Category: The Labour Party

I used to donate to foodbanks now I rely on them. Had to finish work because of childcare costs. Universal credit at it’s worst.

Dear readers I’m back! Thankfully I was able to attend this weeks demo. Last week was extremely busy but very productive. Before I start writing this weeks blog, please can I send get well wishes to Roy and extremely valuable member of the team. Get well soon!!

If I said that today was busy that would be an understatement. From the minute that I arrived it was unbelievably busy, hampered slightly the weather but we’re used to it. If you can guarantee anything about Manchester and the surrounding areas it would be a given that it’ll rain sooner rather than later. Anyway enough about that.

As I arrived a man was waiting for me. I call him a regular because he likes to stop and chat and keep me updated on his situation. He’s recently been rehoused and hopefully hes managing his tenancy ok. He’s a lovely chap but he finds life difficult. There just isnt the amount of support that he needs out there although local organisations do their best. The government have systematically starved outreach organisations of any funding and many of them have closed. Those that remain open do so by sheer determination and the goodwill of others.

Not long after, I asked a young woman if she was ok and I handed her a leaflet. She told me that she regarded universal credit as being crap and after paying her rent and loans that she had taken out whilst she was waiting for her Universal Credit to be processed she’s not left with enough money for food.

She’s now reliant upon food banks and the goodwill of friends. Her life won’t be getting better anytime soon. How can anyone productively look for work when they are hungry? They can’t. Hunger takes over everything, all of your senses and instincts are taken over by the need for food. Anyone that says otherwise obviously hasn’t been hungry like this.

It was then when we ran out of food parcels. We handed six out, but a woman desperately needed food. Her situation is complicated and without food she could well find herself falling into a deep, dark spiral that’s hard to climb out of, so I took her to the shop next door to the Jobcentre and bought her some food.

I asked another woman how she was coping on universal credit. She told me that she’s ok for one week of the month, but after paying her rent, universal credit loans and debts she can’t afford food. Shes disabled but has been placed in the work related group.

The DWP have been very consistent with their hate for disabled people, and every week I find myself helping people with disabilities the most. The DWP cares not about disabilities only the potential amount of money that they can make out of a person.

A young man then stopped me, took a leaflet and asked me what we were doing outside the Jobcentre. I explained that we were there to help people, to advise and signpost people if possible. He then opened up and told me his story.

He had been claiming universal credit for a long while now, and was receiving the work related disability element. He had been asked to attend an appointment to transfer him over onto the new computer system. Unfortunately he became ill and was admitted to hospital. Because he was ill he had forgotten about the appointment, and anyway he was too sick to phone up.

Of course the DWP showed their distinct lack of understanding about this, they stopped his claim and ignored his reason for non attendance. He even showed them details of his hospital admission.

So he now he had to make a new claim, was now without an income, and the DWP didn’t  give a stuff.

As he was leaving an awful G4S security guard bellowed at him to go back inside the Jobcentre. Upon leaving the Jobcentre he was told that it’s now being sorted out. That’s brilliant however he’s had to go without money for a long while.

It was then that I asked a young woman if she would like one of our leaflets. She told me straight away that universal credit is awful. Previously she had worked but because she has twins and two other children she was paying more money out in childcare than she was receiving so she had to end her job.

Now she’s totally dependent upon universal credit and is paying back her universal Credit loan, buying gas and electric to keep her children warm and paying a top up on her rent.

To say she’s struggling is a massive understatement. She’s dreading Christmas, hasn’t got a clue how she’ll manage, but she does know that her children won’t be having much of a Christmas this year. Reliant upon foodbanks to survive its a complete nightmare.

I signposted her etc, and had a long chat with her. She told me that she used to always donate to food banks but now she’s reliant upon them. It’s a terrible indictment of how the government regards women and children.

I then spoke to a young couple with a young child. Whom I shall name Bill and Mary. Here’s their situation.

Both are on universal credit. Neither of them has a computer or the internet at home. Bill has Aspergers.

They live separately after living together and have told the DWP that they no longer live together. The DWP are ignoring this. Mary’s letters from the DWP are constantly being sent to Bills house, and they are constantly being accused of co habiting, and have even been told that they should make a joint claim.

Despite being a ridiculous thing to suggest, the reality is that they don’t live together therefore can’t make a joint claim. There’s two lots of rent to pay and a young child to look after, but the DWP reckon that its a good suggestion.

They’ve also been complaining about the letters being sent to the wrong address for a long time now but nothing ever gets done about it. Why? Because the system is crap, not one department communicates with another. They just don’t.

Can you imagine the implications of this if, say Mary’s partner was violent? Luckily he isn’t. If he was he would have details about her appointments, her finances etc etc. A woman’s safety is never a priority for the DWP, but this could result in something very serious happening to a woman.

So it looks like because not one DWP department adequately communicates with another there’s little regard for data protection laws let alone potentially a woman’s safety.

I then chatted to another woman with a young child. She told me that she’s having a nightmare with the DWP and universal credit at the moment.

She works part time and relays upon childcare to go to work. Every month the DWP expect her to upload her bank statement etc so that they can pay her childcare. Every month the system won’t allow her to upload this information, so every month she has to go into the Jobcentre to try and sort it out.

You’d think that a task like this should be easy to complete wouldn’t you, afterall they’re always banging on about how brilliant universal credit is, how it supposedly ‘lifts’ you out of poverty (it doesn’t) and how easy the computer system is to navigate (it isn’t either}.

