Tag: fuel poverty

Poor People Can’t Cook Says Lee Anderson MP

Lee Anderson Tory MP for Ashfield claimed that households in Britain can make nutritious meals on a budget of about 30p a day. He made these crass remarks during the queens speech debate in parliament.

He went on to say that his constituency administer a so called “brilliant scheme” where members of the public needing food donations have to register to join and are forced to attend mandatory budget cookery courses along side receiving food parcels.

Anderson claims that the scheme shows them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget and they can learn how to make a meal for about 30p a day, and this is cooking from scratch.

Mr Anderson went on to say that there’s not a massive use for food banks in the Uk despite record numbers of people being forced to use food banks every day. They can no longer afford to buy food and are having to make this humiliating decision.

According to Anderson poor people come from families that have generations of people from families that cannot cook properly. He went on to say that “They can’t cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget. The challenge is there.”

Ironically this is coming from Tory MP Lee Anderson that himself claimed £220,000 in expenses last year. Maybe he should attend budgeting classes.

Andersons comments are very telling, they highlight exactly how the Conservative party,MPs, councillors and members regard the working class, in particular people that are forced to take the distressing step to use food banks.

The truth is not being able to cook runs right through the class divide, people that live very comfortable lives don’t know how to cook properly also even though they’ve got the resources to do so. Should they be forced to attend mandatory cooking lessons as well?

Most people forced to live in poverty are very good at budgeting the very little money they receive, trying to prioritising their families need for food above their own. They know exactly how much their food costs and how to work within their budget.

The real problem lies within parliament, decisions have been made that have seen energy prices soar massively with food costs increasing dramatically resulting the cost of living being unattainable for many.

Benefit payments haven’t increased with inflation nor have wages leaving the public already starting at a loss before they even start trying to budget.

The truth is working class people are masters of budgeting, they know how to account for every penny and do prioritise their basic needs. Being able to cook however doesn’t lie with the ability to cook good meals it goes beyond that. As energy prices have increased its becoming exceedingly difficult to be able to afford the gas and electric needed to do so, a point that Mr Anderson fails to mention.

For this very reason thousands of people are forced to eat cold food such as sandwiches or having to make the decision as to if its cheaper to buy ready made food that isn’t necessarily healthy but it’s cheaper than the cost of cooking a meal.

Doing this exposes them to judgement from others and often abuse on social media, after all its easier to make a scapegoat out of poor people than it is to criticise a financially well off person.

The right wing press relish in shaming working class people rather than the policies that the government creates that are the cause of food bank use. It’s also easy for them to celebrate the opening of food banks, and laugh about it when, like Mr Anderson you don’t worry about the need for them.

In reality food bank donations are decreasing because many of the people donating can no longer afford to do so. I predict hundreds of much needed food banks being forced to close leaving the people needing them without the food that they desperately need. No amount of budgeting can change this.

Mr Anderson and his kind can take their prejudiced attitudes and fuck right off. The opening of food banks should never be celebrated its sick, crass and humiliating for the uk as a whole.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog its extremely important that the truth of life under the Tory government gets out there. It raises awareness and we need this more than ever.

A huge thanks to everyone that likes, shares and supports my blog and campaign. I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and every penny helps me to continue helping people and raising awareness.

Energy And Cost Of Living Crisis. Basic Human Rights Being Ignored.

I’m still fucking angry, well to be honest that’s an understatement. I’ve been trying to get my head round how people are actually going to survive the constant barrage of energy costs and of course the ever increasing cost of living which is spiralling out of control.

Having food, shelter, warmth and water are a basic human right that is being blatantly ignored by the government. This despite the fact that these basic needs that are recognised worldwide.

Food shopping in supermarkets have become a thing of the past, swapping supermarket queues for food bank queues.

Heating has been replaced with wrapping up in a blanket or quilt with outside often being warmer than being indoors.

Disabled children and their parents reliant upon oxygen machines and pumps, needing a warm homes are forced to make the decision of having to cut down on their energy consumption even though it’s extremely dangerous to do so.

Thousands of disabled people are living in extreme poverty, unable to pay heating and food costs which will exacerbate their health conditions. Forced to live in mental distress because they can’t cover their basic needs.

Food-banks are quickly becoming over subscribed and now have waiting lists leaving many with nowhere to go.

People reliant upon public transport are becoming isolated because they can no longer afford to use it.leaving them unable to travel to the nearest town for appointments and to go food shopping for basic essentials.

