Tag: childcare

DWP Wrongly Forces Universal Credit Claimants To Repay Entire Payments


According to a recent report from Child Poverty Action Group CPAG) claimants are being forced to repay their full Universal Credit (UC) award despite being entitled to it.

Why Are The DWP doing this?

During the pandemic the DWP temporarily changed some of the evidence rules to complete UC claims.

As detailed in the report by CPAG in January 2021 the DWP started to look into the claims that were made during the pandemic.

Whilst doing this the DWP have been changing the entitlement decisions given to claimants declaring that many claims have been wrongfully awarded.

Why This Shouldn’t Be Happening

CPAG have expressed their concerns that the process of retrospectively deciding claimants were not entitled to UC and beginning recovery is unlawful.



In addition, the DWP is asking for evidence of entitlement via the online journal, even from claimants that are no longer getting UC and would have no reason to check their journal.



Some claimants only find out about the alleged overpayment when they receive a letter from DWP Debt Management.

They therefore miss the one month deadline for challenging a decision and often don’t know that they could make a late challenge if they have good cause.


Shockingly, this process is set to be ramped up dramatically.

The DWPs Reaction

The DWP are employing a team of 2,000 staff to look again at 2 million claims over the next five years including, but not limited to, claims made during the pandemic.



The thought that a government department that tramples on claimants’ rights in this way is to be given powers of search, seizure and arrest, as revealed in our last newsletter, is truly frightening.


Conclusion.

It’s very concerning that the government gives the DWP the authority to stamp on a person’s legal rights in this manner.

Not only are they able to stop a claimants payments without any notice they are also set to be given powers of search, seizure and arrest, as detailed in an earlier blog post.

DWP decisions such as these are life changing and literally leave people without the ability to eat, pay their rent and to keep warm.

Combined with this is the mental toll that this puts upon claimants leaving them in a state of distress not knowing where to get help.

Claimants deserve to be treated with respect and should be given the right to reply before any permanent decisions are made by the DWP.

Not only is it morally wrong to change decisions retrospectively, moving the goalposts when it suits the DWP is despicable and should be challenged at all times.

You can find the full copy of the report here https://cpag.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/briefing/demands-repay-impact-and-legality-dwp-reverification-uc-claims

Please read, share and tweet this article. Doing so raises awareness of the real issues that affect the working class of this country.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and to say it’s a struggle is an understatement. I’d really like to be able to continue writing and campaigning.

If you are able to and would like to donate there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny makes a massive difference.

Thank you!

A huge thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog. I really appreciate it and I couldn’t have got through the last two years without you.

EHRC Breaks Promise To Investigate DWP Role In Deaths



As reported by Benefits And Work the EHRC (Equality And Human Rights Commission) has broken its promise to investigate the role that the DWP (Department of Work And Pensions)have played in the deaths of vulnerable claimants. This has left the DWP not needing to answer any questions as to the role that they played in their deaths

Instead the EHRC are now asking the DWP to create new policies in relation to claimants with mental health issues and learning difficulties. This will replace the promised investigation.

This is despite promises made by the EHRC in 2019 that they would start an   investigation into the deaths of vulnerable claimants.

The EHRC used the pandemic as an excuse to not start the investigation.



The Commission has now declared that it  only intends to enter into a Section 23 agreement under the Equality Act 2006. This will oblige the DWP “to commit to an action plan to meet the needs of customers with mental health impairments and learning disabilities.”

Keep in mind that the DWP are a much larger organisation that receive more funding  than the EHRC. 
This will no doubt result in the DWP will dragging their heels in creating so called policies that will be nothing more than good intentions that probably won’t be actioned upon.

Whilst I don’t have any details as to why the EHRC have changed their minds I can say that at best they’re very niave putting far too much trust in the DWP to do the right thing.

The DWP has an appalling track record of discrimination against vulnerable claimants, ignoring their basic human rights and making life extremely hard for them.

Despite my disappointment with the EHRC’s decision I’m not surprised. The DWP will do anything to avoid any actions taken against them making promises that they’ve got no intention of keeping whilst doing the bare minimum to comply.

Once again thanks go to Benefits And Work for their hard work and inspiring this article.

A huge thanks to everyone that likes, shares, reads and supports both my blog and campaign.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and it’s a struggle to say the least.