It’s one big nightmare for her and she has to rely upon friends to survive, although shes worried that they’ll no longer be able to help her in the future.

It’s disgusting, degrading and humiliating. Anyone that believes that universal credit is a good thing and can be fixed needs a reality check. It’s got more holes than a fishing net and could they fix all the holes in one? It’s beyond repair and they need to wise up.

I spoke to the elderly father of a young man. He’s been supporting his son for around twelve months now. His story is a bit complicated, and from what I could make out he hasn’t received any payments for twelve months but they wern’t sure why.

I signposted them as a matter of urgency. They are struggling so much themselves and can’t afford to keep their son as well, but they also can’t leave him without. What a horrible situation to be in, it’s beyond cruel.

A young man then stopped me and old me immediately that Universal Credit is crap. I asked why and he told me that after claiming universal credit for a long while he now has to provide the DWP with all of his ID again. He wondered why he has to do this, they already have copies of everything and if they look they would easily find it. But no, that would be too easy wouldn’t it. So now, like many others he’s forced to start again and all because the DWP have created a system that fails to talk to the old one.

Wonderful and they wonder why suicide rates are rocketing.

In my living memory, the poor and disabled have never been persecuted as much as they have now, and this will get much worse next year.

The system won’t be able to cope, but the DWP and government will blame the claimant not themselves and they don’t give a stuff either.

A massive thanks to everyone that came along today, get well soon Roy and thank you to Pat for making us a new banner.

Please read, share, email and tweet my blog. Many thanks to my readers that already do.

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Left without a penny thanks to Universal Credit and unhelpful DWP staff.

First may I apologise for the lateness of the blog. I had to attend an important meeting in London where I was representing the victims of universal credit, and the damage and pain that universal credit causes.

As you are already aware, universal credit creeps up upon people like a thief in the night, destroying every element of life as you knew it. Instead your future is often reliant on the network of foodbanks and the kindness of friends and family, thats if you have any of course.

It’s impossible to fix and has more holes than a fishing net.

As I know from experience poverty is very isolating and surviving becomes a priority, everything else seems to pale in comparison. Each and every person that myself and the team speak to are isolated in some way, and their struggles overtake their lifes.

 

 

Before I write the account of yesterdays events, please may I stress that everyone received help, advice, a copy of our survival guide and a food parcel if needed. Five food parcels were handed out to hungry people.

Also I need to thank every single  member of the team that attended the demo in my absence. Roy has given me a brief outline of yesterday’s events and I’m thankful of that.

 

 

 

The weather yesterday was terrible to put it mildly. It was extremely windy and the rain was bouncing down thanks to storm Diana, and it’s hard work standing outside for two hours in those conditions.

 

Gordon dropped the food parcels off and so the morning started. Because the weather was awful people were dashing in and out of the Jobcentre, heads down wanting to get their appointments over with as soon as possible. As a result it was hard engaging people in conversation, and I apologise for the lack of material in this weeks blog.

 

As usual, some people were waiting for the food parcels, albeit in different places desperate to find shelter.

It’s abhorant that people need to use food banks in the first place and we all need to campaign in whatever way possible about the very need for them.

Supermarkets set up boxes for people to donate food, and the poorest that have needed to use food banks themselves often donate the most. I argue that supermarkets should provide this food themselves, not the public. They can afford to do so, but hey my opinion means naff all in the world outside my blog and campaigning.

 

 

Roy told me of a man that looked distressed upon entering the Jobcentre. He apparantly left the Jobcentre in even more distress. He shouted ‘They’ve left me with nothing, I’ve got nothing, what am I supposed to do?”

Apparently he had made a claim for universal credit and was a chap about ten years older than myself. A man brought up in what seems like a different world, a world that cared for people, a world that had a good safety net that could be relied upon. Now the safety net has disappeared, gone, nowhere to be seen.

He was advised to take a food parcel and signposted to various local organisations that might be able to help. Will he contact these groups? Who knows. He might feel ashamed that his life has come to this, a bag of food and some kind words by strangers.

Universal credit, the benefit reforms and the governments so called austerity measures are responsible for the deaths of thousands, this we do know. People like this man are a high risk of becoming one of these deaths simply because there’s no real safety net at all, NHS services are cut to the very bone and trust in organisations such as Mind and Citizens Advice are low because of their involvement with the DWP.

The DWP has now become the enemy of the people, something to be feared. The DWP buys off charities and organisations and even has supermarkets like Sainsbury’s spying on disabled people for them.

Big brother is here in the form of the DWP.

Disabled people and many unemployed people are becoming afraid to leave their houses for fear of abuse by the right wing types, discriminated against because they have a disability, discriminated against because they are poor.

We know that this isn’t acceptable but to thousands it is. The tories have directed a hate campaign via the media and it worked, people have become even more isolated than before.

Like my friend Paula said yesterday, we need the left wing, especially the Labour Party to change the language that they use, lets stop pitching workers against disabled and unemployed people please, because thats exactly what it feels like.

 

Yesterday was tough, tough for many reasons and reality is tough. No amount of positive thinking can change this.

We will be back next week, and I will certainly be there, so come and say hello. We do important work and people rely upon us.

Know this, as you’re reading this, someone will be thinking of taking their own life because they can’t take any more persecution from the DWP.

Know that a mother or father or both won’t be able to eat today because they can’t afford to do so, but they will feed their children.