Already vulnerable people are being forced to have to go without phone credit because they can no longer afford it. They know that if they don’t complete their job searches the DWP will sanction them.

Every day thousands of individuals and families are becoming homeless because they can no longer afford to pay their rent.

Children are hungry and cold their parents struggling financially to buy the basics for them, their parents in distress because they feel like they’ve failed their children.

The reality is for the working class they can never work enough hours to cover the ever rising costs that they are facing every day. The old Tory and DWP mantra ‘Work sets you free’ certainly doesn’t apply anymore, not like it ever did in the first place..

This leaves us with the dilemma, how can we change this? What can we do to stop it?

Truth be told it isn’t going to change overnight, we’ve got years of Tory rule approaching us and sadly I predict that things will undoubtably become worse.

There are however actions that we can do now that will make a difference towards the next general election results.

Use your vote in the upcoming local elections.

Vote labour if you have the option to or an alternative if that’s the only option. It isn’t about liking Starmer, after all we all have our own opinions about him. It’s about getting as many Tory councillors out of their comfy seats in local government. Doing this weakens their power base and ensures that less of them have a say in local government. This can only be a good thing.

Protest.

Some are of the opinion that protesting does nothing but that isn’t true at all. Protesting causes disruption and it raises awareness massively. It’s a tool that’s been proven to work time and again even if the results aren’t seen straight away.

This can be done in several ways.

Showing our disgust via demonstrations really does rattle them, especially when they take place near parliament. Maybe a weekend march won’t be seen to do anything but it does raise awareness and that can only be a good thing.

If you want to join a protest head over to http:https//thepeoplesassembly.org.uk

I’m aware that many people are unable to go out and protest, many being too exhausted, hungry and worn out to do so but there are alternatives.

Protest online.

Use social media as a platform to get your message out there. It’s a very powerful tool and it does make a difference. It now plays a huge part in raising awareness and it shouldn’t be underestimated.

Join a group like DPAC here athttps:manchesterdpac.com They do amazing effective work.

Talk to neighbours and friends.

Raising awareness this way is amazing, it raises awareness locally and maybe to people that aren’t on the internet.

Support your local food bank and community centre.

They’re often the heart of the community and once again this raises awareness.

With many long term Tory voters now changing their votes to Labour or their alternative it looks like the worm might finally be turning. Hopefully at the next general election they’ll be voted out of government.

It’s time to take action.

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Thank you to everyone that supports my blog and campaign, I really couldn’t do any of this without you. Your support enables me to continue campaigning and blogging.

I can’t thank you enough.

Please like, share and tweet this blog post. It raises a lot of awareness and it gets the message out there.

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Thank you

I can’t afford to live now! Sunaks Spring Budget Fails the poorest And Most Vulnerable.

It doesn’t feel real does it, so many people are struggling to live with the bare minimum of essential things such as food, heating and clothing. This was echoed in a conversation that I had outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre today.

I’ll call him Bill, obviously I like to keep peoples names anonymous, its much better that way. It stops the DWP machine from interfering and possibly targeting him. Believe me this has happened in the past, I recorded it in a blog many years ago.

Bill lives on his own after being his mothers sole carer. Sadly his mother died and he now lives alone. Bill doesn’t have a lot, a mobile phone and a television that was gifted to him. Sadly its a smart tv so he can only access the bare minimum of channels.

You might ask why this matters, after all things like this apparently aren’t important. I, however believe that it is important because it gives a person some sense of normality, maybe a bit of enjoyment. When you’re excluded from what others class as normal it has a distinct affect on your mental wellbeing, thus making life that bit more difficult.

Bill doesn’t have access to the internet at home and relies upon his mobile phone for everything. Some say that this is a luxury but it isn’t. It’s a necessity and the DWP will sanction claimants that don’t have a phone and or access to the internet.

I took Bill for a cuppa, I sometimes do this because its a nice thing to do, something that so many won’t be able to do after April, it was then when he told me about his concerns. He’s quite rightly concerned about how he’s going to be able to pay his essential bills, not anything that you could class as a luxury. It’s the bare essentials that he needs to survive.

Bill also shared his health concerns with me and how difficult its become to get an appointment with a doctor and how hard it is for him to get his repeat prescription.

Whilst many doctors surgeries in the UK offer telephone consultations as well as face to face ones its become near impossible to do this because his surgery doesn’t offer an online service and nor do they send his repeat description digitally over to a chemist of his choice. Instead he’s left to struggle collecting his prescription up and handing it to a chemist to be processed.

