Category: Army recruiting

Roll out of new DWP computer system causes confusion and worry. Universal Credit destroys life’s.

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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Many thanks to everyone already supporting my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My son doesn’t have enough money to survive. I’m over £300 worse off a month whilst working and on Universal credit.

Dear readers, I’m sorry about the lateness of this blog, yesterday was extremely busy and I returned home late, then had to go to parent’s evening that appeared to go on forever. Things have changed so much since my oldest children were at secondary school, it certainly felt more corporate than it used to and buzzwords were being flown around by the head teacher at great speed.

Anyway, I digress, it was a busy day outside Ashton Jobcentre. It started off very quietly but became very busy. So many people are suffering and it breaks my heart. I try to keep a brave face but it’s damn hard when you know that people are upset, hungry and haven’t got a clue what to do. They certainly aren’t in any position to be able to make things better either, their life’s are controlled by the DWP. Can you imagine having to live like this? I realize that many of my readers are in this position and fully understand what I’m talking about. It’s a culture of fear, the survival of the fittest but even the fittest become ill and many die as a result of the DWPs cruel regime.

Make no mistake, the government are aware of this, but intend to do nothing to help either. They like the system, it serves them well. Creating poverty and suffering should be their moto and they mock us when they create positions such as ‘Minister for suicide’ etc. They cause the suffering and deaths, they are intent on continuing whilst also taking away funding from much needed services that could and do save life’s.

Please note that EVERYONE that we spoke to received the help and advice that they needed, everyone was handed a leaflet or two and no one left us unaided in some way.

 

I’ll list yesterdays conversations, its easier that way.

 

The food parcels went within 10 minutes, and I’m certain that there will be a bigger need for them as the winter weather draws in and more people are transferred over to Universal Credit.  It’s apparently going to be a bad winter, which in itself will bring it’s own problems such as warmth, clothing and shelter. People are hungry, many with children. What sort of a government do we live under that allows such things? A cruel, heartless corrupt government that cares nothing about human life except their own.

 

I said hello to a couple of men that I speak to every week, lovely men just trying to survive under difficult circumstances. They make my week, yet some would pass them by without a second thought because their poverty is apparent. Never judge anyone by their appearance, it’s wrong to do so.

 

I was then approached by a man that I spoke to last week, I mentioned his details in last weeks blog. He wanted to update me about his situation and he appeared to be a bit happier. He told me that he had contacted Greater Manchester Law Centre like I had advised and he was overjoyed with the help that they have and will be giving him. Saying that they couldn’t do enough to help him, and they’ve told him that they are hoping for a very positive outcome for his situation.

To put it simply, he’s been given hope, he felt that they cared, he feels valued and they will fight his corner for him and will go out of their way to do so. This my friends, makes all the difference and I’m hoping for some more good news from him next week.

Greater Manchester Law Centre you are simply brilliant and I can’t thank you enough for the hard work that you all do.

 

Not long afterwards I had a conversation with a politics graduate. She has been advised by the DWP to find a job stacking shelves. Whilst this is far from unusual, it does however reflect the lack of respect and understanding that the DWP have for education and real job searching. They haven’t got a clue, its all about punishing people. I mean how dare a graduate ask for help…. That’s how the DWP see it.

 

A polish man stopped me and asked for a leaflet. He’s been living and working in the UK for seven years, but has recently had an accident. His arm was in a sling and he was struggling with understanding the DWP system. This concerned me, because the DWP don’t have a good track record of being nice or honest  to people like this gentleman and I referred him to local services and the law centre for further help.

 

I then noticed an older lady walking out of the Jobcentre bemused, confused and more than a bit unhappy. I asked her if I could help and she told me her situation. She fits into the category of being a WASPI woman, who ideally should be retired but is unable to do so. She’s ill, disabled and is claiming ESA and has been placed in the support group. She had attended an appointment at the Jobcentre only to be told that she needs to find work. They lied to her, no she doesn’t, she’s in the support group. They also told her that they are going to be keeping an eye on her and want to see her again in six weeks.

Not only have they lied to her, they are now in effect bullying her. I explained her legal rights to her and informed her that she could really do with taking a witness in with her for this future meeting.

So the DWP are bullying an older lady. They don’t care, not one bit.

 

I handed a leaflet to a young woman with children. She claims Universal Credit but is struggling to cope. I advised her to the best of my ability.

 

I then had a conversation with an elderly lady, she appeared to be distressed so I asked her if I could help. She told me that her son is claiming Universal Credit, but she is also having to constantly help her son out with money and food.

She told me that out of her small pension she has to help him daily because after her son’s rent has been paid and the money has been deducted from his Universal Credit payment he’s left with almost anything and he doesn’t have enough money to survive.

She went on to say that people can’t survive like this, how are they expected to live? She’s also worried that she can’t keep on helping him because she can’t afford to. It’s plunging them both into poverty and their health is suffering.

