Category: Uncategorized

Universal Credit Call Centre Application Process Not Fit For Purpose

As I’ve reported many times in previous blogs the distinct lack of care, compassion and understanding causes great distress for many applicants and claimants. This distress starts upon applying for Universal Credit and other benefits.



As reported by Benefits and Work the appalling lack of care, concern and service given by DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) from call centres will undoubtably result in life-threatening destitution for some claimants. This will escalate to even higher levels when the forced migration from legacy benefits to UC begins.

There are many problems that occur upon applying for Universal Credit online, those of which can and will put a distinct amount of pressure upon already distressed claimants.

Claimants who are being forced to migrate have 3 months to complete the process if they’re able to complete this complicated and time consuming procedure.


Claimants who desperately need an extension of time to make their UC claim can result in losing all their legacy benefits if they are unable to get through to the Universal Credit Migration Notice helpline on the phone.




The DWPs response to this is “If you cannot claim Universal Credit by the deadline date given on your letter, you should contact the Universal Credit Migration Notice helpline as soon as possible.

“We can only give you more time to make a claim if you have a good reason. You must request this before the deadline date on your letter.”



If only it was this easy. Hundreds of Benefit and Work readers have told the team of their horrendous difficulties when trying to contact the existing DWP helplines quoting;


“Have been calling all week various times and after over and hour some days hour half given up but my deadline day is today really is terrible situation.”


“I have been cut off 4 times after being put on hold for about 25 mins each time trying to ask for an extension to my pip review as I can’t get an appointment with the cab to help me fill it in until after the deadline”


Many claimants that apply for or will be migrated to Universal Credit have health issues and disabilities that make completing the process very challenging forcing many to try and get a much needed time extension.

However the DWP call centre systems as they stand aren’t fit for purpose, they simply can’t and won’t be able to cope with an ever increasing need of people to use them. For these systems to be made fit for purpose will require a huge injection of new resources combined with increased staffing and a huge investment being made into the facilities offered.

Combined with the already frightening cost of living crisis it’s like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. People don’t have the resources both financial and emotionally to cope with this system, it’s cruel beyond belief.

Will this much needed investment be made? Will the DWP start treating people with the care and compassion that they deserve?

I very much doubt it.

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Huge Rise In No Fault Evictions Prompts Request To Reinstate UK ban.

The number of households that rent their homes has risen dramatically since it’s reintroduction after the pandemic.

Figures show that the figures are now higher than pre pandemic levels thus resulting in campaigners and groups to call for the government to ban no fault evictions.

Figures show that up to 20,000 households in England have been made homeless by landlords that used section 21 notices in 2021/22. This has increased from approximately 9,000 in the previous financial year. These figures are not only alarming and are also very concerning.

Housing campaigners have expressed their concerns about no fault evictions for quite some time saying that no fault notices are often used as an excuse to inflict ‘revenge evictions’ using complaints such as essential work needed to be done to their housing or complaints about rent increases and suchlike.

Former head of the civil service, Sir Bob Kerslake former head of the civil service warned of a catastrophic level of people and families facing homeless, this will then put even more pressure on already overburdened and stretched to the limit councils and local authorities that are already struggling to find emergency and temporary accommodation for those in need. homelessness crisis.

Needless to say the Conservative government promised back in 2019 to end no fault evictions but have yet to pass the legislation needed.

The huge rise of people becoming homeless as a result of no-fault evictions is mostly down to the fact that during most of the pandemic. During this time the government had successfully acted to prevent a predicted surge in homelessness as part of its ‘everyone in’ strategy to tackle rough sleeping.

However as the latest figures show that the return of no-fault evictions are now causing more homelessness than they were in 2018/19 and 2019/20.

During the pandemic, the government had introduced a stay on house evictions with the two month notice period extended. The eviction ban was lifted in England in June 2021, and in October eviction notice periods reverted to two months.

Fiona Colley, director of social change at Homeless Link which is a membership organisation stated that the latest figures are ‘alarming.

Colley went on to say “The economic pressures we are facing are pushing more and more people to the edge as the pandemic protections ended,” also expressing her concerns that ‘The cost of living crisis has exacerbated rather than caused this issue.’

Nick Ballard, head organiser at Acorn, a tenants activist organisation is quoted as saying that they have seen a huge increase in the number of members seeking help to fight no-fault evictions.

Ballard saying “It can be devastating. At the ‘better’ end it means uprooting entire families whilst at the more extreme end this is the leading cause of homelessness. People end up in overcrowded temporary accommodation with many forced to rough sleep.”

