Tag: food poverty

Price Of Basic Food Products Rises by 340%

Whilst we are all aware that food prices have increased dramatically over the past few years, how much is a question that I’ve been trying to answer myself. Most people that I help, including myself are struggling to feed ourselves and families. Going without three meals a day is a reality for so many. Buying enough food to make a complete, decent nutritious meal is near impossible.

To be honest I’m pretty useless at maths so you can imagine how engrossed `I was when I saw Jack Monroes tweets concerning this. Jack has been campaigning about food poverty for years, they’re not someone that’s jumped upon the bandwagon, not knowing what it’s like to go without food. Jack has experienced it also and even though their situation has improved Jack continues to help and inspire others.

Below are some tweets posted by Jack yesterday. Jack has been collecting food cost data for years now and the reality of exactly how much the price of food has increased is shocking.

In these tweets Jack reveals the true extent of food price increases and it’s not easy reading.

Supermarket pasta price increases from 29p to 79p. Rice increases from 45p to £1.
Huge price increases for basic supermarket food products.

As you can see this is exactly why buying food has become so damn hard for so many. The price of living has increased dramatically however wages for many haven’t increased nor has social security (benefit) payments. For example the £20 top up payments has been taken away from people receiving Universal Credit. No financial help was offered to disabled people leaving them in a worse position than most.

Whilst we haven’t seen a price increase for luxury meal deals and suchlike, the cost of the very basic food products that literally keep people alive have increased dramatically. This is a true example of class division and hierarchy.

Meanwhile the government and their spokespeople continue to say that food prices have increased by 5% the reality is much different.

The knock off affects of these price rises will once again hit the poorest the hardest. Donations to foodbanks will decrease because the people donating food will no longer be able to afford to do so. The ramifications for both families and people are huge. The government is literally pricing people out of being able to buy food. This needs to be addressed urgently but I very much doubt that it will be.

A huge thank you to Jack Monroe for their hard work campaigning and for supplying this data. Also thanks for giving me permission to share it.

If your’e interested in getting involves with campaigning or need support I can’t recommend DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts0 enough. It’s a fantastic network run by real people experiencing the same difficulties that you might be experiencing.

You can find them both on Facebook and Twitter. If you live in the Greater Manchester area you can join Manchester DPAC here at https:\\manchesterdpac.com

How am I? I’m really struggling at the moment. This week I had to buy some electric and gas leaving me with no money to buy food. I do know that so many of you are also in the same position as I’m in. I hate being forced to live like this.

If you like my work and campaign and can afford to theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny makes a huge difference for both.

A made thank you to everyone that has supported and does support both my blog and campaign. I really could’t do this without you.

Happy New Year.

This year has certainly been a challenge for so many of us.

Food poverty has become the new norm as has fuel poverty and substandard housing. Living in poverty is kind of expected for the working class, especially by the government and suchlike.

The truth is that we shouldn’t be forced to live this way, constantly scratching around to try and make a meal out of the remnants of a food parcel. It’s not as if the government will do anything to rectify this after all the working class should know their place.

Despite this the past year has been also been a challenge for many other reasons. My son died very unexpectedly and suddenly this year leaving me to pick up the pieces whilst trying to support my daughters. Everything appeared to go wrong for me and personally I can’t wait until this year is over.

When I say that loosing my son broke me it’s an understatement. Some days I wanted to stay in bed and hide from the world.

I really don’t know how I’ve got through this but I did and I’m very grateful that I did. .

We’ve lost so many people due to Covid 19 and illness this past year. Whilst you won’t hear the government talking about this we must continue to remember them.

Financially we are all feeling the pinch in one way or another. I’ve found it a massive struggle getting from day to day whilst trying to make things appear normal for my youngest daughter that still lives at home. I know that you also feel the same way, it’s tiring, exhausting sometimes.

So many of us have become ill this past year, I’m still battling Long Covid and some days I’m exhausted, but carry on we must because we have no choice.

