Category: New Charter Housing

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.

 

 

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£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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No money, no food, no heating. Stop complaining, take yourself off universal credit states DWP advisor.

Dear readers, it’s Thursday again, the weeks seem to fly by don’t they. It’s easy to forget that in the midst of the Brexit confusion that people are still suffering due to universal credit, ESA and PIP failed medicals and austerity measures in general. It’s extremely cold as well which isn’t helping anyone that I’ve spoken to either. A cold home is awful, it makes you feel like giving up altogether doesn’t it. Please check on friends and neighbours to see if they’re ok.

 

A bit of self promotion here, but I’ve recently had a few television appearances, those being The Victoria Derbyshire programme on Tuesday, RT News the week before and Sky News tomorrow morning. Some might criticise me for doing these interviews, but it’s important to get the news out there. People need to know exactly how bad it is don’t they.  By the way I don’t get paid for any of this either.

 

Today was cold, below zero and we had to leave half an hour early because of this. Self care is very important as I learnt in August when I was hospitalised, and I apologise for leaving early.

I’ll use pseudo names as usual, it was very busy today and we spoke to lots of people, handed out much needed food parcels and helped lots of people. Everyone that required help was given help, no one was left without it.

Cathy is a single parent with a young child, she claims universal credit and started a new job a few months ago. She was happy because she thought that it would be a way out of poverty. She’s since learnt that it doesn’t.

Cathy was given a different tax code, and as a result most of her wages were taken away by her huge tax bill every month. Her employer took pity on her and gave her an advance of her wages because she needed to eat, pay childcare and suchlike. Because the universal credit system saw this as being two wages in one month, they stopped her universal credit top up payments. She’s shown them all of the evidence that would rectify this but the DWP are at the moment refusing to change their minds.

So payslips, evidence from the tax office, proof from her employer have all been refused. They refuse to budge on this, they refuse to even look at the evidence.

Cathy has now had her tax code changed, but she won’t see the benefit of this until next month. The advance payment that was given to her had to be paid back out of her wages. She’s now left with £101 for the month to live on, remember she also has a small child, has to feed and clothe her child, get to and from work and keep her home warm.

I referred Cathy to our local MPs office, I’m sure that they will help her to rectify this but the plain refusal of the DWP to even look at her evidence is clearly wrong and is also extremely bad practice. Do they care? Not one bit, they don’t care if they both become hungry, homeless and suchlike. Everyone should be horrified by their attitude towards claimants.

Ben stopped me outside the Jobcentre, he asked me if I’d watch his bicycle for him whilst he attended his appointment, he can’t afford a lock for his bike. Of course I said yes, we do this a lot and have most likely prevented a fair few bikes from being stolen.

Ben told me that he was sick and tired of universal credit, he’s having a tough time and even after budgeting he can’t manage. Advance loans have to be paid back, rent and other debts have to be paid and it’s leaving him unable to support himself.

I handed him a leaflet and he told me that he doesn’t receive his next payment until the 9th of February, he’s got no food and no money to buy any either. He told me that he’d asked for a budgeting loan but had been refused. Basically tough, we’re not going to help you even though we got you into this mess in the first place.

As I handed him a food parcel, he couldn’t believe that a stranger would help him, care for him and listen to his plight, you see you don’t normally associate kindness with the Jobcentre. I pointed out to him that this is the very reason why we stand outside and why we aren’t allowed in on Thursdays even of someone needs our help. He couldn’t thank us enough.

It was then that I spotted Janet walking out of the Jobcentre. She looked both upset and annoyed, so I handed her a leaflet and asked her if I could help her. She told me that she didn’t need it because she was going to have to stop her claim for universal credit. I asked her why and she replied that her advisor had advised her to.

As you can imagine I was rather surprised at this because she hadn’t found a job, she was struggling to live on £250 a month to feed both herself and her children, so I asked her a few more questions.

