Category: domestic violence,

Council Tax Arrears Rise Dramatically

A recent report undertaken by Money Advice has uncovered that Council Tax arrears are rising dramatically and are expected to grow exponentially.

As detailed inthe report the total amount of arrears owing now stands at over £4.9 billion, this is an increase of £521 million (12%) on last year (2021).



With the ever increasing cost of living costs and energy bills it comes as no surprise that many are struggling to pay council tax.This has been happening for years and it shows no sign of improving.

The analysis conducted by Money Advice suggests that the problem is worsening showing that in the past 5 years the average CouncilTax bill in England has risen by 24%. At the same time arrears have risen profoundly by 74% over the same time period

This leaves an ever increasing amount of households that are struggling to afford their bills and everyday costs therefore falling deeper into arrears unable to meet the payments.

The truth is that the current system of collecting council tax isn’t working, it often costs local authorities more to implement than they actually are able to collect. Households are already struggling to pay and local councils are trying to cope with the deficit of payments whilst trying to keep essential services going as many rely upon council tax payments to provide such services.

The rules that govern council tax collection are approximately 30 years old and are no longer working for today’s financial climate. The whole council tax system needs to be changed for it to work fairly both for households and local authorities.

Money Advice suggests that the Government needs to urgently take a duel approach both for households and councils.

They suggest that:

The government increases and ring-fence funding for Council Tax Support to stop people falling behind enabling more people to get help paying.

Change and reform collection rules so that households are treated fairly and not met with intimidating behaviour from bailiff sent out to collect arrears. This creates distress and doesn’t actually work to help people pay, instead it increases debt due to having to pay bailiff costs as well.

In an ideal world there would be new, fair system created that is affordable and doesn’t cause increasing poverty and spiralling into further debt.

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You can find a full copy of the report here at https://t.co/WT2vQSzLhA

Please read and share this raises awareness and is vitally important.

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I work hard and I don’t receive any payments at all leaving me struggling for everyday costs and basics. Every penny makes such a huge difference and also helps to me to continue with my work.

DWP Wrongly Forces Universal Credit Claimants To Repay Entire Payments


According to a recent report from Child Poverty Action Group CPAG) claimants are being forced to repay their full Universal Credit (UC) award despite being entitled to it.

Why Are The DWP doing this?

During the pandemic the DWP temporarily changed some of the evidence rules to complete UC claims.

As detailed in the report by CPAG in January 2021 the DWP started to look into the claims that were made during the pandemic.

Whilst doing this the DWP have been changing the entitlement decisions given to claimants declaring that many claims have been wrongfully awarded.

Why This Shouldn’t Be Happening

CPAG have expressed their concerns that the process of retrospectively deciding claimants were not entitled to UC and beginning recovery is unlawful.



In addition, the DWP is asking for evidence of entitlement via the online journal, even from claimants that are no longer getting UC and would have no reason to check their journal.



Some claimants only find out about the alleged overpayment when they receive a letter from DWP Debt Management.

They therefore miss the one month deadline for challenging a decision and often don’t know that they could make a late challenge if they have good cause.


Shockingly, this process is set to be ramped up dramatically.

The DWPs Reaction

The DWP are employing a team of 2,000 staff to look again at 2 million claims over the next five years including, but not limited to, claims made during the pandemic.



The thought that a government department that tramples on claimants’ rights in this way is to be given powers of search, seizure and arrest, as revealed in our last newsletter, is truly frightening.


Conclusion.

It’s very concerning that the government gives the DWP the authority to stamp on a person’s legal rights in this manner.

Not only are they able to stop a claimants payments without any notice they are also set to be given powers of search, seizure and arrest, as detailed in an earlier blog post.

DWP decisions such as these are life changing and literally leave people without the ability to eat, pay their rent and to keep warm.

Combined with this is the mental toll that this puts upon claimants leaving them in a state of distress not knowing where to get help.

Claimants deserve to be treated with respect and should be given the right to reply before any permanent decisions are made by the DWP.