Know that a young person will be leaving care with little or no support, many becoming homeless.

Know that an individual or family will be made homeless today and won’t have anywhere to turn, many having to sofa surf or live in rat infested temporary accommodation.

I could go on for forever but you get the picture. People are dying and the government doesn’t care.

 

 

Please read, share and email my blog. a massive thanks to those that have already, thank you!!

 

If you can, please donate to keep my blog going, I’m a skint single parent and every penny is really appreciated. Thank you

 

 

 

Watch out folks it’s Christmas sanctioning time. Single parent-sanctioned in time for Christmas. Another dire week outside Ashton Jobcentre.

Do you know what especially pees me off, readers? Christmas sanctions. Every year just before the Christmas period the DWP appears to hand out long sanctions for often the most dubious reasons. Of course, they know that this will ensure that all claimants and their families if they have one, won’t be able to celebrate Christmas. If they have a home it’ll also ensure that they’ll be living in a cold house or flat with hardly any food.

This week towards the end of the demo we spoke to a young woman with two young children. She was visibly upset and I asked her if we could help. She told me that she’d been sanctioned for not attending an appointment because she didn’t receive the letter telling her when the appointment was.

This is the most common trick in the DWP’s book. These letters hardly ever arrive, and in the rare instance that they do they arrive they do so weeks after the appointment date given.

Scared that she would lose her home she spent all the money that she had on paying her rent. this left her without a penny in the bank. Nothing.

My colleague and friend who was stood next to me started to cry, the poor woman was doing her best to cheer her children up until one of her children dropped a sausage roll on the floor. Knowing that she wouldn’t have been able to buy another, my friend gave her some money to buy another. It’s heartbreaking.

So a woman with young children is left penniless because she’s effectively been sanctioned for not receiving a letter that the DWP have supposed to have sent. They won’t be celebrating Christmas like the DWP staff will. Instead, they’ll be sat in a cold home with food parcels and anything that local charities can help them out with.

The government is heartless, the DWP are sadistic in their actions and they aren’t going to stop doing this anytime soon. Use your vote it’s the only way to get rid of them.

Luckily we were there and we helped her, advised her, told her what to do, where to go for help and where to get help over Christmas. There is never any justification for sanctioning children and their parents. To hell with it, they shouldn’t be sanctioning anyone. Starving someone into submission won’t find them a job, or show them a way out of the system. Instead, it makes them ill, depressed, often suicidal.

Of course, this is all purely intentional on the governments part. They knew that this would happen, they knew that people would die as a result. But don’t expect them to care, they love it. They want to get as many people off the unemployment statistics by any means possible and they mean to cause limitless damage to the working class of this country.

Upon arriving at the demo this morning I was stopped by a woman that’s working and claiming universal credit. She has children and relies on her childcare being paid by the DWP. After all, they promise this in their fancy adverts don’t they.

She told me that not once has she been paid her childcare payments on time and the payments are always wrong. This happens every month, and every month she has to complain, cause a fuss and demand that her childcare is paid. After all, they are supposed to pay it. She’s receiving a low wage and is worse off claiming universal credit.

Universal credit certainly doesn’t pay, especially single parents and their children. They suffer immensely, with children to feed and the DWP reluctant to help them it makes living hellish at times.

Of course, this is blatant discrimination, the Tories have never liked single parents and their children, you only have to look at the front pages of right-wing newspapers and television channels to see this. Regarded as scroungers, scum and every other awful name in the book. To put it bluntly, like disabled people, we are an easy target for theDWP. It’s not acceptable, not one bit but it happens all the time.

Universal credit causes immense problems for most people that are forced to claim it. Take ‘Linda’ (not her real name).

Linda receives the universal credit work-related ESA equivalent element. She’s disabled. Out of her monthly universal credit payments she has to pay her rent top-up of £180 a month. This leaves her with next to nothing to live on.

Linda had applied for a discretionary housing benefit payment but she’d been refused this. Before speaking to us, she didn’t know that she could appeal this decision, and she wasn’t aware of where to go, so I told her what to do and where to go.

How the hell are the government expecting her to survive? Don’t forget she’s disabled. As a man said to me today it’s criminal, people shouldn’t be treated in this manner, should they.

Not long afterwards we handed a leaflet to a man who was leaving the Jobcentre. We had a lovely conversation, he’s set up a radio station called Greater Manchester Rock Radio. If you can check it out. I’ve got absolutely no idea what bandwidth it’s on though, sorry. It’d be brilliant if he can gain a few more listeners. No, I don’t have a link sorry.

Here’s another example of stupid universal credit bureaucracy. ‘Helen’ (not her real name) already claims universal credit and in her words its shit. Because Ashton Jobcentre is upgrading their computer system she’s been made to go across the road to a local further education organisation that has been hired by the DWP to make a new claim for universal credit. Some organisations are easily bought, aren’t they?

So now Helen has to apply for universal credit again and pray that she receives next months payment, that is if the system doesn’t mess things up. So two applications for the same benefit, two arduous procedures to go through and extra stress and worry just to top it up.

Why the DWP can’t transfer people over that are already claiming is beyond me, but they never miss out on an opportunity to make someone suffer do they.

I was stopped by another woman that told me that she had also been refused her discretionary housing payment. As a result, she has to pay £76 a month top up for her rent, this is taken out of her monthly £276 payment. Do the maths, take away money for gas, electric and food it leaves her with very little to live on.