Whilst I haven’t got a magic wand to make everything better for you god knows I want one, what I can say is that we will continue to support each other in whatever way that we can do. I’ll be continuing to blog and campaigning

If you haven’t celebrated Christmas and have no plans to celebrate the start of a new year you’re not alone. I haven’t and I won’t either. Don’t let anyone pressurise you into doing something that you don’t want to do or aren’t comfortable doing. You do you it’s so important to do this.

I would like to thank everyone that has read, shared and supported my blog and campaign this past year. I really couldn’t do this without you, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to cope with the death of my son without your support.

Talking about support DPAC (Disabled People Against The Cuts) is a fantastic support and campaigning network that’s well worth joining. I’ve been campaigning alongside them for many years now and I can attest to how amazing they are.

If you live in the Greater Manchester area you can join Manchester DPAC here https:\\manchesterdpac.com

If you are unemployed and would like to join a trade union head over to https:\\join.unitetheunion.org They also do amazing work and they offer legal advice etc. There is a small cost to join but if you can I can’t recommend it enough.

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I don’t receive any funding or payment for any of the work that I do. If you like my work and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

Thank you xx.

Long foodbank queues on Christmas Eve.

A friend of mine that volunteers at a foodbank has just sent me the below images. They asked if their anonymity is kept and of course I’m respecting this.

The photos were taken as they were arriving for their shift at the food bank. It wasn’t open for some time, but the queue was already massive, people arriving early to make sure that they’d get some food.

As you can see the queue consisted of People, all differing in their needs. What can’t be missed is the people using wheelchairs queueing for food parcels.on Christmas Eve.

Also in the queue are elderly people and families with children.

You don’t need me to tell you that this shouldn’t be happening , it’s heartbreaking.

You can always find the measure of a country by seeing how they look after the poor, young, elderly and disabled.

The conservative government is blatantly failing on this front. As a country we can’t be proud of this either.

Being proud of a country is about being proud of what it actually does right, and how it treats those in need. It’s not about waving flags and singing the national anthem.

We can however also look back on history and also be ashamed for the very same reasons. Ignoring the fact that the UK government is causing direct harm to people won’t make it go away.

Whilst the government has been focusing on ridiculous things like blue passports people are dying, thousands are becoming homeless and many are becoming ill from poverty related illnesses.

Meanwhile the public are bombarded with images of the royal family having a lovely Christmas, the people queuing at this foodbank and others won’t be able to celebrate.

Its simply not acceptable.

I messaged the volunteer that took the below images and this is what they said

It felt like a slap in the face for them too. It’s a reminder of their privilege. Because despite having their own difficulties they can sit in a warm house, with food, having just wrapped presents for their family.

They went on to say that it makes them angry and sad that this is happening, that they wished that they could do more to help. There’s more that many could do, so let’s do it.

Helping others doesn’t have to cost a penny. A kind word, saying hello in the street makes the world of difference to someone that lives alone and hasn’t spoken to anyone for a long time.

Being a friend costs nothing also, sharing what you no longer need doesn’t either. Of course I realise that many people have nothing to give to someone else.

Let’s spend the festive period and the coming year to be kind and thoughtful towards each other. We need to do this because the government won’t ever care about you.

Faces and building names covered out of respect for the people queuing.
No one should be forced to literally beg for food on Christmas Eve.

Please read, share, tweet and email this blog post. This makes a massive difference and it raises lots of awareness. Thank you!

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

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

DWP surveillance. A step too far.

It has always been known that the DWP (Department Of Work And Pensions) surveil benefit claimants who are suspected of committing fraud. This is often based upon their opinion and reports made by members of the public, but how in depth their surveillance is was previously unknown.

In 2019 the DWP published their two part staff guide on conducting fraud investigations. Thanks to Privacy International who went through the 995 pages of the report to help people understand how these investigations happen and how the DWP is surveilling claimants suspected of fraud.

Here are some of their findings.

They found that the DWP do conduct physical surveillance of benefit claimants.

The DWP can ask private companies such as Paypal, supermarkets etc to hand over any data that they might have on benefit claimants to them.

