Category: Workprogramme

How to stay warmer this winter.

This is a condensed version of my Twitter thread that @threadreader condensed for me. Most questions have already been answered on Twitter.

THREAD.
Ok, as friends will know I live a very frugal life and need to save money whenever possible. Here’s some cheap tips to prepare your home for winter.

1. Check your windows and doors for any gaps that need to be filled. Don’t fill essential air vents though. Use filler, newspaper, rags or anything that you can find. If in rented accommodation report any repairs that need doing.

Bubble wrap is your friend here. Yes I hate plastic but I reuse my pieces every year. Cut pieces of bubble wrap to the size of your windows, spray the window with water and place the bubble wrap on the window flat side down.

You can use cling film, but I don’t find it as effective.

Who cares what it looks like you will be warmer.

If you have any kitchen foil and cardboard, measure a piece of cardboard to the size of the back of your radiators. Stick some foil onto it and place behind radiator. Foil reflects the heat back into your home. You can buy silver insulation rolls from Lidl etc for £5

These are easier to use but £5 is a lot of money. Same method applies. The heat is then drawn into your home instead of into the brick and then outside.

Make one of these. I use one every year in my living room, for larger rooms you need more than one. Use unpainted ceramic plant pots and unscented tea lights only. There’s plenty of tutorials on YouTube

They don’t cause carbon monoxide poisoning, but as with any use of candles be safety aware and have adequate ventilation in your room. They do bring the temperature of your room up by a few degrees.

I place mine on a baking tray and use a loaf tin. These are a life saver for me.

Wear layers. Layers are much better than a really thick jumper. You can take a layer off if too hot and it’s much more comfy.

When it gets really cold don’t be afraid of wearing a hat and gloves indoors. You loose a massive amount of heat through your head. I wear fingerless gloves they work best for me.

If you can, use a hot water bottle to keep warm and bring a blanket downstairs. Keep doors shut and use something at the bottom of your doors to keep the heat in

If you can put up a door curtain on your outside doors and living room doors. I need to do this this year because they really help to keep the heat in.

Use a blanket downstairs an encourage any children to do the same.

Fill a flask of hot water or tea or coffee to drink throughout the day. This will save boiling a kettle or pan and saves money. A good tip all year round tbh

If you have a dryer or an oven, use these for heating whilst they are in use. I always do this. I open the oven door once I’ve finished with it to let the heat out. Obviously you can’t do this if there are little children around.

Keep your feet covered and if possible dress for the weather. Not always easy I know. Snuggling up to a dog or cat helps as well

Use thick curtains in winter and keep them shut as often as possible. I know that many of us can’t afford thick curtains but this does help.

If you can eat warm foods. This is very hard I know as food, gas and electric is scarce. If you have friends and family local sit together. I do this.

If you can’t keep warm at home and need to save money on electric, if you can visit your local library, if you’ve got one a local Ikea. Free brews and WiFi at IKEA if you join up to their friends and family scheme. Ikea is my winter office.

Try and cook one pot meals. Saves in energy. @BootstrapCook has plenty of amazing recipes that you can access. If you can cook extra so it lasts a couple of days. This will save energy.

For example a bean spag Bol can be made into a chilli the next day. If you can cook veggie stews, soups, corned beef hash without the corned beef. It’ll last a few days

Use one room during the day, heat that one room. You can heat bedrooms for half a hour before bedtime. That’s if you can afford to do this.

Here’s the film we made last yearhttps://youtu.be/Y9h3VSYVIn0

I also make my own washing powder and I’m going to attempt soap again this year.

I’d love to try a sun oven but atm they are too expensive and are only on sale in the USA.

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

Dear readers, it’s Thursday again so here’s this weeks blog. I hope that you are all ok, I do think about you all and wonder how you are coping. I wish that I had a magic wand to stop this madness, but there isn’t one and I shall continue campaigning against the government’s abhorrent treatment of the poor and disabled. I’ll also continue to document what I can also.

I’ll document today’s conversations, as usual, please note that everyone was signposted to relevant organisations, help advice and survival guides were handed out. We also gave food parcels to those in need.  Also, my words can’t express the intensity of the two hours that we are outside the Jobcentre. We have to deal with so many different issues and often at a fast pace.

Also a massive thank you to everyone for that came along to help today and helped, I appreciate the hard work that you do thank you all so much.