Not only is it morally wrong to change decisions retrospectively, moving the goalposts when it suits the DWP is despicable and should be challenged at all times.

You can find the full copy of the report here https://cpag.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/briefing/demands-repay-impact-and-legality-dwp-reverification-uc-claims

Please read, share and tweet this article. Doing so raises awareness of the real issues that affect the working class of this country.

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A huge thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog. I really appreciate it and I couldn’t have got through the last two years without you.

UK Food Prices Set To Rise Again This Summer

Food prices are predicted to increase by 15% in the UK this summer. This is the highest level in more than 20 years. This is predicted to rise alongside inflation which could last until the middle of next year, according to a report by The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)

This is a result of the ever increasing prices of meat, cereal, dairy, fruit and vegetable products caused by the rise in costs of wheat prices as a result of the war in Ukraine.

The Ukraine is a big supplier of wheat to the UK, combined with sanctions imposed upon Russia will undoubtably cause a hike in prices and also a probable wheat shortage. Also predicted by the grocery trade body IGD.com is a rise in costs of food items caused by production lockdowns in China and export bans on food products such as palm oil from Indonesia and wheat from India.

What does this mean?

Food costs are going to rise dramatically again making it extremely difficult for low income households to be able to afford to buy much needed food essentials. According to a survey undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) there has been an increase in the number of people spending less on food and household essentials which has risen from 36% to 41%.

This figure is set to rise again in the Autumn when as predicted by The Bank of England inflation is predicted to reach to 11%, which is the highest since the 1970s.

Rising energy costs

Households are still struggling to cope with the rise in energy costs with government payments set to be sent out to household in July. This scheme is not without its faults though leaving some low income households and disabled people exempt from this scheme.

After the second payments given by the government in October there are so far no plans to extend this to the winter and beyond, leaving many forced to live in cold homes unable to cook food.

A recent survey also carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that 52% of low income households are being forced to use less gas and electricity because they can no longer afford the cost. This in turn will also affect a households ability to cook meals.

Why does this matter?

Low income households are already burdened with an ever increasing cost of living that they can no longer afford to keep up with. Already overwhelmed with these costs and the lack of affordable food this will undoubtably cause mental distress and illness as a result of not being able to provide the basics for themselves and their families.

The lack of financial support from the government in helping the public with these costs is sadly lacking. In work and out of work benefits such as universal credit, working tax credits, ESA and PIP have failed to rise with inflation leaving households with a huge financial deficit.

The poorest can no longer be expected to bear the brunt of these ever increasing costs. Permanent financial help from the government needs to be offered before winter, if not thousands will undoubtedly become ill or worse as a result of living in cold homes unable to provide food for themselves and their families.

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Please read, share and tweet this article it helps massively to raise awareness about the real issues facing working class people in the UK.

I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do, and like yourselves I’m struggling to be able to cope with the increasing costs of everything.

If you can afford to and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny makes a massive difference and it really helps.

A huge thank you to everyone that’s helped to support my blog and campaign I really couldn’t do this without you. Thank you.

Doctors with Long Covid Denied PIP Payments

UK doctors suffering from Long Covid have been denied PIP according to a recent report by The Guardian.

Long Covid can be very debilitating leaving sufferers unable to do the most basic tasks without some help and assistance.

The report describes how badly the doctors are being treated by the DWP.

For example a respiratory consultant has described how they were refused PIP (Personal Independent Payments) whilst having urinary incontinence, difficulty standing, preparing food, eating, washing, dressing or engaging with people face to face. They also stated that they can’t stand for more than 10 minutes, find it very difficult to prepare food.

They went on to say “I thought that I had illustrated quite clearly what my disability was.” “When I got the report back, I thought is this about me?’”



The article also reveals that the process of making a PIP claim was so hard and mentally exhausted that it worsened their symptoms leaving them feeling much worse than before making their claim.

Some describing that they’ve been forced to use almost all their savings on private treatments and have considering selling their home as a result of this process.

For example an infectious disease expert that developed Long Covid found that their claim was rejected in part because they can drive a car, the assessor stating in their report that they showed “significant physical function” and “substantial cognitive powers”.