Not surprisingly, because we have all seen the tabloid newspapers reporting stories focussing on benefit cheats and clamping down on them. This is because the DWP actively works with tabloid newspapers to share this narrative, which then creates a hostile environment that legitimises this narrative and creates a constant fear for vulnerable claimants.

The DWP are only authorised to conduct directed surveillance. and are entitled to surveil claimants in order to obtain information without contacting the claimant involved first.

How do they do this?

The DWP can claim papers, handwriting and departmental system prints.

Interviewing witnesses and obtaining witness statements.

Interviewing claimants under caution.

Intelligence gathering.

The DWP guidance states that they can examine mobile phones and tablets because of the amount of information that’s stored on these devices.

DWP officers are encouraged to approach third parties to get information.

On page 316 of part of one, the guide reads: “The Criminal Procedures and Investigation Act (CPIA) Code Of Practice (COP) makes it clear that to establish the facts about an offence you can question any person, whether suspected or not, who you think might have useful information. If a person, including a third party, has useful information you should ask for it.”

So basically a claimant is guilty before being found innocent.

The guide contains some instructions as to how DWP officers should go about approaching third parties. These instructions include that they have to be clear that they are from the DWP if they are questioned, they should also remember that the person they are investigating may be innocent. They are told to not reveal the source of the suspicion, remembering that the third party may also be involved in suspected fraud.

The guide quotes Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is the right to respect for one’s private and family life. It is quoted on page 316 of the report and is immediately followed by an explanation on the specific circumstances in which the DWP may legitimately interfere with it.

“If DWP are to interfere with this Convention right it must be proven that all other avenues to obtain the evidence have been explored. However, in a case, which consists of various circumstantial evidence, it may only be possible to bolster the evidence to the criminal standard by providing evidence from third parties. Additional justification may be on the grounds that it would prevent or detect a crime”

Physical surveillance is also used by physically watching an individual and also using CCTV footage that can be obtained by the DWP without requiring PIPA authorisation.

The surveillance team can gather photo and video evidence.

The DWP also encouraged to use open source information such as social media, internet use, internet chat rooms, forums and websites to gain information regarding benefit fraud.

DWP officers are advised to cautious about gaining information in this way. They are told that they still need to give a claimant some expectation of privacy regardless that this very act takes away a persons privacy. This in turn causes distress for the claimant that they’re investigating.

The following advice is given: “If officers consider that there is a need to view material over a protracted period of time to accumulate private information or monitor the individuals activities, i.e. anything thing more than twice, then they should be considering an authorisation under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), as repeat viewing may constitute directed surveillance. There is a professional responsibility for individuals to ask themselves why they want to look at the material, and what they will do with the information. Single use open source will generally not amount to directed surveillance but expectation of privacy still needs to be considered.” [part two, page 80].

The DWP uses this information to;

Obtain information about a claimants activities

Obtain information to be used in a future interview

To observe a claimants movements or work pattern

To establish where a claimant lives

To obtain evidence for a possible court case.

How does this affect disabled people?

The DWP assesses if someone claiming disability benefits is disabled. They often use physical surveillance to do so. They can also use a claimants social media to assess their mental capacity too.

They do this without any medical qualifications and often without any knowledge of a persons disability and how it affects them.

The DWP are supposed to take psychological distress component into consideration whilst at the same time not describing how to do this, thus not taking it into consideration at all.

The DWP have always used used surveillance to check upon a persons relationship and to see who a claimant lives with to see if they’re claiming the correct benefits. The DWP reminds their employees that living together as a married couple is not in itself an offence whilst at the same time financially punishing them for doing so.