 

Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre is now introducing the new computer system, which also coincides with the next phase of the Universal Credit rollout which is well under way now. This is causing a lot of confusion, and because of this it also demands that claimants also provide proof of their identity again. Of course, the DWP system won’t take into account the fact that they have already done so. Most of the people that I spoke to today don’t have photo ID, and nor do they have the money to get this. Also, people’s circumstances change and they might not have access to the proof of ID that they had already shown. You’ll read of a few conversations that I had with people regarding this.

 

It always breaks my heart when I see vulnerable people forced into having to go into the Jobcentre in the attempt to get some help. Here is one such case, I’ll call her Mary.

Mary approached the Jobcentre struggling to walk whilst using two crutches. She is an older lady who is in constant pain. Her husband is working but they need to make a claim for some help because she can no longer work. In an ideal world, there would be a fact sheet that tells a person what they can claim, what ID they need and how to do it. There isn’t though, so she was sent home none the wiser. However, she was told that she needs to provide proof of ID. So now she has to go home and return.

So a disabled woman is forced to make an arduous journey to provide ID. Whilst I appreciate the need to prove who you are they could make it a bit easier.

 

A woman with children asked me for a food parcel. She’s now receiving her Universal Credit payments after a long wait, but out of her first payment she’s had to pay all of the bills that she owed, so she’s left with nothing. What can I say except that it’s unacceptable that people are put into this situation. Claiming Universal Credit has plunged her into the pits of poverty and I doubt that she will be able to climb out for a long time if ever.

 

I spoke to a lovely gentleman that told me that he had been declared fit for work when he obviously isn’t. He also told me that they were trying to move him over to Universal Credit. Just what he doesn’t need.

 

Not long after I spoke to a woman whom I shall name Sharon. Sharon was visibly distressed, and this reflected in our conversation. Sharon went on to tell me of her experience of Universal Credit saying “People don’t know what they are getting themselves into, they don’t know what they are entitled to either. I can’t cope with this system, it’s crippling me to the point that I don’t know how I can continue. I’m relying on food banks and the goodwill of friends but that won’t last forever.”

Sharon also went onto say that she felt that it was the last straw for her to be asked to bring in proof of her ID again, shes already done it before so why should she have to do it again was her point.

Sharon doesn’t deserve to be treated in this manner but there are thousands and thousands of Sharon’s out there. Universal Credit doesn’t help people, instead, it hinders them from being able to improve their lives.

When a person can’t find all the ID that’s required they won’t allow a person to receive their payments, even though they have already provided this Id. No proof of ID, no payments. It’s a good way for the DWP to knock people off the system, to lower the unemployment figures.

I also take issue with a system that’s also controlled by a computer system. Computers make mistakes, especially DWP computer systems. You can’t talk to a computer system nor can you rely on them to be fully accurate. This new system might have the ability to decide that a person isn’t fulfilling their job search requirements even if they are, not everyone has access to a computer etc. I’m extremely dubious about this, and to be honest I haven’t got a lot of faith in it.

 

I had a conversation with a man that claims universal credit and who also works for an agency on a zero hour contract. He told me that it’s extremely hard for him to cope, he has to constantly reapply for universal credit, thus waiting for around six weeks for a payment, only to be thrown off it again because he actually got paid. He’s also been asked to provide new ID and he was struggling to find some.

As Roy said ‘People don’t find work they find another form of slavery’.

 

I advised a man on how to claim ESA.

 

I spoke to a man that needed advice regarding an ESA tribunal for a friend.

 

Roy had a conversation with a man who was telling him his experience of his ESA assessment. Upon showing the assessor his medicines the assessor asked him if his doctor knew that he was taking these medicines. Of course, the doctor does, they prescribed them. Yep. Really.

 

Here’s Kevin’s situation, typical of many.

Kevin applied for universal credit because he was advised to.

Kevin was given an initial universal credit payment.

Kevin was informed that he now needed to claim ESA.

Kevin does this but now has to pay back the initial payment.

Kevin hasn’t received a penny since the 22nd of May.

Kevin is angry, upset and is hungry.

We advised Kevin and signposted him to local organisations that will help.

 

 

I had a conversation with a woman that I’ll name Janet.

Janet had to wait weeks for her first universal credit payment, she now owes rent and she has to pay the bedroom tax and a portion of her council tax.