According to the Office for National Statistics from May 1st 2022 an estimated two million people in the UK have reported having Long Covid and it also beggars the question how many people having Long Covid are being refused their PIP payments despite having these symptoms and worse.

For many years now the whole PIP testing system has been heavily criticised and is flawed against the person applying for it. Many give up and try to continue without it because the process is too arduous and painful. It is noted that approximately 70% of PIP claimants win their appeal if they choose to do so.

The whole process urgently needs a huge reform and claims need to be processed correctly and fairly whilst taking into account the true symptoms and difficulties that PIP claimants report. Many PIP claims are refused upon the basis of lies made by the assessors conducting PIP assessments.

Sadly whilst the Conservative government remains in power any changes to the system remain very unlikely.

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A copy of the full Guardian report can be found here https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jun/13/uk-doctors-long-covid-say-denied-financial-support

A copy of the Office of National Statistics report can be found here https://www.ons.gov.uk

If you are also finding it hard to claim PIP or/and ESA for Long Covid related illnesses please comment below or tweet your difficulties via this blog on Twitter or Facebook. Let’s get our voices heard!

Please read and share it helps massively to raise awareness .

I receive no payment for any of the work or campaigning that I do and it’s a huge struggle for myself like it is for you. If you can afford and would like to donate to enable me to continue with my work theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does help support my work. Every penny makes a massive difference and enables me to continue.

Thank you.

New Regulations For Fit Note Prescribers

New regulations have been issued to enable registered nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists to issue fit notes.

This will extend the categories of people that can issue fit notes.
New statutory instrument

The new regulations will commence from 1 July 2022.

These regulations being Social Security (Medical Evidence) and Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 (SI.No.630/2022) amend the Social Security (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1976 and the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1985.

The new regulations also make amendments to sets of regulations which refer to medical evidence as having been signed by doctors or registered medical practitioners.

The explanatory memorandum to the regulations advises that –

‘Currently only doctors can certify fit notes. This is not reflective of modern ways of multi-disciplinary working in healthcare where alternative healthcare professionals (HCPs) such as nurses often lead a patient’s diagnosis and healthcare management.

Expanding certification to a wider group of HCPs will better enable relevant HCPs to undertake health and work conversations to issue and certify fit notes without having to refer patients to their doctors.’

Commenting on the regulations, DWP Minister Chloe Smith said today –

‘The extension of fit note certification is fantastic news for patients, making it easier for them to get the support and advice they need from the right place, ensuring where possible that they are able to remain in work.’

These latest fit note changes recognise the valuable role other professions play in helping manage people’s health, and I hope this will also help reduce unnecessary bureaucracy for doctors and general practice more widely.’

This is welcome news for people struggling to provide fit notes for the DWP which can be a struggle for many.

SI.No.630/2022 is available from legislation.gov.uk

Source Rightsnet

Thanks to Rightsnet for providing this information.

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Whilst The Queen Celebrates Jubilee Record level Of Universal Credit Sanctions Published

A record level number of Universal Credit (UC) sanctions has recently been published by the Department of Work and Pensions on the 22nd May 2022.

It is reported by the DWP that the amount of UC sanctions had reached a record high in January 2022 this is according to statistics released by the DWP in May.

This follows the restrictions during the the pandemic when the DWP had been pressurised to remove work search and availability requirements for UC claimants also suspending face-to-face interviews due to the health risks involved. Work search and availability requirements were reintroduced gradually and are now fully implemented.

According to the latest figures released by the DWP UC sanctions prior to the pandemic consisted of 2.51% of UC claimants being sanctioned. In February 2022 sanction levels had risen dramatically to 3.90%.

According to the report in January 2022 there were reported 38,200 adverse sanction decisions showing the highest number of adverse sanction decisions on UC full service ever recorded, leaving many claimants dragging claimants further into poverty.

According to the DWP statistics released in February 2022 36.3% of UC claimants were in the conditionality groups that could be subject to sanctions, this includes claimants in the “searching for work”, “planning for work”, “preparing for work” or “unknown” conditionality groups.