The DWP also has the authority to contact third party organisations such as

  • banks (including credit unions),
  • credit providers,
  • insurers,
  • credit reference agencies,
  • money transfer companies,
  • water and sewerage undertaker or authority,
  • gas and electricity providers,
  • telecommunications services,
  • educational establishment or institutions,
  • The Student Loans Company.
  • banks (including credit unions),
  • credit providers,
  • insurers,
  • credit reference agencies,
  • money transfer companies,
  • water and sewerage undertaker or authority,
  • gas and electricity providers,
  • telecommunications services,
  • educational establishment or institutions,
  • The Student Loans Company.
  • Airlines, which can hand over names of passengers and dates of travel (EasyJet is listed separately, as it falls under the “abroad fraud desk”. They can hand over passenger and booking information)
  • Bingo clubs, which can hand over membership details
  • The BBC, which can hand over TV licence holder name, method of payment and date of expiry
  • Sky, which can hand over Sky Broadband and Sky Talk subscriber details
  • Estate agents, who can hand over owner details, purchaser details, price, dates, method of payment and lettings
  • Golf clubs, gyms, leisure facilities and sports club, which can hand over membership details and activities undertaken
  • Harbour masters, who can hand over details about boat-ownership, boat-movements, dates and berthing fees
  • Legal Aid Board, which can hand over details of Legal Aid claims.
  • National Health Service Counter Fraud, which can hand over GP registration and checks of medical cards
  • National Health Service Trusts, which can hand over next of kin details and declared addresses
  • National Health Service Trusts & Hospitals, which can hand over details of admission and discharge and registration documents
  • Universities and Colleges Admissions Services, which can hand over university details and college placements

The DWP also have singled out PayPal as an organisation that is willing to provide information in response to a standard data protection letter but only if they say that the information is requested for law enforcement purposes.

The DWP also relies upon credit reference agencies for their investigations regardless of the fact that people being investigated are more likely to be in debt and have a poor credit rating. Regardless of this it’s yet another avenue for the DWP to exploit.

This is an extraordinary abuse of power given to the DWP too often target innocent people. Benefit fraud levels are 3.6% of benefit expenditure whilst many claimants are being underpaid by the DWP due to error.

Whilst claiming any type of benefit from the DWP a person also waves goodbye to the right to privacy that they should be entitled to. I’ve seen DWP officers check a claimants social media before their appointment, thus unbeknown to the claimant they’ve lost a part of their privacy.

If this was happening to a person not claiming benefits they’d quite rightly be an uproar about it. For this to happen to a claimant it’s regarded as being ok. None of this is ok and we must continue to oppose the shocking treatment of benefit claimants.

If you have a social media account make sure that it’s set to friends only. Check any friend requests first and be wary that some so called DWP help groups are used to survey people.

Thanks given to @mrfrankzola over on Twitter for sharing this information and making me aware of this report. Also thanks given to eerie.org for their hard work producing this report.

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This Monday was the funeral of my dear friend Karl who was also a member of my group Tameside Against The Cuts. Karl provided lots of hot drinks, lifts for claimants needing help and much needed support on our weekly demos. He was a wonderful person with a very kind heart, he will be sadly missed.

If you live in the Greater Manchester area and you are disabled please join Manchester DPAC where you will find support, solidarity and the option of joining in any activities that they are doing. You’ll find them over at https:\\manchesterdpac.com

If you are unemployed and would like to join a trade union head over to https:\\join.unitetheunion.org

Please can you read, share, tweet, email my blog and this post. Sharing helps enormously to raise awareness and it actually helps people.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and it’s a struggle. If you would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going there’s a donation button at the top and side of this blog post. Thank you.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign, You have literally kept me going through this very tough year and the loss of my son. I’m not sure if I can celebrate Christmas this year.

I will be blogging next week and hopefully it will be a festive version.

Disabled and poorest excluded in yesterday’s budget announcements.

It won’t come as a surprise to many of you that once again disabled people and the unemployed were totally excluded from yesterday’s Budget announcements.

The reasoning behind this is their long seated belief that everyone should work despite their ability to do so. Failure to work then puts people into their category system labeling them ‘Empty Feeders’ and suchlike.

To understand this it’s best to take away the notion that the government actually cares for the working class. They never have and they never will.

Of course they’ll throw them the odd crumb such as cheaper alcohol to give the illusion of caring whilst blatantly ignoring that many can’t afford to go to a pub or buy alcohol these days.

So how does the government ensure that the unemployed and disabled will suffer even more in the shortest amount of time?
They take away their hope, support leaving them more vulnerable to increasing poverty and illness which therefore will end their lives prematurely.