Janet had attended her appointment and had told her advisor that she was struggling to survive on such a low amount of money, she also told them that she had worked all her life but had suffered a nervous breakdown after the death of a family member, Her doctor advised her to stop work and to rest, only the DWP appear to know better than a qualified medical practitioner.

The response from her advisor was staggeringly awful. If you don’t like it, stop claiming universal credit and survive without it. She had almost literally taken this advice literally, the stress of universal credit is crippling her she told me, and she can’t afford to eat on a regular basis. Their answer was basically tough, we don’t care and we aren’t going to help you either.

I spoke to an older man who had worked as a chef for around forty years. Due to ill health and disability he had to stop working and made a claim for universal credit. Since making his claim he’s struggled, he hasn’t a clue how to use a computer and can’t keep up with the demands that the DWP make of him.

I advised him as best as I could and he walked away with a bit more hope than he arrived with, he told me that universal credit should be scrapped because its awful and people like him just can’t navigate the system.

I then met Bill. Bill is 62 years old, has several health problems and is disabled as a result. He was claiming ESA but had failed his medical assessment so was now appealing this with the help of a local MP.

Luckily Bill has a good friend that can take him to the Jobcentre for his appointments, put him in touch with his MP and basically help him fight his corner. He realises that he’s lucky in this respect because thousands of people don’t have any type of support network at all and are left without any help.

I’m positive that Bill will be receiving good advice from his MP, but he really shouldn’t have to go through this should he.

The DWP have a remit from the government that they must fulfil, that remit being to get people off benefits by any means possible. Today’s conversations definitely show evidence of this.

Remember the DWP machine has no compassion towards anyone, it fails to recognise a persons individual requirements and needs.

Universal credit is designed to fail everyone, and to make claiming a benefit so hard that it prevents you from claiming in the first place. Remember this.

A massive thanks to everyone that reads and shares my blog.

Also a massive thank you to everyone that also support my blog. I’m a skint single parent trying my best to help people that are forced into an in tolerable situation. There’s a donate button at the top and side of my blog. Thank you!

No wonder people commit suicide.

Sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it, speaking from years of experience of helping people tackle the inhumane DWP system I have to agree.

Today was a day fraught with frustrations, helping upset, angry people barely surviving, seeking food from foodbanks that’s if they can find one or if they can find one that’s open. This morning highlighted just how fragile we all are when placed in this situation.

When you make a claim for universal credit you still have to wait at least five weeks. Yes you can get a loan, but from speaking to people many of them use this to pay some of their rent arrears off and to buy gas and electric. Food is lower down on the list because they’re scared. Scared of loosing their home, scared of what’s round the corner

I don’t want any medals for what I do, but I do wish that others would replicate what we do because its important to get out there, to help and to also protest against the very need for our being there. Saturday demos whilst good for raising awareness just don’t cut it when it comes to helping people.

Sorry for the rant, and I do appreciate everything that everyone does online, online activism is essential but for those that are able to join us or start a new group then please do.

 

Today was extremely hectic for lots of different reasons. The food parcels went straight away, we could have given more out. It’s cold and people are trying to stay warm so there’s less money to spend on food, that is if they have any money in the first place.

 

After handing out the food parcels I had a chat with a man who’s heavily in debt with Brighthouse. Companies like these are the scourge of our society, praying on the poorest because they don’t have the money to pay for a fridge etc brand new or second hand.

After having dealings with Brighthouse myself I can attest that their so called bailiffs (they aren’t bailiffs but they act as if they are) can be a tad scary and intimidating. We need to put more regulations on these companies and make it impossible to exploit the poor.

Because he had paid his Brighthouse bill he didn’t have enough money for food. I advised him of what he should do etc. At least he’ll eat now.

 

Today was also blighted by people having problems with their sixteen digit Universal credit log on details. Everyone is expected to remember this, many people either forget it or loose the piece of paper that they’ve wrote it on.

If they don’t log on they’ll get sanctioned. Combine this with many of these people being new claims for universal credit and they don’t know their way around the system let alone remember this. Basically if they don’t have a sympathetic advisor then they’ll get sanctioned. A decent advisor will tell them what their code is, many don’t though.

