Tag: homelessness

Council Tax Arrears Rise Dramatically

A recent report undertaken by Money Advice has uncovered that Council Tax arrears are rising dramatically and are expected to grow exponentially.

As detailed inthe report the total amount of arrears owing now stands at over £4.9 billion, this is an increase of £521 million (12%) on last year (2021).



With the ever increasing cost of living costs and energy bills it comes as no surprise that many are struggling to pay council tax.This has been happening for years and it shows no sign of improving.

The analysis conducted by Money Advice suggests that the problem is worsening showing that in the past 5 years the average CouncilTax bill in England has risen by 24%. At the same time arrears have risen profoundly by 74% over the same time period

This leaves an ever increasing amount of households that are struggling to afford their bills and everyday costs therefore falling deeper into arrears unable to meet the payments.

The truth is that the current system of collecting council tax isn’t working, it often costs local authorities more to implement than they actually are able to collect. