Dear readers, it’s Thursday again, the weeks seem to fly by don’t they. It’s easy to forget that in the midst of the Brexit confusion that people are still suffering due to universal credit, ESA and PIP failed medicals and austerity measures in general. It’s extremely cold as well which isn’t helping anyone that I’ve spoken to either. A cold home is awful, it makes you feel like giving up altogether doesn’t it. Please check on friends and neighbours to see if they’re ok.
A bit of self promotion here, but I’ve recently had a few television appearances, those being The Victoria Derbyshire programme on Tuesday, RT News the week before and Sky News tomorrow morning. Some might criticise me for doing these interviews, but it’s important to get the news out there. People need to know exactly how bad it is don’t they. By the way I don’t get paid for any of this either.
Today was cold, below zero and we had to leave half an hour early because of this. Self care is very important as I learnt in August when I was hospitalised, and I apologise for leaving early.
I’ll use pseudo names as usual, it was very busy today and we spoke to lots of people, handed out much needed food parcels and helped lots of people. Everyone that required help was given help, no one was left without it.
Cathy is a single parent with a young child, she claims universal credit and started a new job a few months ago. She was happy because she thought that it would be a way out of poverty. She’s since learnt that it doesn’t.
Cathy was given a different tax code, and as a result most of her wages were taken away by her huge tax bill every month. Her employer took pity on her and gave her an advance of her wages because she needed to eat, pay childcare and suchlike. Because the universal credit system saw this as being two wages in one month, they stopped her universal credit top up payments. She’s shown them all of the evidence that would rectify this but the DWP are at the moment refusing to change their minds.
So payslips, evidence from the tax office, proof from her employer have all been refused. They refuse to budge on this, they refuse to even look at the evidence.
Cathy has now had her tax code changed, but she won’t see the benefit of this until next month. The advance payment that was given to her had to be paid back out of her wages. She’s now left with £101 for the month to live on, remember she also has a small child, has to feed and clothe her child, get to and from work and keep her home warm.
I referred Cathy to our local MPs office, I’m sure that they will help her to rectify this but the plain refusal of the DWP to even look at her evidence is clearly wrong and is also extremely bad practice. Do they care? Not one bit, they don’t care if they both become hungry, homeless and suchlike. Everyone should be horrified by their attitude towards claimants.
Ben stopped me outside the Jobcentre, he asked me if I’d watch his bicycle for him whilst he attended his appointment, he can’t afford a lock for his bike. Of course I said yes, we do this a lot and have most likely prevented a fair few bikes from being stolen.
Ben told me that he was sick and tired of universal credit, he’s having a tough time and even after budgeting he can’t manage. Advance loans have to be paid back, rent and other debts have to be paid and it’s leaving him unable to support himself.
I handed him a leaflet and he told me that he doesn’t receive his next payment until the 9th of February, he’s got no food and no money to buy any either. He told me that he’d asked for a budgeting loan but had been refused. Basically tough, we’re not going to help you even though we got you into this mess in the first place.
As I handed him a food parcel, he couldn’t believe that a stranger would help him, care for him and listen to his plight, you see you don’t normally associate kindness with the Jobcentre. I pointed out to him that this is the very reason why we stand outside and why we aren’t allowed in on Thursdays even of someone needs our help. He couldn’t thank us enough.
It was then that I spotted Janet walking out of the Jobcentre. She looked both upset and annoyed, so I handed her a leaflet and asked her if I could help her. She told me that she didn’t need it because she was going to have to stop her claim for universal credit. I asked her why and she replied that her advisor had advised her to.
As you can imagine I was rather surprised at this because she hadn’t found a job, she was struggling to live on £250 a month to feed both herself and her children, so I asked her a few more questions.
Janet had attended her appointment and had told her advisor that she was struggling to survive on such a low amount of money, she also told them that she had worked all her life but had suffered a nervous breakdown after the death of a family member, Her doctor advised her to stop work and to rest, only the DWP appear to know better than a qualified medical practitioner.
The response from her advisor was staggeringly awful. If you don’t like it, stop claiming universal credit and survive without it. She had almost literally taken this advice literally, the stress of universal credit is crippling her she told me, and she can’t afford to eat on a regular basis. Their answer was basically tough, we don’t care and we aren’t going to help you either.
I spoke to an older man who had worked as a chef for around forty years. Due to ill health and disability he had to stop working and made a claim for universal credit. Since making his claim he’s struggled, he hasn’t a clue how to use a computer and can’t keep up with the demands that the DWP make of him.
I advised him as best as I could and he walked away with a bit more hope than he arrived with, he told me that universal credit should be scrapped because its awful and people like him just can’t navigate the system.
I then met Bill. Bill is 62 years old, has several health problems and is disabled as a result. He was claiming ESA but had failed his medical assessment so was now appealing this with the help of a local MP.
Luckily Bill has a good friend that can take him to the Jobcentre for his appointments, put him in touch with his MP and basically help him fight his corner. He realises that he’s lucky in this respect because thousands of people don’t have any type of support network at all and are left without any help.
I’m positive that Bill will be receiving good advice from his MP, but he really shouldn’t have to go through this should he.
The DWP have a remit from the government that they must fulfil, that remit being to get people off benefits by any means possible. Today’s conversations definitely show evidence of this.
Remember the DWP machine has no compassion towards anyone, it fails to recognise a persons individual requirements and needs.
Universal credit is designed to fail everyone, and to make claiming a benefit so hard that it prevents you from claiming in the first place. Remember this.
A massive thanks to everyone that reads and shares my blog.
Also a massive thank you to everyone that also support my blog. I’m a skint single parent trying my best to help people that are forced into an in tolerable situation. There’s a donate button at the top and side of my blog. Thank you!