Janet told me that she receives £100 a fortnight. Her housing association are demanding that she pays the rent that she’s owed at the rate of £50 a week. Yes £50 a week. The housing association don’t care that she will be struggling. She’s devastated.

Janet is 60 years old and will be living in abject poverty until she’s finally able to retire. Janet deserves better than this.

 

I spoke to a man that was unsure of what he could claim and how to do it. I advised hom upon this and signposted him to all relevant organisations.

 

Lastly, I spoke to a scared young man. I say scared because he walked away crying. He spoke only French and he went into the Jobcentre for advice, most likely he had been told to go there. The Jobcentre refused to use their translation service and he didn’t know what to do, so we advised him using google translate on our phones and we signposted him. Many thanks to my colleague for this help.

Why didn’t they use the translation service? Can you imagine how scared he must have been? My heart went out to him and to everyone else in the same situation.

 

So this all happened within two hours, we helped lots of people and we will continue to do so.

 

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Many thanks to everyone already supporting my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

Also please support my blog, I don’t receive any funding for the work that I do and it would be brilliant if I could continue with my work. Thank you.

 

John McDonell reveals that Labour will scrap Universal Credit.

Good news folks, the Labour Party are very close to committing to our stop and scrap universal credit stance.

This has taken many years of campaigning and lobbying by campaigners including myself. For too long they had stuck to the ‘let’s fix it’ viewpoint.

John McDonnell

John McDonnell agrees that the ‘reforms haven’t worked’The Shadow Chancellor said he had been listening to the experiences of those on the combined benefit system and that it was beyond saving.

The shadow chancellor stated “I have been listening to people over the last few weeks about the roll-out in their particular areas, I’ve been looking at what the Government has said about how they are seeking to reform it. The reforms haven’t worked.
“I think we’re at that stage now that it’s not sustainable any more.
“It’s not a system that can work. It’s not a system that’s providing the safety net that people expect when they need support.
“I think we are moving to a position now where it is just not sustainable. It will have to go.

So what happens now? We continue to put pressure on the Labour Party to commit to this. We need the Labour Party to fully commit to this and before any general election is announced.

However, this has given us a glimmer of hope, maybe a light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t prevent the suffering that people are having to endure on a daily basis caused by Universal Credit, nor will it stop, for the time being, the poverty that we are forced to live in. But it does give us hope and adds a bit of strength to our campaign to stop and scrap Universal Credit.

Unite the union have also announced their stop Universal Credit stance also, adding further fuel to our campaign but we also need other trade unions to also agree to this also.

Good news indeed now let’s ensure that the Labour Party fully commit to stop and scrap Universal Credit.

Sanctioned for being sacked, refusal to help, no disability adviser at Ashton Jobcentre. Universal Credit isn’t working.

Dear readers, Thursday seems to arrive very quickly. Today was cooler with a bit of rain and I think that we all felt the difference. Many thanks to everyone that sent their best wishes to us all this morning via Facebook and Twitter. Believe me, we need it, numbers are low these days and your kind thoughts make all the difference.

I’ll list the cases that we came across today like I usually do, please note that everyone was handed a food parcel if needed, copies of our survival guide and the leaflet from Unite Community. I also checked that everyone was ok and if needing signposting we signposted them.

 

I arrived five minutes early and there was already a queue for the food parcels. I had a chat with everyone asking how they were and if there had been any updates with their situations. Sadly no one has a magic wand and local organisations help but the specialised services that they need are either struggling for resources or have shut down. We all do our best but it feels that it isn’t good enough.

 

The first person that I spoke to was a young man, he had waited for almost three months for his first Universal Credit payment. Nothing like the five weeks advertised. Reasons for this vary and usually, it’s the fault of one DWP department not communicating with another or information going missing or a combination of all of the above.

The system isn’t working, their computer system is rubbish and can’t handle it and staff aren’t trained adequately. It can’t be fixed because it’s full of flaws, ever tried to collect water with a sieve? It’s not dissimilar.

As the man walked off he said to me “The government are bastards, they really are. But you are all amazing god bless you” He isn’t wrong though.

Anyway because of the DWP’s failings a young man had to wait much longer than they should have had to wait. This could have had catastrophic consequences. The government has no sympathy so there’s no point in asking for their help they won’t listen.

