Dear readers, it’s Thursday again so here’s this weeks blog. I hope that you are all ok, I do think about you all and wonder how you are coping. I wish that I had a magic wand to stop this madness, but there isn’t one and I shall continue campaigning against the government’s abhorrent treatment of the poor and disabled. I’ll also continue to document what I can also.
I’ll document today’s conversations, as usual, please note that everyone was signposted to relevant organisations, help advice and survival guides were handed out. We also gave food parcels to those in need. Also, my words can’t express the intensity of the two hours that we are outside the Jobcentre. We have to deal with so many different issues and often at a fast pace.
Also a massive thank you to everyone for that came along to help today and helped, I appreciate the hard work that you do thank you all so much.
Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre is now introducing the new computer system, which also coincides with the next phase of the Universal Credit rollout which is well under way now. This is causing a lot of confusion, and because of this it also demands that claimants also provide proof of their identity again. Of course, the DWP system won’t take into account the fact that they have already done so. Most of the people that I spoke to today don’t have photo ID, and nor do they have the money to get this. Also, people’s circumstances change and they might not have access to the proof of ID that they had already shown. You’ll read of a few conversations that I had with people regarding this.
It always breaks my heart when I see vulnerable people forced into having to go into the Jobcentre in the attempt to get some help. Here is one such case, I’ll call her Mary.
Mary approached the Jobcentre struggling to walk whilst using two crutches. She is an older lady who is in constant pain. Her husband is working but they need to make a claim for some help because she can no longer work. In an ideal world, there would be a fact sheet that tells a person what they can claim, what ID they need and how to do it. There isn’t though, so she was sent home none the wiser. However, she was told that she needs to provide proof of ID. So now she has to go home and return.
So a disabled woman is forced to make an arduous journey to provide ID. Whilst I appreciate the need to prove who you are they could make it a bit easier.
A woman with children asked me for a food parcel. She’s now receiving her Universal Credit payments after a long wait, but out of her first payment she’s had to pay all of the bills that she owed, so she’s left with nothing. What can I say except that it’s unacceptable that people are put into this situation. Claiming Universal Credit has plunged her into the pits of poverty and I doubt that she will be able to climb out for a long time if ever.
I spoke to a lovely gentleman that told me that he had been declared fit for work when he obviously isn’t. He also told me that they were trying to move him over to Universal Credit. Just what he doesn’t need.
Not long after I spoke to a woman whom I shall name Sharon. Sharon was visibly distressed, and this reflected in our conversation. Sharon went on to tell me of her experience of Universal Credit saying “People don’t know what they are getting themselves into, they don’t know what they are entitled to either. I can’t cope with this system, it’s crippling me to the point that I don’t know how I can continue. I’m relying on food banks and the goodwill of friends but that won’t last forever.”
Sharon also went onto say that she felt that it was the last straw for her to be asked to bring in proof of her ID again, shes already done it before so why should she have to do it again was her point.
Sharon doesn’t deserve to be treated in this manner but there are thousands and thousands of Sharon’s out there. Universal Credit doesn’t help people, instead, it hinders them from being able to improve their lives.
When a person can’t find all the ID that’s required they won’t allow a person to receive their payments, even though they have already provided this Id. No proof of ID, no payments. It’s a good way for the DWP to knock people off the system, to lower the unemployment figures.
I also take issue with a system that’s also controlled by a computer system. Computers make mistakes, especially DWP computer systems. You can’t talk to a computer system nor can you rely on them to be fully accurate. This new system might have the ability to decide that a person isn’t fulfilling their job search requirements even if they are, not everyone has access to a computer etc. I’m extremely dubious about this, and to be honest I haven’t got a lot of faith in it.
I had a conversation with a man that claims universal credit and who also works for an agency on a zero hour contract. He told me that it’s extremely hard for him to cope, he has to constantly reapply for universal credit, thus waiting for around six weeks for a payment, only to be thrown off it again because he actually got paid. He’s also been asked to provide new ID and he was struggling to find some.
As Roy said ‘People don’t find work they find another form of slavery’.
I advised a man on how to claim ESA.
I spoke to a man that needed advice regarding an ESA tribunal for a friend.
Roy had a conversation with a man who was telling him his experience of his ESA assessment. Upon showing the assessor his medicines the assessor asked him if his doctor knew that he was taking these medicines. Of course, the doctor does, they prescribed them. Yep. Really.
Here’s Kevin’s situation, typical of many.
Kevin applied for universal credit because he was advised to.
Kevin was given an initial universal credit payment.
Kevin was informed that he now needed to claim ESA.
Kevin does this but now has to pay back the initial payment.
Kevin hasn’t received a penny since the 22nd of May.
Kevin is angry, upset and is hungry.
We advised Kevin and signposted him to local organisations that will help.
I had a conversation with a woman that I’ll name Janet.
Janet had to wait weeks for her first universal credit payment, she now owes rent and she has to pay the bedroom tax and a portion of her council tax.
Janet told me that she receives £100 a fortnight. Her housing association are demanding that she pays the rent that she’s owed at the rate of £50 a week. Yes £50 a week. The housing association don’t care that she will be struggling. She’s devastated.
Janet is 60 years old and will be living in abject poverty until she’s finally able to retire. Janet deserves better than this.
I spoke to a man that was unsure of what he could claim and how to do it. I advised hom upon this and signposted him to all relevant organisations.
Lastly, I spoke to a scared young man. I say scared because he walked away crying. He spoke only French and he went into the Jobcentre for advice, most likely he had been told to go there. The Jobcentre refused to use their translation service and he didn’t know what to do, so we advised him using google translate on our phones and we signposted him. Many thanks to my colleague for this help.
Why didn’t they use the translation service? Can you imagine how scared he must have been? My heart went out to him and to everyone else in the same situation.
So this all happened within two hours, we helped lots of people and we will continue to do so.
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