Author: Charlotte Hughes

Campaigner, activist, journalist for The Morning Star (unpaid) determined to make a change in this cruel, harsh world. NUJ member. Determined to make a change and I hate injustice. Ruthless in the exposure of wrongdoings by the Government and those in power. Endless compassion and patience for their victims.

They want to move us. Sanctioned for two months I’m going to lose my home.

Dear readers, its Thursday again at least it wasn’t raining this week. Today’s demo was a tad different and I’ll explain below.

All of the food parcels were handed out to people that really need them, it’s heartbreaking to see new faces waiting for us to arrive with them, and it’s going to become much, much worse.

We also signposted everyone that needed help.

Universal credit and Brexit are going to cause the perfect storm for the DWP. They’ll be more people for them to persecute, and we all know how much they like to do that don’t we.

As I arrived at our new spot a policeman cross council worker was waiting for me. He was polite and told us that he had been told to tell us that we have to move to another proposed spot…. ROUND THE CORNER WHERE NO ONE CAN SEE US.

Not only is that proposal ridiculous it will prevent us from helping people. We are now in negotiations with this chap. I’ve made it very clear that I’m not interested in going round the corner.

Having to deal with these negotiations took me away from helping people, now that did upset me and I will endeavour not to let anyone down next week.

For a start we aren’t trouble causers, we help people. Nor are we a dirty little secret that has to be hidden away out of sight and sound of anyone.

I was expecting this, so I’m not one bit surprised, like I’ve said before it’s going to be like starting all over again and we need your support. If anyone would like to join us one week to show solidarity we would welcome you with open arms.

Anyway back to the important stuff.

The mood of the claimants wasn’t good today, everyone that we spoke to seemed either depressed and annoyed usually a mixture of both.

I spoke to Sam when he was walking out of the Jobcentre. He took a leaflet and asked for my help. Sams story is this.

Sam has substance abuse issues and he’s trying his best to get clean.

Sam had just had a spell in hospital, he was released yesterday and he showed me his hospital wristband.

Sam was moved onto universal credit and he struggled to keep with the DWPS demands. The DWP don’t give a toss that he’s trying to recover from addiction and that this can take a long time.

Sam is now waiting for his eviction letter from his landlord. He’s being evicted because he couldn’t keep up with the rent payments due to the long wait for his universal credit claim to be processed.

Sam will soon be street homeless and will be classed as making himself intentionally homeless by the local authority even though he didn’t choose to be moved onto universal credit and he couldn’t borrow any money from family etc.

As a result the local authority could wash their hands of him, they might not and I hope to god that he gets some support because being street homeless would be awful for him.

I then spoke to David. Davids story is this.

David had been laid off in January so he made a claim for universal credit.

David was paid a Christmas bonus that he wasn’t expecting to receive just after he had made his application for universal credit.

The DWP saw this as a wage and stopped his claim for universal credit.

Sam spent all of the Christmas bonus money on vet fees for his dog that had to be put to sleep.

Sam then had to start the application process all over again.

Sam has been without money from December to February.

He’s worried that he’s going to become homeless and that he’s going to loose everything that he has.

The DWP don’t care though because they’re paid not to care. As it stands Sam will become yet another statistic, not a name, not a person but a number.

I then spoke to Jim. Jims story is this.

Jims working now but he had been unemployed for a period of 14 months not long ago. He was made redundant from his job of 30 years.

Jim told me that he was treated terribly, spoken to like dirt and was mandated to undergo workfare (work for nothing) at a local Barnados charity shop.

Jim worked long hours there, and when it was time for him to finish his time there he was told to not put this experience on his CV. Baffled by this response he ignored them and put it on his CV.

He told me that he thought that all this was a sick game that they’re playing with everyone. ‘They know that there’s no jobs, but they keep sending people on these crap courses which degrade us. They just like people like me to suffer’

That’s the truth of it isn’t it.

Jim told me that it was the worst experience of his life and that he never wanted to go through it again, stating that no one deserves to be treated with such disrespect.

Luckily Jim now has a job, he wanted to have a chat with us to tell us about how he felt, how he was treated because it still affects him now, saying that the whole experience had scared him for life.

A man walked past and shouted that he agrees with everything that we’re doing and to keep up the good work.

We then spoke to an older man who had been claiming Severe Disability Payments. Basically he’s in poor health and certainly isn’t fit for work.

All was going ok until he asked for his PIP payments to be increased due to needing a mobility scooter to get around.

They refused, sent him for a medical assessment and his Severe Disability Payments were also stopped.

He’s now been without money for 13 weeks.

A very vulnerable disabled man has been without any money for 13 weeks.

We signposted and helped him as much as we possibly could, but it left me feeling sick in my stomach. Before anyone says that thousands of people are suffering just like this man is, I already know this. I speak to people in this position all the time.

Some days I get upset, but I’m human with a heart and compassion something that the DWP don’t have.

