Dear readers, today was busy, a morning filled with problems caused by the DWP’s inability to communicate with people correctly and their neglect of using any common sense and sympathy towards claimants. I hate using the word claimant, that in itself is degrading but its the most effective way of describing a persons situation.
We were met with a great variety of problems, ranging from Universal credit problems, JSA problems, housing problems etc etc. Thankfully we have a good knowledge of how to help, but its worth remembering that if someone has a problem created by the DWP they are likely, as a result of this to have more problems elsewhere. Everything snowballs onto them as a result and before they know it it feels like everything is out of their control. Many people then go into hibernation because the reality of their situation is too hard to cope with. I totally understand this feeling, I’ve been there and most likely will be there myself in the future.
Las week I recieved a complaint via Twitter, they expressed the opinion that they didn’t like how I describe people. I describe people in the way that I do because I like to keep their anonymity out of respect. Many are scared of repercussions from the DWP and I like to protect them as much as possible. Regular readers will of course understand this. I won’t apologise though and why should I?
Today we were joined by a local Labour Party councillor who joins us whenever he is able to. I’d like to say thank you because this support means so much to us. A massive thanks to Gordon, Roy and Chris for helping. I’d be lost without you all. It’s hard work, and anyone attending our demo will attest to that.
The first woman that I spoke to today stopped me as soon as I arrived and asked me for a leaflet. Of course I obliged and she went on to tell me her story. She claims Universal Credit and has done for a long while now.
When she was transferred over to Universal Credit she was already volunteering for a charity, a charity that she had chosen and she enjoyed her work there. I’m a great believer that all voluntary work should be voluntary and NOT enforced by the DWP.
She enjoyed it there and didn’t want to give up her position, however the DWP wern’t happy and enforced a year long sanction. Having no income she was then forced to volunteer for a position of their choosing and she is still there now. She told me that she now owes money as a result of this sanction because she got into debt trying to survive. She really didn’t know about her right to appal etc. So now she’s left to survive on £45 a month because she has to pay her debts off.
Really. How on earth can anyone be expected to survive on £45 a month. Tory party officials spend near enough that amount on a breakfast. But shes’s expected to survive on that amount for a month.
She told me she survives on the goodwill of friends and foodbanks. This is no quality of life, shes mearly existing and not living. This shouldn’t be happening but it is and we all should be outraged.
We spoke to a young man who had been through the care system and basically left to his own devices at the age of 17. Young people need guidance and support, not neglect. He told us that all he wanted was a permanent home and proper support. Sadly the government has stripped funding away from care leavers and many end up homeless as a result. It’s heartbreaking but his situation isn’t unusual.
We spoke to a man that lives in privately rented accomodation. He made the mistake of visiting family for a week and someone had informed his landlord that he had left the property. He arrived home and his locks had been changed with no notification. He’s trying to sort this out and has managed to get back inside the property.
I spoke to a man who was overjoyed with his food parcel. He told me that he could eat some decent food for a change. He was a joy to listen to. he’s trying to make a new start. No one should be denied access to decent food but they are. The government should be ashamed but they are the opposite and are very happy with people being forced to live off food from foodbanks. It takes the onus off themselves to feed people. Without foodbanks people would starve to death. We need to continue to oppose the very need and causes for foodbank usage.
I spoke to a working man. He claims Universal Credit and at the moment works 25 hours a week. Of course the DWP regard this as not being enough and he is under employed by their standards. They really don’t take into account the lack of decent jobs with decent hours and not zero hour contract jobs. People need stability of income to pay rent, bills etc.
Today he went to sign a tenancy agreement for a new place to live, he thought that he would be finished in time for his signing on appointment but he wasn’t and he was 15 minutes late. he was told that he wouldn’t be seen and that he had to phone for another appointment. He tried phoning but to no avail, outside the Jobcentre. He then went back inside and asked for help again. Luckily he was given another appointment but he is still in limbo as to if he is going to be sanctioned because they never tell you straight away.
So he’s working, and in fear of a sanction. How on earth can this encourage people to work? It does the opposite and I hope that he doesn’t get sanctioned because he has a new tenancy to keep up.
I spoke to a man that told me that this was his first time signing on for 40 years and he could neither understand the system nor manage under it. They expect everyone to be able to work a computer, have access to a computer and to understand the complexities of the system. Most of the people that I speak to don’t and haven’t a clue how to manage. Of course the government are aware of this and are simply lying when they state that they need evidence of this so that they can change the system.
1. They already have knowledge
2. They don’t want to change the system because it works for them.
I spoke to a lady that came out of the Jobcentre crying. She had to travel miles on very unreliable public transport to attend her Jobcentre appointment. She got lost and was visibly upset, crying. She told me that she was late and was scared that she would be sanctioned. She had only recieved two Universal Credit payments so far and doesn’t wanted go without money again.
I reassured her and I hope that her advisor was sympathetic. She was lucky in the fact that she managed to speak to them even though they told her that she would be sent an appointment for June. Now she’s living in limbo, not knowing if she will receive a payment. That feeling is horrible and I really hope that she does.
I spoke to a man that had recently had a job interview. He had taken along a copy of his birth certificate, but this wasn’t good enough. They want an original copy before he can start employment.. He now has to pay for that and hope that the job will still be available to him.
We noticed a lot of older people forced to use the Jobcentre. This breaks my heart, it’s an awful system and many can’t cope with the system.
We spoke to a representative of a woman who was late for her appointment due to her bus not turning up. This happens a lot, especially in the rural areas that Ashton Jobcentre now covers. It’s too far to walk so they have to rely on expensive unreliable buses. Jeremy Corbyn was right to talk about this, it’s an important issue for many of us.
I spoke to a man that had been disallowed his ESA. I explained the appeal process etc and handed him a survival guide. they don’t make it clear how to appeal any decision.
I spoke to a man claiming Universal Credit as a couple with a new baby. They are now in fear of being sanctioned because they hadn’t attended an appointment that they didn’t receive a letter for. They have three children, a new baby and his partner is ill.
I advised him of what to do and how to appeal and signposted him. He must be under so much stress at the moment and he should not be going through this. In effect the DWP are very willing to take food out of new born babies mouths. Honestly if they stated outright that they were going to do this there would be outrage, but they do it slyly trying to demonise the family involved.
We have a government that have knowingly created a purposely complicated system that has been designed to put people off from claiming. The system is so complicated it baffles claimants, it also baffles officials from other organisations. But it’s designed to do so and whilst this system exists people will continue to suffer, and die in many cases and this isn’t acceptable. It’s never acceptable.
A massive thank you to everyone that supports, shares and talks about my work. Many thanks to my friends on social media, my friends in real life so speak and to everyone that listens. Carry on with the good work and thank you it is appreciated.
I just do my best, it’s hard and I struggle but we have to continue to fight the system.