It appears that the DWP have wasted no time in hitting claimants with sanctions and this is what they do best. Instead of helping claimants they find it more beneficial to unfairly sanction some of the most vulnerable people.

The conditionality requirements are confusing especially after the pandemic with many claimants not realising that their requirements had returned to normal. It’ll also be interesting to find out how many of them were affected by long Covid or indeed Covid itself and of course they wouldn’t have been able to reach out for sympathy from the DWP.

Not only will these sanctions have a terrible affect upon a persons health and well-being they will also put even more pressure upon already over subscribed food banks that were already struggling before the pandemic.

Whilst the nation is supposed to be celebrating the queens jubilee, a woman with an immense amount of privilege and wealth, thousands will be left suffering in extreme poverty unable to afford even the most basic things. It’s time that we should highlight their plights instead of celebrating the jubilee.

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You can find the full report here at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/benefit-sanctions-statistics-to-january-2022-experimental/benefit-sanctions-statistics-to-january-2022-experimental

Once again thanks to Benefits And Work for inspiring this weeks blog.

Please share it really helps massively to raise awareness about the suffering of many people totally abandoned by the government.

I receive no payment for any of the work that I do and to say that I’m struggling is an understatement. Every penny donated helps me to continue blogging and campaigning and I would really like to be able to do so.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support the blog and campaign. The past two years have been a nightmare for me and I really couldn’t have done this without you.

Pre-Paid Funeral Plan Providers To Be Regulated In July

Pre-paid funeral plans are used by many people to cover the cost of funerals, they operate by paying money received either by instalments or lump sum payments to a funeral plan provider chosen by the customer. The funeral plan provider then invests the money paid into an insurance policy or an independent trust fund.

Pre-paid funeral plans are available to buy at most funeral directors in the UK.

Although the conditions of pre-paid funeral providers vary essentially the plan that is purchased should cover the full cost of a funeral paid for and should also fulfil the plan holder’s final wishes for any funeral arrangements.

Who regulates the funeral plan providers.

The current established regulator of funeral plan providers is the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). However not all funeral plan providers are registered with the FPA. There is a list at: Funeral Planning Authority, Prepaid funeral plan providers.

Registered members must follow the FPA’s Rules and Code of Practice.

When are the pre-paid funeral providers to be regulated?

The Financial Conduct Authority will start to regulate providers that provide and arrange pre-paid funerals from 29 July 2022. 

From July all providers must apply to the FCA for authorisation. The FCA provides a list which shows the status of each providerThey also provide a list of existing providers who will not be applying for authorisation or have withdrawn their applications: providers who will not be authorised.

It’s vitally important to check these lists before purchasing a pre paid funeral plan.

What will happen once the funeral plan providers are regulated?

From 29 July 2022 all funeral plan providers must be authorised by the FCA. Any providers that aren’t authorised will be committing a criminal offence if they even attempt to sell or administer a funeral plan contract. This is because they won’t be able to deliver the plans that have been paid for.

Once regulated any complaints that are made may be referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The FCA saying ‘We want to make sure that you have access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) from the first day of regulation, so your money is protected if the firm fails.’ 

In July the FCA will introduce a range of measures to protect the consumer which will include a ban on pre-paid funeral companies from cold calling potential customers.

Why the need for regulation?

Safe Hands pre-paid funeral plans went into Administration in March 2022, upon doing so they withdrew their application for FCA authorisation in February. Safe Hands was at one time registered with the Funeral Planning Authority but is no longer included in the FPA list of Prepaid funeral plan providers.

When Safe Hands pre-paid funeral plans went under administration its understood that they had approximately 46,000 plan holders. Because Safe Hands aren’t within the ombudsman’s jurisdiction they are unable to help any customers of Safe Hands Plans Limited.

At the time of writing the administrators estimate that the process of realising assets and issuing partial repayments to plan holders will be a significant undertaking. Thus being so it will take some time to complete. 

