Dear readers, today has been very upsetting and stressful, not only for the people that I have spoken to but for myself also. I’m absolutely furious on their behalf. You see I cannot stand any kind of injustice and it’s been pretty dire today. But it’s not about me and I realise that.
The weather was very hot for a change and the smoke coming from the moorland fire has decreased thankfully. I can’t praise our firefighters enough. You might have seen me mention this on the Victoria Derbyshire programme yesterday.
Anyway, enough about me. After reading this I’m certain that you will be both furious and upset. I’m sorry but this is what it’s like and I can’t apologise for this. I’m not a fan of sugar coating reality, especially when people are suffering.
The first person that I spoke to today was a man struggling with his gas and electricity meter. He lives in a privately rented flat, his meters are outside his flat and they’ve been damaged. This is a common occurrence with this block of flats, and having no joy with the landlord he telephoned his energy supplier. They in turn informed him that it’s his landlords responsibility and he was on his way to speak to his landlord again. I hope that he manages to get it sorted out.
I spoke to a man who had been considering committing suicide the previous weekend. He has contact with the mental health team and takes medication, but sometimes this isn’t enough. The government has deprived NHS mental health services of funding and they can no longer provide many of the services that they used to provide. He told me that being alive is pointless and what’s the point in continuing. Thankfully we had a long chat and he changed his mind. He knows that he can phone me if he needs someone to talk to.
I spoke to an older man who honestly looked like he should be retired already. He was reluctant to speak at first, but thankfully he did. He told me that he had worked all his life, and due to no fault of his own has found himself to be unemployed and claiming Universal Credit. He has went on to say that he has had two strokes and two heart attacks. After having a Universal Credit medical assessment they declared him fit for work. I informed him that he can and should appeal this decision, but to be honest he looked completely done in, not able to cope with the system and extremely fed up.
Seeing him walk away so despondent upset both my colleagues and myself. A man with his health conditions should be allowed to retire. I’m a great advocate of lowering the retirement age for all to sixty if they should wish to retire. Many of the older people that I speak to are worn out and need to be given that option. Instead they are made to complete endless job searches and attend pointless courses. It’s sickening. Lets treat our older generation with some decency and respect please.
I spoke to a young man that has already been waiting three weeks for his Universal Credit payments to be processed. Of course they had demanded a copy of his birth certificate and luckily this had been paid for (not by the DWP). I believe that the DWP should pay for a copy of a birth certificate if they require one, but they don’t and this leaves many, many people in a desperate situation.
I spoke to a young man that was obviously distressed. He told me that he has an active claim for ESA and is due his payment next week. He is NOT claiming Universal Credit, he is receiving JSA alongside this. His circumstances have not changed since applying for ESA.
He went to the local council offices to make a claim for Housing Benefit only to be told that he can’t claim it and that he has to take himself off ESA and onto Universal credit. I have a problem with this. The DWP have stopped transferring people that are already claiming ESA onto Universal Credit, the rules have been changed, but it appears that someone working for the local authority isn’t aware of this ruling change or some kind of decision has been made locally to encourage everyone to claim Universal Credit locally.
Incidentally, as you will read later he wasn’t the only person to tell me that this has happened to them. I have approached the housing benefit department for an answer to this, and I also have informed by local MPS office expressing my concerns. I will update if there is a response from the local Housing Benefit department. My local MPs office are also very concerned. Thank goodness we have very good MPs in our area.
I spoke to a newly unemployed woman. She told me that her husband is older than herself (64) have both been made homeless and her partner wasn’t in the best of health when this occurred.
They had both worked all of their adult lives’ and I say this because it really doesn’t matter if you have. The government will still treat you with disdain and disgust and no one will receive any better treatment.
They were previously privately renting a house, as many do due to the shortage of social housing. Upon being told to evict the premises by bailiffs they did as they were told, they attended our local housing options office to declare their homeless status. They were both given a quick assessment to find out if they were entitled to any emergency housing. They were told that they weren’t and they were both ‘fit for the streets’. Yes that is the exact words that were used.
Resigned to their fate, they did just that and lived on the streets, walking for twelve hours a day. This had a very detrimental effect on her partners health and a growth on his leg burst causing an infection. They rushed to A&E, were treated and then contacted Housing Options of their change of circumstances.
Luckily they were then housed and were given temporary accommodation. She had to fight for this, because at first she was told that they would only help her partner. I can’t imagine how scared she must have been. But she fought her corner and won.
This is how easy anyone can become homeless. Losing a job, a private landlord selling up. It can happen to ANYONE. Luckily, and I don’t say luckily easily because it’s been extremely stressful for them both, they are both doing much better now. As they are now awaiting their first Universal Credit payment I handed them a food parcel and informed them of all the local organisations that can help them.
This country is really screwed up isn’t it. Local authorities with a very limited money to spend on emergency housing are setting the bar so high that it’s very hard for people to be housed in emergency accommodation. The government should be condemned for their reduction in funding and also for the decision that anyone should be forced to live like this, let alone a near elderly man.
Roy spoke to a 61 year old woman that has had her work hours reduced from 16 1/2 hours. Her son has also recently finished college and her income has been greatly reduced. She’s looking for more work hours but is finding it impossible. I cannot forgive the government for increasing the womens retirement age.
She told us that the government are heartless and that she can fully understand why people want to kill themselves.
I then spoke to another young man that has an active claim for ESA. He has also been told by the local housing benefit department that he has to stop his claim for ESA and claim Universal Credit in order to receive Housing benefit. I was furious, not only is this incorrect he suffers from mental health issues and has been told by his doctor that he cannot work. I offered advice etc and signposted him. So now he is worried about loosing his home on top of being ill already, and awful combination.
I have reported this back to my local MP and attempted to contact the local council. As stated earlier I’m still awaiting a response.
I then took a telephone call from a man that is quite knowledgeable on DWP related matters. He went into Ashton Jobcentre and asked them to fax his fit note to the relevant ESA department. His request was denied and he was told that Ashton Jobcentre is part of a pilot scheme that is refusing to fax fit notes.
I shall endeavour to find out if this is correct, but if it’s true or he has been lied to I’m furious. How are disabled and ill claimants expected to find a fax machine? Needless to say this angered me.
I spoke to an older lady that is really struggling on the Universal Credit system. She told me her story and I have signposted her to speak to her local councillors. They will help her, they are a fab, proactive group in Mossley and I’m certain that they will help her.
There you have it folks, just two hours of one day. We spoke to many extremely vulnerable people all of which have been subjected to obstructions placed in their way at every step, all of which are punitive and designed to put a person, regardless of disability, age, sex and nationality from claiming their rightful social security payments.
We live in a country that is ran by a government that despises the poor and vulnerable. They discriminate against them at every given opportunity and constantly are inventing new ways of doing this. Please join us in the fight to STOP this discrimination and the system that also is responsible for this, because honestly I haven’t got a clue how much more people can take.
A massive thank you to everyone that came along and gave up their free time to help.
Today we handed out five food parcels, offered countless advice and made a difference to people’s lives’. I wish that we didn’t need to be there, but today proved that we do need to carry on and I will continue to document it.
We should never forget the cruelty that the government has inflicted upon those in the most need.
Thank you to everyone that reads, supports and shares my blog. I really do appreciate this and I don’t have enough time to thank everyone personally. Here’s a massive THANK YOU. Both you and my colleagues keep me going. It can be very stressful and knowing that you support both myself and the campaign means a lot to me.