Tag: coronavirus

DWP Independent Case Examiner Overwhelmed By Complaints

The DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) Independent Case Examiner also known as ICE has revealed that they are overwhelmed by a huge amount of complaints from claimants.

This was revealed when they responded to an MP’s written question recently in parliament.



ICE is an organisation used by the DWP to deal with claimant’s complaints against the DWP. This is the next step when a claimant has exhausted the DWP’s internal complaints procedure and is still not satisfied with the response given.

Complaints against the DWP can be for various reasons including and not excluding others;

A failure by the DWP to follow proper procedures

Excessive payment delays for benefits

Sub standard customer service given to claimants.

It’s also noted that there has been a 17% increase in the number of complaints made to ICE in the year 2021to March 2022.

In itself may not be seen as a huge increase, however it is an increase and should be dealt with in the utmost urgency



However the huge increase in complaints arises in the proportion of cases that ICE has agreed to look into. This has increased by an astonishing 68% in the last year.

This therefore means that ICE is receiving a huge increase in complaints where it believes that there is a case to answer than in previous years.


As a result of this increase there are now 1,249 cases waiting for an ICE investigator to be allocated. The average time for a complaint to be dealt with currently takes is 53 weeks,so in total this means that it takes over a year before an investigation begins.

Personally I don’t know any person making a complaint against the DWP that can afford to wait that long albeit for financial and other complaint reasons.

It takes a great deal of courage to make a complaint against the DWP and as a result many don’t make complaints when they should do.

The complaints procedure is complex and very stressful for everyone making a complaint against the DWP and as a result it can impact a person’s health and ability to manage their daily life’s.

It comes as no surprise that legal justice that claimants are entitled to is subject to long indefensible delays without question.

It’s also noted that the DWP can make a decision to apply cruel, harsh and often unwanted sanctions on the most vulnerable and in need of help whilst their real and valid complaints.

Once again it’s one rule for claimants and yet another for their oppressors.

Please read, share and tweet this article doing so makes a huge difference in raising awareness!

A huge thanks to everyone that reads, subscribes, shares and helps to keep my blog and campaign going.

I couldn’t do it without you.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and every penny makes a huge difference.

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

Thank you!

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


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

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



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


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




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



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

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



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



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



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



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

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

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A huge thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog.

I receive no payment for any of the work that I do and every read, share makes a big difference

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Less Than 4 In 10 Claims For PIP Successful

At last the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) have published the statistics for PIP (Personal Independence Payments) for the time period from August 2017 to July 2022.

Revealed in the report is that just 39% of PIP claims in England and Wales have resulted in successfully receiving an award.

Also included are the statistics for all planned award reviews for the same time period.

These figures reveal that the possibility of being awarded a higher amount once it has been reviewed are only 18%, however the chances of being financially worse off are much higher at 32%.

It’s clear to see that for both new claims and reviews all details and evidence should be acted upon accurately taking both into account.

The evidence proves otherwise and often claimants are at the whim of an assessor or reviewer that may not take available evidence and details into account.

Not only is the application process stressful, the appeal process is even more so, taking into account the lengthy time period to take an appeal to tribunal which results in many applicants giving up with their appeal.

However once taken to an appeal tribunal there’s a much higher possibility that it will result in a favourable outcome.

It’s always worth taking a case to appeal and then tribunal, but with the process being stressful and lengthy many don’t do so therefore resulting in the DWP to benefit financially.

A huge thanks to everyone that subscribes, reads, and shares my blog posts. It’s extremely important to raise awareness and it helps so much!

Thanks also to my subscribers!

I don’t receive any payment for my work and as many of you know it’s a struggle.

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

The fees to keep this website going are approaching quickly and I’ve no idea how I’m going to pay them. Every penny will help me to continue to blog and help people.

I really don’t want to leave this blog platform as it does everything that I need and is easy for me to use.

Thank you!

It’s also my 8 year anniversary for this blog, time has passed far too quickly!

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Energy Price Increases- How Are Pre-Payment Customers Going To Pay?

Annual energy bills are predicted to increase more £4,200 from January 2023. This will undoubtably cause extreme hardship on an enormous scale.

So far without a fully functioning government, Johnson, his ministers and prospective prime minister candidates are refusing to meet to discuss and implement a strategy and further government financial without government intervention.

No further government assistance offered.

