Well, what can I say about today except that it wasn’t a good morning. Universal Credit is causing people to have numerous problems, all of which I have documented previously.
Today, however, was a day almost all taken up by people in rent arrears due to being transferred onto Universal Credit. If I tell you that it’s a disaster waiting to happen it would be an understatement. When the final phase of the Universal Credit roll-out takes place next year we are definitely going to see homelessness on an unprecedented scale. This will not be helped by unscrupulous landlords and housing associations that are far from understanding it’s very worrying indeed. We are talking about disabled people, ill people, families with children.
My question is where will they go? Who will be able to help them? Who’s going to pay for their temporary accommodation which will be hard to get anyway because they will be judged as making themselves homeless due to not being able to pay their rent.
It’s diabolical that anyone is put into this situation in the first place, everyone deserves a decent home to live in, but it appears that the government doesn’t agree. They see us as being a drain on society, useless and in some cases, they wish that we didn’t exist. But we do, and we need to demand that the government stops the final roll out and that a future government scraps it.
Rant over I’ll list some of today’s cases as usual. Please note that EVERYONE that we spoke to received help and advice and when needed a food parcel. No one leaves empty-handed. We do this independently also and aren’t linked to any big group although we do support many and talk to them.
I spoke to a man that looked worn out, fed up and hungry. I asked him if he needed any help and he responded yes, he needed some advice and he also wanted to rant. Understandable I thought.
His situation is this. He’s been transferred over to Universal Credit and this has caused him numerous problems, amongst them hunger and the threat of eviction.
Whilst a person is waiting for a Universal Credit claim to be processed you aren’t allowed to claim housing benefit because it’s all part and parcel of the Universal Credit claim. The waiting times are long, officially its supposed to take five weeks, but its often longer than that. In the time that it takes to process nearly everyone generates rent arrears. These rent arrears can, and often do lead to their eviction from their home unless they have an understanding private landlord or housing association. This man doesn’t, his housing association is being far from understanding and have already threatened him with eviction.
He’s tried to contact the DWP concerning his claim but was left waiting on the phone for two hours, it took over two hours for someone to answer. Many have waited longer than this. How on earth is this acceptable from a government organisation? It isn’t but they do what they like.
He went on to say that the government have shafted him. He’s worked for nearly all of his working age life and this is how they treat him. There are no thanks for his contributions and any monies that are due to him are withheld for as long as the government sees fit.
So here we have an older man, tired, hungry, frustrated and worried. He isn’t a number on a computer screen, he is a person with feelings and needs neither of which are respected by the government or the DWP.
I then spoke to another older gentleman, he had started a conversation with Gordon but I interjected and asked him if he was ok. He wasn’t.
He told me that he was having world war three with the DWP. He also has been transferred over to Universal Credit. He’s awaiting his first payment and has been waiting for some time. As a result, he now owes rent and his landlord has decided to take him to court to evict him. Luckily he has some knowledge of the procedure and he has contacted the courts himself and has had the possession order suspended until November.
I advised him to contact the law centre in Manchester to get advice and hopefully some representation. I advise everyone to do this, they have some spaces available for housing problems for next week. Their telephone number is 0161 769 2244. If you can get there please do. They know their stuff better than most and a solicitor that specialises with housing-related problems will help you.
He’s an older man, unwell at that and his wife is unwell also. If they become homeless then it’s going to be disastrous for their health and well being. I’m worried about them so will be popping round to visit them in the next few days.
If he hadn’t had the knowledge that he could have the possession order suspended then he and his wife would have been made homeless in a matter of weeks. The housing association concerned like to do this as quickly as possible. Shame on them, and this won’t be the end of it. Watch this space.
I then spoke to a man whose wife had been sanctioned since May for not attending an appointment that she didn’t know about. Yes, folks, she didn’t receive any notification of the appointment and it’s the case of the missing letter AGAIN.
Anyway, they sanctioned her, but not just her they sanctioned the whole family, her husband and children as well. They didn’t know that they could appeal nor did they know that it was wrong of the DWP to do this either.
So a family with children have all been sanctioned since May. That’s a long time to go without food etc, isn’t it?
He visited Citizens Advice who thankfully put him right, and he then went into the Jobcentre for his appointment. He told his advisor that they shouldn’t have sanctioned the whole family and also that they should have told him of their right to appeal.
The advisor apparently shrugged their shoulders and said ‘Well, that’s the way that it is’ only it isn’t. He informed the advisor of his legal rights regarding payments for himself and his children. They then decided that they would be making a payment to him. Yippee, you might think, but nope. Most of that payment will now have to go towards the rent that they owe. So they will be left with next to nothing.
Oh and they weren’t aware that they could appeal the sanction and his wife is now still sanctioned for 146 days which will put them into even more hardship.
I advised them of where to go for help and who to ask for help, but this system is hellish. It needs to be stopped.
I then spoke to a man who had originally just gone into the Jobcentre to hand in a fit note. It didn’t go to plan though. Straightway he was stopped by a person at the front desk and told that he had to use the new digital system that they are transferring most people over to. He was told to go over to a computer to log in with a username and password. Well, he didn’t have a clue what this was about but he was told to continue trying.
As time went on he became more frustrated and he asked the person on the front desk again what to do, his usual username and password didn’t work… It was then that another member of staff shouted over that he hasn’t been enrolled onto the system yet….. Unbelievable but kudos to the staff member that pointed this out and went on to help him. It’s not hard to check if a person has been enrolled in a system or not, so check next time, please.
We then spoke to a young man that had just undergone a PIP medical assessment. He told us that the assessment made him ill, that he wasn’t allowed to talk during the assessment except to answer questions.
Luckily he had someone with him but his treatment was appalling. Now how he has the worry of finding out if he will be awarded his PIP entitlement. No one should have to go through these cruel, demeaning assessments. A doctors letter should be enough.
Now he has to wait. Combine this with anxiety and depression and imagine how he must be feeling. He told me that the assessment made him ill, it nearly hospitialised him he said.
Comments made about the DWP today were as follows;
They talk to me like I’m an idiot.
They talk to me like I’m a five-year-old child.
They treat us like crap.
They treat us like we are something on the bottom of their shoes.
How about the DWP staff started to talk to people with some respect eh.. Then they would get respect back. Call me old fashioned but it’s the way to do things. For those that do this, thank you, you could possibly be preventing another death by doing so.
We will be back next week, as usual, please come and say hi or send us your support. We do need it and appreciate it. It’s hard hitting but it’s reality folks and this is what the government is doing to people.
Many thanks to everyone that came along to support us and help. I’ve been feeling a bit despondent of late and seeing you all really cheers me up and keeps me going. By the way, you are making a difference. A big difference.
Please read, share, email and talk about my blog. Even email it to your local Tory MP.
A massive thank you to everyone that supports my blog. Like I say we run independently, and it’s not easy. I’ve got meetings next week to try and clarify a few things regarding the eviction notices and the housing association processes above, this will be positive though and the Law Centre is amazing.
I sit at home and often ask myself when will this end? My answer is this, it won’t until we vote this government out. PLEASE register to vote and USE your vote. It’s never been as important to do so.