Tag: budget

Five year aniversary of blogging and the suffering continues.

Dear readers it’s been five years almost to the day since I started writing this blog although I’ve been campaigning for much longer.

A friend encouraged me to write it but I honestly didn’t think that anyone would read it. I was proved wrong though, it took off straight away.

Back then we were chosen to be a trial area for universal credit along with Oldham and Wigan.

Hardly anyone else was documenting the day to day cruelty that universal credit and the benefit reforms.Most likely because it wasn’t happening everywhere and lots of people weren’t aware of this

We were ignored and called liars and suchlike.

Myself and other groups continued to fight against it even though every door was being slammed in our faces. No one wanted to know.

Through perseverance and determination we continued, we weren’t letting this go. People were and are dying as a result and that was and is unacceptable.

DPAC have been consistently supportive and they’re amazing. The work that they have done and are doing is outstanding. I can’t thank them enough.

When I started this blog almost everyone that I spoke to outside Ashton Jobcentre was or had been sanctioned.

Pregnant women were being sanctioned for three years, suicides of people that we had spoken to were a constant worry. I’ve lost count of the people that we have lost.

It breaks my heart and I’ve always got them in my thoughts. Thanks to Black Triangle for their work collecting this info and publishing it.

At the the time the DWP were a law unto themselves, they still are. I’m certain that they were given orders to sanction as many people as possible (remember Sandra’s stars anyone?).

I’m certain that they still have these targets but they’re not so open and brazen at displaying them. People are still being sanctioned and it’s abbhorant that this is continuing to happen. Being sanctioned can and does kill people.

The suffering continues and every week I’m told yet more awful stories from claimants about their experiences whilst on universal credit and other benefits.

Today a man told me that he’d been barred from the Jobcentre for loosing his temper when he was told that he’d been sanctioned.

When he was allowed back into the Jobcentre he had a G4S guard to escort him to his appointment and to take him out again.

The stress of this took its toll on him and he started to pull his hair out. He can’t believe how horrible this system is. Thanks to the DWP he’s mentally scarred for life.

The system hasn’t got better the DWP and government have become more devious, constantly putting unrealistic demands upon people that they know won’t be able to keep up with it.

We’ve handed hundreds of food parcels out because people were and are literally starving. I’ve watched a family open the tins of food and eat it because they were so hungry.

It’s hard to tell you what the worst thing that I’ve seen is. Everything about this system is awful. It persecutes children, women, men, women who should be receiving their pensions but were conned out of them. The DWP won’t leave anyone alone.

The fight continues though. The Labour Party have at last commited to stopping, scrapping universal credit. They’re going to replace it with a caring system and I know that they’re going to do this. The Labour Party have been working very hard on creating the new system for quite a while now.

But the changes won’t happen overnight and until they’ve been elected nothing will change its going to become a whole lot worse.

Every week we speak to disabled people who have been found fit for work. They aren’t fit for work though and we help them to start the appeal process.

We’ve handed out thousands of copies of of our survival guides. They’ve proved to be invaluable and have helped a lot of people. Thanks to Roy for your help with this.

The blog doesn’t end after I’ve published the blog on Thursdays though. It’s become a full time job. Myself or members of the team don’t get paid by anyone either. We do it because we care.

The fight continues week after week. We’ve had abuse from G4S, I’ve been spat on called a scrounger and worse.

The DWP have unsuccessfully tried to move us from outside the Jobcentre. We aren’t going anywhere, we aren’t stopping until the suffering ends.

Whilst the suffering continues we will continue. I made this commitment all those years ago.

I want to thank you all for reading and supporting the blog for these last five years. Its been a massive comfort to know that you all support this blog and the campaign.

I’ll end the blog here this week. I know that it’s a bit different than my usual blog style but I really wanted to thank everyone that’s helped along the way whether it’s on foot at the demos or online. Both are equally as important.

To everyone that does come and help though thank you so, so much. We’ve had a lot of physical support from Stockport Against Austerity and I can’t thank them enough as well as Gordon, Roy, Carol and everyone else who I’ve met along the way.

My local Labour Party and my MP Angela Rayner have also been hugely supportive even though I’ve been a pain sometimes.

Can I ask you to continue to read, share, tweet and email my blog. Thank you to those that already do.

There’s also a donate button at the top and side of this blog. Every penny donated ensures that the campaign and blog can continue. A massive thanks to those that have.

I’ll be back next week with my usual blog. Thank you for the five years of support and thanks to Mike for persuading me to start this blog.

Don’t worry I’ll be writing next weeks blog in my usual style.

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I dream about being able to eat fresh fruit and vegetables.

Dear readers what a horrible week it has been in parliament, I’m certain that you’re feeling the ramifications of this.

At the moment we are having to put up with a government that throws constant hatred out towards others with absolute no ramifications at all. Their hostile environment has certainly become a whole lot more hostile.