This happened within 2 hours, hopefully I won’t be distracted next week as I was today. Can you imagine how many people are suffering at the hands of the DWP?

Thousands upon thousands are, thousands are homeless, hungry and scared because of universal credit. It’s not acceptable to treat people like this.

Please spare them a thought.

We will be returning next week.

Photograph taken at the old Jobcentre.

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I’ve lost everything because of universal credit.

Wow, what a palaver it was last week, an extremely bad bout of rain and the hassle from the new Tameside One staff and security. It’s mind boggling that they wanted to move us when all we are doing is helping people, feeding people and signposting them.

I was expecting a repeat of last weeks performance today, but it didn’t happen, however I’ve heard from a reliable source that they’re trying to find a way of getting rid of us, to move us on.

So here’s the deal. We help people, feed people, give people advice and have literally saved life’s.

We’re extremely peaceful, so much so that we’ve gained the respect of the local police force mainly because we help vulnerable people and prevent people from taking other options to feed themselves. Why? Because we feed them. Simple.

How anyone can take offence to this is beyond me, we do important community work.

If they do try to go down the injunction route I’ll let you know, and it will be reported in the press.

I was dreading today, not because of the hassle but because of storm Gareth. It’s here, it’s very windy and the rain has been torrential. It’s no fun standing outside in that.

We were lucky today because the rain actually stopped for most of the time so we didn’t get too wet. Imagine how awful it is for homeless people in this weather.

Luckily the locals are now aware of where we actually are so it was a lot less hectic than last week.

We handed the food parcels out and as usual there was a bit of a queue for them but they were glad to see us, as were we glad to see them. I like to know that they’re ok because they’re vulnerable people and need support.

Jenny walked towards me, she looked upset and in shock. She told me that she’s failed her PIP assessment and she doesn’t know how she’s going to survive. I advised her and gave her a food parcel, but I don’t have a magic wand even though I wish that I did.

People with disabilities are horrendously targeted at by the government. I have a theory that they want them to die. What other reason would there be for being as cruel as they are. After all they’re vulnerable people who cannot work due to disabilities.

Their doctors and consultants have diagnosed them and have informed them that they’re not fit enough to work but a physiotherapist who’s paid a large sum of money can diagnose them as being fit for work.

Their disabilities have suddenly been magicked away by the gods of Atos and Maximus.

Personally I believe that these assessors should all be made to pay for the damage that they’ve done, the people they’ve destroyed and the deaths they’ve caused. I also believe that these assessments should be stopped. We need to stop this downright persecution of the disabled community.

I then noticed Tom walking towards the Jobcentre, he was struggling up the steps. As he approached the Jobcentre I asked him if he’d like one of our leaflets, he said yes he did.

I helped and advised him and I also signposted him. He looked so downtrodden and depressed. This is exactly what the government wants though.

I then spoke to Sally. As I handed Sally a leaflet she told me that she’s lost everything because of universal credit. She struggles to eat, she’s sold anything of any value and she can’t afford to heat her home.

This is the reality of life whilst claiming universal credit. My heart went out to her, my god I want the government to pay for what they’ve done to people.

I then spoke to June. June cares for her husband who has brain cancer. He’s not going to get better but he recently failed his PIP assessment.

Yes folks because he can move he failed his PIP examination. They forget about the excruciating pain that he’s in, the side effects of the medication that he’s taken which render him unable to do most tasks. Disgusting.

When a person is seriously ill like this, they don’t want to be worrying about the DWP, they shouldn’t have this stress forced upon them. Many go to their graves worrying about the DWP and having no money, food etc etc.

Seriously this is about as cruel as it gets. We’ll soon have mass paupers graves again because we can’t afford funerals or burials.

Rhona and Sheila then arrived. Rhona had travelled all the way from London to help us. Thank you so much for doing this, you helped so many people today!!

I then spotted Jane walking to the Jobcentre, Jane told me that she’s failed her PIP assessment and she didn’t know what to do. I helped and advised her and also signposted her. Heartbreaking stuff.

I spotted Keith because he was hanging around the area outside the Jobcentre with his friend, he told me that he’s been sanctioned because he didn’t attend a group session arranged by the DWP. Keith will appeal this decision though because he had a good reason as to why he couldn’t attend.

A man walked out of the Jobcentre and shouted ‘Twats’ as he was leaving.

People can be critical at others who shout or get aggressive when the DWP treats them badly. Remember they’re probably upset because they’ve lost everything, they’re upset and are vulnerable. Instead of criticising they need to find out the reason why they’re upset.

I spotted two familiar faces standing outside the Jobcentre, they looked confused and slightly annoyed. I asked them what the problem was and they then told me.

‘My money’s been stopped because I’ve had to change my bank account, I’m not going to be able to survive this week because it’s going to take them ages to sort it out’

‘I might keel over and die, that lot don’t give a shit’

We had a good chat and I signposted him. His key worker is going to phone the DWP up for him. Rhona also helped him. Thank you so much!!

