Tag: food poverty

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.

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

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.