It’s almost as if universal credit was created to destroy working class communities…

Every week for around five years I’ve stood outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre helping claimants, signposting them, providing food, support, providing survival guides, taking people to ESA and PIP medicals and tribunals.

The situation for claimants is certainly not getting any better, in fact its become much worse.

Nearly every person that I’ve spoken to throughout the years have had problems with the computer based universal system. Sometimes it crashes, won’t let them into their own account and it certainly isn’t accessible for all claimants.

Over the years I have spoken to people that are forced to use a computer, usually at the Jobcentre even though they can’t read or write or haven’t a clue how to use a computer. Just because someone is young certainly doesn’t mean that they’re able to use a computer but the DWP refuse to recognise that.

Today I spoke to an older lady, a WASPI lady that should have been receiving her pension but was instead conned out of it by the government and thrown on the scrap heap and forced to claim universal credit.

Because she doesn’t know how to use a computer it’ll be very hard for her to fulfil the requirements made upon claimants when claiming universal credit.

Today was her first appointment and she was inside the Jobcentre for around 3/4 of a hour. She came out flustered, confused and had gained a headache. She isn’t respected at all by the system and she asked me how on earth could she learn how to use a computer competently.

The DWP didn’t offer her any advice but I noted yesterday that the library downstairs is offering free computer courses so I signposted her there.

The DWP are quick to shirk away from any caring responsibilities towards claimants, occasionally you might get a nice job coach and that’s if you’re lucky. Instead the burden lies with local services with no links to the DWP.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a member of the library staff, I asked her how she found the new library and what was it like having to share the building with the DWP. Her answer was that it was ‘very interesting’ and they weren’t particularly enjoying it but that they have to put up with it.

I also asked her if it had increased their workload and if anything had changed. Her reply was that they’re doing their best to keep up with demand but there’s so many people requesting help that it’s hard for them to keep up. The demand for their computer courses is high and we felt like the DWP could do more to help.

Also noted was that the library has become much busier, some come into the library and stay for hours, to keep warm or cool and that it was a good job that there is a security guard to help out when needed.

Having to share the building with the DWP has certainly increased their workload ad not always in a good way. I admire librarians I really do, they work so hard and they also love their work. Thank you.

Today I spoke to at least three people with disabilities that were being forced to migrate onto universal credit because of changes in their circumstances. They’re all finding it extremely hard but most people just accept that they’ll have no money for at least five weeks.

Many people are just accepting that this is the way it is and they’ll have to go hungry, sell their possessions etc in a bid to survive. Many people become ill as a result of universal credit and the whole process, indeed many people have been diagnosed with PTSD as a result.

One thing is certain, the DWP and the government are the only winners here.

I also spoke to people wanting to improve their situation but are denied this. They have to do whatever the DWP says or else. They’d rather we all worked for nothing on a workfare scheme rather than get a paid job because the DWP and the company involved both benefit financially from this.

Meanwhile the claimant that would rather be looking for work or studying is used for free labour and end up in more poverty as a result. It’s sickening.

The right wing media plays a big part in influencing a persons opinion of benefit claimants. It tells them that they’re lazy, work-shy, scroungers that want something for nothing. I’ve even had someone tell me that they want all unemployed people to be shipped off to another country.

It’s ironic that many of the people making these comments are now having to claim universal credit isn’t it. But I doubt that it’s changed their opinion of others.

Today we handed out all of our food parcels and I hate that there’s the need for them. That need wont be going for many years yet. We spoke to lots of people and offered help and advice, signposting and a copy of our survival guide. Very aptly named because it is the survival of the fittest.

I really wish that I didn’t have to be there doing this but it’s much needed just as much as it was five years ago. We do our best and thats all we can do.

We will be returning next week outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre from 10-12. Please come and join us because we really need your support.

A huge thank you to Gordon for coming along today, he’s an absolute superstar.

Please read, share, tweet, email my blog.

Please support my blog if you can I’m a skint single parent just trying my best to make the world a better place. I’m being moved over to universal credit next week and to be honest I’m dreading it.

A huge thank you to all my readers and to everyone that has supported my blog. You all keep me going.

9 thoughts on “It’s almost as if universal credit was created to destroy working class communities…”

  1. Um, I’m saying this tentatively, but you seem to have put out slight misinformation. In jobsearching and drawing up a claimant commitment, you don’t have to do what the DWP says “or else”. Both are negotiable. If you present your own ideas about what you’re doing to look for work, or improve your chances, and challenge your job coach to accept them or propose something that will work better, they’ll nearly always accept them. They’re not trained in careers advice and they only have a certain amount of time to interview people when they sign on. I inspire people with confidence by telling them to think in terms of, job centre staff are civil servants, which means they are there to serve you, and that means you tell them what service you want. If they won’t do it, tell them to explain why or propose an alternative. Also, job centre staff get their wages paid from public money too, so they are not better than the claimants they serve. Demand courtesy from them, like you would from everybody.
    As to people not knowing how to use a computer, many of the ones I meet (at the Unemployed Centre where I volunteer) have simply not tried learning anything new for some years. It doesn’t mean that they can’t learn, they just need some encouragement and to start practising.
    The biggest problem is that the job centres tell people absolute zip, not the slightest clue, about where to find computer facilities locally, and how to find job vacancy websites. And not many people know that there are other places they can get this information, including through the national careers service.

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