 

I spoke to Jane, she’s just made a claim for universal credit and is in the process of waiting for her first payment. She’s got at least four weeks to wait. Jane has a baby and has got a job but she needs to pay her childcare fees upfront,

Jane doesn’t have any money, if she doesn’t go to work she’ll be sanctioned so she’s at the mercy of her childcare provider and hoping that they can be sympathetic.

When she does receive her first payment then she’ll also struggle to receive her childcare payments. Not one person that Ive spoken to regarding this has ever received their childcare payments on time if at all. It takes constant phone calls and visits to the Jobcentre to rectify this. Then they have to repeat this a few weeks later.

To say that universal credit helps people is obscene. it drives people like Jane into even more poverty.

 

I was stopped by a man that appeared to be very agitated and upset, I’ll call him John.

John hates the Jobcentre, he doesn’t understand how the system works and he’s struggling.

John has been told that he has to attend the work programme twice a week, and because hes having to pay the debt for the loan that he had to take put whilst waiting for his universal credit payment to go through, hes skint.

John told myself and others of the struggle that he has walking to his work programme appointments. He’s frustrated because they don’t help him there. John needs proper support and understanding. Not someone that’s only supposedly helping him because there’s a financial incentive to do so.

Johns worn out both physically and mentally. He shouted that its no wonder that people commit suicide because THAT place drives them to it, and he knows because hes been close to it himself.

According to John the Jobcentre is a “f*****G joke. They don’t want to help you, no one does. They just leave you to cope and I wish that they’d leave me alone, its given me high blood pressure and I’ve never had that before”.

We all spent a lot of our time talking to him, giving him hope and showing support. We also signposted him to local organisations that can provide him with some support. I really hope that John is ok because I’m worried about him.

 

I handed a leaflet to a man, and as I did he said “ I don’t know how they expect me to live on this money. I don’t have enough to survive, are they trying to kill us?”

They aren’t officially but we know that the governments pernicious policies do indeed kill people.

 

A woman walked past muttering racist comments. She honestly thought that so called immigrants receive vast amounts of money whilst she lives on a pittance. I corrected her, but I’ve  noted that the amount of racist comments have increased of late. a sad indictment of the British press, media and of course the Tory government.

 

 

I then spoke to Val. Val is a carer for her son aged sixteen who has epilepsy. Val is ill herself and had to end her employment because of her ill health.

Val now clams universal credit and she’s distraught by her situation. After she’s paid her universal credit loan, her rent top up, her gas and electricity she’s got no money left for food. She’s tried reducing the loan repayments but she was refused.

Remember Val is ill and her son is disabled.

Val spends her days visiting foodbanks and trying to survive, she told me of her humiliation of having to ask for food, for being in this situation, for being in debt. She’s always worked and never thought that she would be in this situation.

Like Ive said before, this can happen to anyone, and I mean anyone. I helped and advised her, I became a friend to her and I hope that it made a difference.

 

I spoke to an older woman and I informed her of the WASPI campaign and told her that she’s not alone. She wasn’t aware of it so I like to let women know about the campaign.

 

We spoke to a man, he’s just been discharged from his mental health team after having a terrible time. Now he’s left to claim universal credit because he had to finish work due to his ill health.

We had a lovely chat with him and told him that we are there every week to help people. I also signposted him to a local organisation that will be able to help him.

 

This all happened in less than two hours. The food parcels went straight away, we helped everyone that we spoke to, we signposted those that required signposting and we gave people hope when they had none. It’s what we do.

 

Many thanks to everyone that joined us today you’re all amazing and I do appreciate it.

Thanks to all my blog readers for keeping me going, for supporting me and each other via the comments section. Also a huge thanks to everyone that has supported the blog and has shared my blog. Despite what others might like to say we do make a difference,

 

Please read share and rt my blog. There’s also a donate button for anyone wanting to donate. I do this on a small income and every penny helps. Thank you!

