Tag: demonstration

New Regulations For Fit Note Prescribers

New regulations have been issued to enable registered nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists to issue fit notes.

This will extend the categories of people that can issue fit notes.
New statutory instrument

The new regulations will commence from 1 July 2022.

These regulations being Social Security (Medical Evidence) and Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 (SI.No.630/2022) amend the Social Security (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1976 and the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1985.

The new regulations also make amendments to sets of regulations which refer to medical evidence as having been signed by doctors or registered medical practitioners.

The explanatory memorandum to the regulations advises that –

‘Currently only doctors can certify fit notes. This is not reflective of modern ways of multi-disciplinary working in healthcare where alternative healthcare professionals (HCPs) such as nurses often lead a patient’s diagnosis and healthcare management.

Expanding certification to a wider group of HCPs will better enable relevant HCPs to undertake health and work conversations to issue and certify fit notes without having to refer patients to their doctors.’

Commenting on the regulations, DWP Minister Chloe Smith said today –

‘The extension of fit note certification is fantastic news for patients, making it easier for them to get the support and advice they need from the right place, ensuring where possible that they are able to remain in work.’

These latest fit note changes recognise the valuable role other professions play in helping manage people’s health, and I hope this will also help reduce unnecessary bureaucracy for doctors and general practice more widely.’

This is welcome news for people struggling to provide fit notes for the DWP which can be a struggle for many.

SI.No.630/2022 is available from legislation.gov.uk

Source Rightsnet

Thanks to Rightsnet for providing this information.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do.

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

Thank you!

Rise In Energy Costs Will Cost Lives. It’s Time For Action.


No more. I’m fucking done. The horror stories I’ve heard over the years about people desperately trying to survive under this Tory government have angered me to the point of boiling over. My inbox is full, my Twitter feed is going crazy and my phone hasn’t stopped ringing.

I’ve heard many accounts of how people are already struggling to cope with the massive energy price rises, how the hell are they going to cope after the 1st of April?


Yesterday I heard the concerns of a young woman with a baby who is already struggling before the massive cost increase, already paying £40 for three days electric on a prepayment meter just to keep her electric on.

Another person who used to have a good job at Manchester Airport reduced to borrowing a tenner from a person they never met face to face to put their electric back on so the cheap food they bought won’t spoil.

A woman who thought she was £400 in credit actually owing £600.

Remember that this is before the April energy cost increases. So when does it stop?


When will more people stand up, come with me and my mates and march upon the corridors of power and say no?

Are we are NOT going to be letting the Tories bend us over and dry-fuck us into oblivion anymore?


You want me to be less activist? Fine. I will. When the government stops deliberately starving people of the basic necessities of life.

This is going to become much worse than anyone could have predicted, thousands of people will no doubt be either thinking of or taking their lives because they can’t afford to live and can’t find a way out of their situation.

I predict that they could be thousands of deaths caused by hypothermia and related illnesses. People can no longer afford to buy and run heated blankets. Nor do they have the money to buy warmer clothes.

Undoubtably there will be thousands of admissions to hospital because of malnutrition related illnesses and diseases. This is already happening, people are already dying from hunger thanks the cruel DWP regime. Already people can’t afford to cook meals. This is going to become a whole lot worse than it is now.

Homelessness levels will increase dramatically because people are going to be forced to make the choices of heating or eating and not being able to pay their rent or mortgage as well. It’s not a choice that should have to be made.

Can you imagine how heartbreaking it is to have to tell your children that they have to wear coats etc at home because it’s too expensive to heat their home? As you’re reading this a child and their parents will be cold and hungry due to no fault of their own.

Can you imagine being disabled or ill and being reliant upon have the heating on to help keep you alive only to find out that that you can’t anymore because it’s too expensive to heat their home?

To put it bluntly the government doesn’t care one bit, hell they aren’t even hiding their disdain of working class people. They don’t care if we live or die. Rishi Sunak could have done the right thing but instead he chose to force thousands into death, absolute poverty and starvation.

We should all be angry about this. This is the ultimate insult to the working class people of this country and we all need to challenge this in whatever way that we can.