If you can afford to and would like to donate there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

Thank you!

I can’t afford to eat and heat. Back outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

It feels strange to be writing this blog post this week because I’ve actually been able to return to my weekly demo and advice session outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

The DWP and local council might have mistakenly thought that I had stopped doing the weekly demos. I haven’t and dependant on my health I’m back.

This week I decided to stand outside the old Jobcentre building that had been shut down and moved to the new swanky council building. The truth is they underestimated the demand for the Jobcentre and were forced to re open the old one as well.

The old building has had a bit of a makeover, Laurence Llewellyn Bowen has nothing on this transformation. The doors have been repainted, a new carpet put down and what looks like cattle pens with numbers on installed.

Obviously this transformation wasn’t made to make the people that use the Jobcentre feel at ease, I can bet it has the opposite effect.

This week I was on my own accompanied by my daughter and two lovely men filming for french tv. They’re making a programme about the UK’s benefit system and have interviewed the amazing Debbie Abrahams, myself and they’re going to interview the dark lord himself David Cameron.

I was asked many times about my opinion of him, I answered that he’s got the blood of thousands of vulnerable and disabled people on his hands. Along with Ian (I’ll hide in car boots) Duncan Smith there’s a special place in hell for them.

Back to the demo. I chose the old Jobcentre because it’s actually very busy full of people coming and going looking rather stressed whilst doing so.

It wasn’t long until I had a conversation with a man who wasn’t far from retirement age. He had been given an appointment to attend a ‘Working Well’ interview despite being disabled and unable to work.

The DWP with all their infinite knowledge sent him a text message without an address to go to. Basically he didn’t know where his appointment was.

He walked to a building down the road and was told that his appointment wasn’t there and he had to go back to the Jobcentre.

Back at the Jobcentre he was told that he had to get back to the other building and they’d changed the time of his appointment without informing him. Typical DWP communication failure once again. Call me cynical but I’m sure that they do this on purpose sometimes.

To say that this gentleman was distressed was an understatement. He said ” Why can’t they leave me alone? I can’t work and no one will employ me”.

It wasn’t long before I spoke to a young woman that is completely fed up with the DWP. She’s started her own photography business and she’s doing her best to promote it and to find work

The DWP won’t leave her alone though. Every two weeks she still has to attend a back to work interview and she can’t cancel the appointment even if she’s working.

The DWP once again making it very hard for anyone to succeed by themselves. Her business is called WJ Photography and I think she’s on Instagram and Ticktok.

As it became notably colder, probably because we had been standing there for a while we spoke to a man that looked like he was going to start crying at any time.

His story his hard, but sadly not unusual.

As is often the case he had been living in substandard social housing. His home was full of damp and unsuitable to live in.

After a few years of struggling to get the housing association to take action they finally attempted to fix it. This left him without electricity and sleeping at his son’s place on the floor.

He explained the situation to the DWP who were totally unsympathetic telling him that he still had to look for work online for 35 hours a week.

He’s been looking for work since 2018 and can’t find a job, this isn’t without trying because he’s tried damned hard.

I then had a conversation with a chap that I used to speak to on a regular basis outside the Jobcentre. He told me that he was stressed because his mobile phone and internet are due to be cut off because he can’t afford to pay the bill.

Being aware that he needs to search for work online and has to have a working phone number for the DWP to contact him on has resulted in him feeling extremely stressed.

He told me that he’s found an old sim card that’ll work for the DWP to phone him on but he’s worried about his job searching.

I advised him to use the internet at the library or Ikea, but life shouldn’t be like this for a person who’s 60 years of age.

The universal credit system was created to punish people for being poor and for being disabled, never ever forget that.

I really hope that they’re ok , telling them that I’d be back again next week if they want some advice or someone to talk to. After all kindness costs nothing and it makes a massive difference to a person’s day.

Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

I’ll be returning again next week and I’ll be publishing a blog post tomorrow about the new Jobcentre closures.

I need your help though. I need people to share this blog post and my others as much as possible. I want to continue to report about the impact that DWP decisions have on people and how this is still happening.

It would be amazing if I could be joined by some other like-minded people. It’s a big ask I know but it’s essential that we can remind the DWP that we are still here and we are still reporting on their misdoings.