So a poor elderly woman is expected to provide for her son, yep. This is reality folks Universal Credit isn’t working.

 

I was then stopped by a man who was visibly  frustrated and hungry. He hasn’t had a Universal Credit payment system since July. We are now in October. He had been migrated over onto Universal Credit after failing his ESA medical. He told me that his health was declining and he has lost over one and a half stones in weight.

Yes he’s lost one and a half stones in weight. He’s also disabled.

He showed me his paperwork and the DWP are giving him the runaround. Why? Most likely because not one department communicates with another, they don’t communicate effectively with claimants and because they can do. So they’ve left a disabled man in this situation. I referred him to the law centre and other local services,  he promised that he would be contacting them.

 

Gordon then asked me to talk to a young lady, she looked frustrated so I asked her if I could help her. Here’s her situation.

She works part time, she’s been moved over to Universal Credit and is now £310 a month worse off than she was when she was previously claiming working tax credits. She also has children to look after, bills to pay etc.

When she approached the Jobcentre asking for help she was told that she shouldn’t complain because there are people more worse off than her. Yep you heard it right, she shouldn’t complain.

I believe that she should complain, because now both herself and her children are living in poverty, poverty caused by being forced to claim Universal credit. She was much better off whilst claiming working tax credits, and she can’t understand why the government have been allowed to take all this money off people and get away with it.

Once again this shows that work does not pay whilst claiming universal credit, the only thing that universal credit does do is create poverty, suffering and the deaths of thousands of people.

A message for the G4S security guard that is intent on continually staring at us in an intimidating manner whilst thinking that we can’t see you, we can. So stop it. We’ve made official complaints about you before and we will do this again.

A massive thank you to everyone that came along today I really do appreciate it.

 

So here we have it, another Thursday but this is replicated day in day out throughout the country. I do realize that we are further on with the rollout because we were a pilot area, but take note this is coming your way.

 

 

Please read, share, email and talk about my blog. Please support the work that we do, we really need it and for everyone that already does and has thank you so much.

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Debt collection agencies contracted to collect so called Universal Credit debt. Woman forced to attend appointment four days after giving birth. Welcome to Universal Credit hell.

Dear readers, its Thursday gain and I have just returned home from our weekly demo/ advice session. I’m knackered because I’m still recovering from my hospital stay and I’ve just had my flu jab. Thank you all for your good wishes, they have really cheered me up.

Please can I point out that everyone that we spoke to was given the help and advice appropriate to their needs and everyone that needed a food parcel was given one. We handed out five. Yes five in the space of two hours. Also everyone that needed to be signposted were signposted. I remarked to Roy that I felt like a member of staff working at Citizens Advice and the like.

It was busy from the get go so I will list everything as usual and will try not to complicate things.

The first person was a young man who has asked us for help today. He looked worried and was clutching two pieces of paper. I asked him if he was ok, he looked at me and said that he didn’t have a clue what this was about. He didn’t understand it.

I asked him if he had taken a Universal Credit advance? Because this is what they have stated in the letter. He said that he had applied for one but he was forced to move out of the property that he was living in so he didn’t sign the acceptance letter.

So he applied for an advance but didn’t receive it because he didn’t sign the return form. He didn’t receive the money and can provide bank statements to prove this.

So it appears that the DWP have presumed from the application that he has recieved the money and are now employing a debt collection agency to collect this money from him.

None of this adds up. The amounts don’t add up, the dates don’t add up and he stated that he didn’t owe this money in the first place.

This is a fine example of how incompetent the whole Universal Credit system is. Not one department talks to another, and instead of contacting this man or the relevant DWP first they just sent out a threatening debt collection letter. Not only are most people forced to claim Universal Credit constantly worried and anxious many it appears might also be facing a letter from a debt collection agency.

I also find this to be very intimidating. Many of my readers will already realise that most Universal Credit claimants are already in debt and letters like this could send a vulnerable person over the edge.

But do the DWP care? No, not one bit. Does the government care? No not a bit, infact they encourage this kind of treatment. They like to punish the most vulnerable for their poverty or disability, and I can tell you that this man has had a hard time of it already. Thank god we were there.

One question though, and its a rhetorical one. What the hell are the DWP doing employing a debt collection agency? And how much is that costing the tax payer, usually the poor tax payer at that? This man is still claiming Universal Credit and they could have contacted him but they didn’t.

We advised him and I phoned my local MPs office (Angela Rayner) and he is seeing a member of her staff tomorrow. We can only do so much and we are on the street, Angela’s staff will get to the bottom of this and find some answers for him. He is of a honest character and had no reason to lie about anything.

Anyway I’m disgusted. Unemployed people are often seen as the underclass, not deserving of anything and there is little sympathy for their situation. To echo this we were heckled by two people, possibly a third because I wasn’t sure of what they said.