Right wing politicians, newspapers and followers are being encouraged by the government to abuse people especially left wing politicians and individuals.

I’ve had to start carrying a personal alarm with me at all times.It saddens me greatly that this is happening, we already have enough to cope with trying to survive from day to day.

This week I will be concentrating on one conversation that I had this morning.

All food parcels were taken as soon as they arrived. It’s not becoming better it’s getting much worse.

Whilst I condone the need for foodbanks the realisation that thousands of people would have either died or become extremely ill without them.

It goes without saying that the Tory party don’t give a stuff. But we already know this don’t we.

Every week for years now I’ve had some lovely conversations with some amazing people trying their best to survive whilst dealing with the DWP system. They’re the true heroes of society not someone wearing a suit and spouting all the right words. To survive the DWP system is a massive achievement and we need to recognise this more.

This morning I had a conversation with a lovely chap, I’m probably the only person that he talks to all week. He’s always got a smile to spare for others but he’s suffering greatly.

He hasn’t been able to have a proper cooked meal for a long time, and told me that he couldn’t remember the last time that he had been able to eat properly.

Being constantly hungry and having to rely upon foodbanks is taking its toll both mentally and physically. Mentally he’s feeling completely worn down, he’s trying his best but not achieving much in the DWPs eyes. He knows that he needs to find work but it’s hard, very hard.

Physically he’s feeling terrible. He’s unable to buy fresh vegetables and fruit and his diet which mainly consists of tinned food and cheap carbohydrates is taking its toll, telling me that he dreams of being able to buy some fresh vegetables and fruit and eating them. He knows the importance of a good diet but how on earth can he eat healthily when he hasn’t got the ability to do so.

This is a massive problem in society at the moment but it’s rarely spoken about.

It’s easy to become overweight when relying upon cheap quick food yet the media fat shame just about anyone they can find who happens to be overweight.

Dieticians and celebrity chefs can have as many programmes as they want on television to teach is how to eat healthily but they haven’t got a clue about what the reality of the situation is.

We don’t have enough money to buy fancy ingredients or the next new superfood whatever that might be at the moment.

Jack Monroe appears to be the only one that does know because she’s lived the foodbank life. Check her work out she’s fabulous.

We can’t afford to eat properly we’ve only got the means to survive.

If you take any message from my blog let it be this.

We aren’t responsible for the way that the government is treating us. Poverty is extremely hard to escape from, it follows us about everywhere.

You are not to blame for this.

Don’t listen to the Tories when they say that finding work pays. It doesn’t and this has been proven time and again. Universal credit has been created to make us fail, to make us dissappear, to make us give up.

Almost every person that I spoke to today was suffering because of the system that’s intent upon making them fail.

I want to tell the man that I spoke to today who’s too ill to work but is forced too look that he doesn’t have to look for work.

Basically I want a magic wand to stop this eternal suffering felt by thousands upon thousands of people every day.

I want to bring back industry to areas like mine where there is none. I wnt suitable jobs for everyone who is able to and wants to work. I want employers to be flexible around childcare and other family duties

I want people who have a disability or are ill to be respected instead of being failed at every step and constantly punished for existing.

I want a society that understands that not everyone has access to the Internet or a computer.

I want to see the end of universal credit and it be replaced with a fair and understanding system that helps not punishes people.

I want everyone to live in decent housing, not stuck in a B&B or suchlike. Everyone deserves a good place to call home.

I want everyone to be able to have a good and varied diet without worrying where their next meal is coming from and when.

I want children to be happy, not hungry and certainly not worrying about when they’ll get their next meal and certainly not to be forced to wear clothes that they’ve grown out of because their parents can’t afford to buy new ones.

I could go on forever but you get the jist.

What I can do though is to buy some fresh fruit and veg for the chap that I was speaking to today.

I can continue to help others and advise them. I can become a friend to them and I can be a shoulder to cry on. I can do this and I will continue to for as long as I’m able to.

I apologise for this weeks rant. Today hit me very hard, we’ve now become so poor that instead of dreaming about going on holiday or suchlike we’re dreaming about being able to eat fruit and vegetables.

Sad, bad times indeed.

Many thanks to Gordon for helping today. I apologise for this weeks blog I’ll be back to normal next week.

Please read, share tweet and email my blog.

Please support my blog and campaign. Many thanks to everyone that has already. You all mean the world to me.

We don’t care that you’re disabled and distressed you still have to attend DWP courses. More tales from Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre.

Dear readers it’s Thursday and we had a very busy demo. All of our food parcels were taken straight away and we helped lots of people. I’ll list today’s conversations but I will not be divulging anyone’s identities etc.

I realise that this week is an extremely busy week politically but people are still suffering under the government’s cruel and demeaning DWP policies. Please try to support this campaign and the many others that help people so much. It also looks like there’s going to be a general election in the very near future and this will be our chance to oust the awful Tory party. Please register to vote and use the vote that we fought so hard to get.

