Tag: ashton under lyne

Look what we have here…. The Jobcentre Plus column and here’s my version. 

After a long afternoon campaigning outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre I was in great need of cheering up. It’s cold out there at the moment and some of the claimants stories were particularly hard.

We decided to go for a well earned cuppa. Whilst we were sat having a chat, my comrade reached into his folder and asked me if I had seen this column in our local newspaper.

I hadn’t, I don’t buy the newspaper but sometimes you can get a free copy. So I had a look. I was that incensed that I actually spilt my cuppa.

I do believe that Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre are trying to promote themselves and their schemes as being helpful. No mention of the heartache and desperation that they cause to claimants everyday. I wasn’t surprised though. Our protest has been continuous every Thursday for 15 months now, and as a result we have had a lot of good, positive feedback. As a result they could well have felt the need to try and portray themselves in a better light.

I then thought to myself and to my comrades that we should construct our own, which is below. I have tried to find the person named in their leaflet, but so far I’ve had no luck. But I’m not surprised by that either.

Here is Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentres “column” in the local newspaper. I’m sure that they have done similar promotional things in different areas.


You can see why I was angry. So here’s our version. I actually think it’s much better and more realistic. Many thanks to my friend who holds a deep hatred of the DWP, but is also amazing on a computer.

 


L
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Bedroom Tax proven to be discriminatory.

This week an appeal court ruled that Bedroom Tax is indeed discriminatory in two cases. One being a victim of domestic violence, who had had her “spare” room converted into a safe room, after being stalked, harassed and victimised by a previous partner. The other case, the grandparents of a severely disabled grandson who needs overnight care in a specially adapted room. They were both faced with having to pay the Bedroom Tax, otherwise they would have lost their homes. As a result it would have been impossible for them to find suitably adapted new houses to live in. Paying this unfair tax would have put them in financial hardship, and they would also have the constant worry of not having the security of their tenancies, a security that they need.

I am a victim of the Bedroom Tax. An unfair and unjust tax that has been forced upon us. Some people say that we should just not pay it. That isn’t an option. The housing associations and councils would evict us, rendering us homeless with no home to go to. They would then be of the opinion that we have chosen to become homeless, so wouldn’t have a duty of care to house us. Leaving us with no choice but to live on the streets or in tents. The very thought of having to do that sends shivers down my spine.

So we pay, and it does leave us in hardship. Although I live a very frugal lifestyle, it can be difficult. My house wasn’t given to me with a spare room. All my bedrooms were occupied by my older children, and I had waited over 12 months to be rehoused, after living in a women’s refuge. I, like many others did not purposely choose  house that was too big. Myself, like others have tried moving to a smaller property, but there isn’t the availability. So I have to stay where I am and pay the unfair tax. Of course it’s discrimitory. The very way it was constructed makes it so. Even if the so called spare room is occupied you still have to pay the tax for the room. 

My friends in other countries cannot believe that we have to pay  tax for a bedroom. Comments have ranged from “Has your government gone mad?” to “Why is your government intent on making the poor and vulnerable suffer so much?” They just don’t understand it. The mentality behind the bedroom tax is very cruel. It harks back to the time of the window tax. When the window tax was introduced people blocked off their so called extra Windows. Pity we can’t brick off our so called spare bedrooms. Of course this wouldn’t be allowed. Fighting against the bedroom tax is also very hard. They system and their operatives make this very hard to do. 

It isn’t working either. Bigger properties are being left empty, people unable to occupy them. The government have brought in new rules stating that children have to share a bedroom with their parents in their bedroom for much longer, and siblings of different sexes have to share a bedroom until they are much older than is appropriate. This is resulting in unhealthy overcrowding, and empty larger properties, that would have previously been occupied by these families. At the same time we have a record amount of homeless living on the streets, sofa surfing or living in unsuitable temporary accommodation

We are seeing poverty levels now that we haven’t seen since the 1930s, alongside this is the return of illnesses that had long since disappeared. But the government will continue to push its war against the poor. Once again, I say its a war, because I do feel that it is a war. A bully always picks on the most vulnerable. And they are doing just that. I only have to take a short walk around the town that I live in to see this. Manchester has a massive amount of “visible” homeless people, many requiring specialist help that isn’t available anymore.