Living in poverty means living in constant arrears forced to use pre-pay meter energy meters that they cant afford to top up. Going without heating, food, the ability to cook food, showers and the ability to do their laundry and take care of their personal needs. This has a massive negative effect on their physical and mental health which then ends up costing local authorities and the government more money in the long run.

It’s never been about the money though. This is a choice that the the government makes and will continue to make whilst they’re in power.

The government doesn’t care about a disabled person unable to find and pay their much needed carers. Often left to cope alone they can’t see a way out of their situation because the government isn’t going to help them.

What the government apparently fails to understand is that when poor people have more money they spend it in their local communities therefore helping the local economy. So when the government says that that they care about helping small businesses and communities they’re actually lying.

Whilst the government gives their millionaire friends tax cuts and financial help they move their money into their tax havens instead of the economy. Theres no such thing as the trickle down effect.It’s all about keeping the rich happy and the poor miserable and ensuring that their poverty and reliance upon the government for help continues.

It was also the government’s choice to scrap the Universal Credit £20 uplift. It’s not because they couldn’t afford it because they clearly can. They choose to make the poorest suffer.

By excluding those on legacy benefits from any extra help could be another attempt by the Government to try and force legacy benefit claimants to switch over to claim Universal Credit by making it more attractive despite the fact that it will make them much worse off financially..

Working people that claim Universal Credit are the only ones that will benefit slightly. They now have to give 8% less of their hourly wage back to the system leaving them still loosing 55% of their hourly wage. Most are on minimum wage jobs, often working zero hour contracts.

The only people that will greatly benefit from this year’s budget announcements will be the better off and of course the government’s friends, the millionaires. They’ll always come before the health of disabled people and the working class.

We know our place and the government will continue to remind us of this. But don’t expect me to doff my cap to them because I won’t.

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Please join my friends over at Manchester DPAC https:\\manchesterdpac.com they do amazing work. Also check out the national DPACs page over on Facebook

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every share helps massively.

I don’t receive any payments for any of the work that I do. If you’d like to donate towards the upkeep of the blog and campaign theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

A huge thank you to everyone that shares and helps to keep my blog going, I can’t thank you enough.

Starmers keynote speech.. Empty words for the average working person and disabled people.

As many others did I watched Sir Kier Starmers conference speech in anticipation… Maybe he’ll recognise the plight of unemployed, disabled and ill people. Sadly I was disappointed, his whole speech revolved around the word ‘work’ and how good it is to work.

Heres a word count of the words that he used in his speech yesterday. He mentioned the the word ‘work’ a massive 69 times, ‘care’26 times, equality 3 times, ‘security’ 6 times ‘dad 11 times, mum 17 times and ‘tool’ 6 times.

From this we can be safe to say that the main focus for him was work and how good it supposedly is for you. Sounds familiar doesn’t it. It’s much like the speeches that we heard from the conservatives that resulted in the suffering and deaths of thousands.

It’s not as simple as that though, work isn’t some kind of liberating utopia that frees both mind and body leaving you with a sense of self achievement. I do accept that certain careers such as nursing, caring and healthcare work can give people a massive feeling of achievement there are stresses that come with them.

Low pay, high rents, high childcare costs and other costs that come along with our culture of low paid, undervalued work end up taking any sense of self achievement away.

Myself like Starmer can look back upon our parents hard work but it’s much like a tale of two cities. My father worked hard for little or no thanks and without basic safety equipment. He was forced to work night shifts which prevented him from spending much time with his children and when he did he was grumpy because he was tired.

My mother had several jobs, none of them gave her any sense of achievement and all of them were very low paid. As a child it was awful seeing them become so stressed by their situation.

I was and still are proud of them, but their situations made me want to fight for more than they had. I can’t look back and say that it was inspirational because it wasn’t.

Coming back to the present day…. Most people in low paid jobs have to claim an extra benefit such as Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit to be able to feed themselves and their families. Their wages being so low that they can’t survive on them alone.