I spotted Alice sitting on a nearby bench outside the Jobcentre, she was sat with her daughter and toddler grandchild. I asked her if she would like one of our leaflets and she told me about her ordeal with the DWP..

Alice is disabled and like thousands of other people she failed her ESA medical assessment. She has appealed this decision and eighteen months later she’s still awaiting for a decision from the DWP. As a direct result of this she’s now dependent upon her daughter helping her in her home and to take her out for appointments

Alice told me that she’s finding the whole process demeaning and embarrassing, she doesn’t want to ask her daughter for help but she’s left with no choice. Needless to say the DWP regard her as fit for work when she obviously isn’t. I gave Alice some advice and signposted her to other organisations for further help.

I then spotted Ben as he left the Jobcentre. Ben is a University graduate and has always worked until he became ill. Because of this Ben is struggling with his rent payments. After all deductions being taken out of his universal credit payments he’s left with approximately £125 a month to live on.

Ben is struggling to cope and is understandably frustrated. He’s been refused jobs because he doesn’t have an up to date passport and he really wants to work. Being able to afford a new passport is definitely not achievable for him.

Needless to say it shouldn’t have to be so hard to find employment. The only jobs that seem to be available are zero hour contracted jobs and jobs requiring a driving licence. But hey the government reckons that the ‘world of work’ is fabulous and we’ve never been as well off.

The reality couldn’t be more different could it.

I then had a conversation with a man who’s struggling with his disability. Thankfully he’s got some excellent support but he’s still having to cope with the whole DWP rigmarole.

Life really shouldn’t be like this but it is for thousands of people. We should all be very angry, but sadly many aren’t. Far too many people accept that this is their lot in life and they don’t deserve anything better. Years of having a Tory government does this to you.

We’ve been targeted by the right wing media as being the enemy, that we don’t deserve anything because we’re a bunch of scroungers deserving of ill treatment and everything that comes with that. The truth is that we’re not and nobody should be treated like this.

I then spotted a woman and her friend leaving the Jobcentre, she was crying and obviously very distressed. She was at first unable to speak because she was so distressed but her friend was able to speak to me.

Jill is disabled but the DWP are treating her terribly. I’ve noticed her having to attend appointments at the Jobcentre every week. If that alone isn’t stressful enough she been forced to attend a DWP course elsewhere.

Jilll is really struggling with this. She feels that she’s being targeted both by the DWP and the course providers and she can’t cope.

Visibly distressed she told her adviser that she couldn’t cope with the demands made to her both both on the course and the DWP, she asked if she could stop attending the course.

Her advisor then told her that she would have to attend the course regardless and she started to cry. Her tears were ignored by the DWP but not by us.

I get both angry and upset when I see the DWP treat vulnerable people like this. It shouldn’t be happening but it is and to thousands of people every day up and down the country. Luckily I and my comrades were there to support and advise her.

Can you imagine how hard it is to cope with the constant stress and discrimination relentlessly metered onto you from the DWP? It makes people I’ll, many take their own life because they can’t cope.

In an ideal world this wouldn’t happen. We would all be treated with respect and dignity. I know that this is a dream and it most likely never happen but it doesn’t do any harm to want to achieve this.

Last but certainly not least I then had a conversation with Alice. Alice is 63 years old and had always worked until she became unwell. Years of hard manual work certainly hasn’t helped her wellbeing.

Alice thought that she could claim her pension only to be told that she has to wait three more years to do so and she must find work.

Alice told me that she struggles to use technology and doesn’t have a smart phone, even if she did she wouldn’t know how to use one.

Needless to say the DWP have demanded that she finds work despite her age and not being fit for work. “How on earth am I expected to find work” she told me “I’m old, riddled with arthritis and I struggle. It I don’t search for work they’ll stop my money. It’s not right but I have to do it”

I agreed with Alice and I advised her. Her situation isn’t unusual, far from it. With the government wanting to raise the retirement age to 75 they’ll literally be working us to death.

We deserve so much more than that and I amongst others will continue to campaign against this governments disgusting policies. We will one day make them answerable for all their decisions, for all the deaths that they have caused and for all the suffering endured by thousands and thousands of people under their rule.

We deserve so much more than this.

We also had many conversations with other people and we advised them. Never underestimate the value of a friendly face outside a Jobcentre. It’s essential that we continue for as long as people are suffering.

A massive thanks to everyone that came to help today you’re all amazing. I really couldn’t do this without you.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. It might not be perfect but it is vital that we keep sharing these stories out there. The government needs to be made aware of the damage that they’re doing to the most vulnerable in society.

A massive thank you to everyone that has or is supporting my blog, I really couldn’t do this without you.

For anyone wanting to donate there’s a PayPal link at the bottom and side of this blog. Thank you so much.