I advised her on how to appeal etc and where to go.

Not long after this, we were approached by an older man clutching a bundle of letters. He claims the work-related ESA equivalent of universal credit, but he didn’t realise this. Nor did he know how to do anything DWP related, he’s lost, he doesn’t understand the system and can’t understand why this is happening to him.

We all took the time to explain things to him, and what to do if he needs help. Poor fella, it breaks my heart it really does, and I bet it breaks your heart also.

Remember the government hype about being able to get an interim loan from the DWP when waiting for a universal credit payment to go through? Well, you can, but this often comes at a price, £86 a month to be exact for a couple that I spoke to. Of course, this will ensure that both themselves and their children are guaranteed an extended period of living in poverty.

Don’t believe the hype folks.

We then spoke to a young woman who’s first universal credit claim has been delayed because of a DWP blunder. Their answer was that she might get a payment tomorrow, but it might be Monday, who knows. But it’s delayed and it’s not her fault either.

How about we sanction the DWP for this. Not a bad idea.

A young man that I shall call Joe stopped me, his story isn’t uncommon but it’s awful non the least.

Joe doesn’t understand how universal credit works, it wasn’t explained to him.

Joe didn’t realise that he had to pay his rent out of his monthly payments.

Joe then owed rent.

Joe was evicted because of rent arrears.

Joe’s now one of the thousands of sofa surfers that aren’t treated as a priority by anyone, one of the hidden homeless.

Thanks to the DWP and their lack of communication, Joe despite being young doesn’t have much of a future.

Ta for nothing DWP, thanks for ruining a young man’s life and all because you don’t take the time to advise people, although you do take the time to punish people.

When I say that universal credit can be hell on earth it is, I don’t say that in jest. Every day someone is thinking about committing suicide because of universal credit, ESA and PIP-related worries. Delayed payments, debt failed medicals all contribute towards this. In my eyes, the government are responsible for these deaths, each and every one.

Today, we handed out five food parcels, helped lots of people and provided support and solidarity to everyone we spoke to, and we all worked very hard. Many thanks to everyone that turned up to help it means so much to me.

Many thanks to everyone that reads and shares my blog, it’s become my life’s work, an essential documentation of how the poorest are treated in the UK.

I don’t receive any payment for writing this blog and as a single parent myself, life can be a struggle for myself as well. Any donations would ensure that both myself and the demos can continue, thank you!

A massive thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. It means the world both to myself and the team.

Man given eight-month sanction for missing an appointment. Can we stop sanctioning people, please?

Dear readers, I apologise for the lateness of my blog. As you may have heard Esther Mcvey has resigned from her role as the DWP minister because she doesn’t agree with the deal put forward by Theresa May, she actually stated that she wouldn’t be able to look her constituents in the eye. I found this quite hypocritical because she has no problem looking in the eyes of the disabled, poor, working poor and the families of those who have died as a result of her cruel decisions whilst in office.

Don’t celebrate yet because she’ll be back, she’s done this before, and anyway, they’ll replace her with someone equally as odious and stone-hearted. We shouldn’t start celebrating until we have a general election and Labour win, and if this happened it’d take us years to repair the damage.

Anyway, the blogs late because I had to go to Salford Quays to be interviewed by Granada news regarding this. So my apologies once again.

Once again can I remind people that we handed out five food parcels, we helped and advised everyone that we spoke to and signposted everyone that needed to be signposted. We also act as an impromptu councilling group and we offer advice concerning other matters also.

The campaign doesn’t end at 12pm on Thursday, for me, it lasts for seven days a week.

Yesterday was a little warmer even though it was dull. armed with a cup of decaf I walked over to the Jobcentre. I was greeted by a woman who we’ve been helping for a while now. She’s a shy woman and yesterday we had a breakthrough, she opened up about her situation and we can now help her further.

Due to circumstances out of her control, she’s had to make changes to her claim for universal credit and as a result, she’s not going to receive any payments so I handed her a food parcel.

It’s so sad to see someone that’s desperately trying to improve her situation being pushed further down into poverty. This won’t enrich her life, it’ll make life much harder for her and to be honest I’m worried about her.

 

I spotted a lady walking out of the Jobcentre with two small children, one in a pram. She told me that she’s had to make a new claim for universal credit and she has been forced to take a loan from the DWP to survive.

It shouldn’t be like this, children shouldn’t be forced by the government to go hungry, not to forget their mother will be hungry and no doubt their health will suffer. It takes a government of psychopaths to inflict cruelty such as this.

 

A woman stopped Gordon and she explained her situation, which unfortunately isn’t uncommon. Her situation is this. She’s currently claiming JSA and has been offered a job. Brilliant you might say, and it is, however, there’s a problem. Her job is a part-time position and it would take her over the threshold that’s allowed when claiming JSA, she’d have to move over to universal credit and the thought of this scares her.

She knows that she’ll have to go without any payments for at least five weeks, she knows that the conditions of universal credit would damage her both physically and mentally. Basically, she’s scared.

We had a chat and we’re hoping that her situation has been rectified, but once again it shouldn’t be like this. Making a claim for universal credit feels like you’re being punished, and it’s a fact, to be honest. We’re being punished for being poor, for needing help and it’s cruel and unnecessary.

 

I was stopped by a man that myself and the law centre have been helping told me that his mandatory consideration. He’s beginning to gain confidence, mainly because he knows that he’s being supported, listened to, understood and respected. Being cruel certainly doesn’t encourage people does it.