It was very disappointing to hear that Starmer is apparently refusing to support a £15 a hour minimum wage increase for workers despite him agreeing with this previously. At the same time Starmer knows that we live in a low wage economy that inevitably leads to poverty. Luckily Labour Party members voted in favour of it even though its not binding.

In summary work does not fulfil the average person and nor will it until working conditions, low pay extortionate childcare costs and high rents are dealt with. Instead it causes stress, poverty and everything that comes along with this.Homelessness is increasing amongst working people as well as the unemployed.

People try their best to better their situations but the current system prevents them from doing so. A £15 a hour pay rise would help this but the whole system needs to change before it can benefit most people to a noticeable degree.

Feel good speeches are good on the day, words are said that some wanted to hear but when you leave out the basic needs of people, ignoring disabled people and those on legacy benefits. They aren’t going to see anything that would change the lives of those that need the changes the most.

It’s greatly important that everyones voices are heard not just working people. It’s insulting to those that are unable to work and it leaves them politically homeless with no where to turn for help.

Deeds not words are needed and the inclusion of everyone despite disability, illness and age. It’s needed more than it ever was before and Starmer must act to address as soon as he possibly can.

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Please read, share and support my blog if you can. I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do and every share makes a massive difference.

Unfortunately my daughters ill with Covid 19 at the moment and times are very hard at the moment and I’m still recovering from pneumonia. Every share really helps to get the truth out there.

Thank you to everyone that does share and supports my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do this without you.

Cancel The £20 Universal Credit Uplift Cut.

I’ve spoken to many people and helped hundreds of people over the years since Universal Credit was first implemented in my local town, which incidentally was one of the three ‘trial’ areas for Universal Credit introducing it to an unbeknown community.

Out of all the people that I’ve spoken to throughout the years, not one of them has told me that their payments provided them with a large enough income for them to survive, indeed the opposite applies.

Everyone that I’ve helped or spoken to were and still are living in poverty, unable to provide the very basics for themselves and their families.

Then the pandemic hit us, killing thousands and resulting in survivors battling with Long Covid. The government decided that they’d throw a lifeline to Universal Credit claimants which was an extra £20 a week uplift to help them through the pandemic.

The uplift was and is providing Universal Credit claimants the means to actually survive, to buy some food or to pay a bill that they were an unable to do before.

Whilst £20 isn’t a lot to some people, indeed it isn’t a lot of money at all, it has enabled people to survive.

This lifeline will be taken away in October if the government don’t respond to calls from campaigners, politicians, and even some Tory party politicians.

Universal Credit was created under the guise of making claiming a benefit easier, to help more financially and to make it easier to find work whilst claiming Universal Credit.

It wasn’t long before myself and others saw the reality of claiming Universal Credit, the poverty that it forces upon people and the punishing regime that they are forced to comply to.

The truth is the system was designed to be unfair and designed to be cruel. I have no doubt that it was introduced to force people to comply otherwise loose everything. I’ve been documenting this for years, I’ve seen the terror in a persons eyes when they’ve just been told that they’ve been sanctioned and didn’t know why.

With Universal Credit came cruelty like I’ve never seen before. Claimants being gaslighted by so called work coaches, being spoken to as if they’re the worst thing in the world and that nothing that they do is ever good enough.

I’ve seen people loose their homes and families because they can no longer afford the rent or provide for their children. I’ve helped hundreds of people throughout the years dependant upon food parcels to survive, all of which is documented in this blog.

I cannot see any justification in removing the £20 uplift, we are still living during a pandemic, still becoming ill with Covid 19 and people are still dying from it. The £20 uplift is literally the choice between living or dying. Only a sadistic government would do so.

To put it bluntly Universal Credit doesn’t provide enough to live on, it’s highly prejudiced against claimants and it certainly doesn’t help anyone to find employment. What is needed is a system that actually helps people instead of making them much worse off.

We can only pray for the government to give in to demands to cancel the cut and to continue giving the uplift or making it permanent.

Please like, share and tweet my blog. I don’t receive any funding and I want to be able to continue to blog.

