rights Commission) has broken its promise to investigate the role that the DWP (Department of Work And Pensions)have played in the deaths of vulnerable claimants. This has left the DWP not needing to answer any questions as to the role that they played in their deaths
Instead the EHRC are now asking the DWP to create new policies in relation to claimants with mental health issues and learning difficulties. This will replace the promised investigation.
This is despite promises made by the EHRC in 2019 that they would start an investigation into the deaths of vulnerable claimants.
The EHRC used the pandemic as an excuse to not start the investigation.
The Commission has now declared that it only intends to enter into a Section 23 agreement under the Equality Act 2006. This will oblige the DWP “to commit to an action plan to meet the needs of customers with mental health impairments and learning disabilities.”
Keep in mind that the DWP are a much larger organisation that receive more funding than the EHRC. This will no doubt result in the DWP will dragging their heels in creating so called policies that will be nothing more than good intentions that probably won’t be actioned upon.
Whilst I don’t have any details as to why the EHRC have changed their minds I can say that at best they’re very niave putting far too much trust in the DWP to do the right thing.
The DWP has an appalling track record of discrimination against vulnerable claimants, ignoring their basic human rights and making life extremely hard for them.
Despite my disappointment with the EHRC’s decision I’m not surprised. The DWP will do anything to avoid any actions taken against them making promises that they’ve got no intention of keeping whilst doing the bare minimum to comply.
Once again thanks go to Benefits And Work for their hard work and inspiring this article.
A huge thanks to everyone that likes, shares, reads and supports both my blog and campaign.
I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and it’s a struggle to say the least.
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With much celebration yesterday evening the DWP announced that their plans to start migrating people from all legacy benefits to Universal Credit (UC) with a commencement date being May 9th. Their target completion date being December 2024. This will leave approximately 900,000 of households worse off whilst claiming UC.
Not only will thousands of claimants previously claiming legacy benefits be hit with lower payments they’re set to also face a benefit freeze leaving them in a much worse financial situation they are already in. They will also be faced with the distress of being forced to accept this whilst struggling financially to cover the basics.
The DWP claim that legacy claimants will be sent a ‘migration notice’ with a three-month deadline to make a claim for UC. If they don’t accept the migration notice or don’t receive it as is often the case with letters from the DWP their benefits will stop. This will undoubtably leave thousands of already vulnerable people not receiving any help to do so with the majority of people claiming legacy payments being disabled and ill people already struggling with day to day costs.
The DWP are quoted saying that legacy claimants will receive transition payments to ensure their income does not drop, however how many times have we heard the DWP make statements like this and don’t fulfil their promises.
As a direct result of this migration previous legacy benefit claimants payments will be effectively frozen every April with no end date given. This is because their transitional payments will abrade each year as UC rises with inflation whilst waiting for it to match up with what they’re being paid.
This is very concerning especially because 500,000 claimants forced to migrate claim ESA and are disabled and ill, causing extreme distress and worse with predictions being that they will face being much worse off financially.
We already know that UC is a cruel, harsh system that deliberately punishes the most vulnerable leaving thousands in extreme poverty and distress. UC benefits the government alone giving them the perfect opportunity to punish working class people for simply existing.
Whilst the government and the DWP are rubbing their hands in glee we must continue to support each other and campaign against the governments cruelty, it’s the only way that we will survive this.
Combined with the energy price crisis and the ever increasing cost of living I have no doubt that thousand will die as a result of this forced migration.
God help us all.
EDIT: FROM PAULA PETERS. Also will add the UC regs for legacy benefit support group claimants are not in place yet and still being discussed the white paper on work and disability is important to Keep an eye on.
Huge thanks to Dan Bloom over at The Mirror for being the inspiration for this piece and a Twitter follower rooneygmusic for sending me the info over last night.
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It’s another week and yet more questions as to why the government still haven’t released the Universal Credit WCA statistics. Their refusal to release these statistics can only lead me to believe that they’re trying to hide them most probably because the stats are pretty dire.
This isn’t unusual for the government and the DWP they’ve got a long track record of denial and refusal.
It appears that the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) aren’t impressed with their refusal to release these stats either so they’re demanding to know why the pass and fail rates for the WCA for universal credit are still secret, despite it being nine years after the benefit was introduced.
The question is becoming ever more important because approximately 1.7 million ESA claimants are due to be forcibly transferred to UC by the end of 2024 loosing their legacy benefits and the security that comes with this.
The question is this why have the figures for claimants that have been found to be capable of work or to have limited capability for work (LCW) or for work-related activity (LCWRA) been published for ESA since 2010 and not these important statistics?
What exactly are the government trying to hide?
Unsurprisingly the same figures have never been published for UC since the benefit was introduced.
IN 2017 the government promised that the UC WCA statistics would be available for viewing. Rather predictably they haven’t been provided and there is no indications that they ever will be.
The amazing team over at Disability News Service have been pursuing the DWP over its lack of transparency for some time and eventually resorted to having to approach the OSR for help. As a result the OSR have now written to the DWP asking why the figures have not been published.
My bet is that they’ll ignore their request as well.
The main reason as to why these figures are so important is because Universal Credit claimants could be more likely to be assessed incorrectly and placed in the wrong LCW or LCWRA groups for UC. Therefore theres no guarantee that they’ll be placed in the same groups as they were when claiming ESA despite the fact that the tests are virtually identical.
More transparency and clarity needs to be urgently given regarding this issue especially as thousands of already vulnerable people will be quite rightly concerned when they are forcibly moved onto UC.
Universal Credit is a cruel heartless machine that targets the most vulnerable. These figures are needed to help and protect those that will be forced to claim it.
A huge thank you to the gang over at Benefits And Work for publishing this information and keeping us informed.
Are you interested in joining a group of likeminded people for solidarity and maybe some campaigning? You can’t go wrong if you join Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). They have lots of local branches that you can join.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog, every share etc helps massively to raise awareness and to inform people what’s really happening to real people.
Huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my campaign and blog I couldn’t do this without your support and solidarity.
If you would like to donate and can afford to theres a donate button at the side and top of this blog post. I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and it makes a massive difference and enables me to continue with both.
I’m still fucking angry, well to be honest that’s an understatement. I’ve been trying to get my head round how people are actually going to survive the constant barrage of energy costs and of course the ever increasing cost of living which is spiralling out of control.
Having food, shelter, warmth and water are a basic human right that is being blatantly ignored by the government. This despite the fact that these basic needs that are recognised worldwide.
Food shopping in supermarkets have become a thing of the past, swapping supermarket queues for food bank queues.
Heating has been replaced with wrapping up in a blanket or quilt with outside often being warmer than being indoors.
Disabled children and their parents reliant upon oxygen machines and pumps, needing a warm homes are forced to make the decision of having to cut down on their energy consumption even though it’s extremely dangerous to do so.
Thousands of disabled people are living in extreme poverty, unable to pay heating and food costs which will exacerbate their health conditions. Forced to live in mental distress because they can’t cover their basic needs.
Food-banks are quickly becoming over subscribed and now have waiting lists leaving many with nowhere to go.
People reliant upon public transport are becoming isolated because they can no longer afford to use it.leaving them unable to travel to the nearest town for appointments and to go food shopping for basic essentials.
Already vulnerable people are being forced to have to go without phone credit because they can no longer afford it. They know that if they don’t complete their job searches the DWP will sanction them.
Every day thousands of individuals and families are becoming homeless because they can no longer afford to pay their rent.
Children are hungry and cold their parents struggling financially to buy the basics for them, their parents in distress because they feel like they’ve failed their children.
The reality is for the working class they can never work enough hours to cover the ever rising costs that they are facing every day. The old Tory and DWP mantra ‘Work sets you free’ certainly doesn’t apply anymore, not like it ever did in the first place..
This leaves us with the dilemma, how can we change this? What can we do to stop it?
Truth be told it isn’t going to change overnight, we’ve got years of Tory rule approaching us and sadly I predict that things will undoubtably become worse.
There are however actions that we can do now that will make a difference towards the next general election results.
Use your vote in the upcoming local elections.
Vote labour if you have the option to or an alternative if that’s the only option. It isn’t about liking Starmer, after all we all have our own opinions about him. It’s about getting as many Tory councillors out of their comfy seats in local government. Doing this weakens their power base and ensures that less of them have a say in local government. This can only be a good thing.
Some are of the opinion that protesting does nothing but that isn’t true at all. Protesting causes disruption and it raises awareness massively. It’s a tool that’s been proven to work time and again even if the results aren’t seen straight away.
This can be done in several ways.
Showing our disgust via demonstrations really does rattle them, especially when they take place near parliament. Maybe a weekend march won’t be seen to do anything but it does raise awareness and that can only be a good thing.
Raising awareness this way is amazing, it raises awareness locally and maybe to people that aren’t on the internet.
Support your local food bank and community centre.
They’re often the heart of the community and once again this raises awareness.
With many long term Tory voters now changing their votes to Labour or their alternative it looks like the worm might finally be turning. Hopefully at the next general election they’ll be voted out of government.
It’s time to take action.
Thank you to everyone that supports my blog and campaign, I really couldn’t do any of this without you. Your support enables me to continue campaigning and blogging.
I can’t thank you enough.
Please like, share and tweet this blog post. It raises a lot of awareness and it gets the message out there.
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The amazing people over at Benefits And Work have made a simple request asking if they can see a copy of the original, unaltered survey on the unmet needs of disabled people. It’s not a big request, it’s a simple one.
Sadly their denial can only mean that the DWP are desperate to hide the survey results. This could be because it shows that the needs of disabled people are not being met. To be honest it’s no secret that disabled people are suffering immensely.
Whilst gloating about their denial to release the results the DWP have also refused to say whether they will publish a separate survey that they have commissioned which focuses on claimants’ financial situations and what support they may need.
I can only surmise that the DWP know how important that this information is. Disabled claimants were struggling financially even before the current cost of living crisis began. I suspect that the survey results will be shockingly bad.
The cost of living crisis and the huge energy price hikes will massively increase a disabled persons outgoings, with the energy bill for a typical home set to rise £1,971 a year caused by the 54% rise in energy price cap. This already massive price increase is projected to increase even further in October, pushing thousands further into poverty.
Many disabled claimants don’t have the option of turning their heating and appliances off. Thousands need to keep their homes warmer because of health conditions or run medical equipment which will cause their energy costs to be higher than the average household.
To add salt into the wound council tax bills are increasing, water rates are rising and food bills are also inflating. This will leave many disabled people almost priced out of existence, with no way of being able to keep up with the ever increasing costs.
In an ideal world with a supportive DWP system which supported claimants they would want to release information about the inadequacy of the current social security system into the public domain. This would then help claimants and the DWP system to put pressure on politicians to increase the annual uplift and payments.They would also work alongside charities and experts to put pressure on the politicians that make the decisions.
Back to reality though, we all know that the DWP will always fight in every single way to prevent the truth of their cruel system to be revealed. They don’t care about claimants especially disabled claimants. Their priority will always be cutting costs and pushing harmful policies directed by the Conservative government.
Theres plenty of evidence to support this, people have and will continue to take their own lives as a result of unfair DWP decisions, and now with the cost of living crisis and energy price increases this isn’t going to end, and will probably worsen.
More pressure is needed to beput upon the government and the DWP is desperately needed, especially as we are facing the huge cost of living crisis that many will not survive.
Benefits And Work are challenging both refusals and will hopefully get the results that are needed.
As my friend Rick Burgess says ‘400,000 disabled people across England have been stripped of the right to free insulation, and almost 300,000 are being excluded from the warm home discount. Can you say Democide?’
A huge thank you to Benefits And work for the inspiration for this article, they do amazing work.