Instead of meeting to discuss further plans and financial help conservative ministers are on holiday blissful in their knowledge that without intervention their actions will cause unseen suffering and worse.

Further price increases.

The consultancy Cornwall Insight have already predicted that energy price caps are expected to reach £4,266 a year for the first three months of 2023.

They also predict that energy bills could rise to £4,426 in April before eventually easing.

Also predicted a week ago by the consultancy the energy price cap was expected to rise to £3,600 a year from January 2023.

It is now predicted that the energy cap will increase to £3,582 from October, an increase of £200 on its last forecast. It expects bills to begin easing next summer, to £3,810 in the third quarter and then £3,781 in the final three months of next year.

Compared to the price cap in October 2021 which was£1,400 a year, these price increases are obscene and totally avoidable.

People can’t afford to pay.

The reality is that there are already thousands of people that were already unable to meet every day household expenses, many of which are living in substandard housing, are homeless and living in temporary accommodation or renting a room or property at already extortionate prices.

There’s absolutely no way that anyone living in this situation will be able to cut costs anywhere to be able to pay for energy on top of food costs.

Whilst the idea of the don’t pay campaigns that have been created is on paper a good idea in real life it’s more complicated than that.

The problem with pre-payment meters.

Most people forced to live on extremely low incomes are already tied into pre-payment meters provided by the energy companies.

As well as having to automatically pay a daily standing charge they don’t have the option not to pay or to default on payments.

To put it simply if they don’t pay their energy supplies are cut off leaving them unable to heat and light their homes and to have any quality of life at all.

For those that pay their bills by direct debit, defaulting on their payments could affect their credit rating even if they pay a reduced amount.

Energy companies could also class them as bad payers and this could result in obtaining credit extremely hard.

It’s going to be a cold winter.

What on earth are people reliant upon pre payment meters going to do? They can’t magic money out of nowhere like the government does when they want to give tax breaks to their pals.

Their only option will be to use coats, bedding and just about anything they can find to keep warm whilst putting their health at risk.

Not forgetting that most people claiming social security will already be receiving a reduced amount due to various debts being garnished from their payments and benefit sanctions.

The poorest cannot be ignored anymore.

Alongside other campaigns the plight of the poorest and most vulnerable needs to be prioritized and help needs to be offered to everyone that require assistance.

Warm banks aren’t the answer nor is finding a warm spot to sit all day. It’s totally unrealistic to believe that this is the answer. At the very best they’re a sticking plaster that keeps falling off.

Government payments.

Everyone dependent on a low income is already well aware that the payments promised by the government offer little help when compared to the actual increase in energy and cost of living increases.

For these payments to realistically help they now need to increase dramatically for it to even start to chip away at the damage caused by the ever increasing energy costs.

The poorest are already suffering.

Food Banks are already experiencing a downturn in donations, some of them having no food and unable to offer any help to people dependant upon them.

There is also an ever increasing amount of people unable to afford to travel to food banks. For various reasons including and exceeding disability, illness and public transport costs they’re unable to collect desperately needed food. At the same time charities and organisations are unable to offer any kind of delivery service.

Their plight will be ignored

I suspect that the plight of the poorest will be ignored by those in power. After all their more concerned with punishing the poor than helping everyone that needs their assistance and correcting their mistakes.

The UK is a broken country, a ticking time bomb ready to explode. The only thing we do know is that the government won’t be there to pick up the pieces.

They don’t care they never have.

We must continue to press the government to reduce the obscene energy increases.

Instead of settling for ideas such as warm banks we need to make our voices heard.

It’s totally unacceptable that people are going to be forced into such extreme poverty that many may not survive the cold, harsh winter.

It really doesn’t have to be this way.

Please share my blog it really helps to raise awareness and shows solidarity to those suffering at the hands of this cruel government.

I receive no payment for any of the work that I do and for my campaign.

If you can afford to and would like to donate to keep both going there’s a donation link at the top and side of this blog post.

Every penny helps me to continue with both.

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

Claimants Forced To Migrate To Universal Credit Early Will Face Financial Loss

MPs have recently accused the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) of creating ‘two classes of Universal Credit (UC) claimants.

The accusations were made as a result of uncovering the fact that claimants who are forced to migrate to UC early will face financial loss, compared to those who make the decision to move over to UC later rather than being forced to migrate.

This financial hit will happen as a result of next April’s annual uprating.

ESA claimants who choose to migrate after the uprating will keep what is estimated to be around a 9% increase in their benefits.  