If anyone could donate towards buying someone a cuppa etc I’d be eternally grateful. It’s winter and it’s cold here. A nice hot cuppa keeps the morale going.

If anyone would like to donate towards the campaign and my blog there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

I’m intending to continue with the weekly demos which are dependant on my health. I’ve still got long covid and a lung that’s not functioning as it should be. Thanks covid.

If I have to cancel a week it’ll be for health reasons only. Apologies in advance.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. These past two years have been extremely challenging for us all and I really do appreciate it.

Poverty doesn’t end at Christmas

Dear subscribers and guests it’s been a tough year for so many of us, I know it, I feel it.

This year was probably the worst one of my whole life. My son was tragically taken away from me mid pandemic. It hurts more than anything else that I’ve experienced.

Whilst we were abiding to the social distancing rules, the Tory government were busy partying and carrying on as if nothing had happened.

This was a case of we’ll do whatever we want sod the public. They don’t care about us. My son had to have a very reduced socially distanced funeral whilst they were enjoying life.

To be honest this is a perfect example of how they treat us. They never spare a thought for us so don’t expect them to either.

Christmas is a tough time for so many reasons wether it be for financial reasons or bereavement. I’m with you, I feel it.

I haven’t put a Christmas tree up this year. My daughter and I decided that it doesn’t feel right so we put some extra lights on his memorial table.

So much pressure is put on society to have the big tree, the decorations and lots of good food. The truth is that so many of us can’t afford to buy the big tree, pay for the electric to light the Christmas lights and affording a big meal with all the trimmings is near impossible.

Poverty doesn’t end at Christmas, if anything it’s amplified for reasons that I’ve already stated.

You do Christmas how you want to do it. Try and ignore the pressure to comply to what everyone expects. If you want to turn the TV off and read a book instead then do it.

If you want to spend Christmas day doing nothing then do it. Be kind to yourself.

I used to put so much pressure upon myself to get everything right for others to see. Loosing my son has made me realise that none of this really matters.

Like many of you I’m going to find Christmas tough, but I will get through it.

So many families are going to be going without the Christmas that they were used to. The pandemic has caused thousands of people to loose their jobs and it’s also resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.

Thousands of families and individuals are newly dependant upon foodbanks to keep them going. It’s not easy asking for help and the food isn’t the best. Hopefully one day it will get better.

How do you explain to your children that Father Christmas can’t come this year? It’s heartbreaking.

What we can do is be there for each other, talk to friends on social media, text or face to face (socially distanced of course).

We will get through this. Lots of love to you all.

Please read, share and tweet my blog. This makes a massive difference and it raises so much awareness.

A huge thank you to everyone that supports and has supported my blog this year. I really couldn’t do it without you.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and to say it’s tough is an understatement.

For anyone that would like to donate there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

£2 BILLION GIVEN TO PRIVATE COMPANIES FOR PIP AND ESA ASSESMENTS

Well who’d have guessed that the government would find £2 billion from their magic money pot to inflict even more cruelty to disabled and ill claimants.

Thanks to Benefits And Work who have uncovered the first details of the new assessment contracts for PIP, ESA and UC claimants.



These shiny new contracts will split the UK into five regions which will involve over £2.8 billion being given to the private sector over a period of five years. This is supposedly to allow the DWP to decide how these assessments will take place through telephone or face-to-face assessments.

I add that as usual this will be decided ignoring the actual physical and mental needs a claimant might have.


Under the new claimant Functional Assessment Services (FAS) system as it is titled, the UK will be divided into five regions from 1 August 2023:

Lot 1 – Northern England and Scotland 647,600,000

Lot 2 – Midlands and Wales 473,400,000

Lot 3 – South West England 338,000,000

Lot 4 – London, South East & East Anglia 396,800,000

Lot 5- Northern Ireland 105,100,000



In each region, a single company will be chosen to carry out all the PIP, ESA and UC assessments.

So basically money talks regardless of already vulnerable claimants needs. Whoever puts the best tender in wins the contract.

Call me old fashioned but the wellbeing and needs of individuals should always be put first. Instead they companies with no medical knowledge and experience to assess already vulnerable people.

They will be allowed to decide if a person disabled enough to claim their rightful payments regardless of having no medical knowledge of their needs.