 

We noticed a man walking around confused. He’d been told that he needs to provide proof of his address. Simple you might think, but it isn’t for many. People move homes, are homeless, have had to leave a property in a rush and are staying in temporary accommodation. Some people have chaotic lives, but it doesn’t mean that they should be punished for this, unfortunately, they are. There’s a massive lack of understanding not only from within the DWP but in all governmental and local governmental departments. Often the receptionists at these places can appear uncaring which doesn’t help.

 

Gordon and myself were stopped by a woman who I shall name Dot.

Dot is an older lady, her husband died in March and Dot is still grieving. She’s depressed and is finding life very difficult.

Dot is claiming the sickness (ESA) related element of universal credit and she’s struggling. She’s constantly worried and she’s being reminded that she’ll soon have to return to work.

Dot should be allowed to recover and grieve, but there’s no way that the DWP will allow this.

Dot’s future doesn’t look good thanks to this government.

 

I spoke to a man whom I shall name Jim.

Jim walked out of the Jobcentre looking confused, he’s an older chap.

Jim had spent three days trying to make an online claim for universal credit. Three days folks, because he was struggling with the system. In his words, he ‘doesn’t get along’ with computers and he was constantly being thrown off the website for one reason or another.

Jim went to see his advisor and he was told that he shouldn’t be making a claim for universal credit, he should be claiming ESA. He was told by a different advisor that he should apply for universal credit.

You can see why Jim is confused, can’t you? I can. Honestly how hard is it to ensure that you give the correct advice? Impossible I fear.

Does the DWP care about Jim? Not one bit.

 

I was stopped by a woman, she had been made redundant. She was told to go to the Jobcentre to start her universal credit claim. Simple you’d think. Nope. She told me that she was being sent to a different building to make her claim.

 

A rather frustrated man stormed out of the Jobcentre, he shouted ‘Theresa May is an old bag, shes horrible’. It’s hard to disagree with that, isn’t it?

 

I had a brief conversation with a man who told me that he’d been sanctioned for eight months. Yes, eight months. His reason for missing his appointment was that he had to help his father move into a nursing home out of the area. He provided evidence of this, he appealed and they refused his appeal. So he went without money for eight months.

I advised him on what he should do, but you might ask how does someone survive for eight months with no income. To put it bluntly many don’t. Many die, most are hungry and many lose their homes.

Sanctions and universal credit are two of the main reasons why people become homeless, but many are forgetting about sanctions and their impact on people, just like they are forgetting about the two-child limit, the benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the council tax supplement. I often feel that I’m a lone voice when talking about these issues because some have forgotten about them, many have accepted it as the norm.

 

I then had a conversation with a Kurdish man who had been temporarily employed by an agency. He didn’t understand that he had to make a new claim for universal credit and would have to wait for around five weeks or more for his claim to be processed.

The system is too complicated, it makes you financially worse off, combine this with a limited understanding of the English language and you’re certain to fail. Can I say that I hate this government?

 

Last but not least, I spoke to a woman who I shall name Jenny.

Jenny has been sanctioned. Jenny has children.

Jenny has been sanctioned because she didn’t see the message on her universal credit account to attend an appointment.

Jenny doesn’t have a computer, Jenny doesn’t know how to use a computer. Jenny struggles to access the places where she can use a computer.

Jenny is being punished because she can’t understand the system because she has a disability and the DWP don’t care.

We advised Jenny but for her and people like her, their future is very bleak. It’s ok for local governments and organisations to provide internet access locally, but it’s completely useless for someone without a computer, who doesn’t know how to use a computer and can’t afford one also. We need a paper system, one that everyone understands and we should also be campaigning for this.

 

This all happened over two hours and we do this every week. We work hard helping people in cold and often with abuse from passers-by. I can’t thank everyone that comes along to help enough. You’re all amazing, you keep me going especially when I feel fed up like I do now. The work that we do is much needed and has become essential.

 

Thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog. I receive no funding for this and any donation however small will be most welcome and put to good use. Thank you to everyone that has supported my blog. Thank you.

We’ll be back next week and every week.

 

 

 

 

Failed PIP assessment, wrongfully forced onto universal credit, now £250 a month worse off. It’s getting worse.

What can I say except that today was dire, the weather was awful and it appears that winter has set in now.

Today we were joined by a new member, Glynn and also the gang from Rochdale and Stockport. This cheered me up immensely because last week I was very despondent and was wondering if I should continue with the campaign. It’s hard work, and I do have weeks like this. Anyway, blip over and onward I shall continue.

Just to make it clear we handed out five food parcels and offered help, advice, leaflets and signposting to everyone that we spoke to today. No one left without receiving any help. We also helped out with things such as bus fares and other issues.

 

I arrived at ten on the dot and was almost immediately met by Gordon and then Glynn. A few people were waiting for food parcels and I had a chat with a fella that’s trying to overcome several issues. I like our conversations and he’s looking a bit better, to be honest, I’d worry if I didn’t see him.

We unloaded the food parcels and settled into our morning.

 

I first noticed a young man walking out of the Jobcentre shouting ‘Universal credit is a ball ache and they are all a bunch of w*****s’. He didn’t stop to talk but I guessed that he was unhappy. He obviously isn’t feeling supported by the system like  Theresa May keeps spouting out the lie that everyone is supported. Absolute rubbish, its survival of the fittest nothing more.