We discussed the spring budget and how awful it is for unemployed and disabled people, also for people on a bare minimum wage.

The truth is that Sunak doesn’t care and it this was reflected in his spring statement.

Whilst we are faced with an energy cost crisis which will undoubtably plunge at least 10 million people into fuel poverty, leaving them without the means to heat their homes.

Sunak provided nothing to support low income households and people claiming any type of benefit or pension.

On the contrary Sunak has uprated benefits and pensions only by 3.1% which was last October’s inflation rate. This is not the 7% rate of inflation which will be the upcoming over the next few months. By doing this Sunak has directly made 9 million of the poorest and most vulnerable people approximately £500 poorer.

Neither can we forget the £1000 a year Sunak took from Universal Credit recipients in the autumn when he withdrew the £20 a week pandemic uplift. This left thousands of people distraught and struggling. So far Sunak has taken £1700 of the UK’s most vulnerable and poorest households, whilst not forgetting that disabled people didn’t even receive the £20 uplift.

Sunak then announced that he is raising the threshold at which National Insurance contributions begin to be paid. Remember, most benefit recipients do not pay NI as their incomes are too low. Neither do pensioners. So once again they do not benefit from this at all. 

Sunak also announced that he’s cutting the fuel duty whilst ignoring the fact that the poorest benefit recipients do not own a car, so they don’t benefit one bit from this. Neither do they pay income tax, so will not benefit from the 1p cut in 2024.

Theres also no information given as to how and will the poorest benefit from the £500m Sunak has given local councils. 

To put it bluntly Sunak’s statement was aimed at fellow Tory MPs whose support he wants in a future leadership election if he is to take part, but this is a cruel and heartless way of doing it. He’s basically stamping his feet upon the poorest with his only concern being himself.

This is to be expected though because Sunak is a millionaire and has no understanding of what life is really like for the majority of people in the Uk, and nor does he care to learn and sympathise with them. He’s a typical Tory, selfish and as shallow as they come, after all they’re never going to care and they don’t want to.

I shall be returning to the Jobcentre next week, health permitting.

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I don’t receive any payment for my work from any organisations, and I like many of you are reliant upon food parcels etc. To say it’s a struggle is an understatement.

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

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

DWP Sanctions Set To Rise Dramatically.

Universal credit claimants are going to be introduced to the DWPs new ‘Way To Work’ scheme in the very near future. The conditions for this new job searching programme will be that claimants will only be allowed to look for work in their own field of expertise cut back to one month. After one month claimants will be forced to look for any kind of job. going to have the time they can look for any Jon including work that they’re not qualified to do.

The DWPs new scheme has been introduced because the government has decided to force half a million people into work of any kind by June. Rather conveniently ignoring the fact that employers won’t just allow anyone to do any job without the relevant qualifications and work experience.

The new Way To Work scheme will apply to people that are declared fit for work and are classed as ready to work.

Instead the blame will fall upon already stressed claimants who don’t comply with the new Way To Work regime. If they refuse to look for work that they aren’t qualified for they will face having their universal credit payments sanctioned. Claimants will be forced to adhere to the new terms and conditions upon making their first claim for universal credit.

Whilst the DWP are in the mood for harassing claimants they’re threatening to ramp up the threat of sanctions. Unsurprisingly at the same time they’re refusing to publish a report which they created in 2019 into the effectiveness of sanctions.
In true DWP fashion they’ve changed their mind about publishing the report because they regard it to be of a “sensitive nature”.
Regardless of wether they publish the report or not there is a hell of a lot of information out there, published by other organisations and agencies that prove that sanctioning claimants only has a detrimental effect upon claimants and their families.



Sanctioning claimants ensures that a person will dive even further into poverty, their health will get worse. Many are left without the ability to buy food, heat their homes and pay their rent. I’ve been writing about this for years now, if you scroll down you’ll see my posts.

Given that the number of UC claimants carrying sanctions has already rose tenfold between June and November 2021, it is extremely worrying about about how many more claimants will face sanctions and how will they cope combined with the massive cost of living crisis that is already forcing people to make the choice between eating, heating or neither.

The truth is this. Sanctioning people and taking away a persons only means of financial support is yet another way that the government and the DWP punish people for being poor, blaming them for their own poverty and ensuring that they’ll have to agree with anything that the DWP tells them to do.