Because we were stood outside a Jobcentre, helping people we were called scroungers and the like. For all of those working for the right wing media reading this, give yourself a tap on the back. It worked, your divide and conquer techniques worked. People like myself and those that help me are left to deal with the mess that you created. Be thankful that it wasn’t you… But it could be one day….

A man looking rather angry walked in and out of the Jobcentre on numerous occasions. We could see the frustration in his face and it was obvious that he didn’t want to talk to anyone, maybe he will next week. Just think what on earth could be making him feel this angry. They are the problem not him.

I spoke to a woman that was struggling to understand what was happening to her. English is her second language and Universal Credit is very complicated. How on earth is she supposed to understand it?

She showed me her letter of entitlement, she will be recieving £317 a month. Take rent top ups, gas, electric and other expenses out of that and she is left with very little to live on. Of course the government believe that this is acceptable because they are in the opinion that we are to blame for our own poverty. Meanwhile they couldn’t live off that amount of money, it probably wouldn’t last them half a day. We know how they like to live the high life at our expense.

Ryan the lovely young man came to say hello to us, I hugged him so tight and gave him all of your best wishes. He’s doing ok and he wants to say thank you for your best wishes. We had a good chat.

I spoke to a man that was working and claiming Universal Credit. He told me that he was working so classes himself as not claiming anything even though he is. The mind boggles. I handed him a leaflet anyway and wished him well.

I spoke to a young man that claims Universal credit and has been sanctioned. He told me that he had been arrested so couldn’t attend his signing on appointment. The DWP in their infinite wisdom decided that this isn’t a good enough excuse to miss your signing on appointment. Maybe the police should have marched him to the Jobcentre to sign on….. But they’ve got better things to do like solve crimes.

It’s not my place to judge him about his arrest but I can judge the DWPs decision as being completely unreasonable. What’s new eh….

I spoke to a young woman that is claiming Universal Credit. She told me that she’s never struggled as much in her life, that she’s never been as worse off as she is now. She can’t afford to buy presents for her children for birthdays and Christmas. She went on to say that shes reduced to tears, that she’s hungry and can’t see her way out. I had a long chat with her, handed her a food parcel and signposted her to relevant places.

I challenge anyone that believes that Universal Credit is a good thing, come and join us one week and look at this woman, look into her eyes, look how thin she is and then tell me that it’s a good thing.

I spoke to a young woman who arrived at the Jobcentre with her mother and newborn baby. Her baby is four days old, yes four days old. She was forced to attend an appointment so that she could hand her babies birth certificate to an andvisor so that she can claim the money for her baby. The DWP had refused to allow her mother to hand it in because they demanded her signature. She was struggling to walk, it had been a difficult birth. It’s obscene.

Last but not least. A person leaving the Jobcentre stopped me and asked to speak to me. This isn’t unusual by the way. They told me that they had witnessed a what looked like an elderly woman attend her appointment nearby. She was struggling to walk, and to be fair the first person that she spoke to was nice to her.

She struggled with the aide of others to attend her next appointment with another advisor, this time her treatment wasn’t as good. Questions were asked of her and lots of them.

“What’s wrong with you” she replied “I have heart failure”.

”Do you know WHY you have heart failure”………….

The questions continued, but my source was asked to leave the building so they didn’t hear them. Judging by her inability to do anything, standing was a struggle,it’s clear that she shouldn’t have been there.

As for asking her why she has heart failure…. Are DWP employees now medically trained? She’s got heart failure and clearly shouldn’t be there but is forced to be. There is not a job available that would suit her and no one would employ her because she has heart failure. JUST LEAVE HER ALONE.

Folks, this is a good example of how Universal Credit isn’t working for everyone. When claiming the ESA element of Universal Credit you still have to attend Jobcentre appointments. It’s obscene, and a very good reason why Universal Credit needs to be stopped and scrapped. it’s inhumane.

Just to be clear once again she was interviewed for a universal credit claim not ESA, but the element that replaces ESA.

Many thanks to everyone that came and helped today.

Many thanks to my readers and supporters of my blog, please like, share and RT my blog.

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Forced to travel miles to attend a DWP mandatory course. Five month wait for Universal Credit payment. The system isn’t working..

Good afternoon readers, this weeks demo was busy as usual. Sadly far too many people were walking in and out of the Jobcentre with their heads down, eyes to the ground. To be honest they looked worn out, fed up, depressed and a step away from giving up. it’s a cruel system that cares nothing for those forced to comply with it.

it’s no mistake that I use the words ‘comply’ and ‘forced’ because thats exactly what it is. Claimants have absolutely no choice but to comply with often unreasonable demands made from the DWP. They are forced to attend DWP regulated courses, attend the Jobcentre whenever it is demanded of them , wait more than the official five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment. They are forced into a life of poverty, many for the first time. It really is an inhumane system and it needs to stop now.

