Watch out folks it’s Christmas sanctioning time. Single parent-sanctioned in time for Christmas. Another dire week outside Ashton Jobcentre.

Do you know what especially pees me off, readers? Christmas sanctions. Every year just before the Christmas period the DWP appears to hand out long sanctions for often the most dubious reasons. Of course, they know that this will ensure that all claimants and their families if they have one, won’t be able to celebrate Christmas. If they have a home it’ll also ensure that they’ll be living in a cold house or flat with hardly any food.

This week towards the end of the demo we spoke to a young woman with two young children. She was visibly upset and I asked her if we could help. She told me that she’d been sanctioned for not attending an appointment because she didn’t receive the letter telling her when the appointment was.

This is the most common trick in the DWP’s book. These letters hardly ever arrive, and in the rare instance that they do they arrive they do so weeks after the appointment date given.

Scared that she would lose her home she spent all the money that she had on paying her rent. this left her without a penny in the bank. Nothing.

My colleague and friend who was stood next to me started to cry, the poor woman was doing her best to cheer her children up until one of her children dropped a sausage roll on the floor. Knowing that she wouldn’t have been able to buy another, my friend gave her some money to buy another. It’s heartbreaking.

So a woman with young children is left penniless because she’s effectively been sanctioned for not receiving a letter that the DWP have supposed to have sent. They won’t be celebrating Christmas like the DWP staff will. Instead, they’ll be sat in a cold home with food parcels and anything that local charities can help them out with.

The government is heartless, the DWP are sadistic in their actions and they aren’t going to stop doing this anytime soon. Use your vote it’s the only way to get rid of them.

Luckily we were there and we helped her, advised her, told her what to do, where to go for help and where to get help over Christmas. There is never any justification for sanctioning children and their parents. To hell with it, they shouldn’t be sanctioning anyone. Starving someone into submission won’t find them a job, or show them a way out of the system. Instead, it makes them ill, depressed, often suicidal.

Of course, this is all purely intentional on the governments part. They knew that this would happen, they knew that people would die as a result. But don’t expect them to care, they love it. They want to get as many people off the unemployment statistics by any means possible and they mean to cause limitless damage to the working class of this country.

Upon arriving at the demo this morning I was stopped by a woman that’s working and claiming universal credit. She has children and relies on her childcare being paid by the DWP. After all, they promise this in their fancy adverts don’t they.

She told me that not once has she been paid her childcare payments on time and the payments are always wrong. This happens every month, and every month she has to complain, cause a fuss and demand that her childcare is paid. After all, they are supposed to pay it. She’s receiving a low wage and is worse off claiming universal credit.

Universal credit certainly doesn’t pay, especially single parents and their children. They suffer immensely, with children to feed and the DWP reluctant to help them it makes living hellish at times.

Of course, this is blatant discrimination, the Tories have never liked single parents and their children, you only have to look at the front pages of right-wing newspapers and television channels to see this. Regarded as scroungers, scum and every other awful name in the book. To put it bluntly, like disabled people, we are an easy target for theDWP. It’s not acceptable, not one bit but it happens all the time.

Universal credit causes immense problems for most people that are forced to claim it. Take ‘Linda’ (not her real name).

Linda receives the universal credit work-related ESA equivalent element. She’s disabled. Out of her monthly universal credit payments she has to pay her rent top-up of £180 a month. This leaves her with next to nothing to live on.

Linda had applied for a discretionary housing benefit payment but she’d been refused this. Before speaking to us, she didn’t know that she could appeal this decision, and she wasn’t aware of where to go, so I told her what to do and where to go.

How the hell are the government expecting her to survive? Don’t forget she’s disabled. As a man said to me today it’s criminal, people shouldn’t be treated in this manner, should they.

Not long afterwards we handed a leaflet to a man who was leaving the Jobcentre. We had a lovely conversation, he’s set up a radio station called Greater Manchester Rock Radio. If you can check it out. I’ve got absolutely no idea what bandwidth it’s on though, sorry. It’d be brilliant if he can gain a few more listeners. No, I don’t have a link sorry.

Here’s another example of stupid universal credit bureaucracy. ‘Helen’ (not her real name) already claims universal credit and in her words its shit. Because Ashton Jobcentre is upgrading their computer system she’s been made to go across the road to a local further education organisation that has been hired by the DWP to make a new claim for universal credit. Some organisations are easily bought, aren’t they?

So now Helen has to apply for universal credit again and pray that she receives next months payment, that is if the system doesn’t mess things up. So two applications for the same benefit, two arduous procedures to go through and extra stress and worry just to top it up.

Why the DWP can’t transfer people over that are already claiming is beyond me, but they never miss out on an opportunity to make someone suffer do they.

I was stopped by another woman that told me that she had also been refused her discretionary housing payment. As a result, she has to pay £76 a month top up for her rent, this is taken out of her monthly £276 payment. Do the maths, take away money for gas, electric and food it leaves her with very little to live on.

I advised her on how to appeal etc and where to go.

Not long after this, we were approached by an older man clutching a bundle of letters. He claims the work-related ESA equivalent of universal credit, but he didn’t realise this. Nor did he know how to do anything DWP related, he’s lost, he doesn’t understand the system and can’t understand why this is happening to him.

We all took the time to explain things to him, and what to do if he needs help. Poor fella, it breaks my heart it really does, and I bet it breaks your heart also.

Remember the government hype about being able to get an interim loan from the DWP when waiting for a universal credit payment to go through? Well, you can, but this often comes at a price, £86 a month to be exact for a couple that I spoke to. Of course, this will ensure that both themselves and their children are guaranteed an extended period of living in poverty.

Don’t believe the hype folks.

We then spoke to a young woman who’s first universal credit claim has been delayed because of a DWP blunder. Their answer was that she might get a payment tomorrow, but it might be Monday, who knows. But it’s delayed and it’s not her fault either.

How about we sanction the DWP for this. Not a bad idea.

A young man that I shall call Joe stopped me, his story isn’t uncommon but it’s awful non the least.

Joe doesn’t understand how universal credit works, it wasn’t explained to him.

Joe didn’t realise that he had to pay his rent out of his monthly payments.

Joe then owed rent.

Joe was evicted because of rent arrears.

Joe’s now one of the thousands of sofa surfers that aren’t treated as a priority by anyone, one of the hidden homeless.

Thanks to the DWP and their lack of communication, Joe despite being young doesn’t have much of a future.

Ta for nothing DWP, thanks for ruining a young man’s life and all because you don’t take the time to advise people, although you do take the time to punish people.

When I say that universal credit can be hell on earth it is, I don’t say that in jest. Every day someone is thinking about committing suicide because of universal credit, ESA and PIP-related worries. Delayed payments, debt failed medicals all contribute towards this. In my eyes, the government are responsible for these deaths, each and every one.

Today, we handed out five food parcels, helped lots of people and provided support and solidarity to everyone we spoke to, and we all worked very hard. Many thanks to everyone that turned up to help it means so much to me.

Many thanks to everyone that reads and shares my blog, it’s become my life’s work, an essential documentation of how the poorest are treated in the UK.

I don’t receive any payment for writing this blog and as a single parent myself, life can be a struggle for myself as well. Any donations would ensure that both myself and the demos can continue, thank you!

A massive thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. It means the world both to myself and the team.

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