Sanctions also ensure that a person that has been sanctioned won’t have the energy to fight back because they’re either scared of what can happen or are too hungry, tired and worried to think about anything else.

Sadly I suspect that the DWP could also sanction people that have failed to get employment with an employer outside of their field of expertise. Will they blame the innocent claimant for not getting the job? Judging from previous experience you can bet that they could well do this.

The new ‘Way to work’ scheme won’t be welcomed by many employers either. Jobs often require qualifications and experience, sending everyone to apply for all jobs could deter employers from advertising jobs with the DWP. It’ll result in a lot of extra work trying to find suitable prospective employees through masses of applications.

It’s the perfect Tory recipe to shut up the voices of the working class, making them too scared to do anything to upset their overseers (DWP).


This isn’t surprising though, its a tried and tested tory tactic, switching the blame for any financial mess that the government has created upon those that are the poorest. They choose to take the blame away from themselves especially when they’ve been behaving shockingly. It’s impossible to forget the newspaper headline quoting people claiming social security of being benefit scroungers and also the numerous poverty porn tv programmes on channel 5.

The stigma of being poor and forced to claim social security hasn’t gone away, it’s alive and kicking online in local Facebook groups and on the streets. We need to continue to call out Boris Johnson and his cronies for exactly what they are lying scum and they’ll never have the publics best interests at heart.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/benefit-sanctions-statistics-to-october-2021-experimental/benefit-sanctions-statistics-to-october-2021-experimental

I know how awful it is to be targeted by the DWP and a very judgemental and unhelpful DWP advisor, I know how worrying it is to be threatened with a benefit section. Thousands of people have suffered as a result of this unnecessary sanctioning system. Sanctions don’t help people to look for work and like I’ve stated above they have a very detrimental affect upon a persons wellbeing.

Solidarity with everyone forced to undergo the cruel DWP regime.

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A huge thank you to everyone that reads and shares my blog posts. It really makes a massive difference and it raises awareness which is desperately right now.

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

If you would like to get some support and solidarity I thoroughly recommend going Disabled People Against The Cuts (DPAC). They are a national voluntary run organisation. Here’s the link to the Greater `Manchester branch https:\\manchesterdpac.com

How am I? To be honest I’m struggling at the moment like many of you are. Being forced to sit in a cold house isn’t my idea of living. I put the heating on for my daughter and that’s it, and its not all the time. I’m dreading the energy price increases in April.

I’m not paid by anyone to do the work that I do and I would like to be able to continue to do so.

If you can afford to donate to help keep this going theres a PayPal button at the top and side of this blog post.

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

Rising Energy Prices. Deliberate Conscious Cruelty For The Poorest.

This week has been brutal for the poorest and most vulnerable.

Last night Conservative MPs voted to hand bankers a tax cut worth £1,000,000,000 each year whilst at the same time they’re pushing ahead with their National Insurance tax hike on workers.

Meanwhile the energy price cap rise has been announced today at 11am, revealing a massive bills hike for around 22million households from the start of April, with the government saying that they will offer people that pay for their energy by bills £200 towards the cost of this. This won’t cover the price increase by any means and nor have they addressed people that use pre payment meters.

The predicted energy price costs are set to increase by £708 a year from £1,309 to £2.017 for those dependent upon pre-paid energy meters. For those paying by bills its set to rise by £693 a year to £1.971.

The apparent cause for this according to the energy regulator Ofgem is a record increase in global gas prices.

Where does this leave us? Millions of people including disabled and elderly people will be put in an unattainable situation. Can they afford to heat and eat? As from April the answer will be no to both for millions. Energy prices have already risen and already millions already can’t afford to pay this.

To cook food it requires the use of energy which will from April which will almost be tripled in price.. Will they be able to put their heating on for a hour in the morning and evening to warm up a little? I doubt it.

For the last ten years millions of people have been reliant upon food parcels to survive. The reasons for this vary from being sanctioned by the DWP, having to wait five weeks for their first universal credit payment and not earning enough money to pay the rent, bills and suchlike. This already leaves many living in destitution. A knock off effect of these price increases will most likely result in a decrease of food donations because people will no longer be able to afford to donate.

Not only will the energy price rises cause great distress I have no doubt that it will cause the death of thousands. Not being able to afford to eat any food of a decent nutritional value will cause illness combined with living in a cold house with no heating will exacerbate this.