Thanks to Rick Burgess for his quote over on Twitter.
Want to chat to likeminded people for solidarity and maybe some activism? Head over to https:manchesterdpac.com Theres lots that you can do there that doesn’t always mean attending a physical protest. Online support and campaigning is desperately needed.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. An online presence is needed and getting truth out there is vitally important.
I don’t receive any funding for the work that I do and like many of you are I’m struggling financially.
If you can afford it and would like to donate to keep both the blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
Huge thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports both my blog and campaign. This last year has been truly awful for me and my family. My son dying really was truly awful and I wouldn’t have got through this without your support, I wouldn’t have got through it without you.
No more. I’m fucking done. The horror stories I’ve heard over the years about people desperately trying to survive under this Tory government have angered me to the point of boiling over. My inbox is full, my Twitter feed is going crazy and my phone hasn’t stopped ringing.
I’ve heard many accounts of how people are already struggling to cope with the massive energy price rises, how the hell are they going to cope after the 1st of April?
Yesterday I heard the concerns of a young woman with a baby who is already struggling before the massive cost increase, already paying £40 for three days electric on a prepayment meter just to keep her electric on.
Another person who used to have a good job at Manchester Airport reduced to borrowing a tenner from a person they never met face to face to put their electric back on so the cheap food they bought won’t spoil.
A woman who thought she was £400 in credit actually owing £600.
Remember that this is before the April energy cost increases. So when does it stop?
When will more people stand up, come with me and my mates and march upon the corridors of power and say no?
Are we are NOT going to be letting the Tories bend us over and dry-fuck us into oblivion anymore?
You want me to be less activist? Fine. I will. When the government stops deliberately starving people of the basic necessities of life.
This is going to become much worse than anyone could have predicted, thousands of people will no doubt be either thinking of or taking their lives because they can’t afford to live and can’t find a way out of their situation.
I predict that they could be thousands of deaths caused by hypothermia and related illnesses. People can no longer afford to buy and run heated blankets. Nor do they have the money to buy warmer clothes.
Undoubtably there will be thousands of admissions to hospital because of malnutrition related illnesses and diseases. This is already happening, people are already dying from hunger thanks the cruel DWP regime. Already people can’t afford to cook meals. This is going to become a whole lot worse than it is now.
Homelessness levels will increase dramatically because people are going to be forced to make the choices of heating or eating and not being able to pay their rent or mortgage as well. It’s not a choice that should have to be made.
Can you imagine how heartbreaking it is to have to tell your children that they have to wear coats etc at home because it’s too expensive to heat their home? As you’re reading this a child and their parents will be cold and hungry due to no fault of their own.
Can you imagine being disabled or ill and being reliant upon have the heating on to help keep you alive only to find out that that you can’t anymore because it’s too expensive to heat their home?
To put it bluntly the government doesn’t care one bit, hell they aren’t even hiding their disdain of working class people. They don’t care if we live or die. Rishi Sunak could have done the right thing but instead he chose to force thousands into death, absolute poverty and starvation.
We should all be angry about this. This is the ultimate insult to the working class people of this country and we all need to challenge this in whatever way that we can.
Have you noticed that I’m angry? Everyone should be.
Not only will these price rises be extremely detrimental to the economy, which will most likely will take a massive dive as a result of people will no longer be able to go shopping for basics never-mind luxuries.
Thousands of small businesses will be forced to shut because of the rising costs as well as some big businesses, forcing workers not already claiming Universal Credit to apply for the first time. This will undoubtably cause emotional and financial distress.
For a country to grow its government needs to invest in people, normal people not millionaires to grow the economy and the wellbeing of people. Instead they do the opposite, Sunak preferring to go for short term gains for his pals whilst deliberately ignoring the well-being of the public and the economy.
Rishi Sunak whilst eyeing up his next job at num 10 has got to be the worst Chancellor Of The Exchequer that we’ve ever had. His decisions are unbelievably cruel.
People will no longer be able to afford to donate to food-banks instead becoming reliant upon them themselves. This will cause the closure of the very places that keep people alive. People WILL DIE don’t ever forget this.
It’s already happening. The foodbank trollies in supermarkets are seeing fewer donations.
We really need to put pressure in the supermarkets to donate the food themselves and not rely upon already poor people to buy the food and then donate it.
We also have to remember the 186,000 people that have already died with Covid 19 mentioned on their death certificate. People are still dying and we must never forget this.
Remember that all this is a political choice made by millionaires designed to inflict cruelty upon the poorest and most vulnerable
It’s time to get angry, to take action and campaign for a much fairer society.
Please read, share, tweet and email this blog post. We have to raise as much awareness as possible and now is the perfect time to do it.
Want to chat to likeminded people and join a protest? Head over to https:manchesterdpac.com Theres lots that you can do and you will find solidarity.
I don’t receive any funding for the work that I do, and to say that it’s a struggle is an understatement. If you can afford to and you would like to donate to my campaign and blog theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
Massive thanks to everyone that does and has supported my campaign and blog. Without you I couldn’t do this.
Big thanks to my friend Lucy for being the inspiration for this article and for yesterdays tweets.
It doesn’t feel real does it, so many people are struggling to live with the bare minimum of essential things such as food, heating and clothing. This was echoed in a conversation that I had outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre today.
I’ll call him Bill, obviously I like to keep peoples names anonymous, its much better that way. It stops the DWP machine from interfering and possibly targeting him. Believe me this has happened in the past, I recorded it in a blog many years ago.
Bill lives on his own after being his mothers sole carer. Sadly his mother died and he now lives alone. Bill doesn’t have a lot, a mobile phone and a television that was gifted to him. Sadly its a smart tv so he can only access the bare minimum of channels.
You might ask why this matters, after all things like this apparently aren’t important. I, however believe that it is important because it gives a person some sense of normality, maybe a bit of enjoyment. When you’re excluded from what others class as normal it has a distinct affect on your mental wellbeing, thus making life that bit more difficult.
Bill doesn’t have access to the internet at home and relies upon his mobile phone for everything. Some say that this is a luxury but it isn’t. It’s a necessity and the DWP will sanction claimants that don’t have a phone and or access to the internet.
I took Bill for a cuppa, I sometimes do this because its a nice thing to do, something that so many won’t be able to do after April, it was then when he told me about his concerns. He’s quite rightly concerned about how he’s going to be able to pay his essential bills, not anything that you could class as a luxury. It’s the bare essentials that he needs to survive.
Bill also shared his health concerns with me and how difficult its become to get an appointment with a doctor and how hard it is for him to get his repeat prescription.
Whilst many doctors surgeries in the UK offer telephone consultations as well as face to face ones its become near impossible to do this because his surgery doesn’t offer an online service and nor do they send his repeat description digitally over to a chemist of his choice. Instead he’s left to struggle collecting his prescription up and handing it to a chemist to be processed.
We discussed the spring budget and how awful it is for unemployed and disabled people, also for people on a bare minimum wage.
The truth is that Sunak doesn’t care and it this was reflected in his spring statement.
Whilst we are faced with an energy cost crisis which will undoubtably plunge at least 10 million people into fuel poverty, leaving them without the means to heat their homes.
Sunak provided nothing to support low income households and people claiming any type of benefit or pension.
On the contrary Sunak has uprated benefits and pensions only by 3.1% which was last October’s inflation rate. This is not the 7% rate of inflation which will be the upcoming over the next few months. By doing this Sunak has directly made 9 million of the poorest and most vulnerable people approximately £500 poorer.
Neither can we forget the £1000 a year Sunak took from Universal Credit recipients in the autumn when he withdrew the £20 a week pandemic uplift. This left thousands of people distraught and struggling. So far Sunak has taken £1700 of the UK’s most vulnerable and poorest households, whilst not forgetting that disabled people didn’t even receive the £20 uplift.
Sunak then announced that he is raising the threshold at which National Insurance contributions begin to be paid. Remember, most benefit recipients do not pay NI as their incomes are too low. Neither do pensioners. So once again they do not benefit from this at all.
Sunak also announced that he’s cutting the fuel duty whilst ignoring the fact that the poorest benefit recipients do not own a car, so they don’t benefit one bit from this. Neither do they pay income tax, so will not benefit from the 1p cut in 2024.
Theres also no information given as to how and will the poorest benefit from the £500m Sunak has given local councils.
To put it bluntly Sunak’s statement was aimed at fellow Tory MPs whose support he wants in a future leadership election if he is to take part, but this is a cruel and heartless way of doing it. He’s basically stamping his feet upon the poorest with his only concern being himself.
This is to be expected though because Sunak is a millionaire and has no understanding of what life is really like for the majority of people in the Uk, and nor does he care to learn and sympathise with them. He’s a typical Tory, selfish and as shallow as they come, after all they’re never going to care and they don’t want to.
I shall be returning to the Jobcentre next week, health permitting.
Please read, share and tweet my blog. Every share makes a huge difference!
I don’t receive any payment for my work from any organisations, and I like many of you are reliant upon food parcels etc. To say it’s a struggle is an understatement.
If you can afford to and would like to donate to keep both my campaign and blog going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you to everyone that reads and shares my blog, and also to everyone that has and does support my campaign and blog. I really couldn’t do it without you.
It feels strange to be writing this blog post this week because I’ve actually been able to return to my weekly demo and advice session outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.
The DWP and local council might have mistakenly thought that I had stopped doing the weekly demos. I haven’t and dependant on my health I’m back.
This week I decided to stand outside the old Jobcentre building that had been shut down and moved to the new swanky council building. The truth is they underestimated the demand for the Jobcentre and were forced to re open the old one as well.
The old building has had a bit of a makeover, Laurence Llewellyn Bowen has nothing on this transformation. The doors have been repainted, a new carpet put down and what looks like cattle pens with numbers on installed.
Obviously this transformation wasn’t made to make the people that use the Jobcentre feel at ease, I can bet it has the opposite effect.
This week I was on my own accompanied by my daughter and two lovely men filming for french tv. They’re making a programme about the UK’s benefit system and have interviewed the amazing Debbie Abrahams, myself and they’re going to interview the dark lord himself David Cameron.
I was asked many times about my opinion of him, I answered that he’s got the blood of thousands of vulnerable and disabled people on his hands. Along with Ian (I’ll hide in car boots) Duncan Smith there’s a special place in hell for them.
Back to the demo. I chose the old Jobcentre because it’s actually very busy full of people coming and going looking rather stressed whilst doing so.
It wasn’t long until I had a conversation with a man who wasn’t far from retirement age. He had been given an appointment to attend a ‘Working Well’ interview despite being disabled and unable to work.
The DWP with all their infinite knowledge sent him a text message without an address to go to. Basically he didn’t know where his appointment was.
He walked to a building down the road and was told that his appointment wasn’t there and he had to go back to the Jobcentre.
Back at the Jobcentre he was told that he had to get back to the other building and they’d changed the time of his appointment without informing him. Typical DWP communication failure once again. Call me cynical but I’m sure that they do this on purpose sometimes.
To say that this gentleman was distressed was an understatement. He said ” Why can’t they leave me alone? I can’t work and no one will employ me”.
It wasn’t long before I spoke to a young woman that is completely fed up with the DWP. She’s started her own photography business and she’s doing her best to promote it and to find work
The DWP won’t leave her alone though. Every two weeks she still has to attend a back to work interview and she can’t cancel the appointment even if she’s working.
The DWP once again making it very hard for anyone to succeed by themselves. Her business is called WJ Photography and I think she’s on Instagram and Ticktok.
As it became notably colder, probably because we had been standing there for a while we spoke to a man that looked like he was going to start crying at any time.
His story his hard, but sadly not unusual.