But the government will not give up on its attack on the poor. They are planning to appeal the above appeal decisions, and will do so with great gusto. They will not be seen to fail, not at any cost.

I hear people say to me that this government must live on a different planet… indeed they do, they have always lived a very privileged lifestyle, so we can never expect them to understand our plight, but neither do they want to understand it either. They aren’t interested. Like all bullies they will never admit to failure, and failing they are, at a massive rate.

The Tory Government are fulfilling one thing though, they are taking the GREAT out of Great Britain, and replacing it with something far more sinister.

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Standing my ground. More G4S bullying at Thursday’s weekly demo. 

I arrived a little early for our demo on Thursday and as a result I thought that I would spend my extra time handing out our leaflets and giving advice if needed.

I got stopped by a very empowered lady. She is a claimant at Ashton Jobcentre and as a result of our standing outside the Jobcentre she has become empowered. She’s read her legal rights and she certainly uses them. She says when she’s inside the Jobcentre she hands leaflets out and doesn’t take any messing. She wanted me to tell the folk who read the blog to keep strong. She said that she would be joining us this Thursday. I can’t wait for her to join us.

It was a particularly cold day. I spoke to a woman who had not had any money since last August. They sanctioned her once and now keep adding sanction after sanction. We are trying to pursuade her to appeal, they had told her wrongfully that she couldn’t. Let’s hope that she follows our advice. But it’s hard when you are hungry and just can’t feel any hope at all.

As it was particularly cold I decided to stand at the front of the building out of the way of any doors, so not to cause an obstruction. I had found a little spot where it was a degree or two warmer. It was a blessing, my coat is very old now and it’s hard going out there.

Within 5 minutes of my standing there, a G4S security guard marched out demanding that I move. He couldn’t give me a reason why, but he had his usual grin on his face. Of course I didn’t move. I stood my ground very peacefully. No crime was committed and no harm was caused. After all I wasn’t causing an obstruction, I was polite and I’m sure the Job Centre is regarded as a public building. So there I stood, until I had to leave.


It’s becoming apparent that the DWP are showing as much compassion as previous years regarding the cold and allowing people to wait inside for their appointment. Claimants aren’t allowed to wait even if it’s for 10 minutes, and are sent outside in the freezing cold.
Now let’s get this right. Claimants do not want to enter a Jobcentre and they are hardly going to be abusing the “kindness” of the DWP by allowing them to stand inside whilst waiting for their appointment. So why are they being so petty? It’s all about control. Grind the claimants down as much as possible, so eventually they will do your bidding without question.

Regarding waiting inside the Jobcentre for your appointment. There is no official ruling stating that you can’t. They just like tell you that you can’t. So wait in the lobby of your local Jobcentre. Go and use one of their computers for 10 minutes or look at a few leaflets. It’s cold and you need to keep warm. Don’t let them bully you.

  

We will be back on Thursday between 1-3 to give our help and advice to those who need it. We will have hats and gloves with us to hand out. If you are cold grab one.
L

Come and say hello! 

Tomorrow will be our weekly demonstration day please come and say hello!!

We have been protesting every Thursday for nearly 15 months now and we have never had a week off. Whatever the weather decides to be like we never miss a week. 

We do this to offer compassion and support to the claimants that have to use Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. We hand out informative leaflets, warm drinks and hats, gloves and scarfs to those needing the warmth. 

Sanctions are unfair and unjust. After being sanctioned people go hungry, become ill, and some can’t see no way out so they commit suicide. 

We are a committee bunch of people and the demos are A political which means that anyone is welcome to join us providing that they come in peace. 

Please come and say hello. We would love that. 

You can find us outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre 101 Old street Ashton Under Lyne.  1-3pm. 

Just bring yourself that’s enough!! 

 

I have joined The Labour Party.