The figures also show a 24% rise in the number of households with dependant children requesting help from councils and local authorities to prevent them becoming homeless. This is compared with figures for the previous year. Also seen is increases in the number of employed people and black and Asian people forced to present themselves as homeless.

Noting that the number of households threatened with homelessness remained below the pre-Covid level in 2019-20.

Section 21 notices are allowed under the 1988 Housing Act. This permits property owners to evict tenants without giving any reason.

Once again the Conservative government has been criticised by many for blatantly failing to act on its promise to end the practice. In their 2019 manifesto they promised to abolish it saying that it is “a better deal for renters”.

As previously noted the necessary legislation is yet to be passed. As part of  Queen’s speech in May 2022  they had confirmed that a renters reform bill would be introduced in the 2022-23 parliamentary session. Details about this are very unclear also.

The proposal was that a tenancy will only be allowed to end if A, the tenant ends it, or B, if the landlord has a proven valid ground for possession. Also new grounds would be created to allow landlords to sell or move close family members into their properties and action concerning persistent rent arrears and antisocial behaviour will be strengthened.

Matt Downie, chief executive of the homeless charity Shelter said “The prime minister must commit to introducing the renters reform bill, to help give renters proper protection from being hit with a no-fault eviction and set out a clear plan to provide genuinely affordable homes,” He continued to say that “Only through such decisive action can thousands more people be protected from homelessness in the coming months.”

A spokesperson for the governments Department for Levelling Up Housing and communities is quoted as saying “A fair deal for renters remains a priority for the government. We are giving councils £316m to tackle homelessness and make sure families are not left without a roof over their heads.”

However the government are continuing with their failure to act upon these issues and implement the legislation needed to make the changes requested.

Hardly a surprise though, my bet is that its been put in a drawer and forgotten about.

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Autumn Budget Benefit Increases.

Hunts Budget A Budget For The Rich.

On the day of yet another budget announcement, Hunt has just released the details of the governments latest budget proposals. Here are some of the highlights.

Means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit, will rise in line with September’s inflation figure of 10.1% from April 2023.

The National Living Wage will be increased from £9.50 an hour for over-23s to £10.42 from April 2023.

Additional payments of £900 will be paid to those on means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit, £300 will be paid to pensioner households and £150 to people on disability benefits.

Pensions are to go up by 10.1% in line with inflation along with benefit payments.

Rent increases in the social rented sector will be capped at 7% in the next financial year in England.

Energy firms will now pay a windfall tax of 35%, up from the 25%.

The point at which the highest earners start paying the top rate of tax is being lowered from £150,000 to £125,140.

Electric vehicles will no longer be exempt from vehicle excise duty from April 2025.

People claiming legacy benefits won’t fully transfer to Universal `credit until 2028 rather than 2024.

Along with the budget announcements came the Autumn Statement which announced that approximately 600,000 people that claim Universal Credit will effectively be forced to work apparently despite their ability to do so. No mention was given as to how this was going to be done and how they plan to do this.

Considering that the employment rate for people claiming Universal Credit was 41% in June 2022, how are these people going to be able to commit to this?

Are they sick and or disabled?

Do they have caring and childcare commitments?

What real life skills do they have to enable them to find a suitable job?

As of`July 2022, 2.4 million Universal Credit recipients are working.

1.7million are disabled with no work requirements.

1.4 million are searching for work.

400k are preparing for work.

The real problem isn’t unemployment, one of the real problems is instead low wages that don’t pay enough to live off thus the need to be topped up by Universal Credit.

The language that the DWP and government uses towards Universal Credit claimants is also questionable.

The DWP say that ‘Claimants will be asked to attend a meeting with a work Coach’. However they don’t mean ask, they mean must attend despite whatever commitments a person might have and their ability to do so.

As I’ve stated many times in this blog a failure to attend will result in a sanction being given to the claimant which always results in any benefit payments that they receive.

Another reason as to why some people, mostly women can’t find a suitable job is the cost of childcare.

At the time of writing childcare providers are shutting at high levels. Last year a total of 4,000 childcare providers couldn’t afford to keep their doors open and were forced to shut. Undoubtably this will increase in the coming year this will result in fewer available childcare places and increasing costs.
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For two thirds of working parents the cost of childcare outstrips their rent or mortgage payments. Research undertaken by the Women’s Budget Group has found that over the last decade childcare fees have steadily increased at twice the rate of wages.

What is needed is more investment in childcare and childcare providers. This would provide three times as many jobs and if done correctly could potentially boost the economy by £28bn.