Have you noticed that I’m angry? Everyone should be.

Not only will these price rises be extremely detrimental to the economy, which will most likely will take a massive dive as a result of people will no longer be able to go shopping for basics never-mind luxuries.

Thousands of small businesses will be forced to shut because of the rising costs as well as some big businesses, forcing workers not already claiming Universal Credit to apply for the first time. This will undoubtably cause emotional and financial distress.

For a country to grow its government needs to invest in people, normal people not millionaires to grow the economy and the wellbeing of people. Instead they do the opposite, Sunak preferring to go for short term gains for his pals whilst deliberately ignoring the well-being of the public and the economy.

Rishi Sunak whilst eyeing up his next job at num 10 has got to be the worst Chancellor Of The Exchequer that we’ve ever had. His decisions are unbelievably cruel.

People will no longer be able to afford to donate to food-banks instead becoming reliant upon them themselves. This will cause the closure of the very places that keep people alive.
People WILL DIE don’t ever forget this.

It’s already happening. The foodbank trollies in supermarkets are seeing fewer donations.

We really need to put pressure in the supermarkets to donate the food themselves and not rely upon already poor people to buy the food and then donate it.

We also have to remember the 186,000 people that have already died with Covid 19 mentioned on their death certificate. People are still dying and we must never forget this.

Remember that all this is a political choice made by millionaires designed to inflict cruelty upon the poorest and most vulnerable

It’s time to get angry, to take action and campaign for a much fairer society.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Please read, share, tweet and email this blog post. We have to raise as much awareness as possible and now is the perfect time to do it.

Want to join a protest? Join one of the Peoples Assembly marches on the 2nd April. Find out more at https://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk

Want to chat to likeminded people and join a protest? Head over to https:manchesterdpac.com Theres lots that you can do and you will find solidarity.

I don’t receive any funding for the work that I do, and to say that it’s a struggle is an understatement. If you can afford to and you would like to donate to my campaign and blog theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

Massive thanks to everyone that does and has supported my campaign and blog. Without you I couldn’t do this.

Big thanks to my friend Lucy for being the inspiration for this article and for yesterdays tweets.

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.

£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.

DWP agrees to waive hardship payment debts.

Please click on the below link from the Public Law Project.

If you are told to repay back hardship payment debts make sure that you challenge this.

It is your legal right to do so. If needed quote the below article and insist that the DWP use their discretion regarding payment of hardship payment debt.

Insist that these payments are causing distress and suffering, which they do for thousands of people.

This is also essential because the majority of claimants already have monies garnished from their payments for council tax debt and suchlike.

No one should be forced to live in extreme hardship such as this.

I expect that the DWP won’t like this so don’t expect them to suggest it to you.

https://publiclawproject.org.uk/latest/dwp-agrees-to-waive-hardship-payment-debts-after-successful-judicial-review/

Please like, share and tweet my blog. It’s very important to get the truth and the reality of our life’s out there.

I don’t get paid for anything that I do but I do want to continue to be able to continue to write my blog and continue with my campaign.

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

A huge thank you to everyone that and has supported my blog and campaign. This makes such a big difference.

I’ve had enough. My long Covid nightmare continues.

Dear readers and subscribers, you I get have realised that Ive been pretty much out of action this past week. I apologise for this, I feel awful about it and I hope that it doesn’t happen again.

Ive been struggling to get through this last rebound due to needing more meds and waiting for them to be processed.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m feeling pretty low at the moment. This past year has been a complete nightmare and so far it doesn’t appear to be easing.

My health is pretty rubbish at the moment, it takes me much longer to do tasks that I didn’t used to think about. My daughters more than fed up with me being ill and I do feel like I am to blame for this. Being a single parent is tough when you’re ill.

Yesterday I learnt that the support that I was getting will be ending next week. This was very difficult for me to process because I’m still needing help.

Ive noticed that many essential support networks and general support services locally are ending next week because apparently everything’s going back to normal.

It’s rather foolish to believe that because this latest lockdown is ending that Covid 19 has ended as well. So many people are still ill with it and are suffering from long covid.

It’s very neglectful of any support network to believe that this latest lockdown ending is the last lockdown that we are going to have.