We spoke to a lovely couple who are appealing a failed ESA assessment. They asked if we knew how long that it’ll take for the appeal to be processed and they were shocked when I replied that it could be longer than a year.

Luckily they’re seeking advice from our local CAB office, but they thanked us for our leaflets and said that it was very useful.

Myself Dave and Rhona had a brief conversation with a man who was waiting for his universal credit claim to be processed.

Jim had been caring for his mum for 15 years, his mum had sadly died so he had to start claiming universal credit.

Jim had walked miles in the rain to get a food bank voucher from the council offices. He was freezing cold and wet through. I advised him and told him that there’s a brilliant food bank in Mossley.

I also advised him and Rhona helped him out.

This all happened within two hours, so many vulnerable people aren’t getting any support, most have to go without meals, many are without a home.

Quite frankly this government makes me feel sick with rage. No one should be treated like this, there’s no excuse. But hey the Tories hate poor disabled people because they see us as a burden. We are anything but that.

Thank you so much everyone for turning up and helping today. I was amazed at how many people, local councillors included turned up to show their support. Jan even brought us some chocolates. It means so much to me, having their support.

It goes without saying that the DWP weren’t impressed by our presence neither was the manager of the building. If they’re reading this then know that we are peaceful and we didn’t obstruct any area nor did we harass anyone.

Our demo was witnessed by others and it’s peaceful as always.

Safe journey home Rhona thank you so much!!

We’ll be back next week.

Please like, share and tweet my blog.

Many thanks to those that subscribe, read and share my blog. Thank you to all the other campaigners also fighting for change either online or on foot.

I’m a single parent just trying to do my best to help others. I don’t get paid for anything that I do. There’s a donate button at the side and the top, every penny helps!

A massive thanks to everyone that came along today to help and to everyone that supports my blog. Thank you!!

30 week pregnant woman told to look for work and new Jobcentre debacles.

Dear readers,

Today was the first day of protesting outside the new Jobcentre. Access to this Jobcentre is either up the stairs pictured below or in a small lift in the library pictured below.

Basically you’re stuffed if you’re claustrophobic and unable to climb stairs as well. Will the DWP be understanding of this… Time will tell.

We arrived as normal at 10am outside the new Jobcentre. It was pouring down with rain which didn’t help things either.

The minute that we arrived the police arrived, they must have been waiting for us. At first they were quite happy for us to stand outside the Jobcentre in the plaza area because it had been deemed a public place, however a member of the local authority decided differently. We were told that we had to stand in the area near the steps downstairs.

Flaming ridiculous. Of course that the Jobcentre don’t want us there so they’ve probably had words with someone, you know how these things go. Despite this’ll we will be back outside the Jobcentre next week.

We help people, hand food parcels out and support people… All things that the DWP should do. Whilst we were there local councillors who were standing with us weren’t impressed with us being moved. Believe me we will be back.

Today was hectic because the weather was awful and we’re trying to get used to our new spot.

There’s no signage up for the Jobcentre or the library either, its a fancy glass building and I like the library but there does need to be signs outside also.

Another matter of concern that was brought to me by a member of the public was that there’s no privacy near the computers and DWP staff were milling round the library and looking at what people were doing.

Lovely. A library is supposed to be a place of sanctuary.

We directed lots of people to the Jobcentre because they didn’t know where it was because of the lack of signage and we still spoke to people and handed food parcels out to those needing one.

I spoke to a heavily pregnant woman whos 30 weeks pregnant. Shes just made a claim for universal credit and has been told that she has to make a new cv and look for work.

What planet exactly do these DWP advisors live on? No one will employ a woman thats pregnant even more so heavily pregnant. The DWPs attitude towards pregnant women makes me feel sick.

Throughout the demo I was concerned and still are concerned about access to the Jobcentre for disabled people that can’t use lifts or stairs. What’s going to happen to them if they can’t attend their appointment? This needs addressing ASAP.

Because the weather was awful, the rain didn’t stop and we were freezing cold we left a bit early. I’m so sorry but we were freezing and wet through.

We handed out all of our food parcels and helped people. Next week we will help even more.

Massive thanks to everyone that turned up to help in this dreadful weather. I really do appreciate it thank you so much.

Thanks to everyone who reads wnd shares my blog, thank you so much ❤️.

Also thanks to everyone that supports my blog and the campaign. Thank you so much. I’m a skint single parent just trying my best to help people and to raise awareness of the suffering of others.

My baby died and they won’t help with the funeral costs.

Dear readers, yes its Thursday again, this week was the last week that we’re going to be stood outside the old Ashton Jobcentre. Don’t fear though my friends, we’re moving to where the new Jobcentre will be which is the new Tameside One building where some of the local council will be based, the library and Welfare Rights. Because the Jobcentre is inside the new building and up a floor we can only stand outside on the ground floor where the public entrance is. Ah well, you win some and you loose some.

I wonder if the market manager will be reporting me to Interpol again for standing near Ashton market, that was extremely funny.