Childcare as well as being essential pays for itself It essentially will gain increased tax revenues and reduced benefits expenditure, but still there no mention of this.

Rather expectedly nothing that was announced in Hunts budget will target the richest. Yes freezing thresholds are expected to hit middle income households and cutting spending will hit lower income households the hardest. As they say, it’s expensive being poor.

Where is the increased tax burden on high income households? Why aren’t wealthy households being taxed more?

Why isn’t there an increase to capital gains tax rates, income tax, inheritance tax or stamp duty?

Once again the poorest and most vulnerable will pay the highest price whilst the richest will escape unscathed, ready to profit off the backs of those much worse off.

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UK Social Security Rates Amongst The Lowest

New DWP Boss Mel Stride Happy With Universal Credit Sanction Rates.


The new DWP minister Mel Stride recently announced that he is happy with the levels of UC (Universal Credit) sanction rates.

Upon taking his new job as secretary of state for work and pensions (DWP), Mel Stride, quickly proved that he will not be making any changes in any harshness inflicted upon the most vulnerable at the hands of the DWP.



Upon answering MP’s questions on the 31 October 2022, Stride made it very clear that he’s happy hat the level of UC sanctions is now double the rate it was before the pandemic.


Stride went on to say “People are sanctioned only if they fail to attend appointments without good reason, and fail to meet the requirements that they have agreed to meet.”




However stride failed to offer any acknowledgement nevermind explanation as to why claimants are now twice as likely to break claimant commitment agreements than they were two years ago.



Upon questioning Stride ignored yet another request to publish a DWP report on the effectiveness of sanctions.

As previously reported in an earlier blog his predecessor also refused to do so.



Stride also claimed there “is a long tail” of 2.5 million long-term sick claimants who want to return to work and that it will be “a prime focus” for the DWP to “support them back into the workplace.”



It’s no coincidence that this figure is exceedingly similar to the total number of claimants that are long-term sick, the majority of whom are not able to work because their condition makes it impossible.



It appears that like his predecessors Stride is either mistaken or believes that every long-term sick person could be moved into work.



Whatever happens there appears to be no plans to treat claimants better, I suspect it will become worse.

A new DWP minister certainly doesn’t bring any changes for the better and until there’s a change of government I very much doubt that there will be.

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DWP Hide Details Of Forced Transition To Universal Credit Pilot From MPs

The DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) have once again been found to have covered up data from a forced transition pilot which took place in Harrogate.

Not only have they tried to hide this information from the public they’ve also hidden the details from MPs.

In a report by Benefits and Work it has been revealed that there is evidence of the DWP covering up not only the details of the forced pilot which took place in Harrogate, but also details of their incompetence.

This relates to the forced transition from legacy benefits to UC (Universal Credit). The social security advisory committee (SSAC) has been reported saying to MPs that there is a need for external scrutiny of the worrying process this month.



Steve McCabe MP for Birmingham Selly Oak has disclosed that copies of the Harrogate forced transition pilot report on the Harrogate pilot has been placed in the House of Commons library, after being entirely redacted with the exception of the words ‘Moved to Universal Credit’ and ‘User research’.



The total redaction tells us one thing, the DWP doesn’t want to let MPs know the details of the pilot and what happened. It goes without saying that they don’t want the public to know these details either.



MP Steve McCabe also gave details concerning a constituent who was left in a very bad both physically and mentally leaving the constituent in distress. The DWP reported that she failed to respond correctly to a migration notice despite already being told that she didn’t have a computer at home.

He went on to say that she attempted to phone the DWP but could’t find anyone to speak to. She also sent a letter by recorded delivery at her expense which the department ‘thought’ that they didn’t receive it. This left her without any payments for many weeks.






Benefits and Work went on to report that Charlotte Pickles, a member of SSAC (Social Security Advisory Committee), told MPs that the SSAC believed that some kind of external scrutiny of the ‘scary’ migration process is needed which will then supposedly give people forced to transition confidence that the process will be fair.



She went on to say ‘we are all very aware that for some groups, in particular, UC is quite a scary proposition. If you are sitting on a legacy benefit or you are a tax credit claimant, you possibly, likely, in certain groups, are very nervous and possibly reluctant to make that move to UC.”

After all who can blame them. The DWP are concealing important details not only from MPs but the public as well. The evidence from the Harrogate trial should be provided in an open and transparent way and any failings dealt with before expanding forced migration to Universal Credit.

Concealing evidence such as this will result in a failure of responsibility from the DWP and will undoubtably result in suffering and distress for those forced to move to Universal Credit.