Already the numbers of children that are infected with covid 19 are rising along with the schools re opening. Combine this with the majority of the population have only had one vaccination leaving others still waiting for their vaccination dates it arrive.

Not long ago Boris Johnson declared that we would ‘have to get used to people dying’. I for one can never get used to that. He should never have uttered those words.

To be honest the only things that have been keeping me going recently are this blog and your support. I need your support more than I ever have before.

I want to be better, maybe these latest meds will work. I don’t want to be in the position that I’m in now. It’s pretty dire tbh and I expect that thousands of other people are feeling the same as I am now.

If any organisations are reading this blog post, please reconsider stopping support just because the latest lockdown is ending. So may of us are, not by choice dependent upon this help.

I feel that Ive been totally honest with you, I needed to get this worry off my chest so to speak and I want people to realise how tough it is for long covid survivors.

One day, hopefully soon this nightmare will be over and I’ll be back to my normal self. It’s been so long since I’ve been there.

Please read, share and tweet my blog. I really want to get the reality of our situations out there for everyone to read.

For anyone that would like to donate to keep both my blog, myself and the campaign going theres a donate button at the top and bottom of this blog post.

I really need your support and I thank everyone that does and has supported my blog and campaign.

Thank you.

I’m struggling……

Dear readers and subscribers, you may have noticed that I’ve been quiet this week. My aim is to produce at least three blog posts a week. I want to provide more newsworthy content as well as my weekly blog which is personal to me.

I have failed to do this because once again I’ve rebounded. I’ve got yet another chest infection that has hit me extremely hard, not only physically but mentally.

I really thought that I’d beaten my long covid symptoms, and for the most part I have. What I didn’t count on was that I could get another chest infection which has made me feel so ill.

I felt the symptoms up to about 14 days ago, I get pains in my right lung which are hard to describe. I stupidly ignored these symptoms because I didn’t want to be ill again, I didn’t want to have to say that I’m ill again because I’m sure that everyone is fed up of me saying this.

I carried on as usual until last Sunday when my body told me that I couldn’t continue like I was doing. My sats dropped to a low level and just doing the most basic chores made me breathless and tired.

I admitted defeat and spoke to my doctor. They diagnosed another chest infection and advised me that I should really go to the hospital. Easier said than done though when you’re a single parent and your child is totally dependent upon you.

I explained my situation and I was prescribed anti antibiotics and more inhalers. My consultant has been notified and I’m waiting for an appointment to see him.

There’s no doubting that I was extremely foolish to ignore my symptoms, don’t ever do this. For anyone in a similar situation to me, please act upon your symptoms and get help. I can’t believe that I was so stupid.

I think the main reason as to why I ignored my new symptoms is because I had such a long run of better health. I wasn’t struggling as much and I was seriously considering the fact that I would be well very soon.

I wanted to hold onto that hope, to become normal once again, to be included in future plans and to have ambitions of achieving my goals.

My goals aren’t particularly hard to achieve for an able bodied person. I love walking, I used to walk miles everyday and I so wanted to walk to Hartshead Pike once again with my daughter. Maybe one day I’ll achieve this.

Luckily I think that my antibiotics have started to work and my sats are much better than they were. Not perfect, far from it but acceptable for both myself and my doctor and consultant.

I know that the Covid 19 virus has damaged my lungs, especially my right lung and I have to accept that I’m more vulnerable to getting chest infections, but it’s impossible for me to live in a covid free environment. My daughter returned to school and with that came the spread of viruses brought home through no fault of her own.

So yes I’m struggling, yes I’m fed up of complaining about my health but this week has certainly been a big challenge for me. I want to do more, to eat more healthily and to have a better lifestyle but it’s impossible when I’m dependent upon such a low income.

I’m not only worried about my physical health I’m worried about how on earth can I juggle things around to provide everything that I need to get healthy again. It’s bloody impossible but I’ll try my best to do this.

For now my goals are low. I would first like to once again achieve my goal of more blog content because I love to write and I love to hear from all of you, because you are important.