I’ve been pondering on this issue for a long while, and have had many sleepless nights concerning this. I used to be a member of The Labour Party, as local people will know, but I left because of their then stance on most things. They had become almost as right wing as The Tory Party and I felt that I couldn’t be a part of that anymore. So we parted company and I joined The Green Party.

I felt that The Green Party had a place for me. They represented the views of old Labour before it became New Labour. And I have really enjoyed my time with them. I have managed to stand in local elections twice, and in The General Election. This has been a fantastic experience and I really value my comrades in The Green Party.

However, it was very hard, my local Green Party membership is very low and I at times, felt like I was getting nowhere and that I wasn’t making a difference at all. And above all else I want to make a difference. I haven’t sold myself out, as some might say, and I haven’t been persuaded by anyone else, this has been on my mind for a long time now. Certain events made me reassess what I wanted to do regarding my politics.

This has not changed how I feel about anything at all, and I hope that my choice hasn’t upset anyone, although I feel that it might. I feel that the left side of Labour needs all the support that they can get, and they now with Jeremy Corbyn as leader would support our campaign outside the Jobcentre. I’m already a member of a Labour Party affiliated union (Unite in the community) and I feel that this matches my trade union beliefs.

As a result, I feel that I may have stabbed myself in the foot so to speak. There’s a  big chance that my voice might get drowned out amongst everyone else’s, and locally it might not be as strong. But if I find that to be the case I will shout even louder.

This has been a very difficult decision for me to make, so once again please respect me for taking the time to make this decision. I haven’t just jumped ship straight away. My stance on environmental issues has not changed one bit.

I hope to be able to join in any local Labour Party activities and I hope that my voice will be continued to be heard.

Many thanks for your continued support.

 

 

Man walks into Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, gets sanctioned goes home and commits suicide. Another day outside the Jobcentre.

I wrote this on my Facebook page and people were shocked. I don’t think the enormity of it all actually hits you unless you either are or have been in a similar situation or you spend a lot of time outside a Jobcentre like we do. Its easy to forget I suppose, if you aren’t reminded about it all that time like I and my comrades are. The news obviously doesn’t cover this issue, unless it is spoken about in parliament. Even then its only a few lines in the paper. The only newspaper that will freely write about it is The Morning Star. The paper that I’m lucky enough to get my articles in. If you don’t buy it try it. Its a refreshing change to read the real news.

It was freezing today outside the Jobcentre. It was already cold but the wind chill was bad today. The Jobcentre is situated on a corner and we are lucky to have a bit of shelter.

Whilst I was stood discussing recent events in Parliament with a comrade a man asked us what we were doing. I replied that we were there to provide advice and support for those who are at risk from being sanctioned or have been sanctioned. He then became quite agitated. He said “That place, don’t talk to me about that place. Its terrible. My brother went into there, they decided to sanction him. He went home and committed suicide. They are murderers. The government are evil. How long is this going to continue for?” It was very clear to see that he was very angry and upset. He wasn’t hanging around either. He rushed off without giving his name and I don’t blame him.

Nothings changed within the Jobcentres. You are proven guilty without being given the chance to have a say. Sanctions are supposed to be referred to a decision maker and you are supposed to have a chance to appeal against their decision. This isn’t the case though. Sanctions are rushed through, with the correct procedure ignored. Claimants often go to the bank or post office to collect their pittance and are told there is nothing in their account. Its shocking but this happens all the time.

The work programme also refer people for sanctions. I would guess that they are on the same par as the Jobcentre for referring people for sanctions. When I questioned Standguide one of our local Work programme centres they said that they didn’t sanction people. Of course they don’t they just refer people for sanctions. They are often as bad as the Jobcentre. After all they are also paid by the DWP.

Also responsible for referring people for sanctioning are the workfare providers. Although there is talk about workfare stopping they aren’t. They are just changing the name for it. Rebrand it and they wait to see how long it will be before the public catch on that it is the same thing. They must think that we are stupid. One charity that has locally got most of its staff working there on the workfare programme is Barnados. Almost all of their staff are workfare victims. Made to work at least 16 hours there a week, and according to my source they have to work very hard whilst they are there. This is another charity that I will be boycotting. The hypocrisy of this is astounding. They claim to help people but are at the same time exploiting them.