Basically claimants life’s are once again in the hands of these so called assessors.


The total value of the contracts that will be given is £2 billion firstly to rise to £2.8 billion if the DWP chooses to extend the contract for an additional two years.

You can bet that they’ll choose to extend these contracts, afterall it’s beneficial for the government to extend them.

There’s always room for extending cruel systems such as this. What the government won’t tell you is that they want as many people as possible to be declared fit for work. It doesn’t matter of they’re fit or able enough to do so.



The Scottish government will be taking over PIP assessments itself in advance of August 2023.

There will be some claims that are already underway that will still be dealt with by private sector assessors.



The bid winners will be paid first for a ten month ‘implementation phase’. This will ensure they will have fully trained their staff and have acquired suitable premises. It also will give them the chance to implement their IT systems before going live.


As we already know the DWP never make any system uncomplicated though. To prove this the DWP will provide one IT system for PIP claimants and a separate system for ESA and UC claimants.

The DWP have already warned potential providers that changes might take place place throughout the life of the contract.

These changes may include alterations in the ‘channel mix’ as the DWP call it.

An example being “change in proportional requirements relating to virtual assessments and face to face assessments. They could for example change requirements such as 60% face-to-face to 20% assessments.


It is very clear that the DWP and not the assessment providers that will decide which proportion of claimants receive a telephone or face-to-face assessment.


This makes it clear that assessment providers will be working to meet targets for types of assessment. This will completely ignore the fact that some claimants are obliged to have an inappropriate method of assessment.

As you can see none of this will be beneficial for anyone that claims ESA,PIP and UC.

As these systems are target driven the assessors will be more concerned with meeting targets than the wellbeing of anyone being assessed.

I don’t have to tell you how much distress is caused by cruel systems like this especially if they’re target driven. Who remembers Sandra’s Stars?

We must remain vigilant because as we know from past experience the government will try to put in legislation and plans without our knowledge.

You can do this by sharing information online on your preferred social media provider, emailing mine and likewise blogs to people that might need informing

Manchester DPAC over at https:\\manchesterdpac.comhttps:\\manchesterdpac.com Also local branches of Unite Community over at join.unitetheunion.orghttp://join.unitetheunion.org.

Every share, tweet and conversation about these issues raises awareness which is extremely important.

Massive thanks given to Benefits And Work for making me aware of this happening. They do so much hard work to raise awareness.

Also thanks to a Twitter friend for alerting me to this. Thanks RooneyMusic!

Also if you live in the Greater Manchester area please join Manchester DPAC. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter

Please read, share and tweet my blog. Every share helps so much!

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do this without you.

I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do. I’m struggling financially at the moment. As you know my son died and my daughter is struggling to cope with his death as am I.

If you would like to donate my PayPal ad is posted above, below and at the side of this blog post.

Sanctions return for new style ESA and JSA and Universal Credit


As we quickly approach Christmas and a cold hungry winter once again the DWP are going to bring back the cruel sanction system.

They never miss a chance to make Christmas even more harder do they.


Sanctions relating to the claimant commitment had been suspended due to the pandemic.

It is very clear that the DWP are now back to business including sanctioning sick and disabled claimants.


According to Touch base the DWP are quoted as saying“This week a change was made to bring the obligations in new style JSA and ESA benefits in line with those in Universal Credit”

“This will mean that, as is the case for Universal Credit claimants, if someone in receipt of new style JSA and ESA fails to do what they have agreed to in their Claimant Commitment without good reason – such as having or caring for a child, or a change to a health condition – their payments may be reduced for a set period. This is known as a sanction.”

“All Claimant Commitments are tailored to a person’s personal circumstances and local jobs market, and claimants affected by this change are being informed of the introduction of the new process. Sanctions are only applied as a last resort when a claimant is not engaging with the commitment they have made. If someone disagrees with a decision they can ask for it to be looked at again.”

This is all rather scary as the government have now passed on the onus of sanctioning decisions to the Job Coaches and not a decision maker.

Sanctions aren’t always a last resort decision and I’m speaking from years of experience helping people to appeal sanction decisions. Also since when have the DWP taken children into consideration… They haven’t.