As for my health, I’m back to taking it a day at a time, hopefully achieving small goals along the way. I’m grateful to be alive, to have survived Covid19, and to still be here talking to all of you.

Please keep safe, wear a mask and don’t for one minute think that this virus has gone away. It hasn’t and we still need to be careful.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every time that my blog is shared results in more people reading about the truth of our life’s, our struggles and how shitty life is for us at the moment.

I don’t get any funding for writing my blog and at the moment I’m really struggling financially. For anyone that would like to donate theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog piece.

Every penny enables me to continue to blog and it really helps my campaign. I want to be back to normal again I really do.

A huge thank you to everyone that shares and supports my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do this without your help. It would be impossible. Thank you all so much.

High Court rules that taking high amounts of payments from Universal Credit payments unlawful.

Most people that claim Universal Credit find themselves in debt through no fault of their own. The five week wait for a new claim to be processed ensures that they’re going to accrue debts.

At the time of writing the DWP can automatically take high level deductions from a persons universal credit payments personal allowance for court fine payments, council tax debts and suchlike.

The DWP has a blanket policy of always cutting benefit by the maximum amount possible which is given regardless of personal circumstances. This leaves already financially vulnerable people struggling to buy food and to pay bills.

Yesterday the High Court has today ruled that this policy and practice of taking high amounts of payments from a persons Universal Credit is unlawful.

In February 2020, Shelter launched a legal challenge on behalf of four people, all of whom had a history of rough sleeping and therefore are hugely impacted affected by deductions being taken out of their Universal Credit payments.

Shelter challenged the DWPs deductions policy and all decisions to apply the ‘maximum deduction rate’ to universal credit. They also challenged this for all court fine payments regardless of the claimant’s personal circumstances.

The DWPs policy of deducting the maximum amount of 30% from the Universal Credit standard allowance leaves claimants with as little as £51 per week to live on., that is unless they have more deductions taken from their payments for other debts such as DWP loans etc.

These payments ensure that claimants cant afford to heat and or eat, pay for transport to get themselves to appointments and to buy essential phone credit to fulfil their required Universal Credit job searches.

Shelter argued in court that the DWP’s deductions policy and approach to deductions unlawfully removes an important discretion prescribed by law.  Regulation 4 of The Fines (Deductions from Income Support) Regulations 1992) provides the DWP discretion to deduct a minimum of 5% from peoples’ UC to pay back court fines (and a maximum of £108.35).

The DWP’s blanket policy removes this discretion by setting a fixed maximum deduction of 30% and doesn’t allow claimants to request a lower deduction even in exceptional circumstances where they’re facing hardship.

The DWP’s defence of this policy is that in theory Universal Credit claimants can return to the magistrates’ court to request a direct repayment plan.

In reality this is impracticable. Most claimants aren’t aware that they can do this and the DWP aren’t exactly helpful if a person wants to do this.

The deductions regime is an effective means of repayment of debts, however as it stands the high level of repayments pushes a claimant even further into debt and poverty because repayments aren’t set at a reasonable level, taking into account a claimants financial circumstances.

Shelters case was heard at the High Court before Mr Justice Kerr via a remote hearing on 12 and 13 January 2021. Shelter’s claim was also heard together with a second claim brought by Hackney Community Law Centre acting on behalf of a disabled UC claimant.

The court found that DWP’s deductions policy is unlawful because it ‘fetters discretion’: i.e. it prevents decision makers from taking a UC claimant’s personal circumstances into account when setting the deduction rate.

The court ruled that by setting a fixed rate for deductions from UC for fines, and the DWP’s inflexible approach in making decisions on these cases, removes the discretion provided for in the relevant legislation. This is unlawful.

Responding to the DWP’s defence of an ‘alternative route’ through the magistrates’ court, Mr Justice Kerr states:

‘The deductions regime is paternalistic: the debtor cannot be left to pay off court fines voluntarily; they must be made to do so, for their sake and society’s.  The Secretary of State’s passivity leaves unperformed the duty upon her to make that happen in appropriate cases.’

The High Court ruled that the DWP’s policy and practice in its present form was not lawful. The judge ordered that the relevant section in the deductions policy relating to fines be amended to reflect the judgment.