At the time of writing the DWP are still hiding these details and I can’t see them doing so either.





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Thousands Unable To Go Into Work Over Hygiene Poverty Shame.

A recent report undertaken by the charity Hygiene Bank shows that approximately 3.2 million UK adults are affected by hygiene poverty, 12% of these stating that they have avoided going into work because of this.

In the original report published by the BBC, Hygiene Bank chief executive Ruth Brock said it was a “hidden crisis”.

“It’s much more widespread than we feared, it’s increasing, and it’s disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable,” she said. 

Hygiene Bank is one of many charities that supplies food banks, homeless shelters, schools, and other organisations with personal hygiene products including but not exclusively toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, nappies, period products and laundry detergent. 

Hygiene poverty often falls under the radar with issues such as fuel and food poverty coming first leaving many unable to access essential hygiene products. The reality is that once a person is dependant upon food banks they have already stopped being able to purchase said items with priority going to heating and eating. 

“I think it just doesn’t occur to people in the same way that fuel and food poverty do,” said Ms Brock. 

In a survey undertaken by Hygiene Bank that questioned approximately 2,200 people, with the assistance of polling company YouGov it suggests that the amount of people impacted by hygiene poverty equated to 6% of all UK adults, rising to 13% from lower-income households and 21% of disabled people. 

People experiencing hygiene poverty are most likely to go without shaving products, laundry detergent, household cleaning items, and deodorant, the survey found. The survey also reports that a quarter of respondents said they had gone without toilet paper or soap or shower gel, while three in ten women did not buy period products. 

The survey also reveals that people are being forced to shop local thus costing more because they can’t afford to travel to a larger shop or supermarket.

A woman that the charity has worked with described how she is forced to dilute products to make them last longer. She also has resorted to tying up her hair in a certain way to hide the fact she often had not washed it for weeks at a time. 

She also reported that she feels that she has to keep a distance from people for fear that she smells with many unable to afford to buy period products thus making them feel ashamed to go out

Hygiene Bank’s Ruth Brock is quoted as saying said that such accounts of peoples experiences may “seem counterintuitive” to some also saying: “But it’s so insidious, you kind of cut yourself off.”

The report found that 62% of people experiencing hygiene poverty with dependent children said they have had to choose between buying products for themselves or their children. 

It’s a choice that shouldn’t have to be made, families are made to feel ashamed to leave their home and avoiding social contact at schools because they feel ashamed because of their situation. 

“This is why we have mums telling us about being ashamed to leave the house and not seeing anyone for weeks on

It’s important to remember that the data in the report draws on surveys conducted between October 2021 and February 2022, before the recent surge in the cost of living. As a result the everyday pressures upon those in need are undoubtably going to worsen with more people being forced into this situation.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics the price of shampoo has increased by 8% in the last year and shower gel is up by 11%.

The price of toothpaste has risen 6%, and the price of deodorant is up 5%.

Hygiene poverty is also affecting students such as Adam, a college student whose attendance had fallen to 18%, in part because he could not afford basic hygiene products. This inevitably resulted in his grades suffering as a result. 

According to the original report by the BBC his support worker approached Hygiene Bank in the summer of 2020 and they were able to provide deodorant and shampoo. Adam’s attendance rose to 100%, and he is now attending university. 

“Hygiene is important enough,” says Ms Brock. “But the follow-on effects of making that change for people also mean that they can then start to access their life chances.”

Undoubtably hygiene poverty is having a detrimental affect on many and at the time of writing it appears to be unspoken about by many. We need to make this a very important topic of conversation both with the public and opposition MPs, after all Tory MPS are very unlikely to do so.

For anyone that can afford to as well as donating food products to food banks it’s also important to remember that donating hygiene products is also vitally important along with pets food and suchlike.

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DWP Admits Repeatedly Breaching Equality Act

In a report recently published by Disability News Service the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) have admitted repeatedly breaching the equality act by failing to follow guidelines by repeatedly ignoring a man’s disability requirements.

In the report it states that a legal document describes how a disabled man from east London had been ignored on multiple occasions by DWP staff both on their helplines and in Jobcentres.

However the DWP has now been forced to admit that they have repeatedly discriminating against him by ignoring his needs.

The truth is that thousands of disabled people are being discriminated against on a daily basis. Claimants disability and communication requirements are often ignored. Indeed I have encountered this many times whilst helping disabled people with their claims.

One such claim that I helped with being a man registered as blind being sent paper letters despite the fact that he couldn’t read them and the DWP being informed about this. Sadly this is one account of many.