Claimants who are forced to migrate before April will have any uprating payments deducted from their transitional protection. This will leave them in a much worse financial situation than claimants who migrate later.

Upon questioning, Therese Coffey DWP secretary of state was asked if she would accept that this decision would lead to inequality, Coffey dismissed the accusation saying “I am not anticipating we will have lots of managed migration by April.”

To put it bluntly she doesn’t care if a few thousand claimants are going to suffer financially and nor will she rectify it either.

As usual Therese Coffey cares only about herself and not the vulnerable people that she claims to care for. This proves once again that UC very rarely improves a claimants financial situation, but instead causes distress and harm.

Source Benefits And Work

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Thank you!

First Cost Of Living Payments To Be Paid From 14th July


The DWP have recently announced that the first cost of living payment will be paid in July 2022.

This will be the first payment of £326 will be paid automatically from the 14th July 2022.

Please note that this will be paid from the 14th July and I expect that they’ll probably make these payments in batches.

Don’t worry if you don’t receive your payment on the 14th July because it will be sent to you.

The second instalment of £324 will be paid in the Autumn, bringing the total to £650 for eligible claimants.

As of publishing this the government has no plans to expand these payments in the cold winter months.

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Please read, share and tweet. Every share raises awareness massively and is essential especially in tough times such as now.

I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do. To say it’s a struggle is a massive understatement.

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A huge thank you to everyone that has supported my blog and campaign in the past. I really couldn’t have got through the past two years without you.

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.

DWP Blocks Essential Sanctions Research



The DWP is effectively trying to block essential and possibly life-saving university research. This research undertaken by Glasgow University with it’s purpose is to find out whether there is a link between benefits sanctions, ill health and suicide.



The research involves Glasgow University linking anonymised DWP data with NHS records. This could and most likely reveal that people that have been sanctioned have been prescribed antidepressants and people that already have existing conditions have resulted in their health declining. The research will also reveal the figures for those attempting to take their own life and sadly for those that have taken their own life.



When Glasgow University informed the DWP that they were starting their research in 2019 the DWP suggested that they would support the project. However since the project began the DWP have continually placed barriers up to try and stop this research to continue.

This comes as no shock to campaigners like myself. The DWP know how badly sanctioning people affects both their physical and mental health..


The DWP have spent years giving excuses to Glasgow University demanding that the research needed tighter security which they complied with. After these measures were put in place the DWP moved the goal post again insisting that Glasgow University must apply for permission to do the research all over again.



This has caused huge delays for the project. Professor Nick Bailey stated that the research should have been completed in 2020, but it has yet to start.



The chair of the Commons work and pensions committee, Stephen Timms told the Guardian “This emerging pattern of obstruction suggests that a culture of secrecy is entrenched in DWP. It must wake up to the harm that it is doing and commit to a new spirit of openness.”

There’s little doubt that the government will either delay or prevent any project that reveals the reality of how people suffer when they’ve been sanctioned.

It will continue to be the case until politicians stop ignoring the immense suffering of thousands of people. Although there are some politicians that don’t ignore this such as Debbie Abrahams who regularly speaks and campaigns against the cruelty of the DWP and their policies.

Ignoring the suffering of thousands of people will result in thousands more deaths. What is needed is for the opposition to start actively opposing the government on DWP related issues.

This isn’t likely to happen in the near future and MPs like Debbie Abrahams are loan voices in parliament trying extremely hard to change things. In the absence of this sadly DWP related issues and problems are going to get worse.

What is needed is for the opposition instead of concentrating about the ‘world of work’ they need to also concentrate and campaign on behalf of those unable to work.

Something has to happen and soon. With energy bills set to rise again in April and people already struggling I fear that thousands will die as a result of being cold and hungry.

It’s impossible to budget money when you have none in the first place

The conservative government has blood on their hands and they’ll never be able to wash it away.

A massive thank you to everyone that subscribes, reads and shares my articles. This makes a massive difference and it raises awareness.

This week was the first aniversary of my sons death. I’ve found it very hard to cope with but I’m still here.

Thank you to Benefits And Work for uncovering this story and for the hard work that they do.

I don’t receive any payment for my work and to say it’s a struggle is massive understatement. I’m reliant upon donations to continue to blog and campaign.

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

A huge thank you to everyone that has helped me. You’ve literally kept this going and I’m eternally grateful.