Today was a tad slow probably because the Jobcentre is closing tomorrow ready for the move to the new building. This didn’t stop the need for food parcels and need for help and advice.

As I arrived at the Jobcentre Roy was waiting for me with a few people that needed food parcels. I must note that I was on time but I had to get a coffee because it’s chilly again up north. I’ll list some of the conversations as I usually do, and I’ll use pseudo names to respect a persons privacy.

 

I spotted Dave as he was running into the Jobcentre, he hurriedly told me that he’d been sanctioned but he didn’t know why. He also hadn’t received any letter etc to confirm this. Needless to say that this is pretty standard, the DWP send most letters out second class and they don’t rush to post them either. I gave him some advice and handed him a food parcel upon his exit.

 

Jim stopped to chat to me as he was leaving the Jobcentre. Jims story is this, he had a heart attack a few weeks ago and he’s attempting to make a claim for universal credit whilst he can’t work. He wasn’t sure how long that it would take for him to receive a payment so I told him. Jim was surprised that it would take at. Least five weeks and he now hopes that he’ll be back in work before then. Nice one DWP, don’t you have any idea of how serious a heart attack can be? Callous is one of the words that I like to use for incidents like this.

 

I spoke to a young man who attends a local organisation called ‘Roots to work’. Roots to work sound very much like a work programme place where attendance is mandatory or else expect a sanction. I prefer to call them hell holes or sweat shops of struggle, pain, embarrassment and struggle. I’m sure that they’ll disagree with my opinion, but having experienced these places myself I know what I saw and experienced.

One day not long ago some DWP representatives marched into Roots To Work and informed him that he wouldn’t be able to claim ESA for much longer and he’s going to be transferred over to universal credit in the near future.

This is correct but they didn’t inform him that he would be eligible to claim the disability element of universal credit, so I informed him of this. What a surprise the DWP being selective in what they say to people. Their very presence set him into a state of panic.

 

I then spoke to Gill, a young woman who visibly looked upset. I asked Gill if I could help her. Her reply was ‘My baby died three months ago, I had only just made a claim for universal credit just before my little boy died.’

Gill then told me that her baby’s funeral had been performed by the local council council and she had had to pay for this themselves. She’s now struggling to get the DWP to reimburse her some of this money.

My heart went out to her, she had been ill advised, felt alone in the world and was now trying to get a receipt for the funeral to satisfy the DWP. I signposted her to my local MP for help with this.

I asked Gill how she was coping and were the DWP treating her well. Her reply was that she’s struggling to cope and the DWP haven’t shown her any sympathy for the death of her baby. She’s still got to search for a job.

I helped and advised her the best that I could. I gave her a hug and told her that I’m here for her whenever she needs someone. I also signposted her to local organisations that might be able to help her.

The memory of seeing her stood there in tears clutching her baby’s baby bag will never leave me. No one that have lost their child should be treated like this should they.

 

I then spoke to Mandy. Mandy is a young woman at the start of her adult life and should be enjoying it. Instead Mandy is battling the universal credit system and at the moment she’s loosing this battle.

Mandy’s story is this. When Mandy made a claim for universal credit she signed her new claimant commitment in front of her advisor as is required. Mandy was then surprised to see that her claim for universal credit had been denied because she hadn’t signed the claimant commitment which she had signed. You really couldn’t make this up could you.

Mandy then tried to appeal their decision but was told that they weren’t allowing this and she had to make another claim for universal credit, so she now has to go through the whole process again.

How much of this shit are we expected to put up with? A whole lot more when everyone else is moved onto universal credit and the system can’t cope. Wonderful… Not.

 

 

I then spoke to Jenny who is her sons registered appointee. Jenny receives al of her sons DWP letters and attends all of his DWP appointments with him. Jenny wanted to drop off some information on behalf of her son but was refused, she was obviously distressed so we set to task to sort this out.

I gave Jenny the telephone number for Ashton Jobcentre and she phoned them up from outside the Jobcentre, they then allowed her to drop off the required documentation. If I hadn’t done this then her son would have been most likely been sanctioned.

Honestly this shouldn’t be happening. To be told by a DWP representative at the front desk that she wasn’t allowed in to drop the documentation off and that she wasn’t his appointee either. Not only was this information incorrect, it caused her to become distressed and angry. If they had looked at her sons records correctly they would have seen that she is his appointee.

DWP stop doing this. It’s not that hard to correctly check a persons details and to be respectful to a person is it. Sometimes I think that I’m speaking a foreign language that they don’t understand.

 

I then spoke to the PCS rep for Ashton Jobcentre, he had no problem speaking to me and we discussed several things. Unlike his predecessor he wanted to listen etc. If you’re reading this thank you.

 

Today was tough but we do this every week. I’ve been standing outside Ashton Jobcentre for five years now, my comrades have been helping for three years. In a strange sort of way I’ll miss the old building. We’ve shared tears, hugs, and advice. We’ve also had plenty of laughs and have had some memorable demos there. Goodbye old building, DWP we’ll see you at the new building.