 

I shall list the differing problems that we addressed whilst speaking to people outside the Jobcentre, everyone that we spoke to were given advice, a survival guide, signposted and if needed a food parcel issued.

Sadly the food parcels were very popular and all were gone within five minutes. I arrived ten minutes early and there was already a queue. I also took a woman to the shop next to the Jobcentre to buy her some food because we had run out. it’s awful.

Universal credit payments (if you are lucky enough to receive one) are not enough to enable people to survive for a month. Most of the people that I speak to have deductions taken out of their payment for the loan that they have been forced to take  whilst awaiting for their claim to be processed. Add to this other DWP loan repayments, rent top up and other debts its nearly impossible to survive.

 

Roy spoke to a man that said he has just been rehoused into a flat. Although he’s very grateful to have a roof over his head, he told Roy that the flat is inhabitiable. Various problems with the state of the flat and a concrete floor that he can’t afford to carpet. Roy signposted him to a local organisation that might be able to help with this.

 

We spoke to a woman that had been told that she had been migrated over to Universal Credit without her knowledge. She’s worried how she will survive. Would it not be too much to ask that the DWP inform all claimants at least a few weeks before they are transferred over? Apparently it is.

 

I noticed a man walking in and out of the Jobcentre for what appeared to be every five minutes. He was obviously agitated and fed up and clearly didn’t want to talk. my heart went out to him, a man totally degraded and humiliated by a system that clearly cares nothing for him.

 

I spoke to a young woman leaving the Jobcentre with her partner and children, she looked frustrated, fed up and angry. I ran over to her and asked her if I could help her with anything.

She went on to say that she had been locked out out of her Universal Jobmatch account, she wasn’t certain if she had forgotten her password or if the system was at fault. Honestly it’s hard to tell at times because the system drives you to distraction.

She had visited the Jobcentre to find out if she could get any help with this, but was faced with a big unanimous no. No they couldn’t help, they wouldn’t help but nevermind here’s a telephone number, phone them up and then make an appointment with an advisor to get the code.

Yes you read that correctly. This is another case of DWP burocracy gone mad. Why oh why couldn’t she be given a quick and easy solution to this? An email or a telephone appointment? Nope that’s too easy, so she has left to attempt to make a lengthy telephone call, most likely be sent on a wild goose chase through different departments, wait a while for her appointment and then hopefully, and I say hopefully receive her login code.

Oh and by the way because she can’t access her account she also runs the risk of being sanctioned for not complying. The longer she is forced to wait for her code the higher the risk of this happening. It’s almost as if they want this to happen isn’t it…….

 

More people were walking into and out of the Jobcentre with their eyes to the ground. Not wanting to be noticed, not wanting to be there. They could of course be doing something more productive rather than being told things like they ‘must try harder to find work’ ‘Their efforts aren’t good enough” etc etc. You get the jist.

 

I spoke to an older woman that unofficially cares for her son. He’s 46 years old, had to finish work because of a heart condition which is aggravated by stress. Instead of being able to heal he’s forced to comply with a system that is extremely complicated.

She told me that he had been confused with the computer system because no one had taken the time to correctly explain the procedure of handing in fitnotes and uploading them online onto his journal. He incorrectly was in the belief that it would be enough to just upload them to his Universal credit account online, he didn’t realise because he hadn’t been instructed correctly.

As a result his payments were delayed and he waited five months for his first payment. Yes an unwell man was forced to wait five months. Luckily his mother had helped him but this has put a fair amount of stress on their relationship. “ I shouldn’t have had to look after him, I’m a pensioner, but if he didn’t have me he might not have survived”. Correct, this a terrible reality for thousands of people.

 

I spoke to a man as he was leaving the Jobcentre. He was clutching a piece of paper and was clearly stressed. I stopped him and asked if I could help.

Whilst attending his appointment he was informed that he had to attend an interview for a course in an area that is quite a distance away from his home, indeed it isn’t even in Tameside. Walking would take a few hours and public transport is both expensive and complicated, there’s no straight route there. The journey would entail a tram journey into Manchester then a tram journey back out of Manchester and THEN a long walk.

Whilst some reading this might be under the impression that this is reasonable it clearly isn’t. He doesn’t have the money upfront to pay for the tram journey. He might be able to get this refunded but he has to pay upfront first. I did advise him to ask for help from the Jobcentre regarding this.  However his words were heartbreaking. “They are expecting me to do this for four weeks. I don’t know how I will get there, how I will be able to get there that early in the morning it seems impossible. We don’t all have cars and I don’t know what to do, so I will have to accept a sanction because I can’t do it. I’ll try but it’s going to be very hard”.

Another case of unreasonable demands on a poverty stricken person. To be honest it makes me feel sick, they are setting vulnerable people up to fail and they know it. But hey, anything to lower the unemployment figures eh….