This blatant discrimination can cause great distress and anxiety with many disabled peoples claims either being sanctioned or closed because they can’t respond as required.

The truth is the Universal Credit system has more flaws than a fishing net has holes, rules are broken all the time with the DWP not being held accountable for their actions and no recompense given to claimants.

In many cases requests to DWP staff to take disability into account are blatantly ignored proving that whilst the government declared that Universal Credit is tailored to fit each claimant and easier to claim is also a lie.

In the original report by Disability News Service it states that for more than two years this man and his carers requested on multiple occasions that the DWP communicate with him by phone. They ignored this and continued to communicate through his online Universal Credit journal.

After many requests DWP staff failed to put important markers on his universal credit account to show other DWP employees that he was a vulnerable claimant and that reasonable adjustments needed to be made for him.

Upon applying for Universal credit he was told incorrectly that he could only apply for Universal Credit digitally and not by telephone. This left him unable to apply himself and had to seek help from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Requests for support were ignored or refused.

Despite making multiple attempts to complain about how poorly he was treated, most of them were ignored and not investigated.

The report by Disability News Service went on to say that the DWP admitted liability in a county court discrimination case taken by the gentleman concerned and he is seeking compensation up to £25,000 in damages for their failure to acknowledge his disability and the impact that this treatment has had on him. and although George is seeking up to £25,000 in damages, the department is disputing the amount it should pay in compensation for its failures and the impact they have had on him.

Despite this court case I’m certain that the DWP will continue to discriminate against disabled people and many will continue to undergo the same treatment as this gentleman, driving many to live in distress.

The truth is that the DWP don’t care and won’t ever care. The governments remit is to take as many people off social security as possible despite disability and vulnerability .

Good luck everybody and seek help and advice before making a Universal Credit claim this can make the world of difference and can help to alleviate distress and anxiety.

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You can read the original report by Disability News Service here http://disabilitynewsservice.com

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Dear readers and subscribers I desperately need your help!!

I started blogging over 8 years ago and have done so on a weekly basis, sometimes more. I don’t receive any payment for the work that `I do or the help that I freely give to others.

The reality is that my web hosting fees are due on Tuesday and I can’t afford to pay for them. I’ve thought of everything but I just can’t do it, so this weeks blog might be the last one for a long while because of my financial situation.

This is very upsetting for me because I blog to help others and to inform people of the DWPs awful treatment towards disabled people, unemployed people and people working and claiming social security.

I really don’t want to say goodbye and I can’t change web host either. This one suits me well and it does everything that I need it to easily and without stress.

If you are able to and would like to help me to continue to blog and help others theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Theres also a donate button on the top bar of this website.

I wouldn’t ask but I’ve exhausted all other options.

My hosting bill comes to a total of £109 and it has to be paid by Tuesday.

If I can’t afford to renew my fees I’ll blog again before Tuesday then I don’t know when after this.

Thank you xx

Vodaphone Announce New Social Broadband Tariff And Free Broadband For Small Businesses.

Vodafone Group PLC has announced a new social broadband tariff for households giving them connectivity for £12 a month. They will also give small businesses free broadband for a year as part of their new cost-of-living package.

The new Vodafone Essentials Broadband deal will be available to anyone in receipt of Jobseekers’ Allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

As part of their new cost of living package they will be also offering small business owners and any new or existing customers that are eligible to upgrade free business broadband for 12 months on a 24-month plan.

Vodafone have based these new packages on research that shows that people are reliant upon connectivity to help them cope better with the cost of living crisis..

These new packages will also enable people to connect to the internet which is essential for people claiming Universal Credit and job searching.

Having access to the internet has become an essential part of daily life and life without internet access can be very difficult.

Vodaphone Chief Executive Ahmed Essam says “The rising cost of living is putting a million families at risk of falling on the wrong side of the digital divide,”

He goes on to say “We must not allow this to happen. So as part of our everyone.connected programme, today we are launching Vodafone Essentials Broadband at just £12 a month, the cheapest on the market, and 12 months free broadband for small businesses.

“Vodafone is the only network provider to offer social tariffs across fixed and mobile, meaning eligible customers can access mobile and broadband connectivity for 72 pence a day.

“These new tariffs complement Voxi for Now and the 750,000 free sims we’ve donated so far as part of our everyone.connected programme.

“We’re on track to meet our commitment to donate a million connections by the end of this year and will continue to put the cause at the heart of our business until the problem no longer exists.”

Original source Martyn Landi, PA Technology Correspondent