Is there any help for the customers of Safe Hands customers?

To help the plan holders the administrators will contact plan holders directly. if necessary for them to make a claim they will provide details of how to make a claim and what you can claim for.

Any plan holders that have paid any or of their funeral plan instalments via a credit card or have paid fully via credit card may be entitled to register a claim with their credit card provider under s75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.  

What Dignity PLC can do to help.

Dignity plc is one of the UK’s largest providers of funeral plans. They have sent a plan to the administrators that would allow them to cover some of the pre-paid funeral plans and will offer any support thats urgently needed to help families to find any solutions that will hopefully provide a solution so that any customers won’t be left without anything in place.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, expressed his gratitude to Dignity for stepping in “to provide funerals on behalf of Safe Hands’ customers in the immediate period after the firm entered into administration” and agreeing to do that “for a further six months”.

What you can do.

If you have purchased a pre-paid funeral check who you purchased it from. If you find that you have purchased it from Safe hands then follow the advice given above to see if you can get any of your payments back.

It’s despicable that vulnerable people and their families have been treated in this manner, hopefully the regulation in July 2022 will prevent this from happening again.

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I receive no payment for any of the work that I do. If you can afford to and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this article.

I really couldn’t do this without your help because I’m on a very low income.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign, I’m truly grateful and I couldn’t do this without you.

DWP To Be Given Power To Arrest Universal Credit Claimants

In a recent report by Benefits and Work the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be giving their officers the power to mass-request bank data more efficiently to enable them to conduct more spot-checks to see if people are committing benefit fraud..

The new powers to be given will enable DWP officers to make arrests, execute warrants, conduct searches and seize evidence themselves instead of informing the police and involving them.
This will allow the DWP to dish out civil fines similar to those issued by HMRC even if a case does not make it to court.


It is estimated that approximately two million claimants will face having supposed fraud cases dredged up and to be given fines for fraud even if they’re not convicted of a crime. New and existing claims could be flagged as being potentially suspicious over five years.


It is believed that Conservative ministers will be perceived to be appealing to their voter base because at the time of writing no timetable for these new laws has been made. It’s likely to take at least a year for these plans to commence. Many of these planned new powers will need an Act Of Parliament and is thought that if these plans are to commence they will be introduced from May 2023 at the earliest.

The proposed benefit fraud crackdown will have the potential to save the government £670m a year.

Giving DWP officers the power of arrest for supposed benefit fraud even if a case doesn’t make it to court has the potential to persecute innocent claimants is extremely worrying . For many years now I’ve assisted claimants in supposed benefit fraud meetings, the majority of which showed absolutely no evidence of fraud being committed.

I found these meetings to be yet another way for the DWP to intimidate and harass claimants and I have no doubt that if I hadn’t been able to represent these claimants they would have falsely been accused of fraud and would have faced their benefits being stopped or greatly reduced.

Given the fact that that benefit overpayments were estimated to be approximately £8.3bn in 2020/21 many of which were errors made by the DWP and not claimants, accusing them of fraud as a result of this would be totally wrong and immoral.

Claiming Universal Credit is already difficult and demeaning punishing claimants for being guilty before being found to be innocent. To allow DWP officers these powers would add to the pressure that claimants already feel whilst not knowing if their benefit advisor will report them for potential fraud which could result in their payments being reduced or stopped.

I suspect that the real reasoning behind these new proposed powers is yet another way for the government to save money whilst putting the well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable at risk.

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Many thanks to Benefits and Work for once again being the inspiration for this article.

Are you interested in joining a group of likeminded people for solidarity and maybe some campaigning? You can’t go wrong if you join Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). They have lots of local branches that you can join.

Head over to https:manchesterdpac.com to find out more.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every share will raise awareness and we desperately need to do this.

Huge thank you to everyone that has supported my campaign and blog.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and every penny really helps. Thank you!