 

This weeks problems are not unusual they are commonplace, this is replicated up and down the country and there is no doubt at all that thousands of people are being  forced to suffer needlessly. I say needlessly because there is no real excuse for treating people like this. The government have made a conscious decision to do so and in my eyes they’ve got blood on their hands.

 

Many thanks to everyone that came along to help. It’s been a very stressful week for myself and your support and solidarity has kept me going.

A huge thank you to my online friends and supporters, and also thank you to my friends in my local Labour Party, like I said its been a tough week and you ALL keep me going.

A massive thanks also to the readers of my blog and the supporters of my blog. I can’t thank you enough. Please read, share, rt and email my blog. We can’t allow this suffering to continue for much longer, it’s horrific.

 

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Bad landlords, bad communication, DWP intimidation. Universal credit strikes again.

Dear readers, its been a stressful week for myself however I don’t want to dwell on that, helping people today has ensured that I continue because helping people is the most important thing to me. Thank you to all my friends and colleagues for helping me and being a support.

 

Anyway, coming back to today. The weather was cooler and we had a return of the northern rain, it never fails to do it’s best and we were caught out by it as were the people that we were helping.

To make it very clear, we helped and signposted everyone that we spoke to, no one was left in the lurch and we handed six food parcels out to hungry people. Universal Credit and the process of claiming it makes people hungry and depressed and we need to continue to be a support to them, remember this can happen to anyone, no one is immune from this system unless you are rich or are of means.

Universal Credit engulfs a person’s life, controls it and makes a person feel as if they have no control over their life anymore. In effect they don’t because if they don’t do as they are told they will be sanctioned and the DWP can withdraw their payments at any given time whether it be a computer glitch, a transfer over to Universal Credit or a sanction. The threat is there and all too real.

 

As soon as I arrived this morning Roy was already there having a conversation with a lady that I hadn’t seen before. She told me that upon applying for Universal Credit she had been advised that there was no sickness element within the Universal Credit framework. Luckily she knew that this wasn’t the case so she appealed this decision and won. She stated that they were nothing but a ‘bunch of liars, and they push you from pillar to post’. To be honest, this isn’t unusual but it shouldn’t be happening at all.

Her main problem today concerned a bad private landlord. She wanted to know if she could complain, and where to complain. Luckily a colleague of mine, a local councillor friend had a contact and found out straight away.

Her list of complaints concerning her landlord was a long one and no one should have to live like that. However with the absence of social housing people have no choice to choose this option and rogue landlords know this and take full advantage of this.

Her list consists of, the landlord refusing to do repairs, no electricity in the kitchen, mail tampering due to a communal mail area, damp living conditions, an infestation of rats and mice and a landlord that can let themselves in her home at any time they like.

This is how thousands of people are forced to live, mix this with the uncertainty of tenure its a complete nightmare. She was given details of how to make an official complaint and who to contact.

 

I spoke to a man who had just been transferred over to Universal Credit. He told me that the whole process has been a complete nightmare and in his words ‘Bloody awful’

 

I spoke to a woman that had just been made redundant, she was very nervous, had never been through the process before and is scared of going hungry. We advised her, gave her a survival guide and let her know that we are here to help her.

 

I spoke to a man that had failed his ESA assessment and  as a result had been forced to claim Universal Credit. He didn’t know about his right to appeal, and he only has 12 months to wait until he receives his pension. Let’s get real. No  one will employ a disabled older person, but the DWP will still continue to pursue him. They should leave him alone and everyone else in his position. The level of disrespect that the government shows our older population is disgusting and there is no excuse for it. But they don’t care so they will continue,

 

I spoke briefly to an older bemused lady. It was her first time visiting the Jobcentre, she had never been through the system before and had worked all her life. She hasn’t a clue how to use a computer and she’s struggling to understand it all.  In the past she would have been enjoying her pension, now she’s being tormented by the DWP and made to jump through constant, moving hoops.

 

We had an interesting conversation with a woman that wanted to share her sons experience of claiming Universal Credit with us. Her son had been working abroad in a European country for a few years, a zero hour contract with no chance of a permanent hours being given. His job sadly ended so he returned home and applied for Universal Credit. He was turned down at first because he was told that he couldn’t apply if he had been working abroad. Luckily he knew his rights and appealed this decision and won.

Claiming Universal Credit is often complicated, conflicting advice given, and appealing against any decision is very important. Don’t just take the DWP’s word for it, appeal and complain, you have the legal right to do so.

 

I spoke to a man leaving the Jobcentre. He muttered that he was ok, but being met by 5 DWP members of staff at the front desk was very intimidating. They asked him for proof of appointment, but did it in a way that could have made him feel anxious if he was so inclined. There’s no need at all for so many staff to be ‘guarding’ the doors. Maybe they are guarding the building against us, but we’ve never caused them a problem and Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre likes to over react at times. Kudos to the advisors working there that may have thought this to be ridiculous also.