 

A young man caught my eye, he was walking out of the Jobcentre wearing very thin clothing totally unsuitable for this weather. I asked him how things were going, he told me that he was only just coping.

He’s in receipt of universal credit and had to wait around five weeks for his first payment. In the meantime, he had to apply for loans from the DWP to pay his rent so he now has to pay that back out of his monthly payment.

He expressed his concern that whilst his repayments are £20 a month, he knows people that are having to pay back their loans at a much higher rate, and he wanted to know what there isn’t an official set repayment scheme that’s low enough to enable people to survive. He’s still reliant upon food parcels to survive because he has to contribute towards his rent.

He asked a good question, there should be a low, set payment programme in place and not a random one that makes it impossible to live. Maybe there is, but its rarely enforced not unusual for this farce of a system.

 

A man walked out of the Jobcentre and I asked him if he was ok, he looked at me and said ‘same old crap’ and walked off.

 

I then spoke to a fella whom I shall name Brian. Brians an older chap and has been thrust into this system by no fault of his own.

Brian is in receipt of a small private pension and was claiming JSA (Jobseekers allowance). He had £6 taken from his JSA because of his pension.

Brian was visited by a member of staff from a local housing association and was told by them that he had to immediately stop claiming JSA and make a claim for universal credit otherwise his rent wouldn’t be paid.

They were wrong. Brian could and should have stayed on JSA until the DWP transferred him, they should never have told him this. So thanks to their wrong advice Brian is now £250 a month worse off. He’s an older chap, he’s struggling and all because his landlord decided to get greedy and demand that he move onto universal credit.

Brians an older man who was brought up in another time, a time when you could trust people and were looked after. Brian isn’t to blame for this, the blame lies at the housing associations feet.

I’ve spoken about this before, one week we had about five or six people stop us and tell us that they had been told this also. I’ve also had neighbours knock on my door telling me the same thing, so I know it to be true.

We are taking further action on this though. They shouldn’t be lying to people like this, they are responsible for the suffering of people and we can’t allow this to go unchecked. This housing association recently merged with another organisation and have kicked all of the local councillors off their board and as a result appear to be doing whatever they want. Rumour has it that they aren’t good employers and they aren’t as supportive to tenants as they could be.

 

We were then introduced to another older man whom I shall name Terry.

Terry had worked all of his adult life until he became ill, he was proud of working and smiled when he spoke of his younger days. Terry is a lovely man that deserves much better than what he told us.

Terry had to go for his PIP assessment, he’s new to this and the system confuses him. They asked him the usual questions and he left the assessment thinking that he’d be ok.

Terry was wrong, in fact, he couldn’t be more wrong. He failed the examination on the basis that he hadn’t had a fit in his kitchen and he looked too smart.

Terry assured us that he wasn’t dressed too smart, he isn’t well off and was wearing the same clothes that he wears every day. And as for not fitting in the kitchen, that’s ridiculous. Like he says he can’t predict where and when he will have a fit. It’s ridiculous.

Terry is appealing this decision, he’s angry that he’s being treated in this manner. Terry is also an older man whose health is failing and is especially vulnerable.

The government doesn’t give a toss about Terry, they just want him off the unemployment statistics and will do so by any means possible, especially by employing people to lie like this.

 

I heard a conversation behind me so turned round to join in. Here’s a rundown of the conversation. I’ll name the person concerned Paul. Paul is also an older man.

Paul has always worked and is proud of this.

Paul became ill with diabetes and lost his leg and toes.

Paul feels like he’s always being scrutinised by the DWP. They keep sending him to medical assessments etc.

Paul hasn’t got a clue how the system works.

Paul is terrified of being moved onto universal credit.

Paul says it’s not fair and they shouldn’t be doing this to him. Paul is correct, but thankfully Paul now knows that we are thinking about him and he can chat to us whenever he wants to.

Paul is just another statistic and this makes me angry.

 

We all need to fight in our own way for people like the above if you’re not in a position similar to theirs you could be in the future. Say hello to your neighbour, to the stranger in the street. That can make a massive difference.

 

We spoke to lots of other people, and we helped lots of people.

We also helped a homeless man reach his next destination for a nights sleep. He speaks poor English but doesn’t have an address so therefore has no money. He was sent to another town to get a bed for the night, but what he clearly needs is a translator and support. I can’t imagine how scared he might be. He’s aware of local organisations but has to go where there’s a bed. What an awful life

 

This made us smile, someone left us a calling card. Thank you! We love it.

BTW if one of my readers left this sticker, please email me I wouldn’t mind some. Thanks.

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We don’t receive any funding for the work that we do, nor do I receive any funding for the blog etc. If anyone would like to donate there’s a button above and to the side. I would be very grateful, and a massive thank you to everyone that has supported my blog and also to everyone that reads and shares my blog. Thank you!!

In the past week, I’ve been on Granada Reports, Talk Radio, filmed with RT News and have been interviewed for a magazine. None of which are paid, but it’s important to get the word out there. The campaign certainly doesn’t finish on Thursday afternoons.

 

Sixty-year-old man proclaimed fit for work despite having a stroke. The DWP have destroyed me.

Dear readers, I found it particularly hard this week, not only because it was freezing cold but I think its one of those weeks when the enormity of the situation hits me like a brick. This happens every now and then because I’m all too aware of the situation, of our situation.