Update on my last post. A young man approached us today and spoke to us about his experience at Standguide. He was made to stay inside the building for 6 hours and wasn’t allowed to go out for his dinner or to have a break. He had to spend all that time in front of a computer. He was told not to be aspirational, he is very highly educated but he wasn’t to look for work he was qualified for. He was told to look for jobs like shelf stacking etc. That made me wonder if they have some kind of agreement with a supermarket chain. He also stated that the demanded to have access to his personal emails, he of course said no. He was also visited at home by the same man that visited myself. In the end he had enough. He walked into the Jobcentre and signed off. Now he’s struggling for money.

As you can see people feel like they are forced to sign off. of course the government love this. They will then say that these people have found work, which of course they haven’t.

Sorry for the long blog. I had a lot to say today.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/personal-independence-payment-aids-and-appliances-descriptors

  
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Questions that we are often asked. 

We often get asked alot of questons so I thought that it would be a good idea to write some of the questions down with the answers. I hope that this helps anyone having to deal with the terrible Jobcentre regime. 

  • Do I have to attend my ESA/PIP medical?
  • Yes but it is always best to go to welfare rights first for advice and always take someone with you. Remember that they often film you entering the building. So be wary. They will also try and trick you with questions. Think very carefully about how you answer them. 
  • Remember it’s not about the illness its about how the illness affects your everyday life. 
  1. DLA is changing over to pip. When you get your forms you must fill them in and send them off in the time stated. Please get help from welfare rights with filling these forms in because they can be tricky. 
  2. Do I have to attend a mandatory appointment? 
  • Yes you do have to attend a mandatory appointment. If you cannot attend for any reason you must provide a good excuse and get it in writing. 
  1. Never agree to anything verbally. The DWP will lie to you to simply get you out of the building. Get EVERYTHING in writing. 
  1. What is a compliance letter?
  • A compliance letter could mean one of several things. Someone could have made a report of benefit fraud against you or they might think someone is living with you. This can be totally untrue so please take all relevant documentation with you to prove your case. 
  1. Can I appeal a sanction? 
  • Yes you must always appeal a sanction. They depend on you not to. Remember to ask for a mandatory reconsideration form and a hardship payment form. They might not give you these. 
  1. Can I appeal an ESA or PIP decision? 
  • Yes you can but always get advice on this and go to your nearby welfare rights centre. 
  1. When I am sanctioned can I get housing benefit and council tax benefit? 
  • Yes you can. You need to go to your local council offices and fill in the correct forms. 
  1. Do I have to attend the workfare program? 
  • Do not be late for a workfare placement. They will inform the Jobcentre of this and you can get sanctioned. 
  1. Do I have to attend the work programme? 
  • Yes you do but don’t be late or don’t be absent. They will inform the Jobcentre of this and you will get sanctioned. 
  • Always get everything in writing off them. Photograph everything you sign so they can’t say that you didn’t attend.
  1. Can they sanction me for not doing my job search?
  • Yes they can and they will. If you are ill or you have good reason then provide evidence. Never agree to anything verbally. Always get it in writing. 
  1. Remember they are not your friend. They can (not always) turn against you at a whim. Always be wary. 
  2. Always be friendly. That’s if you can. It’s very hard but some advisors just want an excuse to find fault with you. 
  3. Keep a record of everything that you do. 
  4. You can audio record your interviews but you cannot video record. 
  5. Children are allowed in the Jobcentre. If they say they aren’t allowed they are very wrong. 
  6. If you are asked to a meeting and you are vulnerable then you are allowed a Mckenzie friend to attend with you. You must let them know beforehand but the law states that they can attend with you. 
  7. Watch your social media. Make sure it’s private and not public because they have been known to spy on people via Facebook etc. 

I hope that this list helps you. It’s only a rough list but I hope it helps.