This judgment means that the DWP will have to change the deductions policy and their guidance must include discretion for DWP decision makers.

This will mean that Universal Credit claimants will be able ask the DWP to lower the amount deducted for court fine payments if they are struggling financially to pay them.

In reality nothing is changing regarding this legal decision yet because the DWP are as usual appealing the courts decision, but I will keep you posted about this.

This ruling has the opportunity to change Universal Credit claimants financial situations for the better, but you can bet that the DWP will drag this out for as long as possible.

My apologies for the lateness of this weeks blog. Yesterday was so busy for myself and my daughter and I’m once again unwell again.

I will endeavour to do my best to not let this happen again.

I’m so fed up with being unwell, not only does it impact me health wise it impacts my relationship with my children and it hits me hard financially.

I am doing my best to get well again because I hate feeling like this.

Please take care, keep safe and be kind to yourselves.

Please read, share and tweet my blog. Every time that you do this helps the truth to get out there which is extremely important.

A huge thank you to everyone that supports both my blog and campaign.

For anyone that would like to donate toward my blog and campaign theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every donation makes a huge difference and enables me to continue with both my blog and campaign.

Sources Shelter.

Living in poverty isn’t living its existing.

Once again Thursday has crept up again so quickly and I hope that you’re all as ok as you can be.

Health wise I had a couple of bad long covid days most likely brought on by sorting my house out after being ill for so long. I am trying to do it in stages but it got the better of me this week.

Anyway enough about me. This past year has been a huge struggle for so many of us. We are still having it choose between eating and heating and more and more of us are dependent upon food parcels..

The need for food banks is growing every day. More and more people are being pushed into a never ending spiral of poverty, and they might not ever be able to get out of this situation.

Living in poverty isn’t exactly living, its about existing, trying to struggle through each day whilst hoping that the next day is better for them.

This week I’ve spoken to some of the people that I’ve been helping for a long time now. When we first met almost all of them had that spark of hope that they’d find a job and wouldn’t be dependent upon social security for long.

Sadly this didn’t happen. Being dependent upon a system that was created to systematically take away any self esteem that you might have isn’t easy, nor is it conducive to a good healthy life. Hence why I say that this isn’t living, its existing.

For me the word living implies that there still is some joy, being able to eat healthier and not having to make the choice between eating or heating.

Ive lost count of the amount of times that I’ve bought people some prepaid gas and electric, handed out food parcels and when we ran out of them taking a person shopping to help them get through a very difficult time.

This is what really annoys me, angers me and and at the same time upsets me. No one should be forced to live like this, to survive from day to day with no hope. The Universal Credit and ESA and PIP systems were all created to make people suffer, to make people be grateful for every crumb of hope given to them.

No one should be forced to endure the awful ESA and PIP medical assessments. Not only are they extremely damaging to a persons mental and physical help, they are also conducted by a so called medical representative that often hasn’t got a clue about how hard life is for the claimant. They also really don’t care about how damaging their false reports can be for the person being assessed.

There’s no excuse for such cruelty. The government chose to do this because they don’t care about us, working class and disabled people. There’s also little point in appealing to them for help because they often refuse to.

As I write this blog the gap between the have’s and have nots is widening hugely every day. Self isolating when you have the financial means to do so is much easier than when you haven’t.

Worrying about how you can feed your children and how to keep warm and safe is what’s worrying most of us.

I’m concerned about everyone forced to make the horrible decision between heating and eating, trying to make clothing last because they can’t buy anymore, walking in shoes that have holes in the bottom of them.

This is the reality for so many of us and we do need to talk about it more than we do. This is exactly why I started to write this blog and also why I started campaigning against this cruel, heartless system.

We can get through this though. Never, ever forget that you are important and you are loved. I’m always here if you want to talk.

Please read, share and tweet my blog. Every time that this is done raises awareness for so many. There are still people out there that don’t realise how cruel the system is.

A huge thank you to everyone that supports my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do this without you and I can’t thank you enough.

I don’t receive any funding for the work that I do and to say its a struggle at times is an understatement.

If you would like to donate to keep the blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

Thank you all so much x.