Not only is this insulting its a deliberate conscience choice. As usual the poorest are being hit the hardest, like my MP Angela Rayner said ‘Don’t believe their lies about levelling up they’re busy punching down.’ They could have made the choice to make gas providers such as Shell oil pay higher taxes, nor have they offered to increase social security payments to help people pay these costs.

This is the highest increase of energy prices that have ever been recorded. Instead of helping the poorest and most vulnerable, they’ve chosen not to. It’s conscious, deliberate cruelty which will result in suffering and deaths.

I’m furious even though I was expecting this. Like many I live in poverty dependent upon foodbanks and cheap food. Whilst I was planning my sons funeral last year Boris Johnson and co were ignoring the quarantine rules and having a jolly good time. I was trying to work out who could attend his funeral. We were abiding by the rules for the safety of others.

My financial situation now leaves me unable to visit his memorial at the cemetery to pay my respects. This feels like a massive kick in the teeth. Not only could my son not be able to have all of his friends attend his funeral, I now can’t afford to pay my respects.

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Please read, share and tweet my blog. This makes a massive difference and it really does help to raise awareness.

If you can afford to and would like to donate towards my blog and campaign theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. I receive no payment for any of the work that I do and I’m dependent upon donations to continue.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign.

Half A Million Universal Credit Claimants Told To Find Work Within Weeks Or Face Sanctions.

Half a million Universal Credit claimants will soon be forced to apply for jobs from every sector or risk being sanctioned.

Government ministers are today announcing a new scheme to supposedly get more people into work under the pretence of helping claimants and their families. Apparently this will supposedly ‘help’ them cope with the cost of living crisis.

Government ministers are also announcing major plans today to change job searching rules to toughen up the already harsh rules about searching for work. They say it will supposedly help more people secure jobs.

“Under our new plans, jobseekers will be supported to find any job in any sector within weeks not months, putting them on the path to better jobs and progression in a career.”

This will be soul destroying for people having worked hard to gain their qualifications and work experience.


It appears that whilst the government is announcing their new job searching scheme they’ve forgotten that we are still living in a pandemic which is leaving people open to infection regardless of being vaccinated which can then put their families at risk.


Universal Credit claimants, working and not working and disabled people are already being hit the hardest with the rising cost of energy bills and taxes that are going to be introduced in April. Indeed, energy costs have already risen leaving many with having to make the terrible choice of heating or eating or neither.

It comes as no surprise that this could be the reason why the government has lowered the quarantine regulations. In their eyes everyone should be working regardless of their ability do do so.

The government also announced ‘We’re using the strength of our jobs market to tackle supply challenges and get employers the people they and the economy need’.
This will be done regardless of a persons needs therefore once again putting their ‘friends’ in business first without a thought for claimants.

Ministers are also planning more intensive face-to-face meetings for claimants which will undoubtably cause distress for claimants and will also take time away from actual job searching.

As I’ve already said in previous blog posts, finding a job isn’t as easy as the government would like you to believe.

Not everyone can apply for every job for various reasons and employers often won’t employ everyone either. There are various reasons for this ranging from the ability to undertake the work and being overqualified for the job. Not everyone has access to the internet either.

However as part of the DWPs new plans claimants will be told to look for and find a job within weeks not months. If they fail to find employment they will face being sanctioned.

There is no way that a minimum wage or zero hour job will cover the costs of living. The price of food, energy and housing is increasing every day which leaves the poorest paying the highest cost for this.

I can envision that these new rules will cause a whole new level of suffering, forcing claimants to undergo more compliance and burdening them with more pressure to find work that’s suitable for them.

Instead of challenging the minimum wage and abolishing zero hour contracts there is no way on this earth that it will benefit anyone. Instead the government and the DWP have seen the pandemic as an excuse to punish the poorest and this is unforgivable.


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How am I? Stressed as per usual. Financially I’m really struggling, this blog being my main source of income. To say that I’m struggling is an understatement.

I’m worried about the health of everyone forced to undergo this new regime and the effects of it.

So many people are already stressed, forced to live on the bare minimum but the increased threat of being sanctioned for not finding work in weeks will cause an immense amount of mental distress.

I will be there to help people as will many others, and I will continue to do this however hard it is for me.

If you would like to get some support and solidarity I can’t recommend Disabled People Against the Cuts enough. If you live in the Greater Manchester area you can find them here at https:\\manchesterdpac.com

If you would like to donate to keep both my blog and campaign going there is a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny makes an enormous difference as does sharing my blog.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

Photo by Soumil Kumar on Pexels.com

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.