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Single parent, zero hour contract. Two wages in one month, universal credit stopped. Forced to go without any payments for at least ten weeks.

Dear readers, I’ll be blatantly honest with you. Today was awful, really difficult and wasn’t helped by a person insisting that universal credit is the best thing ever.

The conversation went on for about fifteen minutes and took me away from helping people.

It’s not hard to find evidence to prove that universal credit doesn’t help people  is it. It’s been plastered all over the newspapers these past few weeks. Anyway at least I wasn’t spat at this time. And  we know how much that people are suffering because we see it, we live it.

Anyway today was freezing cold and I can’t thank Roy, Pat and Ron for coming along to help. Also to a facebook friend that joined us for a while. I really do appreciate this.

 

Today was hard for many reasons, I did my best but I’m not a miracle worker. We handed out our usual food parcels, helped and advised people, signposted them and contacted my local mp, and put other people in touch with their mps. I’m extremely lucky that I can do this because I know that many can’t.

Anyway, I’ll list todays conversations. I won’t divulge any real names either, I never do because the DWP like to snoop.

 

Almost as soon as the food parcels arrived they disappeared. This is a regular occurrence sadly, An older man shuffled out of the Jobcentre obviously struggling to walk. Do the DWP care? Not a bit but you already know that don’t you.

I had a brief conversation with a man, he was visibly frustrated. He stopped to tell me that he thinks that the DWP are the most uncooperative lot that he’s ever had dealings with, ‘They just don’t care, they make me feel like shit”.

 

I spoke to a homeless man, he’s taken up the offer of a bed for the night scheme running here in Greater Manchester. He’s thankful that he’s got a bed for the night, but he has to move between two places ever week. He’s also concerned that when the scheme ends in March that he’ll just be put back onto the streets with no support. This does need clarifying.

Because he’s homeless and spends the most of his time wandering around he gets cold so he applied for a loan from the DWP. He was successful with his request and accepted £200 of the £350 offered.

It doesn’t end there though, after kitting himself out with footwear and thermals etc he ran out of money so he asked the DWP if he could have the extra £150 that they’d offered.

The answer was a loud NO, so now he’s forced to ask local charities for help. The DWP really are a heartless lot.

 

I spoke to a woman that had been refused her rent payment because she was in receipt of ESA. She’d been told that she had to transfer herself over to universal credit by a representative of the local council. Of course this is extremely bad advice, the DWP will contact her when she’s being transferred over and she’s still entitled to her rent. I signposted her to my local MPs office.

 

I then met ‘Debbie’. Debbie is a single parent with young baby. Her story is an example of how universal credit doesn’t help people at all, instead it plunges people into poverty.

Debbie is claiming universal credit and she was told by her advisor that she had to accept a zero hour contract job. Just how they expect a lone parent or anyone to be honest to survive on a combination of both universal credit and a zero hour contract is beyond me. They’re totally incompatible.

Because Debbie had two wages in December due to the way that the month worked out, she had her universal credit payments stopped. She no longer would receive universal credit and she would have to apply for it again.

I’ve wrote about this before and this is pretty standard behaviour from the DWP, you might have seen the recent court case concerning this in the news. Three single parents like Debbie took the DWP to court concerning this matter and they won, of course the DWP are appealing and it might not become legislation for many months if ever.

Debbie has been forced to go without any universal credit payments since December, she’s reapplied but she will go without any top up payments for around ten weeks, if she’s lucky it might be a couple of weeks less.

Did I mention that she’s also been without work for a while because its a zero hour contract and they haven’t contacted her?

If she leaves the job they’ll sanction her so she’s trapped. Not only is she trapped but her young baby is too. Debbie told me that her two friends are in the same position and are all surviving on food banks for food.

Debbie is also living in extreme fuel poverty also. She can only turn the heating on for half a hour in the morning, the same at around midday and just before bedtime. Remember its freezing cold at the moment. It won’t be long before their health is affected by this, before their home becomes damp, before they can’t take anymore.