 

The next case is a very good example of how unhelpful and rude the DWP can be. Honestly, they could do with learning some basic manners etc.

An older lady walked out of the Jobcentre looking perplexed and confused. We asked her what was wrong and could we help. I handed her a leaflet and as I did so she explained her situation.

Her son who is disabled is claiming Universal Credit but the disability element. He had to fill in and return a form regarding a DWP medical. He lost the return envelope so she went into the Jobcentre to ask for one.

A simple request you’d have thought. The security guards told her that she couldn’t have an envelope, they refused to send it as well and told her that she needed to phone up a number on the form.

She had no idea which number to phone. We informed her that they should have helped her with this so she went back into the Jobcentre.

They still refused uttering words similar to “Don’t listen to them they know nowt”. Actually, we know a damn sight more than they do because at least we were helping her.

Their only help was to thrust a piece of paper into her hands saying ‘Phone this number’. She tried but it was a Welsh telephone number, no use in England.

We then persuaded her to go to the local branch of CAB. (Yes they are in my bad books atm but they can help with this). Pat took her, where she did get the help and advice that she was needing. The correct telephone number to get a new envelope.

Absolutely ridiculous. They could have helped but refused and were ill-mannered in the process. There’s no need for it none at all. And anyway security guards should not be advising people, only people employed by the DWP are allowed to by law.

 

I spoke to a middle-aged man who spoke poor English. He told me that he used to have a good life, he had always worked until one day he had a stroke. This has left him with memory problems and he can no longer use his left arm.

Anyway, he was told to claim Universal Credit which he is doing but he wasn’t told that he could claim the disability element. I wasn’t surprised though, they don’t like informing people correctly. I told him what to do and he was grateful that we had helped him.

His message is this “This has completely changed my life, my life is awful now. I sometimes don’t want to wake up. This can happen to anyone”

 

I spoke to a homeless man that said that he was being harassed to find a job. He lives in temporary accommodation, the rent is very high and until he finds permanent accommodation he’s in no place to do so. If he did he would end up back on the streets again. Do the DWP care? Not one jot, they’ve all got nice homes to go home to.

He went on to tell me that the battle to keep on top of things regarding the DWP is unbelievable, overwhelming and he’s just managing to keep it together. The government should be ashamed, but I feel that they would wear it as a badge of honour under their ‘making work pay’ banner. Only it doesn’t.

 

We spoke to a young man that has been informed that he can no longer see his designated disability advisor because there isn’t one anymore. You heard it right, apparently, there is no longer a disability advisor at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre anymore. So what’s going to happen when the full rollout occurs, when everyone is migrated over? That’s a lot of disabled people that are going to go without the help they require.

So the DWP no longer believe that disabled people should see a disability advisor. You heard it here.

 

The next case is another case where the DWP appear to be devoid of any compassion or common sense. I’ll call her Joan to make it easier, that’s obviously not her real name.

Joan is a single parent to a child aged approximately five. Janes daughter has been diagnosed with autism and struggles with busy, noisy environments with lights etc.

Joan has been told that she has to claim Universal Credit and she has to wait at least five weeks for her first payment. In the meantime, Joan has been told that she has to find a job to see her through the waiting period.

Hang on. She’s the carer of a disabled child and as such should be making a claim relevant to that and they should have advised her as such. But they didn’t.

She can’t work, she can’t leave her child on her own, nor can she leave a child anywhere that doesn’t have the specialised facilities etc that her daughter needs. But she’s told that she has to work.

Furious, and as a parent of an autistic child I can fully understand and sympathise with her situation. I advised her correctly and informed her of her legal rights being that of a parent of a disabled child. This folks is how the DWP regard people with a disability. They don’t regard them at all, they expect everyone to work regardless of their ability to do so. This needs to change and fast, but the likelihood of it changing at the moment is zero.

 

Last but not least I spoke to a lovely lady, another single parent struggling with the Universal Credit system. I’ll call her Anne, it makes it easier. That isn’t her real name of course.

Anne is a single parent, she had lost her job due to a fall out with her ex-boss that was also her friend, so her friend fired her, awful in itself.

Anne had been sanctioned for four months, yes four months for losing her job. Yes, they even do this when there are children involved.