A massive thank you to all my supporters, readers and my campaigners. You all mean the world to me.

Thank you to everyone that came along and helped this week, thank you so much.

I’m a single parent just trying my best to help people and right the wrongs of the DWP. I receive absolutely no funding for the work that I do. There’s a donation button at the side and the top of my blog for anyone who would like to donate. Thank you!

 

 

Universal Credit guarantees poverty, hunger, debt, homelessness and despair.

Dear readers, its Thursday again and for a change it’s a lovely warm and sunny day. This gives many of us a huge sense of relief because we won’t have to put any heating on.

Today was a busy but quiet day. I know that this doesn’t make any sense to you, but its a bit difficult to explain.

When I arrived at the Jobcentre there was already a queue for the food parcels, amd Gordon had already arrived and was unloading the car.

Everyone that I spoke to today was hungry, fed up and wanted things to change. No one wants to live like this. It’s exiating not living, and it’s cruel and demanding. I wish that I had a magic wand to change this system and devise a replacement that’s fair for everyone.

I’ll list the conversations that I had this morning. Real names etc won’t be divulged either.

I spotted Chris as he was walking away from the Jobcentre, clutching a piece of paper in his hands. The same piece of paper that’s handed out to everyone that makes an enquiry.

Chris is a young man, very thin and pale. He was wearing thin clothing and looked downtrodden. I asked Chris if I could help him.

To break the Ice I handed him one of our leaflets, he looked at me and said ‘It’s not f#####g fair you know.’ I asked him what had happened. Chris told me that had an appointment early this morning but he was unwell and couldn’t leave his home until he felt better.

Chris had no money except the money that I gave him to buy a bit of food and a brew. He didn’t have any phone credit so he had walked to the Jobcentre to speak to someone.

Chris was told that he couldn’t have another appointment and that he had to wait for two weeks for his next Jobcentre appointment.

Chris was visibly upset, he knows that the reality of him being sanctioned are high and he didn’t know what to do.

I gave him some advice and told him that I’m there for him if he needs any help at all and he left a little happier than he was earlier.

I don’t need to tell you that even the threat of being sanctioned is enough to push people into a downward spiral of depression and panic. Many give up altogether, many never get over it. Sanctions traumatise people beyond belief

Sanctions need to be abolished because they do kill people.

I spoke to a young woman who was making her first claim. We advised her, gave her copies of our survival guide and leaflet. She appeared to be more confident when she walked away.

It was then that we were heckled at from a car that was passing by. Not one of us could decipher what they said, but they drove off feeling rather happy with themselves.

I then spoke to a young man how’s being made redundant after working at the same company for seven years. He’s never claimed any type of benefit before so I advised him, handed him our leaflets and had a nice chat with him.

June is an older lady trying her best to navigate the awful universal credit system.

June doesn’t know how to use a computer. Her son tries his best to help her fill in her job searches etc every week..

To make things worse June also has another problem with the universal credit system. Every month since she started to claim. Universal credit the computer system blocks her payment. Every month June has to telephone the DWP waiting over a hour and a half to speak to the right person.

The reason for this is that the system says that June had previously claimed incapacity benefit. June doesn’t even know what that is nevermind claimed it. So every month she has to fight to get her rightful payments.

No one should have to go through this. June suffers from various ailments and helps to look after her disabled daughter.

June feels like totally giving up. Luckily we were there to provide some support and advice.

I hate universal credit.

Meet John. John has had his wallet stolen. John is also very thin, looks unwell and was wearing unsuitable clothes. John has no money.

Thinking that the DWP would show some comlassion for his situation, he went to the Jobcentre for some advice. He was told that they wouldn’t help him, basically they didn’t care.

My heart went out to him. In the good old days people in his situation were able to get a crisis loan to see them through to their next payment day. This used to work well, and I’ve had a few crisis loans in the past.

We helped and advised John, I wish that we could do more but we can’t.

I spoke to another man who has also been made redundant. We advised him about what to do etc.

Meet Jenny, a young woman who works as a teaching assistant.. Jenny has children but has been forced to claim universal credit due to a relationship breakdown.

Needless to say, Jenny is struggling. She’s got a mortgage to pay, children to feed and to say that she’s unhappy with the system is an understatement.

Basically Jenny is being punished by the cruel universal credit system even though she’s working. Only a cruel Tory could devise such a cruel and heartless system.

I spoke to another woman thats struggling with the universal credit system. Please remember that not everyone can use a computer. Many find it hard.

I advised a woman who’s caring for her disabled daughter.

I spoke to another woman struggling on universal credit even though she works. She’s also finding it hard to pay her mortgage payments.

I spoke to a young man who’s making his first application for universal credit.

I spoke to another man who’d just been made redundant.

We also spoke to a couple who are experienced in fighting the system. They’ve self taught themselves and know their stuff. Well done to them. Having confidence or the appearance of confidence really does help. Advisors don’t see them as easy targets and are less likely to target them.