Can’t afford food can’t cope thanks to universal credit.

Dear readers it’s Thursday again and I hope that WordPress doesn’t play up again today. Once again my apologies.

We were joined again by colleagues and friends from Stockport and Oldham and Ashton. Recently support for the demo has been very low so I really welcomed this. It gave me the hope that I needed to carry on with the demos. We are needed and I won’t be stopping them anytime soon.

As usual all the food parcels were taken straight away and I held one back for someone who had messaged me before the demo. We all should be angry about the need for food parcels but unfortunately it’s become normalised and accepted by many. Years of Tory rule will do that. Poverty is also now normalised and it’s become acceptable that we are treated like the dirt underneath someone’s shoe, there’s absolutely no accountability on the government’s part but they’re quick to hound a person to find work whilst their on their deathbed.

I’ll list the conversations that I had as usual and I won’t be divulging any names either.

The first conversation that I had this morning was with a man who’s been having a terrible time of it lately. Basically he’s not getting his payments because the DWP won’t accept that he no longer lives at a previous address.

He’s phoned them up, handed in evidence of his new address but they still aren’t listening. He’s now angry and quite rightly so. He needs to eat, pay his bills etc. Do the DWP care? Nope so he has to start phoning them again in the hope that he will be able to get his payment.

I wish that this was unusual but it isn’t. DWP department are notorious for not communicating with each other and for not knowing the correct procedures for things either. It’s much like winning the lottery when you get a good advisor either face to face or on the phone.

It was then that I spoke to Joanne, she’s a woman that I first spoke to a while ago and she was in need of out help again, saying that she’s been let down by every single service in the area and especially by the DWP.

If I had a magic wand and I could change things for her I would but I don’t and I can only advise her. If you’re reading this Joanne, don’t give up we care for you and one day it will get better for you.

I then spotted James as he was leaving the Jobcentre. He looked a tad confused and I handed him a leaflet.

James told me that since he started to claim universal credit he’s lost weight because he can no longer afford to eat regular meals. He’s also struggling to keep his accommodation going but one by one his appliances are breaking down and he can’t afford to either repair or replace them. Thanks to universal credit he hasn’t got much hope for the future.

The DWP declared James fit for work, he obviously isn’t but they don’t care. I advised him and myself and my colleague had a long conversation with him. From what James was saying he doesn’t really speak to many people so I hope that we made a difference to his day. I also signposted him for further help.

We then spotted Paul as he was leaving the Jobcentre, he was looking at our placards and agreeing with them especially the ‘stop universal credit’ one. We asked him if he needed any advice. Paul replied saying that universal credit is ‘terrible’ and it’s ruined his life.

Paul is given a payment of £509 a month out of that he’s got to pay his rent which is £340 a month. The rest of his payment is left to pay bills, food and gas and electric. To say that he’s struggling is an understatement.

Since making a claim for universal credit he’s struggling to cope because his income is so much lower than it used to be. We had a long conversation with him and advised him. I hope that we gave him some hope.

I then noticed Jim walking out of the building, I think that he had been visiting the local council offices.

Jim is an older chap and remembers when life was much easier. He’s been denied his DLA payments and he was visably upset. We had a long chat with him and hopefully he’s feeling better knowing that he is important and we are listening. As usual we advised him.

I then spoke to a chap who’s really struggling at the moment. Luckily he has a support worker that can fight his corner for him.

We then spotted Debbie leaving the council building. She walked right up to us, pointed at our placards and said that she agreed with everything that we were saying and doing.

Debbie’s daughter had nothing but problems with her universal credit payments over the Christmas period. Debbie said that the system is ‘disgusting’. Her daughter is now forced to work a full time job and she hardly sees her children. Debbie and another grandparent helps with the childcare because she can’t afford that either.

This is all causing immense stress for everyone concerned and she’s too scared to claim universal credit after her experience of it.

Essentially thousands of people are forced into taking zero hour contract jobs etc because they’re scared of the DWP and especially universal credit. This is a sad reality of employment these days. Thousands of employers exploit their employees to enable them to profit more. It needs to stop because we are worth so much more than this.

We left the demo today knowing that we had helped lots of people. Thank you so much to everyone who came to support us it really makes a massive difference.

We will be returning next week as usual.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

Theres a PayPal button at the top and side of this blog for anyone wanting to donate. Thank you so much xx.

Universal credit is diabolical, it takes away any hope for the future.

Dear readers, due to personal circumstances this weeks blog might be short, it might not so I’ll see where it takes me.

This week I wasn’t met by any so called official telling me to move on, I was getting very annoyed about this because they were taking me away from helping people. I told them this and each one of them shrugged there shoulders and more or less said ‘well’.

It wasn’t easy resolving this but many thanks to my MP Angela Rayner and the Labour Party for supporting me, all my blog readers and fellow activists. It was completely ridiculous that they wanted to move us.