 

We spoke to an older lady that complained about the cost of public transport. She has no choice but to rely on buses for transport, she lives miles away at the top end of Stalybridge, is older and not in good health. She wasn’t one of the lucky few to have been given a bus pass through Andy Burnhams scheme, so she has to pay full price. When you have nothing, bus fare can mean the difference between eating and surviving or not doing so. Bus fare is essential, buses shouldn’t be expensive and they should be regulated by the local authority. In the meantime people are suffering and to be honest it’s simply not acceptable is it.

 

This all happened within two hours, we tackled lots of differing problems and helped with them also. We do a lot of work, and we all do this on a voluntary basis because we want to help, we can’t abide suffering of any kind and we want the system to change. Come and join us one week we would welcome you with open arms.

 

Please read, share, email and talk about this blog. Be a friend to someone because being lonely is awful, and poverty isolates you. Talking is important.

Many thanks to everyone that came along and helped, you keep me going. Thank you Lorraine for helping even though I know that you aren’t well.

A huge thank you to everyone that reads and supports my blog and my work. Thank you so much.

 

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Photo taken at a previous demo.

Sanctioned for a year for having a voluntary job. Working 25 hours and facing a possible sanction. Universal Credit strikes again.

Dear readers, today was busy, a morning filled with problems caused by the DWP’s inability to communicate with people correctly and their neglect of using any common sense and sympathy towards claimants. I hate using the word claimant, that in itself is degrading but its the most effective way of describing a persons situation.

We were met with a great variety of problems, ranging from Universal credit problems, JSA problems, housing problems etc etc. Thankfully we have a good knowledge of how to help, but its worth remembering that if someone has a problem created by the DWP they are likely, as a result of this to have more problems elsewhere. Everything snowballs onto them as a result and before they know it it feels like everything is out of their control. Many people then go  into hibernation because the reality of their situation is too hard to cope  with. I totally understand this feeling, I’ve been there and most likely will be there myself in the future.

Las week I recieved a complaint via Twitter, they expressed the opinion that they didn’t like how I describe people. I describe people in the way that I do because I like to keep their anonymity out of respect. Many are scared of repercussions from the DWP and I like to protect them as much as possible. Regular readers will of course understand this. I won’t apologise though and why should I?

Today we were joined by a local Labour Party councillor who joins us whenever he is able to. I’d like to say thank you because this support means so much to us. A massive thanks to Gordon, Roy and Chris for helping. I’d be lost without you all. It’s hard work, and anyone attending our demo will attest to that.

 

The first woman that I spoke to today stopped me as soon as I arrived and asked me for a leaflet. Of course I obliged and she went on to tell me her story. She claims Universal Credit and has done for a long while now.

When she was transferred over to Universal Credit she was already volunteering for a charity, a charity that she had chosen and she enjoyed her work there. I’m a great believer that all voluntary work should be voluntary and NOT enforced by the DWP.

She enjoyed it there and didn’t want to give up her position, however the DWP wern’t happy and enforced a year long sanction. Having no income she was then forced to volunteer for a position of their choosing and she is still there now. She told me that she now owes money as a result of this sanction because she got into debt trying to survive. She really didn’t know about her right to appal etc. So now she’s left to survive on £45 a month because she has to pay her debts off.

Really. How on earth can anyone be expected to survive on £45 a month. Tory party officials spend near enough that amount on a breakfast. But shes’s expected to survive on that amount for a month.

She told me she survives on the goodwill of friends and foodbanks. This is no quality of life, shes mearly existing and not living. This shouldn’t be happening but it is and we all should be outraged.

 

We spoke to a young man who had been through the care system and basically left to his own devices at the age of 17. Young people need guidance and support, not neglect. He told us that all he wanted was a permanent home and proper support. Sadly the government has stripped funding away from care leavers and many end up homeless as a result. It’s heartbreaking but his situation isn’t unusual.

 

We spoke to a man that lives in privately rented accomodation. He made the mistake of visiting family for a week and someone had informed his landlord that he had left the property. He arrived home and his locks had been changed with no notification. He’s trying to sort this out and has managed to get back inside the property.

 

I spoke to a man who was overjoyed with his food parcel. He told me that he could eat some decent food for a change. He was a joy to listen to. he’s trying to make a new start. No one should be denied access to decent food but they are. The government should be ashamed but they are the opposite and are very happy with people being forced to live off food from foodbanks. It takes the onus off themselves to feed people. Without foodbanks people would starve to death. We need to continue to oppose the very need and causes for foodbank usage.

 

I spoke to a working man. He claims Universal Credit and at the moment works 25 hours a week. Of  course the DWP regard this as not being enough and he is under employed by their standards. They really don’t take into account the lack of decent jobs with decent hours and not zero hour contract jobs. People need stability of income to pay rent, bills etc.