As is often the case he had been living in substandard social housing. His home was full of damp and unsuitable to live in.
After a few years of struggling to get the housing association to take action they finally attempted to fix it. This left him without electricity and sleeping at his son’s place on the floor.
He explained the situation to the DWP who were totally unsympathetic telling him that he still had to look for work online for 35 hours a week.
He’s been looking for work since 2018 and can’t find a job, this isn’t without trying because he’s tried damned hard.
I then had a conversation with a chap that I used to speak to on a regular basis outside the Jobcentre. He told me that he was stressed because his mobile phone and internet are due to be cut off because he can’t afford to pay the bill.
Being aware that he needs to search for work online and has to have a working phone number for the DWP to contact him on has resulted in him feeling extremely stressed.
He told me that he’s found an old sim card that’ll work for the DWP to phone him on but he’s worried about his job searching.
I advised him to use the internet at the library or Ikea, but life shouldn’t be like this for a person who’s 60 years of age.
The universal credit system was created to punish people for being poor and for being disabled, never ever forget that.
I really hope that they’re ok , telling them that I’d be back again next week if they want some advice or someone to talk to. After all kindness costs nothing and it makes a massive difference to a person’s day.
I’ll be returning again next week and I’ll be publishing a blog post tomorrow about the new Jobcentre closures.
I need your help though. I need people to share this blog post and my others as much as possible. I want to continue to report about the impact that DWP decisions have on people and how this is still happening.
It would be amazing if I could be joined by some other like-minded people. It’s a big ask I know but it’s essential that we can remind the DWP that we are still here and we are still reporting on their misdoings.
If anyone could donate towards buying someone a cuppa etc I’d be eternally grateful. It’s winter and it’s cold here. A nice hot cuppa keeps the morale going.
If anyone would like to donate towards the campaign and my blog there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
I’m intending to continue with the weekly demos which are dependant on my health. I’ve still got long covid and a lung that’s not functioning as it should be. Thanks covid.
If I have to cancel a week it’ll be for health reasons only. Apologies in advance.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. These past two years have been extremely challenging for us all and I really do appreciate it.
The DWP is effectively trying to block essential and possibly life-saving university research. This research undertaken by Glasgow University with it’s purpose is to find out whether there is a link between benefits sanctions, ill health and suicide.
The research involves Glasgow University linking anonymised DWP data with NHS records. This could and most likely reveal that people that have been sanctioned have been prescribed antidepressants and people that already have existing conditions have resulted in their health declining. The research will also reveal the figures for those attempting to take their own life and sadly for those that have taken their own life.
When Glasgow University informed the DWP that they were starting their research in 2019 the DWP suggested that they would support the project. However since the project began the DWP have continually placed barriers up to try and stop this research to continue.
This comes as no shock to campaigners like myself. The DWP know how badly sanctioning people affects both their physical and mental health..
The DWP have spent years giving excuses to Glasgow University demanding that the research needed tighter security which they complied with. After these measures were put in place the DWP moved the goal post again insisting that Glasgow University must apply for permission to do the research all over again.
This has caused huge delays for the project. Professor Nick Bailey stated that the research should have been completed in 2020, but it has yet to start.
The chair of the Commons work and pensions committee, Stephen Timms told the Guardian “This emerging pattern of obstruction suggests that a culture of secrecy is entrenched in DWP. It must wake up to the harm that it is doing and commit to a new spirit of openness.”
There’s little doubt that the government will either delay or prevent any project that reveals the reality of how people suffer when they’ve been sanctioned.
It will continue to be the case until politicians stop ignoring the immense suffering of thousands of people. Although there are some politicians that don’t ignore this such as Debbie Abrahams who regularly speaks and campaigns against the cruelty of the DWP and their policies.
Ignoring the suffering of thousands of people will result in thousands more deaths. What is needed is for the opposition to start actively opposing the government on DWP related issues.
This isn’t likely to happen in the near future and MPs like Debbie Abrahams are loan voices in parliament trying extremely hard to change things. In the absence of this sadly DWP related issues and problems are going to get worse.
What is needed is for the opposition instead of concentrating about the ‘world of work’ they need to also concentrate and campaign on behalf of those unable to work.
Something has to happen and soon. With energy bills set to rise again in April and people already struggling I fear that thousands will die as a result of being cold and hungry.
It’s impossible to budget money when you have none in the first place
The conservative government has blood on their hands and they’ll never be able to wash it away.
A massive thank you to everyone that subscribes, reads and shares my articles. This makes a massive difference and it raises awareness.
This week was the first aniversary of my sons death. I’ve found it very hard to cope with but I’m still here.
Thank you to Benefits And Work for uncovering this story and for the hard work that they do.
I don’t receive any payment for my work and to say it’s a struggle is massive understatement. I’m reliant upon donations to continue to blog and campaign.
If anyone would like to donate and can afford to there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you to everyone that has helped me. You’ve literally kept this going and I’m eternally grateful.
It comes as no surprise to hear that the DWP are up to their old tricks again. Thanks to Benefits And Work for uncovering the details of a secret survey that is being carried out by the DWP. Rather than being a positive thing the DWP have decided to use this opportunity to further blame claimants for living in poverty. Whilst not putting the blame where it should go which would be the DWP and the government.
According to Benefits And Work the survey is being carried out by one of the UK’s leading polling companies on behalf of the DWP under the pretence of helping the DWP to better understand people’s financial situation and what support they may need. The online survey asks a number of questions about claimants being in debt and kind of debts claimants have. It also questions what effect these debts have had on them and their daily lives.
This is the question that stands out from the rest. ‘What types of help or support, if any, would be most useful in helping you manage your finances?’ And to the unknowing bystander it looks fairly reasonable except it isn’t.
The list of survey answer options includes:
Help with working out what money they have left to spend each/day/week/month.Advice on how to manage spending so they don’t run out of money Advice on how to reduce their spending Advice on how to reduce their debts
What is missing completely are the very reasons why claimants are in debt in the first place. No mention is given as to the the real reasons why a person might find themselves forced into poverty and are then unable to live a debt free life.
As it stands the amount of social security payments are way below the rate of inflation and haven’t been increased as such, ignoring the facts that food and energy costs have already increased. Energy costs are also set to increase again in April. This will leave claimants unable to make a choice between heating and eating because they’ll be unable to do either. at a rate
The 5 week waiting time for Universal Credit claims to be processed immediately throws claimants into debt. Some can argue that claimants can apply for a loan to cover this whilst ignoring the fact that it doesn’t cover it and the loan has to be paid back. According to the DWP this loan has to go towards paying your rent costs which results in having no money for heating or eating.
It’s also pretty fair to say that hardly any claimants receive their full payment amounts due to the DWP and related organisations garnishing payments for debts such as social security debts, council tax and television licence debts and other related debts. It’s extremely hard, near impossible for claimants to reduce the amount of money garnished each week or month leaving them with much reduced payments in the first place.
There is also no option for questioning the extremely long delays for PIP assessments and WCAs. These long waiting periods throw disabled people into a never ending circle of debt and distress. They are entitled to these payments which go towards them being able to cover the hidden costs that disabled people face every day. Instead the government would rather not help them and instead choose to make their lives as difficult as possible.
With the absence of these answers the survey will no doubt give results saying that claimants who are in debt need to be able to manage their money more resulting them to be referred for budgeting advice. It’s impossible to budget more when claimants aren’t receiving enough social security payments to help them to survive. A caring government would rise payments in line with inflation because it’s the right thing to do.
As it stands this survey will allow the DWP to make the assertion some claimants are unable to eat or heat because they are failing to budget correctly, therefore fuelling the DWP and governments rhetoric that claimants are to blame for their own poverty.
This is very concerning because going off the DWPs track record they’ll share this survey as quickly as possible, after all theres nothing they like more than to punish claimants for reasons that are out of their control.
Benefits And Work have made a Freedom of Information request to find out when and if this report is going to be published.
A huge thank you to everyone that likes, shares, supports and reads my blog. I really couldn’t do this without you xxx.
This Monday coming is the anniversary of my son’s death, the night that he took his last breaths leaving a gaping hole where he once was. I miss him everyday and to be honest I’m still wondering how I’ve coped with his loss for this past year.
I’m hoping to be able to visit his memorial (funds allowing) and to (if I’m ready) to scatter some of his ashes at Hartshead Pike one of his favourite places.
Whilst they were unable to find a cause of death we can still remember him. He will always be in our hearts and memories until we meet again.
Solidarity to love to the Ukraine and Palestine.
I don’t receive any payments for any of the work that I do, nor do I receive any payments for my campaign.
If you would like to donate to keep both going and can afford to do so there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
Being poor in winter has always been a costly time of year but this year we are reminded of how many more people find themselves in this position.
I’ve said it before and will say it again because the choice between heating or eating is one that thousands are having to make this year, many not having the finances to do either. As we are already faced with increased energy prices, the upcoming price rises in April will make it a cost too high for thousands.
Imagine being priced out of being able to have the necessities to keep warm and to cook food and suchlike. I envisage thousands more people living in houses without access to gas and electric, sitting around a burning candle wishing for money to put on the meter.
It’s very reminiscent of life in victorian England, the poor suffering more than ever whilst the government totally ignores the needs of its most vulnerable citizens. Whilst we don’t have physical workhouses we have digital ones that people have to comply with at all times or risk their social security being stopped. I can bet they’ve spoken about bringing back the old workhouses though.
To give some context to this over the past month its cost me £75 to keep my house warm and £70 to keep the electric on and to enable the heating to work. This is far more expensive than this time last year and I can’t afford to do it anymore. As we approach April it really will be a cost too high for me.
I’m not alone though, thousands are in the same position as I am, struggling to get by, having sleepless nights worrying about how on earth they’re going to provide warmth and electricity for their children.
Make no mistake whilst we are struggling to get by the Tory government is virtually laughing at us, placing the blame for our poverty, for our disabilities and for our low wages firmly on our feet saying that it’s all our fault.
The government talk about aspiration yet they give us nothing to aspire to, it’s hard to do so when you’re hungry and cold.
The reality is that we have a government that was born more privileged thank you or I, they attended private schools and had the best education and healthcare than the average person will ever have. They don’t know or care to know about how life is like for the working class. They’ll never care about us or even think about us after all we are just a number to them, a commodity that can be bought and sold at their whim. When we aren’t of any use to them they discard us like yesterdays newspaper making life extremely hard, subjecting the most vulnerable to countless medical assessments and compliance meetings.
Life shouldn’t be like this, We need to continue protesting, reminding the tory government that they have no right to be treating us like this.
I apologise for this weeks blog, I’m ranting I know but it’s how I feel and it needs to be said.
A huge thank you to everyone that likes, shares, reads and tweets my blog. Every share makes a massive difference and it raises awareness.
I receive no funding for my blog and campaign. If you would like to donate and can afford to theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Thank you!]
Universal credit claimants are going to be introduced to the DWPs new ‘Way To Work’ scheme in the very near future. The conditions for this new job searching programme will be that claimants will only be allowed to look for work in their own field of expertise cut back to one month. After one month claimants will be forced to look for any kind of job. going to have the time they can look for any Jon including work that they’re not qualified to do.
The DWPs new scheme has been introduced because the government has decided to force half a million people into work of any kind by June. Rather conveniently ignoring the fact that employers won’t just allow anyone to do any job without the relevant qualifications and work experience.
The new Way To Work scheme will apply to people that are declared fit for work and are classed as ready to work.
Instead the blame will fall upon already stressed claimants who don’t comply with the new Way To Work regime. If they refuse to look for work that they aren’t qualified for they will face having their universal credit payments sanctioned. Claimants will be forced to adhere to the new terms and conditions upon making their first claim for universal credit.