Yet again we helped lots of people, provided food, advice and comparison to people. We’ll be returning next week to do the same.

Many thanks to everyone that came to the demo today.

Massive thanks to everyone that reads and shares my blog. Also massive thanks to everyone who supports my blog.

64 year old woman with multiple health condition fails universal credit medical assessment. Living in substandard accommodation. How are people supposed to survive this?

Dear readers, its Thursday yet again. The sun was shining for us today, what a welcome surprise. It was lovely to see. No joy was found from the DWP though, there’s a surprise.

I’ll be listing everything that happened today as usual. No real names will be divulged either. Today we handed out six food parcels and helped lots of people who would have otherwise been left, stranded without help by a system that doesn’t care about them.

Those of you that have been through the system or know people that have will already know that the DWPs flagship universal credit system is cruel, heartless and punishing. It discriminates against everyone but particularly women, children, single parents and people with disabilities.

Universal credit is obscenely complicated and hard to navigate, often DWP advisors don’t know the rules either. Not one department communicates with another even though universal credit is computer driven by default. You’d honestly think that the designers of it would have thought about people that are unable to use computers or don’t have any access to the internet at home. They also didn’t take into account the fact that libraries are shutting their doors or reducing the hours that they’re open because they can’t afford to stay open.

Universal credit is a system that rarely works well for anyone, but it was designed to do this, to reduce the unemployment levels by any means possible. If that means that a person takes themselves off the system because they can’t cope then so be it. No one will try and stop them either. Above the door of every Jobcentre a sign saying ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’ because that’s exactly what people do.

 

The first thing that I noticed today was the queue of women waiting for food parcels. It goes without saying that there shouldn’t be a need for us to hand food parcels out but there is, and will be for as long as this rotten government is in power.

As I was handing the food parcels out a young man stormed out of the Jobcentre. I asked him what was wrong and he shouted ‘It’s a pile of shit in there, they don’t give a shit do they’ I agreed with him and handed him a leaflet.

 

Meet Tom. Tom had successfully made an application for universal credit a couple of months ago, thats good you might think. Well, no because it appears that whoever processed his application didn’t quite do everything correctly.

Upon applying for universal credit a claimant is expected to provide ID and proof of tenancy etc at their first meeting, because as you know rent etc is all rolled into one payment every month. Here’s where Tom encountered his first problem. I say first because he’s bound to have more problems as time progresses.

Tom looked confused as he handed me a form that he had just been given by his advisor. As I looked at it he told me that he had already provided them with the ID and proof that they needed. Here’s the letter in all it’s glory.

 

In this letter he’s asked about every single detail of his tenancy, including gas and electricity check certificates and energy performance certificates. Tom has no idea what those are, his landlord didn’t issue him with these. The DWP need to remember that not all landlords actually do this.

Other questions included are ‘Are you up to date with your rent payments? If yes, provide evidence of this.’

‘Would your landlord accept less rent at times if you could not afford to pay the full rent?’

‘Will your landlord accept a lower rent if universal credit does not meet your full rent liability?’

‘Would your landlord take you to court to evict you if you failed to pay the rent?’

‘Would your landlord take legal action to recover rent arrears?’

These questions are totally ridiculous. Landlords rarely if ever lower a persons rent payment to suit the DWP, and of course a landlord will take action to evict a tenant for non payment of rent. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise, and very arrogant of the DWP to suggest that a landlord should back down to the demands of the DWP.

Honestly, the above form looks like something thats been typed out at home in a hurry. There’s absolutely nothing official on this form, no DWP logo either. It’s all very strange.

Tom quite rightly noted that they should have asked for this information when he first made his claim, he’s already received his first payment. He’d already paid his rent with this. Honestly you couldn’t make this up.

To make matters worse he had to make a new appointment just to hand in this form, if he doesn’t attend he’ll get sanctioned.

I asked him if he had moved house and he told me that he hadn’t, his was living at the same address when he made his claim for universal credit.

Luckily I was able to walk him through the questions and signposted him if he needs further help. Poor fella, he was so confused. He thanked me and he walked away hopefully less confused.

 

Tom looks after his sister who is computer illiterate, his sister struggles to get out and depends on Tom to do most tasks for him. Tom attended the Jobcentre a few weeks ago to hand his sisters fit note in. He was told quite bluntly at the reception desk that he couldn’t do this and he had to post it. So Tom posted it using an envelope that they gave him.

Today Tom attended the Jobcentre once more to hand his sisters fit note in. This time they accepted it but asked him where the previous fit note was. He told them that he’d posted it because he’d been told to. Unbelievable isn’t it.

Tom was understandably a bit fed up, saying this system is bloody ridiculous isn’t it.

 

I spoke to a woman struggling to pay the bedroom tax, a man that was sent away fro being ten minutes early and a woman who told me that she claims universal credit and PIP and its bloody awful.