Welcome to universal credit, the system that actively punishes people for trying their best and drags people into the pits of poverty. How on earth do they expect people like Debbie to survive is beyond me. Needless to say Amber Rudd is in complete denial about this and reckons that only a few people are adversely affected by universal credit. Amber needs to meet Debbie and her friends, in fact I challenge Amber Rudd to stand with me outside the Jobcentre for at least two hours to get a dose of reality.

I’m also aware that she realises that universal credit isn’t working and Rudd doesn’t give a stuff.

 

 

It wasn’t much longer when I had a conversation with ‘Fran’. Fran is a single parent of three children, two of which are young adults but they still live with her and cost her money,

Fran is now in receipt of her third universal credit payment and to say that she’s struggling is an understatement. After paying her bills, rent etc she’s left with £300 a month to survive on, to break this down that’s £50 a week, less than that in a five week month.

Fran has to feed herself, her youngest child and also her older children out of this because they’re also skint.

Fran has to put £10 on her electric meter every two days because it runs out quickly. She cant afford to keep doing this so she mostly sits in the cold when she’s home.

Why should anyone be forced to live like this? She’s doing her best to find work but she cant find a suitable job. It’s obscene that in a country as rich as ours people are literally starving and dying from hypothermia. Don’t believe me? Read a newspaper or use Google. It’s happening and happening to lots of people.

I’m certain that both the media and officials underestimate the harmful effects that universal credit has upon women and their children. Even if we stopped universal credit now, they will still be paying a price for this cruelty for generations to come.

No one forgets living in poverty, being hungry. It can and does make people ill, children and their parents become malnourished, and often homeless.

The price upon their well-being will be massive and this will have to be addressed by future governments as a matter of urgency.

 

 

I advised an older man who’s in obvious ill heath about his upcoming universal credit medical. These medicals are exactly the same as the ESA ones, Ive taken a few people to these so called medicals. I wished him luck, he told me that he was thankful that someone cared about him.

 

I then spoke to a ‘Dennis’. Dennis is claiming ESA, but he had been told by someone from my local authority that he had to end his claim for ESA and apply for universal credit.

Remember this is the second time today that I’ve heard this.

Dennis hasn’t received a letter from the DWP either. The DWP move people over not the local council.

I immediately telephoned my local MPs office and they spoke to him straight away, they also advised him I’m so lucky that I can do this.

Dennis doesn’t have a mobile phone either so I used my telephone to help him. Not everyone has a mobile phone, remember you need money to buy one and money to top one up. I hope that Dennis rectifies this soon, I’m pretty confident that he will.

I’ll also be tackling this problem also, someone obviously needs some more training.

 

It also appears that quite a few disabled people using mobility scooters were asked to attend the Jobcentre. The DWP won’t leave them alone will they because the DWP likes to persecute anyone with a disability. Shame on them.

 

 

It was then that I spoke to a 63 year old man. He’s been told to finish work due to ill health and to claim his pension early’

He went into the Jobcentre for advice, they didn’t have a clue as to what he should do, but gave him a phone number to contact another department.

I also advised him to contact his local MPs office which he did and they told him what to do, and how to do it. He was very thankful because like he said he really didn’t know what he should do.

 

This is a brief summary of today’s conversations, we did speak to more people, we helped lots of people. If we hadn’t have been there then they wouldn’t have had any hope, they wouldn’t have known what to do and I’m proud that we showed them compassion and support.

 

 

It’s also become very clear that more and more older people, many of whom used to be of retirement age are being targeted by the DWP. Indeed, if someone of a pensionable age  lives with or marries someone of a working age then under universal credit they aren’t allowed to receive their pension anymore, they have to move onto universal credit.

We’ve already been seeing this happen in Ashton Under Lyne for quite a while.

Not only is this cruel, it will have a detrimental affect upon their health and well-being. Universal credit hardly provides enough money to exist on and these couples will be faced with neing £7,000 worse of a year. Mark my words this will result in extreme poverty and the death of some of our older generation and the DWP will have more blood on their hands.