Whilst the DWP are in the mood for harassing claimants they’re threatening to ramp up the threat of sanctions. Unsurprisingly at the same time they’re refusing to publish a report which they created in 2019 into the effectiveness of sanctions. In true DWP fashion they’ve changed their mind about publishing the report because they regard it to be of a “sensitive nature”. Regardless of wether they publish the report or not there is a hell of a lot of information out there, published by other organisations and agencies that prove that sanctioning claimants only has a detrimental effect upon claimants and their families.
Sanctioning claimants ensures that a person will dive even further into poverty, their health will get worse. Many are left without the ability to buy food, heat their homes and pay their rent. I’ve been writing about this for years now, if you scroll down you’ll see my posts.
Given that the number of UC claimants carrying sanctions has already rose tenfold between June and November 2021, it is extremely worrying about about how many more claimants will face sanctions and how will they cope combined with the massive cost of living crisis that is already forcing people to make the choice between eating, heating or neither.
The truth is this. Sanctioning people and taking away a persons only means of financial support is yet another way that the government and the DWP punish people for being poor, blaming them for their own poverty and ensuring that they’ll have to agree with anything that the DWP tells them to do.
Sanctions also ensure that a person that has been sanctioned won’t have the energy to fight back because they’re either scared of what can happen or are too hungry, tired and worried to think about anything else.
Sadly I suspect that the DWP could also sanction people that have failed to get employment with an employer outside of their field of expertise. Will they blame the innocent claimant for not getting the job? Judging from previous experience you can bet that they could well do this.
The new ‘Way to work’ scheme won’t be welcomed by many employers either. Jobs often require qualifications and experience, sending everyone to apply for all jobs could deter employers from advertising jobs with the DWP. It’ll result in a lot of extra work trying to find suitable prospective employees through masses of applications.
It’s the perfect Tory recipe to shut up the voices of the working class, making them too scared to do anything to upset their overseers (DWP).
This isn’t surprising though, its a tried and tested tory tactic, switching the blame for any financial mess that the government has created upon those that are the poorest. They choose to take the blame away from themselves especially when they’ve been behaving shockingly. It’s impossible to forget the newspaper headline quoting people claiming social security of being benefit scroungers and also the numerous poverty porn tv programmes on channel 5.
The stigma of being poor and forced to claim social security hasn’t gone away, it’s alive and kicking online in local Facebook groups and on the streets. We need to continue to call out Boris Johnson and his cronies for exactly what they are lying scum and they’ll never have the publics best interests at heart.
I know how awful it is to be targeted by the DWP and a very judgemental and unhelpful DWP advisor, I know how worrying it is to be threatened with a benefit section. Thousands of people have suffered as a result of this unnecessary sanctioning system. Sanctions don’t help people to look for work and like I’ve stated above they have a very detrimental affect upon a persons wellbeing.
Solidarity with everyone forced to undergo the cruel DWP regime.
A huge thank you to everyone that reads and shares my blog posts. It really makes a massive difference and it raises awareness which is desperately right now.
A huge thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog and campaign.
If you would like to get some support and solidarity I thoroughly recommend going Disabled People Against The Cuts (DPAC). They are a national voluntary run organisation. Here’s the link to the Greater `Manchester branch https:\\manchesterdpac.com
How am I? To be honest I’m struggling at the moment like many of you are. Being forced to sit in a cold house isn’t my idea of living. I put the heating on for my daughter and that’s it, and its not all the time. I’m dreading the energy price increases in April.
I’m not paid by anyone to do the work that I do and I would like to be able to continue to do so.
If you can afford to donate to help keep this going theres a PayPal button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you to everyone that has r dos support my blog and campaign, I really couldn’t do it without you.
This week has been brutal for the poorest and most vulnerable.
Last night Conservative MPs voted to hand bankers a tax cut worth £1,000,000,000 each year whilst at the same time they’re pushing ahead with their National Insurance tax hike on workers.
Meanwhile the energy price cap rise has been announced today at 11am, revealing a massive bills hike for around 22million households from the start of April, with the government saying that they will offer people that pay for their energy by bills £200 towards the cost of this. This won’t cover the price increase by any means and nor have they addressed people that use pre payment meters.
The predicted energy price costs are set to increase by £708 a year from £1,309 to £2.017 for those dependent upon pre-paid energy meters. For those paying by bills its set to rise by £693 a year to £1.971.
The apparent cause for this according to the energy regulator Ofgem is a record increase in global gas prices.
Where does this leave us? Millions of people including disabled and elderly people will be put in an unattainable situation. Can they afford to heat and eat? As from April the answer will be no to both for millions. Energy prices have already risen and already millions already can’t afford to pay this.
To cook food it requires the use of energy which will from April which will almost be tripled in price.. Will they be able to put their heating on for a hour in the morning and evening to warm up a little? I doubt it.
For the last ten years millions of people have been reliant upon food parcels to survive. The reasons for this vary from being sanctioned by the DWP, having to wait five weeks for their first universal credit payment and not earning enough money to pay the rent, bills and suchlike. This already leaves many living in destitution. A knock off effect of these price increases will most likely result in a decrease of food donations because people will no longer be able to afford to donate.
Not only will the energy price rises cause great distress I have no doubt that it will cause the death of thousands. Not being able to afford to eat any food of a decent nutritional value will cause illness combined with living in a cold house with no heating will exacerbate this.
Not only is this insulting its a deliberate conscience choice. As usual the poorest are being hit the hardest, like my MP Angela Rayner said ‘Don’t believe their lies about levelling up they’re busy punching down.’ They could have made the choice to make gas providers such as Shell oil pay higher taxes, nor have they offered to increase social security payments to help people pay these costs.
This is the highest increase of energy prices that have ever been recorded. Instead of helping the poorest and most vulnerable, they’ve chosen not to. It’s conscious, deliberate cruelty which will result in suffering and deaths.
I’m furious even though I was expecting this. Like many I live in poverty dependent upon foodbanks and cheap food. Whilst I was planning my sons funeral last year Boris Johnson and co were ignoring the quarantine rules and having a jolly good time. I was trying to work out who could attend his funeral. We were abiding by the rules for the safety of others.
My financial situation now leaves me unable to visit his memorial at the cemetery to pay my respects. This feels like a massive kick in the teeth. Not only could my son not be able to have all of his friends attend his funeral, I now can’t afford to pay my respects.
Please read, share and tweet my blog. This makes a massive difference and it really does help to raise awareness.
If you can afford to and would like to donate towards my blog and campaign theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. I receive no payment for any of the work that I do and I’m dependent upon donations to continue.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign.
Half a million Universal Credit claimants will soon be forced to apply for jobs from every sector or risk being sanctioned.
Government ministers are today announcing a new scheme to supposedly get more people into work under the pretence of helping claimants and their families. Apparently this will supposedly ‘help’ them cope with the cost of living crisis.
Government ministers are also announcing major plans today to change job searching rules to toughen up the already harsh rules about searching for work. They say it will supposedly help more people secure jobs.
“Under our new plans, jobseekers will be supported to find any job in any sector within weeks not months, putting them on the path to better jobs and progression in a career.”
This will be soul destroying for people having worked hard to gain their qualifications and work experience.
It appears that whilst the government is announcing their new job searching scheme they’ve forgotten that we are still living in a pandemic which is leaving people open to infection regardless of being vaccinated which can then put their families at risk.
Universal Credit claimants, working and not working and disabled people are already being hit the hardest with the rising cost of energy bills and taxes that are going to be introduced in April. Indeed, energy costs have already risen leaving many with having to make the terrible choice of heating or eating or neither.
It comes as no surprise that this could be the reason why the government has lowered the quarantine regulations. In their eyes everyone should be working regardless of their ability do do so.
The government also announced ‘We’re using the strength of our jobs market to tackle supply challenges and get employers the people they and the economy need’. This will be done regardless of a persons needs therefore once again putting their ‘friends’ in business first without a thought for claimants.
Ministers are also planning more intensive face-to-face meetings for claimants which will undoubtably cause distress for claimants and will also take time away from actual job searching.
As I’ve already said in previous blog posts, finding a job isn’t as easy as the government would like you to believe.
Not everyone can apply for every job for various reasons and employers often won’t employ everyone either. There are various reasons for this ranging from the ability to undertake the work and being overqualified for the job. Not everyone has access to the internet either.
However as part of the DWPs new plans claimants will be told to look for and find a job within weeks not months. If they fail to find employment they will face being sanctioned.
There is no way that a minimum wage or zero hour job will cover the costs of living. The price of food, energy and housing is increasing every day which leaves the poorest paying the highest cost for this.
I can envision that these new rules will cause a whole new level of suffering, forcing claimants to undergo more compliance and burdening them with more pressure to find work that’s suitable for them.
Instead of challenging the minimum wage and abolishing zero hour contracts there is no way on this earth that it will benefit anyone. Instead the government and the DWP have seen the pandemic as an excuse to punish the poorest and this is unforgivable.
How am I? Stressed as per usual. Financially I’m really struggling, this blog being my main source of income. To say that I’m struggling is an understatement.
I’m worried about the health of everyone forced to undergo this new regime and the effects of it.
So many people are already stressed, forced to live on the bare minimum but the increased threat of being sanctioned for not finding work in weeks will cause an immense amount of mental distress.
I will be there to help people as will many others, and I will continue to do this however hard it is for me.
If you would like to get some support and solidarity I can’t recommend Disabled People Against the Cuts enough. If you live in the Greater Manchester area you can find them here at https:\\manchesterdpac.com
If you would like to donate to keep both my blog and campaign going there is a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny makes an enormous difference as does sharing my blog.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my work. I really couldn’t do it without you.
Whilst we are all aware that food prices have increased dramatically over the past few years, how much is a question that I’ve been trying to answer myself. Most people that I help, including myself are struggling to feed ourselves and families. Going without three meals a day is a reality for so many. Buying enough food to make a complete, decent nutritious meal is near impossible.
To be honest I’m pretty useless at maths so you can imagine how engrossed `I was when I saw Jack Monroes tweets concerning this. Jack has been campaigning about food poverty for years, they’re not someone that’s jumped upon the bandwagon, not knowing what it’s like to go without food. Jack has experienced it also and even though their situation has improved Jack continues to help and inspire others.
Below are some tweets posted by Jack yesterday. Jack has been collecting food cost data for years now and the reality of exactly how much the price of food has increased is shocking.
In these tweets Jack reveals the true extent of food price increases and it’s not easy reading.
As you can see this is exactly why buying food has become so damn hard for so many. The price of living has increased dramatically however wages for many haven’t increased nor has social security (benefit) payments. For example the £20 top up payments has been taken away from people receiving Universal Credit. No financial help was offered to disabled people leaving them in a worse position than most.
Whilst we haven’t seen a price increase for luxury meal deals and suchlike, the cost of the very basic food products that literally keep people alive have increased dramatically. This is a true example of class division and hierarchy.
Meanwhile the government and their spokespeople continue to say that food prices have increased by 5% the reality is much different.
The knock off affects of these price rises will once again hit the poorest the hardest. Donations to foodbanks will decrease because the people donating food will no longer be able to afford to do so. The ramifications for both families and people are huge. The government is literally pricing people out of being able to buy food. This needs to be addressed urgently but I very much doubt that it will be.
A huge thank you to Jack Monroe for their hard work campaigning and for supplying this data. Also thanks for giving me permission to share it.
If your’e interested in getting involves with campaigning or need support I can’t recommend DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts0 enough. It’s a fantastic network run by real people experiencing the same difficulties that you might be experiencing.