I am aware however that they’ll now be most likely looking for an excuse to move us. The security camera is constantly watching us whilst we are standing outside the Jobcentre.

The Jobcentre however aren’t celebrating with us, they’ve now shut the blinds on all of the windows so that we can’t see in. Aren’t they a lovely bunch… Not.

The weather was absolutely freezing, the wind was so cold and we ended up finishing earlier than normal. I apologise for this but it was really cold, much colder than usual. Come on spring I’m ready for some nicer weather now.

 

Today’s food parcels went straight away as usual. Everyone that needed to be helped was helped, everyone needing signposting was signposted we never leave anyone we always help everyone that approaches us.

We will hopefully be able to stay the whole two hours next week.

 

Today’s mood outside the Jobcentre echoed the weather. No one that we spoke wanted to be there, all of them were frustrated with the Jobcentre and the DWP. Universal credit has totally destroyed many of the people in my town Ashton Under Lyne. A combination of general austerity measures, massive reductions in the councils funding and universal credit has taken the soul out of the town. One day I’m certain that we will get it back.

We spoke to an older gentleman, he had attempted to make the long walk up the stairs because he didn’t know that there was a lift inside the building situated in the library. There really needs to be more signs, or at least some signs putting up outside the building telling people where everything is.

His story is this. He’s a disabled man and he doesn’t understand how this system works. No one has really taken the time to describe it to him and he’s feeling lost and frustrated.

He told us that his ESA payments were being messed with. He wasn’t receiving his payments and he didn’t know why. He’d tried to phone the DWP up twice, had waited on the phone for two hours to speak to an advisor but was cut off both times after two hours.

So an older, disabled man couldn’t get any answers. It’s ridiculous that the government will tell the public that they can always speak to an advisor, the truth is often very different. He ended up giving up and making the five mile journey to the Jobcentre to hopefully sort it out.

This poor man was struggling, he shouldn’t have had to go through this but he’s forced to.  Have I mentioned that I really hate the government and the DWP?

 

We spoke to a woman who was completely baffled by the universal credit system. Because she works and had received two wages in one month she didn’t receive her universal credit payment. It’s not her fault that the universal credit system doesn’t recognise that sometimes people do get two wages because of month changes.

I then saw a real fear in her eyes as she turned round, looked at me and said that because of this she might loose her house, become homeless and she didn’t know what to do. I gave her some advice and signposted her for help.

The truth is that thousands of people are being evicted because they’ve not been able to pay their rent because of the universal credit system. It’s not their fault they’re dealing with a cruel and inhumane system, a system that was created not to care.

It costs local governments far more to place families in emergency accommodation when they become homeless than it does to keep them in their homes. We really need to stop the hell thats universal credit and start to treat people with dignity and respect.

 

We then spoke to a woman who was also claiming universal credit.  Her problem is this.

She was dismissed from her job as a dinner lady, she went on to claim universal credit but hadn’t realised that her old employer was still paying her. Yes I know that some will say that she should have known this but she really didn’t.

Because of this she’s now got to pay back her wages and she can’t make a new claim for universal credit until next month. What a mess, of course the government will except her to live on nothing.  She’s also a carer for a family member but was refused carers allowance because her income was too high. I advised her of what to do and signposted her to relevant organisations.

 

We spoke to an older woman who was fed up of being sent on these ‘crap courses’ as she put it. She told us that these courses are absolute rubbish and haven’t helped her one bit.

Remember the DWP and the course provider make a lot of money from sending people on these courses. Unemployed and disabled people are seen as a financial commodity not a person.

 

We then spoke to a man that has been going through hell with the DWP. He’s an older man and also doesn’t understand the new DWP system. His story is this.

He’s one of the thousands of people that have failed their PIP medical assessment. He used to claim DLA. He appealed this decision and failed. He took it to the tribunal level and he failed.

As a result he’s now trying to make another claim but he is really confused, ‘It’s so confusing, I haven’t a clue what to do’ he said. He’s battling against a system that doesn’t care, that hates him and would prefer it if he disappeared somewhere.

Many of us do care though, we are trying to change things and despite what some people will say, we are making a difference. Solidarity to all fellow campaigners and to everyone suffering under this inhumane system.

This all happened in less than two hours. The DWP tried to get rid of us and for a while they really thought that they had won but they didn’t and we be back next week between 10-12 regardless of what the weathers like.

 

I can’t thank Kev and Daira from DPAC for joining us today, we really needed your support thank you so, so much.

 

Please read, share email and talk about my blog. Become a friend to someone that’s struggling with this awful system.

Thanks to Gordon and Roy for coming out today in the cold. Thank you SO MUCH.

 

If anyone would like to donate there’s a donate button at the bottom of the blog, at the top and at the side thank you so much. I’m a skint single parent trying my best to help people and fight this horrific system.