Didn’t I say years ago that they’d come after the pensioners? I remember being laughed at every time that I said this. Those laughing won’t be laughing now will they.

 

It’s been a bad week for universal credit claimants, and it will continue to become much worse. We need to raise as much awareness about the reality of universal credit as you can. Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

If you have an awful MP attend their surgeries, contact them because even if they don’t listen or refuse to act then keep reminding them because they have to record it.

 

 

There’s a donate button for anyone that would like to donate. Every penny really does count.

Many thanks to all of my readers and to everyone that has supported my blog. Thank you so much, you keep me going when I’m having a bad day.

 

 

 

 

 

Sanctioned for six months, DWP incompetence , vulnerable person owing £1000 rent. Universal credit hell.

Dear readers, I suspect that many of you watched the film I, Daniel Blake on tv last week,

Members of the Tory party of course denied that the film is actually a reality for many, indeed the reality is often much worse.

Sadly no one was prompted by the film to come and join us today, and although I understand why many can’t for various reasons, you’d have thought that it might have prompted someone.

Many thanks to everyone reading my blog for your support and also for working hard online to get the word out. This is also very important.

Because of all the publicity surrounding Brexit at the moment issues such as universal credit etc have been forgotten. Please remember that people are still suffering, even more so than they were before.

Universal credit is still being rolled out in areas that didn’t already have it, such as nearby Stockport. My sympathies lie with everyone forced onto this inhumane system.

The first person that I spoke to today was a younger man that’s claiming ESA and PIP at the moment. He’s struggling because his payments have been reduced so he no longer receives the care that he needs. I advised him and signposted him also. He took a food parcel, but I’ve got no idea how he’s supposed to survive this awful system.

It was then that I spotted a young man leaving the Jobcentre looking annoyed to say the least. I walked over and asked him if I could help with anything, he then told me what had happened to him. I’ll call him Dave.

Dave has been sanctioned for six months.

Dave doesn’t understand how the system works.

Dave was already claiming universal credit but hadn’t been told about having to change over to the new computer system.

Dave didn’t know his new 15 digit pin to get access to his account because he wasn’t given it.

Dave was sanctioned for six months because he couldn’t log into his account.

No one explained this to Dave.

Dave has appealed this sanction, and is now hopeful of the sanction being lifted and his money reinstated.

Dave will never receive an apology from the DWP because the DWP will never acknowledge their incompetence and will always pass the blame to the claimant.

One day we will make the DWP pay for the suffering that they’ve inflicted upon thousands of people.

I spoke to a woman claiming ESA, she wasn’t aware of the so called ‘blip’ regarding ESA recently, she doesn’t have access to the internet and nor would she use it because she says that she doesn’t understand how to use it. I advised her and had a good chat with her.

The DWP can be really petty at times, their pettiness doesn’t exclude the children of claimants.

Two children weren’t allowed to enter the Jobcentre with their parents because they had a drink. Yes a drink. They weren’t being silly, they were well behaved and polite, and this isn’t a new issue either.

No drinks, no food, no mobile phones and claimants aren’t encouraged to talk to each other. Its a culture of fear. But hey, DWP staff can have a cuppa whilst they’re sat at their desks. Double standards once again.

Lets also not forget that many Jobcentres won’t allow claimants to use a toilet or their lifts either.

We spoke to a homeless man that told us that he was from Palestine. We weren’t sure of his exact circumstances but we do know that he told us that he’d been out of this country for three months so wasn’t able to claim anything from the DWP.

We signposted him etc, but we’re limited to what we can do on the street. I hope that he’s found somewhere to stay.

We then stopped to talk to a homeless man. He’s living in a tent with his partner and hostels don’t always allow couples to share a room.

They are accessing services at a local Emaus and are doing their best to survive.

They’ve been there a while and feel more secure than in a hostel. They also don’t want to be dependent upon a hostel because a large amount of their monies will be taken by a hostel for their rent etc.

He’s an intelligent man, has worked for over 30 years and unexpectedly fell upon hard times.