You can find them both on Facebook and Twitter. If you live in the Greater Manchester area you can join Manchester DPAC here at https:\\manchesterdpac.com
How am I? I’m really struggling at the moment. This week I had to buy some electric and gas leaving me with no money to buy food. I do know that so many of you are also in the same position as I’m in. I hate being forced to live like this.
If you like my work and campaign and can afford to theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny makes a huge difference for both.
A made thank you to everyone that has supported and does support both my blog and campaign. I really could’t do this without you.
As reported by Benefits And Work there are possibly thousands of missing Long Covid PIP claimants that appear to be missing from both the Office for National Statistics. They are also missing from the DWP latest published statistics.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics estimate that 506,000 people have now had Long Covid for over a year. This number is increasing every day yet they’re missing, nowhere to be found.
247,000 Long Covid sufferers say that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities has been “limited a lot” as a result of Long Covid.
Yet according to the latest DWP statistics on Stat-Xplore record there are just 480 claims regarding Long Covid where it is the the main condition for claiming PIP. This figure has risen from 143 claims three months earlier.
However the success rate for PIP Long Covid claims has fallen from 76%, but is still high, at almost 60%.
A quarter of those who were successful in claiming PIP received the enhanced rate of both the daily living and the mobility components.
It appears that PIP claims for Long Covid do have a better than average chance of success. Despite this hundreds of thousands of people who could be making a PIP claim appear to not be doing so.
Long Covid is exhausting to live with and is likely to hinder any employment prospects. Living with Long Covid also increases everyday living costs.
The reality of having to make a choice between eating or heating, or not being able to afford either is something that Long Covid sufferers and others have to make daily.
The reason for the missing PIP claimants could be because of a distinct lack of information regarding claiming PIP for Long Covid sufferers. This is abhorrent. Everyone that is suffering from this disabling condition should be informed of their right to claim PIP to help with their everyday living costs.
Please read, share, tweet and email this blog post. Sharing makes a huge difference in raising awareness to the public.
A huge thank to Benefits And Work for providing this information. They’re amazing and work so hard.
A huge thank you to everyone that supports my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do this without you and your support.
For anyone that likes my blog and campaign and would like to donate towards keeping both going there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
Financially I’m struggling and every penny is appreciated. Thank you.
As reported by the amazing team over at Benefits And Work a coroner has issued a Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report after the DWP forced a severely ill claimant to leave hospital to make a claim, without giving him the option him to do so electronically.
Terence Talbot, who had Bipolar Affective Disorder, was at the time being detained at hospital under the Mental Health Act because he had suffered a rare reaction to the medication he had been prescribed. This reaction had made him very vulnerable to infection and ultimately resulted in his death.
According to Benefits And Work the DWP had refused to let Mr Talbot make a claim for benefits electronically which he was entitled to do and instead insisted that he had to make the claim in person.
As a result of having to leave the hospital to make his claim Mr Talbot died in hospital.
The Coroner said in her report that the health professionals that cared for Mr Talbot had never experienced such an ill patient being forced to make a claim in person.
She went on to say “I heard from all the doctors and a senior nurse in this case who have a considerable experience across a range of specialties and across several different NHS Trusts. They have never experienced nor heard of a case where a severely ill inpatient was required by the Department of Work and Pensions to leave hospital to attend its offices in person to make a claim for welfare benefits.”
The secretary of state for Work and Pensions has until 28 January to tell the Coroner how the DWP will make sure that nothing like this happens again.
Don’t depend on this changing anything though. The DWP has a very long record of making promises that they have no intention of keeping. It isn’t important to them, nor is the welfare of claimants important as well. Sadly I expect that they won’t ‘learn’ from Mr Talbots death, instead they’ll file it away to be forgotten.
For a long time now the government has regarded claimants as stock, ready to be used and neglected at their whim. Once a claimant isn’t able to be of use for the DWP and government they more or less wipe their hands of them, making life extremely hard forcing them to complete impossible tasks.
This then results in deaths such as Mr Talbots and thousands more like him.
Sue Jones over on Twitter explains it perfectly.
I’d like to say that this isn’t true but it is. They regard people with disabilities and illnesses with such disdain and hate that many find it impossible to continue. Many refuse to make a claim for benefits because they’re too scared of doing so. Indeed, many of the people that I help and have helped have been in this position. Judged by society for being disabled or ill and then treated with cruelty by the DWP.
There is a desperate need for change in how the DWP and society views people that claim benefits and also how they treat people with disabilities. This won’t happen whilst the Conservative government is in power, but we can continue to put pressure upon them by sharing campaigns and blogs like mine. It makes a massive difference.
My thoughts and prayers go to Mr Talbot, his family and everyone that has died as a result of cruel decisions made by the DWP and their representatives.
How am I? Struggling this week as usual. Like so many of you I’ve had to make the choice between heating and eating. Truth be told like you I can’t afford to do either but I have to make sure my daughters wellbeing comes first.
If you are interested in getting involved with campaigning or need support I can’t recommend DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) enough. It’s a fantastic network run by real people experiencing the same difficulties as you might be. You can find them on their Facebook page and Twitter.
If you like my work and campaign and can afford to would like to donate to keep both my blog and campaign going there is a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny makes a huge difference for both. I have to pay my internet bill tomorrow and I’m really struggling to do so.
Thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. You have all kept me going through the extremely bad past year. We are all still struggling with my sons death, he leaves a massive hole in our hearts that can’t be filled.
This year has certainly been a challenge for so many of us.
Food poverty has become the new norm as has fuel poverty and substandard housing. Living in poverty is kind of expected for the working class, especially by the government and suchlike.
The truth is that we shouldn’t be forced to live this way, constantly scratching around to try and make a meal out of the remnants of a food parcel. It’s not as if the government will do anything to rectify this after all the working class should know their place.
Despite this the past year has been also been a challenge for many other reasons. My son died very unexpectedly and suddenly this year leaving me to pick up the pieces whilst trying to support my daughters. Everything appeared to go wrong for me and personally I can’t wait until this year is over.
When I say that loosing my son broke me it’s an understatement. Some days I wanted to stay in bed and hide from the world.
I really don’t know how I’ve got through this but I did and I’m very grateful that I did. .
We’ve lost so many people due to Covid 19 and illness this past year. Whilst you won’t hear the government talking about this we must continue to remember them.
Financially we are all feeling the pinch in one way or another. I’ve found it a massive struggle getting from day to day whilst trying to make things appear normal for my youngest daughter that still lives at home. I know that you also feel the same way, it’s tiring, exhausting sometimes.
So many of us have become ill this past year, I’m still battling Long Covid and some days I’m exhausted, but carry on we must because we have no choice.
Whilst I haven’t got a magic wand to make everything better for you god knows I want one, what I can say is that we will continue to support each other in whatever way that we can do. I’ll be continuing to blog and campaigning
If you haven’t celebrated Christmas and have no plans to celebrate the start of a new year you’re not alone. I haven’t and I won’t either. Don’t let anyone pressurise you into doing something that you don’t want to do or aren’t comfortable doing. You do you it’s so important to do this.
I would like to thank everyone that has read, shared and supported my blog and campaign this past year. I really couldn’t do this without you, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to cope with the death of my son without your support.
Talking about support DPAC (Disabled People Against The Cuts) is a fantastic support and campaigning network that’s well worth joining. I’ve been campaigning alongside them for many years now and I can attest to how amazing they are.
If you are unemployed and would like to join a trade union head over to https:\\join.unitetheunion.org They also do amazing work and they offer legal advice etc. There is a small cost to join but if you can I can’t recommend it enough.
I don’t receive any funding or payment for any of the work that I do. If you like my work and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A friend of mine that volunteers at a foodbank has just sent me the below images. They asked if their anonymity is kept and of course I’m respecting this.
The photos were taken as they were arriving for their shift at the food bank. It wasn’t open for some time, but the queue was already massive, people arriving early to make sure that they’d get some food.
As you can see the queue consisted of People, all differing in their needs. What can’t be missed is the people using wheelchairs queueing for food parcels.on Christmas Eve.
Also in the queue are elderly people and families with children.
You don’t need me to tell you that this shouldn’t be happening , it’s heartbreaking.
You can always find the measure of a country by seeing how they look after the poor, young, elderly and disabled.
The conservative government is blatantly failing on this front. As a country we can’t be proud of this either.
Being proud of a country is about being proud of what it actually does right, and how it treats those in need. It’s not about waving flags and singing the national anthem.
We can however also look back on history and also be ashamed for the very same reasons. Ignoring the fact that the UK government is causing direct harm to people won’t make it go away.
Whilst the government has been focusing on ridiculous things like blue passports people are dying, thousands are becoming homeless and many are becoming ill from poverty related illnesses.
Meanwhile the public are bombarded with images of the royal family having a lovely Christmas, the people queuing at this foodbank and others won’t be able to celebrate.
Its simply not acceptable.
I messaged the volunteer that took the below images and this is what they said
It felt like a slap in the face for them too. It’s a reminder of their privilege. Because despite having their own difficulties they can sit in a warm house, with food, having just wrapped presents for their family.
They went on to say that it makes them angry and sad that this is happening, that they wished that they could do more to help. There’s more that many could do, so let’s do it.
Helping others doesn’t have to cost a penny. A kind word, saying hello in the street makes the world of difference to someone that lives alone and hasn’t spoken to anyone for a long time.
Being a friend costs nothing also, sharing what you no longer need doesn’t either. Of course I realise that many people have nothing to give to someone else.
Let’s spend the festive period and the coming year to be kind and thoughtful towards each other. We need to do this because the government won’t ever care about you.
Please read, share, tweet and email this blog post. This makes a massive difference and it raises lots of awareness. Thank you!
A huge thank you to everyone that has and is supporting my blog and campaign. I really appreciate it and I couldn’t do this without your support.
If anyone would like to donate there’s a donat button at the top and side of this blog post.
Dear subscribers and guests it’s been a tough year for so many of us, I know it, I feel it.
This year was probably the worst one of my whole life. My son was tragically taken away from me mid pandemic. It hurts more than anything else that I’ve experienced.
Whilst we were abiding to the social distancing rules, the Tory government were busy partying and carrying on as if nothing had happened.
This was a case of we’ll do whatever we want sod the public. They don’t care about us. My son had to have a very reduced socially distanced funeral whilst they were enjoying life.
To be honest this is a perfect example of how they treat us. They never spare a thought for us so don’t expect them to either.
Christmas is a tough time for so many reasons wether it be for financial reasons or bereavement. I’m with you, I feel it.
I haven’t put a Christmas tree up this year. My daughter and I decided that it doesn’t feel right so we put some extra lights on his memorial table.
So much pressure is put on society to have the big tree, the decorations and lots of good food. The truth is that so many of us can’t afford to buy the big tree, pay for the electric to light the Christmas lights and affording a big meal with all the trimmings is near impossible.
Poverty doesn’t end at Christmas, if anything it’s amplified for reasons that I’ve already stated.
You do Christmas how you want to do it. Try and ignore the pressure to comply to what everyone expects. If you want to turn the TV off and read a book instead then do it.
If you want to spend Christmas day doing nothing then do it. Be kind to yourself.
I used to put so much pressure upon myself to get everything right for others to see. Loosing my son has made me realise that none of this really matters.
Like many of you I’m going to find Christmas tough, but I will get through it.
So many families are going to be going without the Christmas that they were used to. The pandemic has caused thousands of people to loose their jobs and it’s also resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.
Thousands of families and individuals are newly dependant upon foodbanks to keep them going. It’s not easy asking for help and the food isn’t the best. Hopefully one day it will get better.
How do you explain to your children that Father Christmas can’t come this year? It’s heartbreaking.