Today he went to sign a tenancy agreement for a new place to live, he thought that he would be finished in time for his signing on appointment but he wasn’t and he was 15 minutes late. he was told that he wouldn’t be seen and that he had to phone for another appointment. He tried phoning but to no avail, outside the Jobcentre. He then went back inside and asked for help again. Luckily he was given another appointment but he is still in limbo as to if he is going to be sanctioned because they never tell you straight away.

So he’s working, and in fear of a sanction. How on earth can this encourage people to work? It does the opposite and I hope that he doesn’t get sanctioned because he has a new tenancy to keep up.

 

I spoke to a man that told me that this was his first time signing on for 40 years and he could neither understand the system nor manage under it. They expect everyone to be able to work a computer, have access to a computer and to understand the complexities of the system. Most of the people that I speak to don’t and haven’t a clue how to manage. Of course the government are aware of this and are simply lying when they state that they need evidence of this so that they can change the system.

1. They already have knowledge

2. They don’t want to change the system because it works for them.

 

I spoke to a lady that came out of the Jobcentre crying. She had to travel miles on very unreliable public transport to attend her Jobcentre appointment. She got lost and was visibly upset, crying. She told me that she was late and was scared that she would be sanctioned. She had only recieved two Universal Credit payments so far and doesn’t wanted go without money again.

I reassured her and I hope that her advisor was sympathetic. She was lucky in the fact that she managed to speak to them even though they told her that she would be sent an appointment for June. Now she’s living in limbo, not knowing if she will receive a payment. That feeling is horrible and I really hope that she does.

 

I spoke to a man that had recently had a job interview. He had taken along a copy of his birth certificate, but this wasn’t good enough. They want an original copy before he can start employment.. He now has to pay for that and hope that the job will still be available to him.

 

We noticed a lot of older people forced to use the Jobcentre. This breaks my heart, it’s  an awful system and many can’t cope with the system.

 

We spoke to a representative of a woman who was late for her appointment due to her bus not turning up. This happens a lot, especially in the rural areas that Ashton Jobcentre now covers. It’s too far to walk so they have to rely on expensive unreliable buses. Jeremy Corbyn was right to talk about this, it’s an important issue for many of us.

 

I spoke to a man that had been disallowed his ESA. I explained the appeal process etc and handed him a survival guide. they don’t make it clear how to appeal any decision.

 

I spoke to a man claiming Universal Credit as a couple with a new baby. They are now in fear of being sanctioned because they hadn’t attended an appointment that they didn’t receive a letter for.  They have three children, a new baby and his partner is ill.

I advised him of what to do and how to appeal and signposted him. He must be under so much stress at the moment and he should not be going through this. In effect the DWP are very willing to take food out of new born babies mouths. Honestly if they stated outright that they were going to do this there would be outrage, but they do it slyly trying to demonise the family involved.

We have a government that have knowingly created a purposely complicated system that has been designed to put people off from claiming. The system is so complicated it baffles claimants, it also baffles officials from other organisations. But it’s designed to do so and whilst this system exists people will continue to suffer, and die in many cases and this isn’t acceptable. It’s never acceptable.

 

A massive thank you to everyone that supports, shares and talks about my work. Many thanks to my friends on social media, my friends in real life so speak and to everyone that listens. Carry on with the good work and thank you it is appreciated.

 

I just do my best, it’s hard and I struggle but we have to continue to fight the system.

Thank you.

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Universal Credit isn’t fit for purpose, but it inflicts endless suffering upon innocent, vulnerable people. This weeks blog.

Dear readers, I’m sorry for the delay in writing this weeks blog and publishing it. A missing bus and daughter duties are to blame. Here it is and I hope that you enjoy it. Enjoy is the wrong word to use I know because its damn depressing but imagine how depressed people are when trying to cope with this system.

Before I list everything that happened today, I have to mention something. Hardly any of the people that we speak to are what you would describe as being ‘fit and well’, none are scroungers and most are desperately trying their best to manage despite living in desperate poverty.

New clothes, nights out, trips to the cinema are a thing of the past and having a meal in a restaurant can only be dreamed of. We handed out five food parcels in the space of half an hour, all to people that are desperate, are awaiting Universal Credit payments and are also struggling to cope whilst living on Universal Credit. So please don’t message me saying that they are ‘trying it on’ are ‘scroungers’ and aren’t worthy of sympathy. What has happened to them can and does happen to anyone.

 

The first man that I spoke to looked confused and distressed. This was his first time attending the Jobcentre. He is a manual labourer  and has had to take time off work because he had been attacked quite badly. He told me that he couldn’t believe how difficult that it is to get any help from the Jobcentre and he’s waiting for his first Universal Credit payment. He’s been waiting for two weeks so has got a long wait still and he hopes to have found more work by then.