I also spoke to an older woman that cares for her son who’s autistic. He had failed his latest ESA medical because apparently he ‘looked ok’. Obviously the DWP don’t recognised hidden disabilities, they’ve got quite a bad track record of this.

I spoke to a young man that has taken himself off the system because he couldn’t cope with it. I asked him how he managed from day to day, he told me that he tries his best but is dependent upon relatives. He hopes to get a job in the near future.

 

We spoke to a self employed plasterer, he quite loudly told us that universal credit has ruined many of his friends and colleagues. Universal credit made it impossible for them to continue with their trade. He was understandably angry, but angry at the government for doing this to them.

 

I spoke to Bill, bill has been sanctioned because his daughter had been taken into hospital and he missed his signing on appointment. He did telephone the Jobcentre and communicated this through his online journal, he’s even provided evidence of the hospital stay. But the gods of the DWP have decided that he’d be sanctioned so he was.

I told him that he could appeal the sanction decision and he told me that his advisor hadn’t told him that he could appeal. Thankfully hes now going to appeal this and hopefully he’ll win his appeal. He wouldn’t have known to do this if we weren’t there to inform him.

 

Meet Pat. Pat is 64 years of age and has numerous medical conditions, some quite serious. Pat hasn’t been able to work for years because of this. Pat also claims universal credit.

Pat recently attended a universal credit medical assessment, she failed this and was told that she’s now fit for work.

So the DWP gods have performed another miracle haven’t they.

Pat is determined to appeal this decision, so she informed her advisor of this. Her advisor then told her that she now needs to provide medical proof if she wants to appeal.

Pat has now had to pay £15 for a letter from her doctor. This is completely ridiculous, she’s already shown evidence of her medical conditions.

To make matters much worse Pat lives in a home riddled with damp and her landlord is reluctant to deal with it. She told me that she doesn’t know how much more she can continue like this, its becoming all too much for her.

Remember pat is 64 years of age, she shouldn’t be treated like this and she honestly didn’t expect this.

I did everything that I could to help her and signpost her. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when you speak to someone thats suffering as much as this. For gods sake we’re supposed to respect our elders. The DWP respects no one not even their staff.

 

I spoke to a middle aged man who’s in the process of being evicted. He told me that the move over to universal credit has caused this.n

We spoke to a young man that was prevented from attending an appointment with a friend, ten minutes later another man was prevented from entering the Jobcentre with his partner. He wanted to help her but he was turned away. The law states that a claimant is allowed support when attending an appointment but hey, the DWP employees at the front desk of Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre appear to totally disregard this.

 

Today’s conversations all happened within two hours on a Thursday afternoon. Universal credit doesn’t work, its very design dictates this.

We need to stop and scrap universal credit and replace it with a much fairer system that actually cares for people.

 

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

Thank you to everyone that turned up to help today, I really appreciate this.

 

Massive thanks to everyone that supports my blog. Without you I honestly don’t know what I’d do. Your support means everything especially when times are hard. As a skint single parent I can relate to everyone that I speak to.

Keep safe, we’ll be back next week as usual.

 

 

£213 a month to live on, and also have to top up rent payments with that. People are struggling to survive on universal credit.

Dear readers, today was grim and the weather didn’t help anyone, let alone the people forced to use the Jobcentre. Yet again we encountered numerous people with all sorts of problems ranging from universal credit, ESA and PIP, housing problems etc.

We handed out all of our food parcels, most were taken by single parents with children and working families. They rely on foodbanks to survive, it really shouldn’t be like this.

Thanks to Gordon for joining me and also Jack. Your help is invaluable and it’s appreciated by everyone.

As usual I won’t divulge the names of anyone that I spoke to this morning. The DWP snoop everywhere and I don’t want anyone that I spoke to being targeted by the DWP. This does happen, but not on my blog. I value everyone that I speak to unlike the DWP.

 

John walked out of the Jobcentre clutching the usual list of phone numbers that they hand out to everyone. I handed him a leaflet and asked him if he needed any help. John told me that he was ok, but thats only because he’s living with a relative that can feed and look after him whilst he’s waiting for his universal credit claim to be processed, saying that the alternative is to horrible to think about.

 

I then spoke to Gemma. Gemma has struggled almost all of her life, she’s 19 years old and to be honest isn’t enjoying anything about her life at the moment. In her short lifetime she’s been homeless twice and has been rehoused not long ago.

Gemma is claiming universal credit and is finding it almost impossible to manage. She receives in total £513 a month total to live on after paying her rent payment. Out of this she has to pay back her rent arrears that she keeps accruing because she’s finding it hard to pay her full rent. She also got into rent arrears whilst she was waiting for her universal credit claim to be processed, “What are you supposed to do, just pay your rent with the loan that they give you? It was impossible for me to pay my full rent because I needed food to eat, and gas and electric to buy. I’ve got no one to borrow money from, and that’d have to be paid back as well.