What we can do is be there for each other, talk to friends on social media, text or face to face (socially distanced of course).
We will get through this. Lots of love to you all.
Please read, share and tweet my blog. This makes a massive difference and it raises so much awareness.
A huge thank you to everyone that supports and has supported my blog this year. I really couldn’t do it without you.
I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and to say it’s tough is an understatement.
For anyone that would like to donate there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
It has always been known that the DWP (Department Of Work And Pensions) surveil benefit claimants who are suspected of committing fraud. This is often based upon their opinion and reports made by members of the public, but how in depth their surveillance is was previously unknown.
In 2019 the DWP published their two part staff guide on conducting fraud investigations. Thanks to Privacy International who went through the 995 pages of the report to help people understand how these investigations happen and how the DWP is surveilling claimants suspected of fraud.
Here are some of their findings.
They found that the DWP do conduct physical surveillance of benefit claimants.
The DWP can ask private companies such as Paypal, supermarkets etc to hand over any data that they might have on benefit claimants to them.
Not surprisingly, because we have all seen the tabloid newspapers reporting stories focussing on benefit cheats and clamping down on them. This is because the DWP actively works with tabloid newspapers to share this narrative, which then creates a hostile environment that legitimises this narrative and creates a constant fear for vulnerable claimants.
The DWP are only authorised to conduct directed surveillance. and are entitled to surveil claimants in order to obtain information without contacting the claimant involved first.
How do they do this?
The DWP can claim papers, handwriting and departmental system prints.
Interviewing witnesses and obtaining witness statements.
Interviewing claimants under caution.
The DWP guidance states that they can examine mobile phones and tablets because of the amount of information that’s stored on these devices.
DWP officers are encouraged to approach third parties to get information.
On page 316 of part of one, the guide reads: “The Criminal Procedures and Investigation Act (CPIA) Code Of Practice (COP) makes it clear that to establish the facts about an offence you can question any person, whether suspected or not, who you think might have useful information. If a person, including a third party, has useful information you should ask for it.”
So basically a claimant is guilty before being found innocent.
The guide contains some instructions as to how DWP officers should go about approaching third parties. These instructions include that they have to be clear that they are from the DWP if they are questioned, they should also remember that the person they are investigating may be innocent. They are told to not reveal the source of the suspicion, remembering that the third party may also be involved in suspected fraud.
The guide quotes Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is the right to respect for one’s private and family life. It is quoted on page 316 of the report and is immediately followed by an explanation on the specific circumstances in which the DWP may legitimately interfere with it.
“If DWP are to interfere with this Convention right it must be proven that all other avenues to obtain the evidence have been explored. However, in a case, which consists of various circumstantial evidence, it may only be possible to bolster the evidence to the criminal standard by providing evidence from third parties. Additional justification may be on the grounds that it would prevent or detect a crime”
Physical surveillance is also used by physically watching an individual and also using CCTV footage that can be obtained by the DWP without requiring PIPA authorisation.
The surveillance team can gather photo and video evidence.
The DWP also encouraged to use open source information such as social media, internet use, internet chat rooms, forums and websites to gain information regarding benefit fraud.
DWP officers are advised to cautious about gaining information in this way. They are told that they still need to give a claimant some expectation of privacy regardless that this very act takes away a persons privacy. This in turn causes distress for the claimant that they’re investigating.
The following advice is given: “If officers consider that there is a need to view material over a protracted period of time to accumulate private information or monitor the individuals activities, i.e. anything thing more than twice, then they should be considering an authorisation under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), as repeat viewing may constitute directed surveillance. There is a professional responsibility for individuals to ask themselves why they want to look at the material, and what they will do with the information. Single use open source will generally not amount to directed surveillance but expectation of privacy still needs to be considered.” [part two, page 80].
The DWP uses this information to;
Obtain information about a claimants activities
Obtain information to be used in a future interview
To observe a claimants movements or work pattern
To establish where a claimant lives
To obtain evidence for a possible court case.
How does this affect disabled people?
The DWP assesses if someone claiming disability benefits is disabled. They often use physical surveillance to do so. They can also use a claimants social media to assess their mental capacity too.
They do this without any medical qualifications and often without any knowledge of a persons disability and how it affects them.
The DWP are supposed to take psychological distress component into consideration whilst at the same time not describing how to do this, thus not taking it into consideration at all.
The DWP have always used used surveillance to check upon a persons relationship and to see who a claimant lives with to see if they’re claiming the correct benefits. The DWP reminds their employees that living together as a married couple is not in itself an offence whilst at the same time financially punishing them for doing so.
The DWP also has the authority to contact third party organisations such as
banks (including credit unions),
credit reference agencies,
money transfer companies,
water and sewerage undertaker or authority,
gas and electricity providers,
educational establishment or institutions,
The Student Loans Company.
banks (including credit unions),
credit reference agencies,
money transfer companies,
water and sewerage undertaker or authority,
gas and electricity providers,
educational establishment or institutions,
The Student Loans Company.
Airlines, which can hand over names of passengers and dates of travel (EasyJet is listed separately, as it falls under the “abroad fraud desk”. They can hand over passenger and booking information)
Bingo clubs, which can hand over membership details
The BBC, which can hand over TV licence holder name, method of payment and date of expiry
Sky, which can hand over Sky Broadband and Sky Talk subscriber details
Estate agents, who can hand over owner details, purchaser details, price, dates, method of payment and lettings
Golf clubs, gyms, leisure facilities and sports club, which can hand over membership details and activities undertaken
Harbour masters, who can hand over details about boat-ownership, boat-movements, dates and berthing fees
Legal Aid Board, which can hand over details of Legal Aid claims.
National Health Service Counter Fraud, which can hand over GP registration and checks of medical cards
National Health Service Trusts, which can hand over next of kin details and declared addresses
National Health Service Trusts & Hospitals, which can hand over details of admission and discharge and registration documents
Universities and Colleges Admissions Services, which can hand over university details and college placements
The DWP also have singled out PayPal as an organisation that is willing to provide information in response to a standard data protection letter but only if they say that the information is requested for law enforcement purposes.
The DWP also relies upon credit reference agencies for their investigations regardless of the fact that people being investigated are more likely to be in debt and have a poor credit rating. Regardless of this it’s yet another avenue for the DWP to exploit.
This is an extraordinary abuse of power given to the DWP too often target innocent people. Benefit fraud levels are 3.6% of benefit expenditure whilst many claimants are being underpaid by the DWP due to error.
Whilst claiming any type of benefit from the DWP a person also waves goodbye to the right to privacy that they should be entitled to. I’ve seen DWP officers check a claimants social media before their appointment, thus unbeknown to the claimant they’ve lost a part of their privacy.
If this was happening to a person not claiming benefits they’d quite rightly be an uproar about it. For this to happen to a claimant it’s regarded as being ok. None of this is ok and we must continue to oppose the shocking treatment of benefit claimants.
If you have a social media account make sure that it’s set to friends only. Check any friend requests first and be wary that some so called DWP help groups are used to survey people.
Thanks given to @mrfrankzola over on Twitter for sharing this information and making me aware of this report. Also thanks given to eerie.org for their hard work producing this report.
This Monday was the funeral of my dear friend Karl who was also a member of my group Tameside Against The Cuts. Karl provided lots of hot drinks, lifts for claimants needing help and much needed support on our weekly demos. He was a wonderful person with a very kind heart, he will be sadly missed.
If you live in the Greater Manchester area and you are disabled please join Manchester DPAC where you will find support, solidarity and the option of joining in any activities that they are doing. You’ll find them over at https:\\manchesterdpac.com
Please can you read, share, tweet, email my blog and this post. Sharing helps enormously to raise awareness and it actually helps people.
I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and it’s a struggle. If you would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going there’s a donation button at the top and side of this blog post. Thank you.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign, You have literally kept me going through this very tough year and the loss of my son. I’m not sure if I can celebrate Christmas this year.
I will be blogging next week and hopefully it will be a festive version.
The DWP are rather unsurprisingly refusing Benefits and Works request to see a copy of a report undertaken that looks at 120 claimants’ experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit. Benefits And Work have now appealed to the Information Commissioner but this process could take many months which gives the DWP chance to find more reasons not to release the contents of the report.
The DWP have also declined to let the work and pensions committee see a copy of the report, even under conditions of complete confidentiality which leaves many to ask why this is happening and what are they trying to hide.
Benefits And Work have however viewed documents which show that either the report interviewees were knowingly misled about the research being published. It could be the case that the Secretary of state was being dishonest when she told MPs “Publication decisions are always taken upon completion of research.”
Rather interestingly Disability News Service have been contacted by a whistleblower that told them that they had been shown the first draft of the report and the DWP had ordered the authors to reduce the number of references to “unmet needs” and to delete some of its analysis.
So even the diluted final version of the report is apparently too scandalous to see the light of day.
The government have also recently published a Green Paper in order to consult on ‘how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people and people with health conditions now and in the future’.
It’s debatable if they will actually take note of the needs of disabled people and to treat them fairly. They haven’t so far and I’m not expecting them to either.
It is also rumoured that the government might propose to reduce financial support to some disabled claimants in their forthcoming white paper. Taking this into account it makes sense for them that they don’t want evidence published that shows that there is already a high level of unmet needs.
Watch this space I will report on any future updates concerning this.
From years of past experience we know that the DWP don’t put the needs of disabled people first or even anywhere. Their target is to force people into work regardless of them actually being able to do so.
In the past I’ve seen disabled people forced onto Universal Credit by deception and then forced onto DWP courses with the aim of getting them ‘ready’ for work.
Remember that claimants are still forced to undertake unpaid ‘voluntary’ work which is unfair to say the least and can cause distress too many.
We can’t let the government and the DWP get away with ignoring report requests and also implementing rules that are at best cruel.
We need to remember that the government and the DWP are masters of deception and we must continue to see past their lies. There’s more of us than there are of them and I alongside others will continue to hold them accountable for their actions.
If you live in the Greater Manchester area and would like to get involved please join Manchester DPAC over at https:\\manchesterdpac.com You will find likeminded people and you will be given opportunities to join in activities.
Unite Community is a trade union organisation specifically created for people that aren’t working. It’s well worth joining however there is a small payment to join. You can find them over at https:\\join.unitetheunion.org
A huge thank you to Benefits And Work for sharing this information and for the hard work that they do.
My sincere apologies for the delay with this weeks blog post. I was unwell due to a migraine and was unable to concentrate on much.
How am I? Not brilliant to be honest. One of my dearest friends recently died and I’m mentally preparing for his funeral.
As you will realise Christmas is quickly approaching and we must be aware that so many of us aren’t going to be able to celebrate Christmas for either financial or other reasons. It’s a distressing time for many and we must keep that in mind.
A huge thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog and campaign. You have all kept me going when I was at my lowest especially when my son died. I’m amongst the many that won’t be celebrating Christmas this year.
For anyone that would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Thank you!
The impact of fuel poverty in 2021 is severe and all encompassing. With the cost of gas and electric rising dramatically this year it leaves thousands unable to even make the choice between heating and eating because they can afford neither.
The reduction in Universal Credit payments and benefit levels not rising enough with inflation leaves thousands in despair, living in cold and often dark housing. Poor households being hit by a “double whammy” of energy price increases and benefit cuts at the same time.
We’ve got a saying here in the north west of England, a saying that Peter Kay made famous, but it’s one that many of us say every day. ‘Turn the big light off’ and also ‘Shut the door you’re letting the cold in’. Whilst these were said in jest, many a joke comes from the harsh reality of life.
Thousands of parents, working and not working will be worrying about how they’ll feed their children and keep them warm, when they shouldn’t have to make that choice at all.