 

 

64 year old woman with multiple health condition fails universal credit medical assessment. Living in substandard accommodation. How are people supposed to survive this?

Dear readers, its Thursday yet again. The sun was shining for us today, what a welcome surprise. It was lovely to see. No joy was found from the DWP though, there’s a surprise.

I’ll be listing everything that happened today as usual. No real names will be divulged either. Today we handed out six food parcels and helped lots of people who would have otherwise been left, stranded without help by a system that doesn’t care about them.

Those of you that have been through the system or know people that have will already know that the DWPs flagship universal credit system is cruel, heartless and punishing. It discriminates against everyone but particularly women, children, single parents and people with disabilities.

Universal credit is obscenely complicated and hard to navigate, often DWP advisors don’t know the rules either. Not one department communicates with another even though universal credit is computer driven by default. You’d honestly think that the designers of it would have thought about people that are unable to use computers or don’t have any access to the internet at home. They also didn’t take into account the fact that libraries are shutting their doors or reducing the hours that they’re open because they can’t afford to stay open.

Universal credit is a system that rarely works well for anyone, but it was designed to do this, to reduce the unemployment levels by any means possible. If that means that a person takes themselves off the system because they can’t cope then so be it. No one will try and stop them either. Above the door of every Jobcentre a sign saying ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’ because that’s exactly what people do.

 

The first thing that I noticed today was the queue of women waiting for food parcels. It goes without saying that there shouldn’t be a need for us to hand food parcels out but there is, and will be for as long as this rotten government is in power.

As I was handing the food parcels out a young man stormed out of the Jobcentre. I asked him what was wrong and he shouted ‘It’s a pile of shit in there, they don’t give a shit do they’ I agreed with him and handed him a leaflet.

 

Meet Tom. Tom had successfully made an application for universal credit a couple of months ago, thats good you might think. Well, no because it appears that whoever processed his application didn’t quite do everything correctly.

Upon applying for universal credit a claimant is expected to provide ID and proof of tenancy etc at their first meeting, because as you know rent etc is all rolled into one payment every month. Here’s where Tom encountered his first problem. I say first because he’s bound to have more problems as time progresses.

Tom looked confused as he handed me a form that he had just been given by his advisor. As I looked at it he told me that he had already provided them with the ID and proof that they needed. Here’s the letter in all it’s glory.

 

In this letter he’s asked about every single detail of his tenancy, including gas and electricity check certificates and energy performance certificates. Tom has no idea what those are, his landlord didn’t issue him with these. The DWP need to remember that not all landlords actually do this.

Other questions included are ‘Are you up to date with your rent payments? If yes, provide evidence of this.’

‘Would your landlord accept less rent at times if you could not afford to pay the full rent?’

‘Will your landlord accept a lower rent if universal credit does not meet your full rent liability?’

‘Would your landlord take you to court to evict you if you failed to pay the rent?’

‘Would your landlord take legal action to recover rent arrears?’

These questions are totally ridiculous. Landlords rarely if ever lower a persons rent payment to suit the DWP, and of course a landlord will take action to evict a tenant for non payment of rent. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise, and very arrogant of the DWP to suggest that a landlord should back down to the demands of the DWP.

Honestly, the above form looks like something thats been typed out at home in a hurry. There’s absolutely nothing official on this form, no DWP logo either. It’s all very strange.

Tom quite rightly noted that they should have asked for this information when he first made his claim, he’s already received his first payment. He’d already paid his rent with this. Honestly you couldn’t make this up.

To make matters worse he had to make a new appointment just to hand in this form, if he doesn’t attend he’ll get sanctioned.

I asked him if he had moved house and he told me that he hadn’t, his was living at the same address when he made his claim for universal credit.

Luckily I was able to walk him through the questions and signposted him if he needs further help. Poor fella, he was so confused. He thanked me and he walked away hopefully less confused.

 

Tom looks after his sister who is computer illiterate, his sister struggles to get out and depends on Tom to do most tasks for him. Tom attended the Jobcentre a few weeks ago to hand his sisters fit note in. He was told quite bluntly at the reception desk that he couldn’t do this and he had to post it. So Tom posted it using an envelope that they gave him.

Today Tom attended the Jobcentre once more to hand his sisters fit note in. This time they accepted it but asked him where the previous fit note was. He told them that he’d posted it because he’d been told to. Unbelievable isn’t it.

Tom was understandably a bit fed up, saying this system is bloody ridiculous isn’t it.

 

I spoke to a woman struggling to pay the bedroom tax, a man that was sent away fro being ten minutes early and a woman who told me that she claims universal credit and PIP and its bloody awful.

I also spoke to an older woman that cares for her son who’s autistic. He had failed his latest ESA medical because apparently he ‘looked ok’. Obviously the DWP don’t recognised hidden disabilities, they’ve got quite a bad track record of this.