Anne has now been told that they have suspended her claim but never thought to tell her this until she went to the bank to find that her payment hadn’t been made. She phoned the DWP up to find out why and they told her that she hadn’t provided all the evidence of her previous childcare costs.

But she had done. She had done exactly what had been asked to do but they now wanted more information. So that’s what she was doing today, handing in further proof of previous childcare costs.

Anne told me that Universal Credit is the worst thing ever, she hasn’t got enough money to live on and she wishes that it hadn’t been invented. I agree with her.

So Anne worked and this is the thanks that she gets. This is how they treat people, with no respect, nothing except hatred.  We will NEVER forget, nor will we forgive either.

 

This all happened within two hours, this is replicated at almost every Jobcentre throughout the country. Unemployed and disabled people do not deserve to be treated in this manner, in my eyes it’s horrific and it needs to stop.

Many thanks to everyone that turned up to help today it means the world to me.

Thanks also to Johnathon Reynolds a local MP for coming and saying hello. He didn’t have to but he did and it means a lot also.

 

Please support our work in whatever way that you can, we need to continue this work it’s hard but it needs to be done.  We will be back next week, regardless of health problems, Whilst there is a need and I’m able I will be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rent arrears caused by transferring to Universal Credit. A disaster waiting to happen.

Well, what can I say about today except that it wasn’t a good morning. Universal Credit is causing people to have numerous problems, all of which I have documented previously.

Today, however, was a day almost all taken up by people in rent arrears due to being transferred onto Universal Credit. If I tell you that it’s a disaster waiting to happen it would be an understatement. When the final phase of the Universal Credit roll-out takes place next year we are definitely going to see homelessness on an unprecedented scale. This will not be helped by unscrupulous landlords and housing associations that are far from understanding it’s very worrying indeed. We are talking about disabled people, ill people, families with children.

My question is where will they go? Who will be able to help them? Who’s going to pay for their temporary accommodation which will be hard to get anyway because they will be judged as making themselves homeless due to not being able to pay their rent.

It’s diabolical that anyone is put into this situation in the first place, everyone deserves a decent home to live in, but it appears that the government doesn’t agree. They see us as being a drain on society, useless and in some cases, they wish that we didn’t exist. But we do, and we need to demand that the government stops the final roll out and that a future government scraps it.

Rant over I’ll list some of today’s cases as usual. Please note that EVERYONE that we spoke to received help and advice and when needed a food parcel. No one leaves empty-handed. We do this independently also and aren’t linked to any big group although we do support many and talk to them.

 

I spoke to a man that looked worn out, fed up and hungry. I asked him if he needed any help and he responded yes, he needed some advice and he also wanted to rant. Understandable I thought.

His situation is this. He’s been transferred over to Universal Credit and this has caused him numerous problems, amongst them hunger and the threat of eviction.

Whilst a person is waiting for a Universal Credit claim to be processed you aren’t allowed to claim housing benefit because it’s all part and parcel of the Universal Credit claim. The waiting times are long, officially its supposed to take five weeks, but its often longer than that. In the time that it takes to process nearly everyone generates rent arrears. These rent arrears can, and often do lead to their eviction from their home unless they have an understanding private landlord or housing association. This man doesn’t, his housing association is being far from understanding and have already threatened him with eviction.

He’s tried to contact the DWP concerning his claim but was left waiting on the phone for two hours, it took over two hours for someone to answer. Many have waited longer than this. How on earth is this acceptable from a government organisation? It isn’t but they do what they like.

He went on to say that the government have shafted him. He’s worked for nearly all of his working age life and this is how they treat him. There are no thanks for his contributions and any monies that are due to him are withheld for as long as the government sees fit.

So here we have an older man, tired, hungry, frustrated and worried. He isn’t a number on a computer screen, he is a person with feelings and needs neither of which are respected by the government or the DWP.

 

I then spoke to another older gentleman, he had started a conversation with Gordon but I interjected and asked him if he was ok. He wasn’t.

He told me that he was having world war three with the DWP. He also has been transferred over to Universal Credit. He’s awaiting his first payment and has been waiting for some time. As a result, he now owes rent and his landlord has decided to take him to court to evict him. Luckily he has some knowledge of the procedure and he has contacted the courts himself and has had the possession order suspended until November.

I advised him to contact the law centre in Manchester to get advice and hopefully some representation. I advise everyone to do this, they have some spaces available for housing problems for next week. Their telephone number is 0161 769 2244. If you can get there please do. They know their stuff better than most and a solicitor that specialises with housing-related problems will help you.