Anyway, enough about me, you probably aren’t here to hear about me. The weather was very cold and we were ill prepared for this sudden onslaught of winter weather. I had left my home after forgetting my telephone also. Not a good start to the day.

The Queue had already formed for the food parcels, all given to people either working and claiming Universal Credit or being shifted over to Universal Credit from another benefit. They had no choice but to take out a loan from the DWP which is now making their universal credit payments incredibly small, usually unmanageable.

It did appear to be a bit quieter than normal, but we also see this a lot. Some weeks are busier than others, but the problems are still life changing.

 

The first thing that I noticed upon arriving at the Jobcentre was the number of staff and security guards at the front desk. They may have put up a reflective screen to prevent us from seeing inside but I can still catch glimpses from the outside. It’s a tad excessive and is very intimidating upon walking into the building. There’s just no need for it. It’s simply to remind us of where we stand in the situation, an enemy, someone to take the pee out of, to abuse.

 

As Gordon passed me the food parcels I was handing them out to people, many of whom are hungry. When claiming universal credit it’s impossible to pay your bills and buy food, gas and electric at the same time. Food parcels keep people going, they keep people alive. Instead of condemning their use, the government actually love them. They take the problem out of their hands. As a nation, we should be constantly challenging the government about their use, many of us already are. Please join us in doing so.

 

I was stopped by a man walking out of the Jobcentre. Clutching a folded piece of paper he told me that he had been without money for months. He needed food and advice. We provided both happily.

 

A man then stopped me and told me his story. He had been released from prison not long ago and was told to go to the Jobcentre to claim universal credit. He did just that and he got an advance loan from them to tide him over. Out of that, he had to pay his rent and other expenses so now he’s left with nothing, yet despite struggling he’s very proud that he’s managing to stay on the straight and narrow “It’s almost as if they’re trying to send me back inside”. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

 

Another man stopped me and told me of his plight. He’s receiving his universal credit payments, he has to put towards his rent, he has to pay his bills, buy food etc. He’d taken an advance loan out whilst awaiting his universal credit payments which he now has to pay back at £30 a month. He also has to pay a debt that he was paying back whilst claiming his previous benefit at almost £30 a month, so he’s £60 down already.

Yes, people are expected to live like this because they just don’t care.

 

We then spoke to a young man desperately trying to make a good life for himself. He had lost his job and then subsequently lost his home and had become homeless. He’s not living on the street but instead was a sofa surfer until finding accommodation.

He honestly couldn’t try any harder than he is doing now. He dresses smart and is always looking for work, he would be a credit to any employer. However finding suitable employment is proving to be impossible because he’s got an unspent criminal conviction, that happened when he got when like he said ‘was having a bad patch’. His speciality of work is in finance.

Poor fella, trying his best and getting constant knockbacks. The only employment that he can find is fairly rubbish agency work. In reality, he’s most likely going to have to live like this until his conviction is spent, and he really does regret it. Magic wand anyone?

He told me that he feels so much pressure from the DWP and other organisations that it’s hard to stay focused at times but he wants to improve his life.

 

I spoke to an older man who told me quickly that the DWP have destroyed his life. He then walked off.

 

It was then when we noticed an older chap walking out from the Jobcentre clutching a piece of paper whilst looking confused. I asked him if we could help, he then told me his story.

He’s 60 years of age, in poor health and is recovering from a stroke. He’s also prone to getting more strokes. He was claiming ESA but he was declared fit for work at Albert Bridge house. To be brutally honest he didn’t have a clue about what he had to.

This gentleman was brought up in what seems now was a totally different world. A world where people were respected, elders were acknowledged and also respected and everyone was looked after. Now, he’s left with nothing, computer-like sentences uttered by people that are supposed to help him but don’t.

Can you imagine feeling this lost? It must be a truly awful feeling. We advised him, signposted him and showed him compassion.

 

We spoke to a woman that has just found a job totally independent from the Jobcentre. We were so happy for her, her life will now begin again.

 

We advised a woman to go and see the local council about a housing benefit enquiry. Universal credit is making her so skint that she’s struggling to cope.

 

Not long afterwards we spoke to a young man who had been made homeless but had totally changed his life around all by himself. He told us that this was because of his strong personality, he knew that he had to survive. He had also never become involved with drugs or drink. Anyway, to cut a long story short, he’s totally inspirational. a credit to his family and I’ll never forget our conversation.

 

So here we have it, another week and more awful stories. We left half an hour early due to being freezing cold and ill-prepared (we were freezing) and I had ran out of electric so had to return home to ensure that my daughter wasn’t freezing cold. You know the score, this happens to many of my readers.

 

We helped and signposted everyone that we spoke to. We offered words of hope and comfort, we fed people and gave them hope and we will return next week to do the same thing.

 

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I tried to kill myself last month, they’re going to stop my money, I don’t know what to do.

Dear readers it’s Thursday again, it comes around far too quickly. Today the weather was very cold and rainy, I’ll have to dig out my thermals for next week.

Today we were joined by members of Glossop Labour club, and a local councillor. Everyone got stuck right in and no one left without receiving help, advice, a copy of our leaflets and a food parcel if needed. We had our usual food parcels and the gang from Glossop brought up some extras. All went extremely quickly most likely because it’s the end of the month and most people are without money awaiting their universal credit payment next month.

It never gets any easier, seeing people struggle like they do, yet these people are the kindest people that you could ever meet. The government might want to take everything away from them but they can’t take away their kindness and understanding.