Now this is where the incompetence of the DWP comes into play. His partner is in hospital, on a concoction of drugs to keep her pain free.

Because they have a joint universal credit claim, he was told that he cant hand in his partners sicknotes and state why she’s ill. Nope. Madness. Instead the advisor that he spoke to told him that only his partner could log in and report this.

He looked everywhere for her password but couldn’t find it so he told his advisor. His advisor more or less said that it was tough, and nothing could be done about it.

Today, after talking to us, he went in again and spoke to a different advisor who told him that it was ok, log it online on their joint account and post the fit note off.

So once again due to the DWPs incompetence an already vulnerable couple were put through what I call hell.

Don’t ask me to have any sympathy with the DWP, thanks to the advisor that spoke to him though and helped him.

I spoke to an older disabled man who was claiming ESA. He’s £1000 in debt with his rent, has no money to buy food etc.

He was wrongly told a while ago that he had to stop claiming ESA and to move over to universal credit, remember I wrote about this a while ago.. Please see my previous blogs.

Needless to say I was furious, I honestly thought that this had been sorted out etc, but this man, like many others hasn’t spoken to anyone about his problems. He’s proud, confused and also scared of the system.

We did the decent thing, helped him, advised him and signposted him.

Just think, how many extremely vulnerable people are forced into this situation, its scary, being all alone not knowing what to do.

Always double check any advice that you get from the DWP because they can’t be trusted to give out correct guidance.

Once again the DWPs incompetence raises its ugly head.

I spoke to a woman outside the Jobcentre. She’s married, her husband works. Three weeks ago she’d been advised to claim universal credit.

She did just that, and her application was rejected. Luckily she had another appointment today with a different advisor who told her that she could still apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance until she’s shifted over to universal credit.

When she gets moved onto universal credit she won’t be able to claim anything because of the hours that her husband works. This goes to show that universal credit does make you worse off.

She also was led down the wrong path by the DWP and wasted three weeks. Three weeks without any hope. Its atrocious.

I also heard a rumour that Avon have been seen inside Glossop Jobcentre. Not surprising because they’ve been inside Ashton Jobcenre in the past. Ive already posted about their visit to Ashton, as well as the army’s recruitment visits.

Not only is it extremely hard for anyone to actually get a proper wage, or even any payment from selling Avon, more and more people are buying their make up at cheaper outlets and online.

Avon needs to stop praying on the vulnerable to seek their wares. It’s not on, it gives people false hope. Just stop it.

Today was busy, and as universal credit is continuing to be rolled out its going to become much worse. People will need more help than ever before, but there’s a distinct lack of help out there. The services already available are full to bursting already.

Be a friend to someone, read up on universal credit so that you’ll be able to offer advice, even if its only a bit of advice it matters. Check on your neighbours, be kind because believe me its going to get much worse.

Please support myself, DPAC and other campaigners in campaigning to stop and scrap universal credit. It needs to be replaced with a system that cares, that understands that everyone is an individual with differing needs.

Lets vote this government out in the event of a general election. We deserve much more than this, we deserve respect and to be able to live without the fear of the DWP hanging over us. I’m not sure that we can take much more of this.

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Today we handed out all of our food parcels within minutes, helped lots of people and gave people hope.

Please read, share, email, tweet my blog. Thanks to everyone who already do this.

Massive thanks to everyone that supports my blog also.

There’s a donation button at the top and side of this blog. Thank you!

British Gas have taken my last £5 from me, I don’t know what to do. Universal credit, eating and keeping a home warm is an impossible task at times.

Today’s weather is bitterly cold, we are in the  -0s here, yet we have more and more people unable to heat or eat or do either. This isn’t going to get better anytime soon either. Summer comes as a blessed relief, and disappears far too quickly.

We were very short on numbers today, and the cold didn’t help. Regardless we plodded on. It’s not about us, its about everyone suffering under this cruel regime.

Today was quiet again, even so the food parcels were taken almost straight away. They always are and the need for them is increasing daily.