This man needs time to recover and recuperate, but the government won’t allow this. Get to work is their mantra, despite what your circumstances are and your ability to do so.

 

 

I spoke to two homeless chaps that I generally speak to every week. They are lovely chaps but are struggling at the moment. They need more intensive help but it just isn’t available at the moment, the government cut the funding so we now have thousands of people like these chaps walking the streets. It’s awful. In reality it would work out cheaper in the long run if the government actually funded this help because emergency housing, visits to a&e all amount up. It’s cruel.

 

I spoke to another homeless man who is living in a tent out of the immediate area. He’s claiming Universal credit and is struggling. He proudly told me that he has been clean for a long while now and is trying to improve his life. He has had news that he might be in with a chance of getting a flat to live in so everything crossed for him.

 

Roy and Gordon spoke to a young woman who is forced to live in unsuitable accommodation. She has no choice but to stay there either because of the shortage in social housing.

 

I spoke to an older man, he’s lost his job and is now faced with the challenge of trying to fathom out the Universal Credit system. He told me that the last time that he was unemployed was in the 1980’s and things were very different then. He went on to say that back then he was given help, guidance, and was shown how to do things. He actually had help to find a job. Now, he said you are just left on your own without a clue in the world, trying to cope with a massively complex system and having to go for weeks without a payment. “They want you to die don’t they”. He isn’t wrong there is he.

 

 

I spoke to a woman that has been mandated to attend one of their so called ‘miracle’ courses. To attend this course they have to provide proof of ID, the ID being a passport, driving licence, birth certificate or a household bill. Now I’m very aware that this has been going on for years but this is DWP bureaucracy gone mad. No one that isn’t forced to attend these courses actually wants to be there, no one wants to sneak in either. Proof of their benefit entitlement from the DWP or a letter from them should be enough. It’s another expensive hurdle to cross, and it can be an expensive one also.

 

We helped an older lady out with her Council Tax court summons. She had received a letter saying that she had to attend court for non payment even when she had already paid over half the bill. A member of our team E, took her over to the council offices where she spoke to an officer. They quashed the court order, quashed the court costs and gave her a better payment plan than she had already agreed to. Who says that we do nothing……  Needless to say she was very happy now that she doesn’t have the threat of court hanging over her head anymore.

Council tax is a massive worry that is constantly looming upon most of the people that I speak to including myself. The supposedly ‘small’ amount that they have to pay, which isn’t small is often unpayable. Eating and rent has to be a priority. I do still campaign against the council tax supplement and the whole council tax system but no one is talking about it anymore. It’s been accepted that the poor should pay a large chunk of their meagre income towards this and it shouldn’t be accepted it needs to be fought.

 

We noted an older man struggling to walk into the Jobcentre, he didn’t want to talk but it broke my heart seeing this. Many older people will have the worry of the DWP hanging over them until their death. Horrible.

 

I spoke to a 57 year old woman that suffers from several illnesses, all debilitating. She struggled to attend the Jobcentre and I handed her a leaflet. She told me that she had been given little advice except that she should claim PIP. I agreed and I advised her further. She told me that she was glad that I was there to speak to, because now her path is much clearer.

 

I spoke to a woman who has only just started to receive her Universal Credit payments. She told me that she now has to survive on £200 a month which equates to £50 a week for a four week month, even less in a five week month.

That’s £50 a week or less. Out of that food has to be bought, gas and electricity to be paid, council tax to be paid, the bedroom to be paid and any other system.

So don’t tell me that the people that I speak to have it easy, they don’t. They are living in poverty with no hope, and no future that they can see. Universal Credit is working ok for the government though. It’s systematically making sure that the poorest and most vulnerable people in society suffer, it encourages them to give up and lowers the unemployment figures.

Oh and Esther Mcvey can stuff her lies where the sun doesn’t shine. We all knew that she was lying, she knew that she was lying and yet she still continues to smirk at us all.

 

I spoke to a man struggling with the online system of Universal Credit. “It baffles me he said, I know how to use a computer but this is beyond ridiculous” Yep! it is.

 

I spoke to a woman that had been refused to accompany her friend into the Jobcentre. Her friend is vulnerable and really needed her support. Come on Ashton Jobcentre, do I need to tell you the rules about allowing a person to be accompanied again? How many times do I have to repeat myself…. A person is allowed to be accompanied. There I said it again.

 

So here it is, all this happened in less than two hours. We worked hard and many thanks to Roy and Gordon. The amount of suffering is unprecedented and even though I often regard myself to be extremely wise to the system, I’m still often shocked. The government needs to stop this, the system needs to be challenged more and unemployed people are important. They are trying to survive an inhumane system and they are all heroes in my eyes.

 

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Please read, share, RT, email my blog. I do my best and as a single parent running this campaign can be challenging at times. but we must continue to fight against this terrible system because people are dying and it needs to stop.