Jenny was the first person that I spoke to this week. She arrived with her boyfriend whom she doesn’t live with. She can’t tell the DWP that she has a boyfriend because they will accuse her of cohabiting when she isn’t. They’ve done this to her before and I know that this is fairly commonplace.

Jenny asked for a food parcel and started to talk to me. She told me that she had been in the hospital because she attempted to commit suicide.

She told me that ‘Enough is enough, I couldn’t attend my ESA assessment because my anxiety was high, I just couldn’t cope. I forgot that I had a medical assessment and I telephoned them as soon as I remembered. They didn’t issue a new appointment though, they just sent me a form to fill in and I was scared that they are going to stop my money. So I thought that I’d be better off dead because without my payments I can’t cope.’

Luckily she received medical help but is still living in fear that she won’t receive her payment. The reality is that she won’t either. From my experience, they usually offer a new appointment upon phoning them. If this is the case then I will help her to appeal this etc.

But ask yourself this. Why is this happening? Why are thousands upon thousands of disabled people forced to attend these farces of a medical assessment, when a doctors or consultants letter should be enough?

It’s all about punishing disabled people and unemployed people. The government see them all as an unwanted burden, they’d rather that we weren’t here at all. So they literally starve us into submission and set a cruel regime that purely punishes and degrades a person to such a level that they will agree to anything that the government asks them to do.

The DWP are their foot soldiers, doing their dirty work for them. Not happy with that the government then offer to fund to struggling charities that always come with a gagging order. Take, for example, their latest victim Citizens Advice which will now also be enabling the government to roll out the next phase of Universal Credit. They should be opposing it.

The government are cruel, callous and care not one bit about the heartache, struggle and deaths that they cause. Don’t forget this.

Bill then stopped to chat with me. He had recently failed his ESA medical and not knowing that he can appeal they shifted him onto universal credit.

There’s a problem though. Bill can’t use a computer, he’s dyslexic and has never used a computer in his life. He also doesn’t have a mobile phone, he can’t afford one. These are the essentials when making an application for universal credit, so he’s stuck at the first hurdle.

Bill also has heart and circulation problems, his health is poor hence his previous claim for ESA. But Bill is expected to continue down the universal credit path, which he could fail because the odds of him succeeding aren’t good.

I spoke to a homeless chap that had to go into the Jobcentre to collect a form. Simple enough you’d think. But no, he was told that he had to travel to Hyde Jobcentre to collect it. Think about it, he’s homeless, living in a tent and has no money so he has to walk.

I offered him some bus fare but he told me that he would walk, so walk he did. I hope that Hyde Jobcentre didn’t turn him away as well. It’s a long way to walk for anyone, especially someone that’s hungry and cold, and it was freezing today.

I also spoke to his representative from Shelter and he uttered his frustration that the work that needs to be done in the Greater Manchester area isn’t being authorised as quickly as it should be. Shelter and other organisations desperately want to house people before the winter sets in.

I spoke to Cath who was hoping to claim ESA. She has serious health problems but in my area the odds against this happening are high.

John stopped me for a chat. John is homeless but is receiving assistance from Shelter and a local organisation. He’s extremely confused as to what benefit he is receiving etc and without representation, it would be quite honestly a disaster. Thankfully he has assistance.

Having no idea of what benefit that a person is claiming is a massive problem. I have to try and describe a benefit in ways such as this, universal credit is the one that you have to go without money for at least five weeks’ etc. The system is so complex that they haven’t got a clue and it’s a massive problem that few have the time to address.

We then all gasped when we noticed a man with both legs heavily bandaged whilst using a wheelchair enter the Jobcentre. He was obviously there for an appointment because he was in there for a while.

This is about as bad as it gets. The government deliberately no notice of his disability and still demands that he attends the Jobcentre. He couldn’t even open the doors Gordon helped him.

Janet then had a chat with Roy. Janet has two children and after all the deductions to her benefits, she’s left with £50 a week to feed herself and her two children. Janet also has to pay £75 a month top up for her rent. Janet did apply for a DHP but has been refused because the council changing are the goalposts so to speak because the council are short of funding.

So the likelihood of Janet and her children becoming homeless are high. Janet also has complex needs that can’t be addressed in temporary accommodation. Her future is looking very bleak.

We did speak to many more people and offered them help and advice. I also offered to accompany someone to an ESA assessment and I’m also helping other people this week.

The campaign doesn’t stop when we leave. I work extremely hard on pushing the need to stop and scrap universal credit, and I also work hard raising awareness of all the issues that we encounter.

However, it does feel that both myself and other campaigners are on our own with this. We try extremely hard to raise awareness but the Labour Party are yet to make a concrete decision and are flip-flopping around indecisively whilst the rest of us are looking for their support.

We are awaiting a positive decision from the Labour party.

For anyone interested, I’m on Sky News tomorrow via Skpe at 15.45, 3.45pm talking about universal credit. It will be aired four hours later on YouTube. I’ll post a link under ‘media’ above.

Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog and our campaign. Please read, share, email my blog etc.

Huge thanks to my fellow campaigners, activists, bloggers, journalists etc for all the hard work that you do.

We will be back next week, but wearing thermals!

I write my blog on an extremely low budget and I’m not paid for this or the campaign work that I do. Any donation, no matter how small will help me to continue with my work and it really is appreciated. Thank you!