On top of this stay at home rules caused by the pandemic have cost some households at least an extra £45 per month more in increased heating and electricity bills. I say at least because this cost will now increase because of energy cost increases. This means that the numbers of people, many not previously in fuel poverty are forced to make the stark choice between heating and eating.
Recently, Citizens Advice estimated that an extra 600,000 households had fallen into fuel poverty due to previous lockdowns and separate figures also show millions of people are already way behind on their fuel bills.
An additional concern is that fuel poverty can make respiratory illnesses worse meaning conditions such as Covid and long term health conditions are exacerbated by being forced to live in cold damp homes. This is a concern that disabled and ill people have had for a long time now, but the government are refusing to even address this, let alone help.
While the long term solution to ending fuel poverty is more energy efficient buildings and programmes such as the Government’s Green Homes Grant will help to facilitate this, there is a real urgent need for immediate energy debt relief for millions of families immediately.
Whilst we are made aware of the amount of people that have died as a result of Covid 19, the public are rarely kept informed about the excess winter deaths in England and Wales .
Since 2000, excess winter deaths in England and Wales had remained generally at around 25,000. It is estimated that around 10% of these deaths were caused directly by fuel poverty. This is a large amount of people dying as a result of being cold which I fear will become much higher due to the recent energy price increases.
To give you an example my electric is now costing me £90 a month compared to the previous cost being approximately £50, and my gas charges have risen to at least £100 compared to approximately £60. I, like so many others try to keep costs down as much as possible.
Please read my previous blog detailing my energy saving techniques.
To add to this, most people living in fuel poverty are dependant upon pay as you go energy due to previous energy debts, or having the meters already being in their home and are unable to change them.
Paying back energy debt on pre paid meters is incredibly expensive even before the price rises. Those in this position will no longer be able to afford to heat their homes because the price is too high. Once your credit has gone, its gone leaving people forced to live in cold homes,
In an idea world, the government would have stepped in to challenge the price increases and to also help the public to cope with the cost increases.
Meanwhile the prime ministers has parties in number 10 ignoring the quarantine rules and carry on as though nothing has happened and nothing has changed. One rule for them and another for us as par the norm.
If you live in the Greater Manchester area and you’d like to get involved please join https:\\manchesterdpac.com You will find likeminded people and will be given opportunities to join in activities that they are doing.
Unite Community is a trade union organisation created for those that aren’t working. It’s well worth joining however there is a small payment to join. They offer help, advice and even training. You can join them over at http:\\join.unitetheunion.org
A huge thank you to everyone that reads, likes and shares my blog posts. This not only means the word to me it also enables the truth about the reality of being poor in the UK to get out there. Every share means that awareness has been raised and people no longer feel alone.
I don’t get paid for any of the work that I do and to say its a struggle is an understatement. Yet again this week has been a tough one for me but I aim to publish at least one blog post per week.
If you’d like to support my blog and my campaign theres a PayPal donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you to those that have helped, I couldn’t do this without you.
As many of you already know the DWP never miss an opportunity to sanction claimants, however it was much harder to do so whilst the country was in lockdown because of the pandemic.
The drop in Universal Credit sanctions was as a result of changes to the conditionality rules that were implemented in March 2020 because of the pandemic.
Normal service seems to have resumed sadly with the rate of Universal Credit sanctions rising 15 fold in four months according to Benefits And Work.
This all changed in April 2021 when face to face meetings returned thus causing sanctions levels to rise. This proves that the decision to sanction claimants lies firstly with Job Coaches and often is influenced by their opinion and not fact.
Theres no other reason for this when online claimant were seen to meet the expectations of their claimant commitments, yet now they apparently don’t.
Benefit sanctioning is an extremely cruel way of punishing someone for apparently not reaching the DWPs expectations. Taking away a persons financial means of survival is wrong on all levels, it’s hard enough trying to survive on the meagre amount of monies given in the first place.
I’ve blogged about benefit sanctions for many years now, and I’ve also had articles published in newspapers etc.
My opinion is this, and it will never change.
No one should be punished financially by sanctions. Sanctions do not and never have encouraged people to find work or look for work more diligently.
When a claimant is sanctioned they can only focus on keeping warm, being able to eat and how they’re going to pay their rent.
Being sanctioned and refusing to pay ESA and PIP claimants their rightful payments directly causes mental and physical distress, often leading to long term illness and depression.
Whilst quite rightly we are told to leave an abusive relationship for our own safety a person can’t leave the DWP and everything that comes with it. It’s obscene that people are treated in this manner, being guilty before being found innocent. It’s gaslighting at its worst.
Prior to the pandemic the highest sanctioning levels happened back in July 2019, when 22,566 claimants were hit with a reduction in their benefit. I have no doubt that this figure will be surpassed if it hasn’t already.
We must continue to hold the government and the DWP responsible for their actions.
Many thanks once again to Benefits And Work for their hard work for researching and gathering the data. They work extremely hard to help others.
If you want to raise awareness about these issues and more there are several ways that you can do so.
You can share blogs such as mine and likewise online of your preferred social media platform. You can also email blogs and articles like mine to MPs and other important people and influencers.
Every share, tweet, conversation etc helps to raise awareness and this is extremely important to do.
If you live in the Greater Manchester area and you’d like to get involved please join https;\\manchesterdpac.com You will find likeminded people and will be given opportunities to join in any activities that they are doing.
Unite community is another trade union organisation that is well worth joining. There is a small payment to join but you can get help and advice from them also. You can join them over at http:\\join.unitetheunion.org
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts. Like I said earlier every share helps enormously.
Huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. Without you I really couldn’t do this.
How am I doing? Not good unfortunately a very good friend of mine died this week, and I’m struggling to cope with it because I’m still grieving for my son.
Financially I’m also struggling. I’m having to make the choice between heating and eating. I know that so many of you are struggling with this as well.
If anyone would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going or to help me put some electric on the meter theres a PayPal donation link at the top, side and underneath this blog post.
I am trying to update my blog more than once a week as you might have noticed this week.
Well who’d have guessed that the government would find £2 billion from their magic money pot to inflict even more cruelty to disabled and ill claimants.
Thanks to Benefits And Work who have uncovered the first details of the new assessment contracts for PIP, ESA and UC claimants.
These shiny new contracts will split the UK into five regions which will involve over £2.8 billion being given to the private sector over a period of five years. This is supposedly to allow the DWP to decide how these assessments will take place through telephone or face-to-face assessments.
I add that as usual this will be decided ignoring the actual physical and mental needs a claimant might have.
Under the new claimant Functional Assessment Services (FAS) system as it is titled, the UK will be divided into five regions from 1 August 2023:
Lot 1 – Northern England and Scotland 647,600,000
Lot 2 – Midlands and Wales 473,400,000
Lot 3 – South West England 338,000,000
Lot 4 – London, South East & East Anglia 396,800,000
Lot 5- Northern Ireland 105,100,000
In each region, a single company will be chosen to carry out all the PIP, ESA and UC assessments.
So basically money talks regardless of already vulnerable claimants needs. Whoever puts the best tender in wins the contract.
Call me old fashioned but the wellbeing and needs of individuals should always be put first. Instead they companies with no medical knowledge and experience to assess already vulnerable people.
They will be allowed to decide if a person disabled enough to claim their rightful payments regardless of having no medical knowledge of their needs.
Basically claimants life’s are once again in the hands of these so called assessors.
The total value of the contracts that will be given is £2 billion firstly to rise to £2.8 billion if the DWP chooses to extend the contract for an additional two years.
You can bet that they’ll choose to extend these contracts, afterall it’s beneficial for the government to extend them.
There’s always room for extending cruel systems such as this. What the government won’t tell you is that they want as many people as possible to be declared fit for work. It doesn’t matter of they’re fit or able enough to do so.
The Scottish government will be taking over PIP assessments itself in advance of August 2023.
There will be some claims that are already underway that will still be dealt with by private sector assessors.
The bid winners will be paid first for a ten month ‘implementation phase’. This will ensure they will have fully trained their staff and have acquired suitable premises. It also will give them the chance to implement their IT systems before going live.
As we already know the DWP never make any system uncomplicated though. To prove this the DWP will provide one IT system for PIP claimants and a separate system for ESA and UC claimants.
The DWP have already warned potential providers that changes might take place place throughout the life of the contract.
These changes may include alterations in the ‘channel mix’ as the DWP call it.
An example being “change in proportional requirements relating to virtual assessments and face to face assessments. They could for example change requirements such as 60% face-to-face to 20% assessments.
It is very clear that the DWP and not the assessment providers that will decide which proportion of claimants receive a telephone or face-to-face assessment.
This makes it clear that assessment providers will be working to meet targets for types of assessment. This will completely ignore the fact that some claimants are obliged to have an inappropriate method of assessment.
As you can see none of this will be beneficial for anyone that claims ESA,PIP and UC.
As these systems are target driven the assessors will be more concerned with meeting targets than the wellbeing of anyone being assessed.
I don’t have to tell you how much distress is caused by cruel systems like this especially if they’re target driven. Who remembers Sandra’s Stars?
We must remain vigilant because as we know from past experience the government will try to put in legislation and plans without our knowledge.
You can do this by sharing information online on your preferred social media provider, emailing mine and likewise blogs to people that might need informing
DWP SET TO INTRODUCE NEW TAILORING UP APPROACH FOR DISABLED PEOPLE.
The DWP aren’t known for their sympathy towards disabled claimants so it comes as no surprise that they’re now experimenting with a “Tailoring Up” approach to sanctions for disabled claimants.
Their new “Tailoring up” approach will now allow job coaches to make activities such as training or work experience either voluntary or mandatory, entirely at the discretion of the coach.
You might think that this is a good thing but sadly I fear it isn’t. The DWP aren’t doing any type of monitoring of this new programme therefore the risk of disabled people being discriminated against is high.
This will put disabled people in a terrible situation, leaving them at the hands of a Job Coach that might be sceptical of a persons disability such as mental health issues and other invisible and visible disabilities,
This will leave them at a very high risk of being sanctioned at the whim of a job Advisor based upon their personal opinion. After all theres no monitoring of this scheme leaving Job Coaches apparently answerable to no one.
Also being introduced as part of this scheme is for disabled claimants to attend meetings with job coaches will be a mandatory activity under the scheme. This is being piloted in sixteen areas but we all know what that means.
From years of experience with the DWP and they’re so called pilot schemes I fear that this will be the start of the rollout of this new scheme.
As soon as I hear more about this I will publish it in future blog posts.
It goes without saying but it is very important that you keep a good record of all communications going to the DWP and from them. Having a good paper trail helps enormously to overturn sanction decisions, as does involving a local MP if of course they aren’t a supporter of the whole sanctioning system.
Also very handy for support if anyone is sanctioned are local law Centres, online groups such as Benefits And Work, DPAC and Citizens Advice if you can access them.
DWP GETS BILLIONS FOR FORCED MOVE TO UC AND ONLINE CLAIMS
It also appears that theres always a big pot of money for the DWP to cause more suffering and distress.
The DWP has been given £2.6 billion between now and 2025 for “digital activity to support the delivery of benefits and transform how customers interact with the welfare system.”
They haven’t released any further details of what this transformation will be and what it will entail either. From past experience it’s likely to be spent upon moving as much as possible online, which in itself will cause many problems for claimants.
In the quest to make disabled people now claiming legacy benefits the DWP are set to recieve over half a billion pounds to “support the transition of legacy claimants onto UC” which as it stands will apparently be completed by March 2025.