Whilst I wish all my readers a happy new year and hope that all of your life’s will be much better this coming year, I didn’t celebrate it much. I’ve got no reason to really. This year will see at least another 3 million people transferred over to universal credit. Many of these people will be disabled and self employed, all to be punished by a system that hates them. So excuse me for not celebrating, I’m preparing for battle instead.

 

Like Ive already said, it was quiet today, people were cold and there was a lot of rushing in and out of the Jobcentre, people desperately trying to keep their master (the DWP) happy, afterall the DWP more or less controls everything that we do and they aren’t shy about this fact either. It’s awful, and it’s been allowed to happen.

 

I spoke to a fella who has just been re housed into a place of his own. He’s happy about this, after all he can in theory start to rebuild his life now. This is in theory though, because he’s had problems with the smart meter that was already installed in his flat, an old tenants debt on the metre, and British Gas’s reluctance to help a chap who really hasn’t got anything.

He is in the process of sorting this out, and they are issuing him with a new smart metre, however this doesn’t help him now does it. Today he put his last £5 on the smart metre that he has and it ate it up in a very short time.

I did mention that it’s cold didn’t I. It’s freezing.

So now he’s having to find money to heat his flat, he cant afford food as well. So we gave him a food parcel to tide him over. I wanted a magic wand to make it all better for him, but I don’t have one.

Think about this though folks. Being cold isn’t just relegated to street homeless people. Thousands of people are just as cold whilst living in homes. As a result their homes become damp, and they become ill as a result of being poor.

Just because someone’s got a home doesn’t mean that they aren’t suffering, they are. They are suffering in so many different ways like shown in the film I, Daniel Blake which is incidentally being shown on BBC2 on Saturday the 5th of January. It isn’t a feel good film, and I hope that it spurs more into campaigning against universal credit like I do, or it encourages people who are able to help others more.

 

I spoke to a young family with a newborn baby and another young child. They didn’t realise that her maternity allowance is classed as an income when you’re claiming universal credit. No one told them of this before she had the baby, so they took her maternity allowance off her final universal credit payment.

This has understandably forced them into a very bad position financially, but they told me that they’re just coping. To make it worse because the local registry office is so busy, they cant register their baby’s birth until the end of this month, therefore aren’t able to claim any monies for the baby.

This system is rancid, it eats away at everything that a person has. It often takes away a persons sanity and their ability to feed themselves. And yet there’s been little opposition politically from this being extended to a further 3 million people this year.

There has however been lots of opposition from campaigners like myself, we know what’s coming, we know its going to be terrible but it feels at times like we’re banging our heads against a brick wall.

 

Highlight of the morning, a man that we help on a regular basis won £6 on a scratch card. Good on him.

Dislike of the morning, an older woman saying that the countries in this mess because of ‘foreigners’. We know that this isn’t true, and it sickens me to know that far too many people believe this.

 

Dislike number two, seeing an older woman crying because the DWP have accused her of claiming money fraudulently when she most definitely hasn’t been. The DWP now want her to repay this money, the money that she claimed legally. I do hope that she pursues this, we have encouraged her to.

Seeing  a person cry like this is heartbreaking and it never, ever gets easier.

This morning before I set off for the demo, I saw this posted on Facebook by my friend I’majsaclaimant. This is what can happen when you feel that your world is collapsing around you, when you believe that life isn’t worth living anymore.

This is what sanctioning people does to people, and the DWP won’t  give a toss, nor will the government. My thoughts and prayers go to this woman’s family and to everyone else that have been affected like this.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE.

Due to a “computer glitch” some people who were due to be paid their ESA next week have received half of it this week.
This has led to a lot of upset and confusion as people have been thinking their payments have been stopped and that was a final payment.
It’s not. They’ll receive the other half on their normal day next week.
They’ve now put an announcement on the ESA phone line before all the options you have to press.
So if anyone is worried, there’s no reason to be.

 

 

 

Please read, share, tweet, email my blog thank you!

Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog and the campaign it means the world.

I’ll  be back again next week, whatever the weather.

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