I spoke to a young man that has taken himself off the system because he couldn’t cope with it. I asked him how he managed from day to day, he told me that he tries his best but is dependent upon relatives. He hopes to get a job in the near future.

 

We spoke to a self employed plasterer, he quite loudly told us that universal credit has ruined many of his friends and colleagues. Universal credit made it impossible for them to continue with their trade. He was understandably angry, but angry at the government for doing this to them.

 

I spoke to Bill, bill has been sanctioned because his daughter had been taken into hospital and he missed his signing on appointment. He did telephone the Jobcentre and communicated this through his online journal, he’s even provided evidence of the hospital stay. But the gods of the DWP have decided that he’d be sanctioned so he was.

I told him that he could appeal the sanction decision and he told me that his advisor hadn’t told him that he could appeal. Thankfully hes now going to appeal this and hopefully he’ll win his appeal. He wouldn’t have known to do this if we weren’t there to inform him.

 

Meet Pat. Pat is 64 years of age and has numerous medical conditions, some quite serious. Pat hasn’t been able to work for years because of this. Pat also claims universal credit.

Pat recently attended a universal credit medical assessment, she failed this and was told that she’s now fit for work.

So the DWP gods have performed another miracle haven’t they.

Pat is determined to appeal this decision, so she informed her advisor of this. Her advisor then told her that she now needs to provide medical proof if she wants to appeal.

Pat has now had to pay £15 for a letter from her doctor. This is completely ridiculous, she’s already shown evidence of her medical conditions.

To make matters much worse Pat lives in a home riddled with damp and her landlord is reluctant to deal with it. She told me that she doesn’t know how much more she can continue like this, its becoming all too much for her.

Remember pat is 64 years of age, she shouldn’t be treated like this and she honestly didn’t expect this.

I did everything that I could to help her and signpost her. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when you speak to someone thats suffering as much as this. For gods sake we’re supposed to respect our elders. The DWP respects no one not even their staff.

 

I spoke to a middle aged man who’s in the process of being evicted. He told me that the move over to universal credit has caused this.n

We spoke to a young man that was prevented from attending an appointment with a friend, ten minutes later another man was prevented from entering the Jobcentre with his partner. He wanted to help her but he was turned away. The law states that a claimant is allowed support when attending an appointment but hey, the DWP employees at the front desk of Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre appear to totally disregard this.

 

Today’s conversations all happened within two hours on a Thursday afternoon. Universal credit doesn’t work, its very design dictates this.

We need to stop and scrap universal credit and replace it with a much fairer system that actually cares for people.

 

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

Thank you to everyone that turned up to help today, I really appreciate this.

 

Massive thanks to everyone that supports my blog. Without you I honestly don’t know what I’d do. Your support means everything especially when times are hard. As a skint single parent I can relate to everyone that I speak to.

Keep safe, we’ll be back next week as usual.

 

 

£213 a month to live on, and also have to top up rent payments with that. People are struggling to survive on universal credit.

Dear readers, today was grim and the weather didn’t help anyone, let alone the people forced to use the Jobcentre. Yet again we encountered numerous people with all sorts of problems ranging from universal credit, ESA and PIP, housing problems etc.

We handed out all of our food parcels, most were taken by single parents with children and working families. They rely on foodbanks to survive, it really shouldn’t be like this.

Thanks to Gordon for joining me and also Jack. Your help is invaluable and it’s appreciated by everyone.

As usual I won’t divulge the names of anyone that I spoke to this morning. The DWP snoop everywhere and I don’t want anyone that I spoke to being targeted by the DWP. This does happen, but not on my blog. I value everyone that I speak to unlike the DWP.

 

John walked out of the Jobcentre clutching the usual list of phone numbers that they hand out to everyone. I handed him a leaflet and asked him if he needed any help. John told me that he was ok, but thats only because he’s living with a relative that can feed and look after him whilst he’s waiting for his universal credit claim to be processed, saying that the alternative is to horrible to think about.

 

I then spoke to Gemma. Gemma has struggled almost all of her life, she’s 19 years old and to be honest isn’t enjoying anything about her life at the moment. In her short lifetime she’s been homeless twice and has been rehoused not long ago.

Gemma is claiming universal credit and is finding it almost impossible to manage. She receives in total £513 a month total to live on after paying her rent payment. Out of this she has to pay back her rent arrears that she keeps accruing because she’s finding it hard to pay her full rent. She also got into rent arrears whilst she was waiting for her universal credit claim to be processed, “What are you supposed to do, just pay your rent with the loan that they give you? It was impossible for me to pay my full rent because I needed food to eat, and gas and electric to buy. I’ve got no one to borrow money from, and that’d have to be paid back as well.