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

School Uniform a cost too high report finds.

A new report recently conducted by Covid Realities at The University of York has revealed that parents and carers are struggling to cope with the costs of school uniforms. The report finds that parents are having to take out crisis loans and other loans in order to pay for their children’s uniform. Other parents are forced to make decisions like having to make the choice to go without healthy food in order to pay for their children’s school uniforms. 

In the report it gives examples of how a families father  was placed on furlough from his job  at the beginning of the pandemic which dramatically cut the family’s income enough so that they qualified for universal credit. Reporting that trying to make ends meet became “a constant battle day by day,”.

The report also states that this family  had previously relied on second-hand uniform fairs at their son’s school to buy items for £1 each, but with those fairs were cancelled in lockdown so they were  forced to ask family for “a couple of pounds each” so she could buy uniforms. 

“He wasn’t going to get uniform otherwise, The kids’ clothing is essential. But when it comes to school uniform, it’s such a high cost for so little time.

“You get a whole list of what they need for PE, which they’re doing once a week. And they’ll grow out of those clothes in three months.”

The report published by Covid Realities quotes that the practice of schools requiring badged uniform from approved suppliers has drastically increased school uniform costs for families. Uniform costs had been driven higher for those in poverty, especially when charity shops  were closed during lockdown. 

This isn’t the only increase in living costs during the pandemic though, families have faced soaring electricity and gas bills due to families isolating at home. The report reveals that a  family of five were forced to go two weeks without heating in the middle of winter just to ensure they could still afford hot water for washing.

At the time of the report an extension was given for the £20 uplift payments for Universal Credit payments saying that facing the cut was “a hell of a big worry, stating “I didn’t know how much more I could take.“We were already not covering the essentials. Taking that £20 away, it was going to be just another thing that we needed in order to live but couldn’t have.

“They’re just delaying the inevitable,” she said of the extension until September. “You’re going to cut it right before winter, when there are extra costs? Leading up to Christmas? The financial problems are going to last a lot longer than the pandemic.”

Now facing the cut their fears are likely to become a reality. 

The researchers at Covid Realities and The University Of York are asking that the Government increases monies for families with children plus national guidance on school uniform cost to lessen the financial impact on struggling parents. 

A bill which could address this is currently being debated in Parliament.

“Uniform costs often cluster at the start of an academic year, and so for families on a low-income it can be a source of acute anxiety and worry,” said Dr Geoff Page, a research fellow on the Nuffield Foundation-funded Covid Realities programme. “Uniform can be hard to accommodate in precariously balanced budgets, where almost every penny is meticulously accounted for. 

“Our participants described a sense of the unmanageable – of living with unmanageable expenses, with school uniform representing another turn of the financial screw.

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As the schools break up for the summer holidays, the financial worry of having to pay for children’s school uniform, as well as for food and wellbeing increases. I  also feel this stress and to be honest I don’t know how I’m going to manage it.

Many families are as the report states having to make the decision wether to feed their children a decent meal or pay for a piece of their expensive uniform.

The pandemic and the way that the government has handled it has had a detrimental effect upon families and children, causing them to live on a much lower income but still forced to provide the same things. 

It’s not always possible to find school uniforms in charity shops or at school swap or donation sites. Each and every child needing school uniform are different sizes which is virtually impossible to replicate in donations and charity shops. 

As the report states there needs for it to continue to be debated and acted upon in parliament, otherwise our children and their parents will continue to be let down and made to feel like they’re not good parents. 

Please read, share and tweet my blog. It’s important to get the truth out there. 

A huge thank you to everyone that reads and supports my blog and campaign. I have plans to continue to hand food parcels and help for people in the community and outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. 

I don’t receive any payment for this blog and anything that I do.

If anyone would like to donate theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. 

Its Not Good Enough

I’ve been campaigning against the cruel system which is Universal Credit since it’s conception. I have with friends held weekly demonstrations against the cruelty of said system and have been told countless accounts of how Universal Credit has affected people, how it has caused many people to end their life’s, split families up and has Rendered people ill, depressed, stressed, hungry and feeling that they can never satisfy the demands of the system which was created in order to ‘help’ people.