I’m sure that many of you reading this have had so called Job Coaches that take an obvious dislike you you. I’ve also experienced this and I know exactly what it’s like. It’s soul destroying.

I’ve experienced having a Job Coach that clearly hated me. She would find holes in everything that I did and tried to sanction me at every opportunity that came her way.

Luckily I was able to make a complaint about her which involved my local MP.

I changed Job Coaches but she would glare at me every time that I walked past her. I have mentioned this in a previous blog post.

My question is this… How many innocent people are going to be wrongfully sanctioned because of this very reason?

It’s also worrying that there could well be even more sanction targets (offloads). Therefore the need to reach these targets will cause the suffering and distress of thousands of people.

Basically the whole sanctioning process could well be ramped up a whole lot more..

Opinion isn’t fact and there are many valid reasons why a claimant has not been able to to fulfill their claimant commitment.

Illness, lack of money for essentials such as no money to top up mobile phones or to have access to the internet at home.

Access to libraries is fast becoming a rarity these days. The DWP demands that claimants have access to the internet at all times.

Essentialy if an Job Coach decides in their opinion that a claimant hasn’t done enough then they’ll sanction them.

Remember once again opinion isn’t always fact and this is a very dangerous precept to use.

The whole sanction system should be abolished. There’s absolutely no reason why a person should have their very basics for survival to be snatched off them by the click of a button. Which is based upon the opinion of a Job Coach. Remember opinion isn’t always fact.

Whilst we are still in the midst of a pandemic the government and the DWP have now returned to normal. Don’t expect them to care because they obviously don’t.

Keep a good written and digital record (if you can) of everything that you’ve done to fulfill your claimant commitment.

If you’ve been ill or suchlike also try to keep a record of whatever you can to prove that you’ve been ill.

It’s important that you do all this because sanctioning you will be a whole lot harder if you keep a good record of everything.

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

If you are in the Greater Manchester area please have a look and even join in with Greater Manchester DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) activities. You can find them here at https:\\manchesterdpac.com

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts. It helps enormously to get the truth out there.

How am I? I’m ok apart from catching a sickness bug yesterday hence my blog being late. My apologies.

A huge thank you to everyone that has supported my campaign and blog. I really couldn’t have done it without you.

I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do. If anyone would like to donate there is a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

Face to face assessments to return for PIP and WCA claimants.

Last month the DWP minister Justin Tomlinson informed the Commons Work and Pensions committee in parliament that face to face ‘interviews’ are set to return although he stated that some telephone and video assessments will still continue.

There has been no concern from Tomlinson about the safety of vulnerable claimants and the fact that there is still a pandemic and most people forced to attend these ‘assessments’ are indeed vulnerable and are still having to shield.

Tomlinson however claimed rather confusingly that they had ‘Lost all of their health professionals’ because they apparently have gone to work for the test and trace system instead.

It isn’t clear yet how the system is going to return to normality when, as he said the health professionals that were employed have now left. Maybe Tomlinson will pay them even more money to do this, therefore tempting them away from their current employment. Who knows, I expect we will find out sooner rather than later.

It does however take a particularly cruel mindset to conduct these ‘assessments’ and to declare vulnerable people fit for work when they clearly aren’t.

Tomlinson went on to say that the work capability assessments (WCA) will begin shortly and PIP (Personal Independent Payment) ‘assessments’ will follow a few weeks later although they will keep video and telephone assessments. Tomlinson wasn’t clear in what capacity this will be, clarity isn’t his or the Tory party’s strong point.

As I write this I expect many people will have had their much dreaded letter from the DWP regarding their assessment, thus causing distress and panic for already vulnerable people.

Whilst the Covid 19 vaccination programme is going well there are people that are unable to have the vaccinations for health reasons. The Covid 19 strain from India has now started to take a hold in the UK, putting thousands at risk.

I urge Tomlinson and the government to rethink their assessment strategy and to put the health and well-being of disabled and vulnerable people first.

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Once again thanks to Benefits and Work for their hard work in researching this and publishing this information. You can find them over at http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

WCA is the Work Capability Assessment and PIP is Personal Independence Payments.

I don’t receive any funding for the work that I do and for my campaign.

Please help me to continue to do this, there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog.

A huge thank you to everyone that reads, shares and tweets my blog. It makes a massive difference and it helps to raise awareness.