EHRC Breaks Promise To Investigate DWP Role In Deaths



As reported by Benefits And Work the EHRC (Equality And Human Rights Commission) has broken its promise to investigate the role that the DWP (Department of Work And Pensions)have played in the deaths of vulnerable claimants. This has left the DWP not needing to answer any questions as to the role that they played in their deaths

Instead the EHRC are now asking the DWP to create new policies in relation to claimants with mental health issues and learning difficulties. This will replace the promised investigation.

This is despite promises made by the EHRC in 2019 that they would start an   investigation into the deaths of vulnerable claimants.

The EHRC used the pandemic as an excuse to not start the investigation.



The Commission has now declared that it  only intends to enter into a Section 23 agreement under the Equality Act 2006. This will oblige the DWP “to commit to an action plan to meet the needs of customers with mental health impairments and learning disabilities.”

Keep in mind that the DWP are a much larger organisation that receive more funding  than the EHRC. 
This will no doubt result in the DWP will dragging their heels in creating so called policies that will be nothing more than good intentions that probably won’t be actioned upon.

Whilst I don’t have any details as to why the EHRC have changed their minds I can say that at best they’re very niave putting far too much trust in the DWP to do the right thing.

The DWP has an appalling track record of discrimination against vulnerable claimants, ignoring their basic human rights and making life extremely hard for them.

Despite my disappointment with the EHRC’s decision I’m not surprised. The DWP will do anything to avoid any actions taken against them making promises that they’ve got no intention of keeping whilst doing the bare minimum to comply.

Once again thanks go to Benefits And Work for their hard work and inspiring this article.

A huge thanks to everyone that likes, shares, reads and supports both my blog and campaign.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and it’s a struggle to say the least.

If you can afford to and would like to donate there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

Thank you!

DWP To Start Planned Legacy Claimants Migration To Universal Credit

With much celebration yesterday evening the DWP announced that their plans to start migrating people from all legacy benefits to Universal Credit (UC) with a commencement date being May 9th. Their target completion date being December 2024. This will leave approximately 900,000 of households worse off whilst claiming UC.

Not only will thousands of claimants previously claiming legacy benefits be hit with lower payments they’re set to also face a benefit freeze leaving them in a much worse financial situation they are already in. They will also be faced with the distress of being forced to accept this whilst struggling financially to cover the basics.

The DWP claim that legacy claimants will be sent a ‘migration notice’ with a three-month deadline to make a claim for UC. If they don’t accept the migration notice or don’t receive it as is often the case with letters from the DWP their benefits will stop. This will undoubtably leave thousands of already vulnerable people not receiving any help to do so with the majority of people claiming legacy payments being disabled and ill people already struggling with day to day costs.

The DWP are quoted saying that legacy claimants will receive transition payments to ensure their income does not drop, however how many times have we heard the DWP make statements like this and don’t fulfil their promises.

As a direct result of this migration previous legacy benefit claimants payments will be effectively frozen every April with no end date given. This is because their transitional payments will abrade each year as UC rises with inflation whilst waiting for it to match up with what they’re being paid.

This is very concerning especially because 500,000 claimants forced to migrate claim ESA and are disabled and ill, causing extreme distress and worse with predictions being that they will face being much worse off financially.

We already know that UC is a cruel, harsh system that deliberately punishes the most vulnerable leaving thousands in extreme poverty and distress. UC benefits the government alone giving them the perfect opportunity to punish working class people for simply existing.

Whilst the government and the DWP are rubbing their hands in glee we must continue to support each other and campaign against the governments cruelty, it’s the only way that we will survive this.

Combined with the energy price crisis and the ever increasing cost of living I have no doubt that thousand will die as a result of this forced migration.

God help us all.

EDIT: FROM PAULA PETERS. Also will add the UC regs for legacy benefit support group claimants are not in place yet and still being discussed the white paper on work and disability is important to Keep an eye on.

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Huge thanks to Dan Bloom over at The Mirror for being the inspiration for this piece and a Twitter follower rooneygmusic for sending me the info over last night.

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A huge thank you to everyone that is subscribed to and reads my blog.

Another massive thank you goes out to everyone that has supported and does support my blog and campaign I really couldn’t do this without you.