The truth is that Universal Credit doesn’t help many, it leaves people in a much worse financially than they were before. It wears people down until they can’t cope any more.

It doesn’t discriminate though, it treats everyone in the same manner, making some people feel like a criminal for asking for help because they need it and deserve to be helped.

if you look through this blog you will read many stories of how this system has treated people, how its worn people down and has for some been a massive contributor into people taking their own life.

We’ve handed out hundreds of food parcels, literally fed people that haven’t eaten for days. Indeed, I wrote in an earlier blog post I documented that I gave a woman and her children some tinned food and goodies, and how they walked across the road and ate the food out of the tins because they were hungry and hadn’t eaten a real meal for a long time.

I’ve spoken to people that had been discriminated against by the DWP because of the way they looked. If you scroll down my blog posts you will read that a man was discriminated against because he wasn’t wearing a suit and tie and proper shoes for his appointment at the Jobcentre.

This was blatant discrimination because they knew how poor he was, how he’d had no money for over a month and only possessed one pair of canvas shoes and a thin summer jacket.

The demands that the DWP make to people can be completely ridiculous like this, if he had’t spoken to us he would never have found out that he didn’t have to do this.

I also helped a woman with a young baby who was told by her advisor that she couldn’t come to the Jobcentre with her baby. This is completely unfair and also untrue. Children are allowed to attend appointments but the DWP like to make the rules up as they please.

I’ve spoken and helped people that were very close to taking their own life because they couldn’t cope with the DWP bullying anymore. I’ve also helped people that became homeless when Universal Credit was first introduced into my town and two other local authorities. I’ll also never forget being told by a police officer that a man that I had helped but was later let down by the system, that he had taken his own life because he couldn’t see any future for himself.

I really could talk forever about this, please scroll through my blogs and my media posts to see more. It’s cruelty certainly ignited a fire inside of me to make me determined to fight these and other injustices throughout the DWP and other systems.

Universal Credit was introduced under the guise of supposedly making it easier to claim and that people would be better off financially. It wasn’t long before it was shown to do anything but this. It can virtually destroy people.

Years ago I made a promise, prompted by my friend Michael to document everything that I see, hear and experience in this blog. I really didn’t expect it to be read by anyone at all but it was because it wasn’t being spoken about back then.

Although I can’t be there today to take part in the day of action because I developed Potts Syndrome which comes and goes, but today it’s here after having Covid and Long Covid I am there in spirit. Covid nearly broke me but it didn’t and I’m very grateful to have survived it.

I stand in solidarity with everyone that’s campaigning against Universal Credit whilst also demanding that the government introduces the £20 uplift to disabled people as well. Disabled people have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, many haven’t been able to leave their homes because of quarantine restrictions and also the lack of carers being able to help at home. It’s absolutely shocking that the government treats them in this way.

The DWP systems aren’t good enough. They don’t help people, instead they punish people because of their own existence. I fear that this will continue to worsen because they hate poor and disabled people, and they don’t care if we suffer either.

I also experienced the death of my son which was totally unexpected and through no fault of his own. He went to bed and didn’t wake up. Joseph was disabled and he had to fight for every penny that he got from the DWP. I’ve lost count of the amount of appeals that he had to make to get his rightful payments.

When I first learnt that my son had died I didn’t know how I would continue, grief can take you to some very dark places. Despite this I think that I’m learning how to cope with it, knowing that it’s ok to have an off day or to feel sad sometimes. My daughters and everyone that reads my blog and supports both the campaign and blog have really helped me. It’s ok to cry and there shouldn’t be any shame surrounding this.

My son shared the same birthday as me which is coming up very soon, so I know that’s going to be a tough day for us all.

I want to do more though. I don’t think that I’m doing enough to raise awareness and to help people. Despite this I do know that I do need to keep this blog going because despite everything I still need to get the truth out there. If anyone would like to donate towards the upkeep of this blog and my campaign theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Let’s get the truth out there!

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.