He’s an older man, unwell at that and his wife is unwell also. If they become homeless then it’s going to be disastrous for their health and well being. I’m worried about them so will be popping round to visit them in the next few days.

If he hadn’t had the knowledge that he could have the possession order suspended then he and his wife would have been made homeless in a matter of weeks. The housing association concerned like to do this as quickly as possible. Shame on them, and this won’t be the end of it. Watch this space.

 

I then spoke to a man whose wife had been sanctioned since May for not attending an appointment that she didn’t know about. Yes, folks, she didn’t receive any notification of the appointment and it’s the case of the missing letter AGAIN.

Anyway, they sanctioned her, but not just her they sanctioned the whole family, her husband and children as well. They didn’t know that they could appeal nor did they know that it was wrong of the DWP to do this either.

So a family with children have all been sanctioned since May. That’s a long time to go without food etc, isn’t it?

He visited Citizens Advice who thankfully put him right, and he then went into the Jobcentre for his appointment. He told his advisor that they shouldn’t have sanctioned the whole family and also that they should have told him of their right to appeal.

The advisor apparently shrugged their shoulders and said ‘Well, that’s the way that it is’ only it isn’t. He informed the advisor of his legal rights regarding payments for himself and his children. They then decided that they would be making a payment to him. Yippee, you might think, but nope. Most of that payment will now have to go towards the rent that they owe. So they will be left with next to nothing.

Oh and they weren’t aware that they could appeal the sanction and his wife is now still sanctioned for 146 days which will put them into even more hardship.

I advised them of where to go for help and who to ask for help, but this system is hellish. It needs to be stopped.

 

I then spoke to a man who had originally just gone into the Jobcentre to hand in a fit note. It didn’t go to plan though. Straightway he was stopped by a person at the front desk and told that he had to use the new digital system that they are transferring most people over to. He was told to go over to a computer to log in with a username and password. Well, he didn’t have a clue what this was about but he was told to continue trying.

As time went on he became more frustrated and he asked the person on the front desk again what to do, his usual username and password didn’t work… It was then that another member of staff shouted over that he hasn’t been enrolled onto the system yet…..  Unbelievable but kudos to the staff member that pointed this out and went on to help him. It’s not hard to check if a person has been enrolled in a system or not, so check next time, please.

 

We then spoke to a young man that had just undergone a PIP medical assessment. He told us that the assessment made him ill, that he wasn’t allowed to talk during the assessment except to answer questions.

Luckily he had someone with him but his treatment was appalling. Now how he has the worry of finding out if he will be awarded his PIP entitlement. No one should have to go through these cruel, demeaning assessments. A doctors letter should be enough.

Now he has to wait. Combine this with anxiety and depression and imagine how he must be feeling. He told me that the assessment made him ill, it nearly hospitialised him he said.

 

Comments made about the DWP today were as follows;

They talk to me like I’m an idiot.

They talk to me like I’m a five-year-old child.

They treat us like crap.

They treat us like we are something on the bottom of their shoes.

 

How about the DWP staff started to talk to people with some respect eh.. Then they would get respect back. Call me old fashioned but it’s the way to do things. For those that do this, thank you, you could possibly be preventing another death by doing so.

 

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We will be back next week, as usual, please come and say hi or send us your support. We do need it and appreciate it. It’s hard hitting but it’s reality folks and this is what the government is doing to people.

Many thanks to everyone that came along to support us and help. I’ve been feeling a bit despondent of late and seeing you all really cheers me up and keeps me going. By the way, you are making a difference. A big difference.

 

Please read, share, email and talk about my blog. Even email it to your local Tory MP.

A massive thank you to everyone that supports my blog. Like I say we run independently, and it’s not easy. I’ve got meetings next week to try and clarify a few things regarding the eviction notices and the housing association processes above, this will be positive though and the Law Centre is amazing.

I sit at home and often ask myself when will this end? My answer is this, it won’t until we vote this government out. PLEASE register to vote and USE your vote. It’s never been as important to do so.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many thanks to everyone that came and helped today.

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

For anyone wishing to donate, there are donation buttons above and at the side. I do this off my own back and I’m not part of any big organisation. Every penny helps, thank you.