To make the situation worse Gemma also has to repay her universal credit loan back at £100 a month. There’s absolutely no regulation concerning the repayment of loan debts. No set amounts that people have to pay back, sometimes I think that they pick a number out of thin air and decide thats how much they should pay back. It’s ludicrous

Basically after all of her above debts are paid back Gemmas left with £213 a month to survive on. She’s got to buy gas, electric, food and transport costs. She’s a broken woman at 19 years old. Huddled up in the cold, Gemma muttered “It’s almost as if they’re trying to destroy me. I’m 19 years old and I’m worn out because of the stress and worry. There’s a good chance that I’ll become homeless again, and I’m doing my best. Universal credit is destroying me. They look at me (DWP staff) as if I’m stupid, like I’m something on the bottom of their shoe. They don’t want to help me”

Gemmas 19 years old, at the start of her life and should be enjoying life. Instead she’s worn out, depressed and feels like giving up. This, my friends is what universal credit does to people. It eats you up, totally consumes you until eventually you give up. That’s exactly what its designed to do.

 

Sarah is a single parent and is also having a difficult time. She’s claiming universal credit and to say she’s struggling is an understatement. Here’s her story.

Sarah was instructed to attend an appointment, which she was ready to do but unfortunately one of her parents suddenly fell ill and was rushed into hospital by ambulance. Sarah was with her relative when this happened and from the ambulance she telephoned the DWP to try and rearrange her appointment. The person that she spoke to said that this wouldn’t be a problem, and they’d phone her later with another appointment.

Only the DWP phoned the wrong number. Not the one that’s registered online, an old number that isn’t used anymore, and Sarah had already informed them about this.

Sarah also couldn’t remember her 16 pin log in details. How on earth is anyone supposed to remember this, its impossible. Even if people write it down its easy for it to get lost. If they put it in their mobile phone (if they have one) and the phone breaks, then the numbers missing.

Sarah phoned the DWP to tell them that she’d forgotten her PIN number. The DWP then told her that she had to go online to get the number. Sarah couldn’t access her online account because she didn’t have her pin. Basically they gave her an impossible task to complete.

Upon attending her next DWP appointment she was told that the DWP were deducting her universal credit payment by £200 but don’t worry, we’ll give you a LOAN for £150 that you have to pay back. Are the DWP getting their ideas from illegal money lenders or something? This is atrocious.

Basically Sarah was fined £200 for missing a phone call that she never received because they phoned the wrong number, and for loosing her PIN number. You really couldn’t make this shit up could you.

Sarah is also in rent arrears now because she was unable to pay her full rent because she was sanctioned. She now has to top up her rent payments and repay two DWP loans back.

Don’t forget Sarah is a single parent with a very young child, she didn’t have any food in her cupboards and didn’t know what to do. Luckily I gave her a food parcel and advised her on what to do. Hopefully she will access local services and she will appeal her sanction.

It’s despicable that people are treated in this manner, not only are the parents suffering but their children are too. The DWP just don’t care. It’s no coincidence that more and more children are being put into the care system is it. Many parents can no longer provide food, heating, clothing etc for their children and it’s not their fault. The blame lies purely at the governments feet.

 

I asked an older man how was he coping with universal credit. He looked at me and said ‘Just about. Now I’ve got to pay my council tax”

 

I spoke to a young woman working a zero hour contract at a local cake factory. When she started her job she was told that if she worked hard she might get a contracted job. She worked hard but never got the contract. Now she has no job security at all.

 

Gordon spoke to an older woman aged 62 who’s claiming universal credit, she’s struggling but then again nearly everyone claiming universal credit are aren’t they.

 

We then had a conversation Brian with an older man, he claims ESA and was told to phone an 0845 number recently. He wasn’t very clear about why he was told to phone this number up. He’s confused because the system is extremely confusing.

Brian has a contract phone and his phone bill per monthly is £15 a month. Brian tried phoning this number numerous times, each time he was placed on hold for great lengths of time. When he received his bill it was £54.

Of course he was angry, he shouldn’t have cost him  this much, all calls to the DWP should be free, but many still aren’t.

Brian was angry, frustrated and echoed concerns for those without a mobile phone contract saying ‘How the hell are they going to pay that? They’ll never get any help if they don’t have a phone will they’ He realises the systems rotten, and wondered why the government are allowed to do this ‘It’s criminal’ he said, and he’s not wrong.

 

Jack, a local councillor  represented a claimant whilst they had an appointment, this helps a great deal and I can’t recommend this enough. More should do this if they’re able to.

 

We left todays demo cold and a bit downhearted, but knowing that we’ve helped people makes everything worthwhile.

 

Please read, share and tweet my blog, also subscribe to it, it’ll save you from having to look for it every week.

There’s also a donate button at the top of this blog and at the side. I’m a skint single parent just trying my best to help people, through my blog I’ve managed to reach thousands upon thousands of people. As a result of this and other campaigns, more and more people are aware of the cruelty of universal credit and the heartless state of our government.

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