However DWP will be focusing trying to make disabled people to move “voluntary” from legacy benefits such as ESA onto UC throughout the rest of this year and 2022. This will probably entail putting a lot of pressure onto disabled people to move their claims over, also possibly lying to disabled claimants to force them to move over to Universal Credit.
Unsurprisingly from 2023 onwards the DWP and government will be focusing on forcing the remainder of legacy benefits claimants onto UC, most likely by any means possible.
I know that this is easy for me to say but if you are told that you have to move your claim over to Universal Credit under the guise of it ‘being better’ for you stand your ground and refuse. In absolutely no way would this be beneficial for you at the moment.
No matter how much glitter Job Coaches and the DWP try to throw on the shite that is Universal Credit it will not make it shine.
The DWP are becoming more brazen with their obvious hatred of disabled and poor people. We must try to hold them accountable at every single opportunity that we are given.
Please read, share and email my blog to help raise as much awareness as possible. Remember there are more of us than there are of them and sharing online helps enormously to raise awareness.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do this without you.
It’s been a horrible year for me, my son died and both myself and my daughter have been ill quite a lot. I’m recovering from Long Covid and another bout of pneumonia. My daughter recently caught Covid and she’s now ill with tonsillitis.
This has left me struggling more than usual which is a complete nightmare as you can probably understand.
For anyone that would like to donate either to my blog or my campaign there is a donate button at the top and side if this blog post.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my work. I don’t receive any payment for my work and I’m really grateful to you xx.
As we quickly approach Christmas and a cold hungry winter once again the DWP are going to bring back the cruel sanction system.
They never miss a chance to make Christmas even more harder do they.
Sanctions relating to the claimant commitment had been suspended due to the pandemic.
It is very clear that the DWP are now back to business including sanctioning sick and disabled claimants.
According to Touch base the DWP are quoted as saying“This week a change was made to bring the obligations in new style JSA and ESA benefits in line with those in Universal Credit”
“This will mean that, as is the case for Universal Credit claimants, if someone in receipt of new style JSA and ESA fails to do what they have agreed to in their Claimant Commitment without good reason – such as having or caring for a child, or a change to a health condition – their payments may be reduced for a set period. This is known as a sanction.”
“All Claimant Commitments are tailored to a person’s personal circumstances and local jobs market, and claimants affected by this change are being informed of the introduction of the new process. Sanctions are only applied as a last resort when a claimant is not engaging with the commitment they have made. If someone disagrees with a decision they can ask for it to be looked at again.”
This is all rather scary as the government have now passed on the onus of sanctioning decisions to the Job Coaches and not a decision maker.
Sanctions aren’t always a last resort decision and I’m speaking from years of experience helping people to appeal sanction decisions. Also since when have the DWP taken children into consideration… They haven’t.
I’m sure that many of you reading this have had so called Job Coaches that take an obvious dislike you you. I’ve also experienced this and I know exactly what it’s like. It’s soul destroying.
I’ve experienced having a Job Coach that clearly hated me. She would find holes in everything that I did and tried to sanction me at every opportunity that came her way.
Luckily I was able to make a complaint about her which involved my local MP.
I changed Job Coaches but she would glare at me every time that I walked past her. I have mentioned this in a previous blog post.
My question is this… How many innocent people are going to be wrongfully sanctioned because of this very reason?
It’s also worrying that there could well be even more sanction targets (offloads). Therefore the need to reach these targets will cause the suffering and distress of thousands of people.
Basically the whole sanctioning process could well be ramped up a whole lot more..
Opinion isn’t fact and there are many valid reasons why a claimant has not been able to to fulfill their claimant commitment.
Illness, lack of money for essentials such as no money to top up mobile phones or to have access to the internet at home.
Access to libraries is fast becoming a rarity these days. The DWP demands that claimants have access to the internet at all times.
Essentialy if an Job Coach decides in their opinion that a claimant hasn’t done enough then they’ll sanction them.
Remember once again opinion isn’t always fact and this is a very dangerous precept to use.
The whole sanction system should be abolished. There’s absolutely no reason why a person should have their very basics for survival to be snatched off them by the click of a button. Which is based upon the opinion of a Job Coach. Remember opinion isn’t always fact.
Whilst we are still in the midst of a pandemic the government and the DWP have now returned to normal. Don’t expect them to care because they obviously don’t.
Keep a good written and digital record (if you can) of everything that you’ve done to fulfill your claimant commitment.
If you’ve been ill or suchlike also try to keep a record of whatever you can to prove that you’ve been ill.
It’s important that you do all this because sanctioning you will be a whole lot harder if you keep a good record of everything.
If you are in the Greater Manchester area please have a look and even join in with Greater Manchester DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) activities. You can find them here at https:\\manchesterdpac.com
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts. It helps enormously to get the truth out there.
How am I? I’m ok apart from catching a sickness bug yesterday hence my blog being late. My apologies.
A huge thank you to everyone that has supported my campaign and blog. I really couldn’t have done it without you.
I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do. If anyone would like to donate there is a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
Yet again the Conservative party have showed their true colours. Anyone that previously didn’t think that this dreadful excuse for a political party must surely see it now.
How low will Tory Ministers stoop? My guess is as low as they can and then some more. They do it because they can and will continue to do so because no one will stop them.
It’s classic Tory though and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see that they’ve ripped up the rules to protect one of their own. It’s what they do when they get caught out and they expect every Conservative MP to do exactly as they’re told.
It also comes as no shock that they expected the Independent Commissioner to follow suit but she didn’t and sadly this has cost her her job. Their ‘reasoning’ being that they can’t see a future for her in her position.
Let’s compare this to the average person trying to get by on a day to day basis, if they decided to break a rule or even a law they’d be punished for it usually by loosing their job or in a court of law. This is what is expected when boundaries are breached.
Take for example a person claiming tax credits that fills in their details carefully and correctly. The tax credit system then decides how much their payments should be based on the details given to them.
Imagine the shock when they’re told at a later date that they’ve been paid too much and all of the overpayment will be recouped without any evidence of supposed overpayment and at a rate that would render them unable to pay their bills or indeed anything else.
Let’s also talk about the way that Universal Credit claimants are treated. From the moment of applying for Universal Credit they’re treated like criminals, without any respect and made to feel guilty for their existence. They’re also made to jump through seemingly impossible hoops to satisfy the DWP and when they complain they’re treated with disdain.
Many are sanctioned and have to try and survive on greatly reduced payments because they apparently failed to do as they were told, even though in many cases they don’t know why they were sanctioned.
To force a person to go without the very basics such as food, water, heating and a home should be in my eyes a criminal offence but the DWP and the Conservative party get away with doing this every single day of the year. These are good, honest people being punished because they’re poor.
Corruption is the lifeblood of the Conservative party, every decision that they make is backed up with a can they get away with it clause. They’re experts at it, giving handouts to their millionaire friends whilst the poor are hungry.
Not one thought about helping others is given unless they can benefit from it and don’t expect them to ever care about the public and their wellbeing. They’ll always support their own regardless of what they’ve done and to who they’ve done it.
They worship at the feet of money, corruption, sneeze and debauchery regardless of what’s happening in the real world and they’ve got no intention of stopping either. Our complaints about such behaviour will go unread and ignored, it’s what they do they’re masters of this.
The only way to stop them is to vote them out of office. We must do this even though it’s becoming increasingly harder to do so. Remember this at election times, remember how they ignored you and trampled over your rights and well-being. Use this anger to remove them from their comfortable positions] because it’s the only thing that can work.
Please read, share tweet and email my blog. This makes a massive difference, it raises awareness hugely and helps to uncover the governments wrongdoings.
Quick update on myself. I had my covid booster jab last Friday and I’ve been battling tiredness ever since. This is to be expected and it shows that my immune system is working as it should be.
I’m still struggling like millions of people are doing. This time of the year causes immense financial pressure due to my daughters birthday and Christmas coming up. This is the reality of life for so many of us.
I don’t get paid for anything that I do but if anyone would like to donate theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you to everyone that has supported my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do it without you.
It won’t come as a surprise to many of you that once again disabled people and the unemployed were totally excluded from yesterday’s Budget announcements.
The reasoning behind this is their long seated belief that everyone should work despite their ability to do so. Failure to work then puts people into their category system labeling them ‘Empty Feeders’ and suchlike.
To understand this it’s best to take away the notion that the government actually cares for the working class. They never have and they never will.
Of course they’ll throw them the odd crumb such as cheaper alcohol to give the illusion of caring whilst blatantly ignoring that many can’t afford to go to a pub or buy alcohol these days.
So how does the government ensure that the unemployed and disabled will suffer even more in the shortest amount of time? They take away their hope, support leaving them more vulnerable to increasing poverty and illness which therefore will end their lives prematurely.
Living in poverty means living in constant arrears forced to use pre-pay meter energy meters that they cant afford to top up. Going without heating, food, the ability to cook food, showers and the ability to do their laundry and take care of their personal needs. This has a massive negative effect on their physical and mental health which then ends up costing local authorities and the government more money in the long run.
It’s never been about the money though. This is a choice that the the government makes and will continue to make whilst they’re in power.
The government doesn’t care about a disabled person unable to find and pay their much needed carers. Often left to cope alone they can’t see a way out of their situation because the government isn’t going to help them.
What the government apparently fails to understand is that when poor people have more money they spend it in their local communities therefore helping the local economy. So when the government says that that they care about helping small businesses and communities they’re actually lying.
Whilst the government gives their millionaire friends tax cuts and financial help they move their money into their tax havens instead of the economy. Theres no such thing as the trickle down effect.It’s all about keeping the rich happy and the poor miserable and ensuring that their poverty and reliance upon the government for help continues.
It was also the government’s choice to scrap the Universal Credit £20 uplift. It’s not because they couldn’t afford it because they clearly can. They choose to make the poorest suffer.
By excluding those on legacy benefits from any extra help could be another attempt by the Government to try and force legacy benefit claimants to switch over to claim Universal Credit by making it more attractive despite the fact that it will make them much worse off financially..
Working people that claim Universal Credit are the only ones that will benefit slightly. They now have to give 8% less of their hourly wage back to the system leaving them still loosing 55% of their hourly wage. Most are on minimum wage jobs, often working zero hour contracts.
The only people that will greatly benefit from this year’s budget announcements will be the better off and of course the government’s friends, the millionaires. They’ll always come before the health of disabled people and the working class.
We know our place and the government will continue to remind us of this. But don’t expect me to doff my cap to them because I won’t.
Please join my friends over at Manchester DPAC https:\\manchesterdpac.com they do amazing work. Also check out the national DPACs page over on Facebook
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every share helps massively.
I don’t receive any payments for any of the work that I do. If you’d like to donate towards the upkeep of the blog and campaign theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you to everyone that shares and helps to keep my blog going, I can’t thank you enough.
You might have heard this statement being made rather more these last few years. The combination of the cruel DWP system, zero hour contract work, low hourly pay and the pandemic have all ensured that being poor is now more expensive now than it has been in recent times.
Of course it has always been the case but the amount of hatred beaten upon anyone that’s poor and disabled is now worse than I ever remember it.
I’ve mentioned this many times throughout my blog posts over the years that I’ve been blogging and writing but at this moment in time I’ve never known such a hostile environment for anyone that’s poor and disabled.
Cruelty towards the poor has always existed and laws have been created to ‘deal’ with poor people go right back to medieval times and perhaps earlier. This does not excuse the modern day cruelty metered upon the poorest and most vulnerable at the very time when they need help.
The DWP (Department Of Work And Pensions) and the government are our modern day overlords that are hell bent on causing pain and suffering to those that are in need of their help.
To understand this we need to look at the DWP’s cruel system guised as Universal Credit, titled as such to give the illusion of help and support. In