To make the situation worse Gemma also has to repay her universal credit loan back at £100 a month. There’s absolutely no regulation concerning the repayment of loan debts. No set amounts that people have to pay back, sometimes I think that they pick a number out of thin air and decide thats how much they should pay back. It’s ludicrous

Basically after all of her above debts are paid back Gemmas left with £213 a month to survive on. She’s got to buy gas, electric, food and transport costs. She’s a broken woman at 19 years old. Huddled up in the cold, Gemma muttered “It’s almost as if they’re trying to destroy me. I’m 19 years old and I’m worn out because of the stress and worry. There’s a good chance that I’ll become homeless again, and I’m doing my best. Universal credit is destroying me. They look at me (DWP staff) as if I’m stupid, like I’m something on the bottom of their shoe. They don’t want to help me”

Gemmas 19 years old, at the start of her life and should be enjoying life. Instead she’s worn out, depressed and feels like giving up. This, my friends is what universal credit does to people. It eats you up, totally consumes you until eventually you give up. That’s exactly what its designed to do.

 

Sarah is a single parent and is also having a difficult time. She’s claiming universal credit and to say she’s struggling is an understatement. Here’s her story.

Sarah was instructed to attend an appointment, which she was ready to do but unfortunately one of her parents suddenly fell ill and was rushed into hospital by ambulance. Sarah was with her relative when this happened and from the ambulance she telephoned the DWP to try and rearrange her appointment. The person that she spoke to said that this wouldn’t be a problem, and they’d phone her later with another appointment.

Only the DWP phoned the wrong number. Not the one that’s registered online, an old number that isn’t used anymore, and Sarah had already informed them about this.

Sarah also couldn’t remember her 16 pin log in details. How on earth is anyone supposed to remember this, its impossible. Even if people write it down its easy for it to get lost. If they put it in their mobile phone (if they have one) and the phone breaks, then the numbers missing.

Sarah phoned the DWP to tell them that she’d forgotten her PIN number. The DWP then told her that she had to go online to get the number. Sarah couldn’t access her online account because she didn’t have her pin. Basically they gave her an impossible task to complete.

Upon attending her next DWP appointment she was told that the DWP were deducting her universal credit payment by £200 but don’t worry, we’ll give you a LOAN for £150 that you have to pay back. Are the DWP getting their ideas from illegal money lenders or something? This is atrocious.

Basically Sarah was fined £200 for missing a phone call that she never received because they phoned the wrong number, and for loosing her PIN number. You really couldn’t make this shit up could you.

Sarah is also in rent arrears now because she was unable to pay her full rent because she was sanctioned. She now has to top up her rent payments and repay two DWP loans back.

Don’t forget Sarah is a single parent with a very young child, she didn’t have any food in her cupboards and didn’t know what to do. Luckily I gave her a food parcel and advised her on what to do. Hopefully she will access local services and she will appeal her sanction.

It’s despicable that people are treated in this manner, not only are the parents suffering but their children are too. The DWP just don’t care. It’s no coincidence that more and more children are being put into the care system is it. Many parents can no longer provide food, heating, clothing etc for their children and it’s not their fault. The blame lies purely at the governments feet.

 

I asked an older man how was he coping with universal credit. He looked at me and said ‘Just about. Now I’ve got to pay my council tax”

 

I spoke to a young woman working a zero hour contract at a local cake factory. When she started her job she was told that if she worked hard she might get a contracted job. She worked hard but never got the contract. Now she has no job security at all.

 

Gordon spoke to an older woman aged 62 who’s claiming universal credit, she’s struggling but then again nearly everyone claiming universal credit are aren’t they.

 

We then had a conversation Brian with an older man, he claims ESA and was told to phone an 0845 number recently. He wasn’t very clear about why he was told to phone this number up. He’s confused because the system is extremely confusing.

Brian has a contract phone and his phone bill per monthly is £15 a month. Brian tried phoning this number numerous times, each time he was placed on hold for great lengths of time. When he received his bill it was £54.

Of course he was angry, he shouldn’t have cost him  this much, all calls to the DWP should be free, but many still aren’t.

Brian was angry, frustrated and echoed concerns for those without a mobile phone contract saying ‘How the hell are they going to pay that? They’ll never get any help if they don’t have a phone will they’ He realises the systems rotten, and wondered why the government are allowed to do this ‘It’s criminal’ he said, and he’s not wrong.

 

Jack, a local councillor  represented a claimant whilst they had an appointment, this helps a great deal and I can’t recommend this enough. More should do this if they’re able to.

 

We left todays demo cold and a bit downhearted, but knowing that we’ve helped people makes everything worthwhile.

 

Please read, share and tweet my blog, also subscribe to it, it’ll save you from having to look for it every week.

There’s also a donate button at the top of this blog and at the side. I’m a skint single parent just trying my best to help people, through my blog I’ve managed to reach thousands upon thousands of people. As a result of this and other campaigns, more and more people are aware of the cruelty of universal credit and the heartless state of our government.

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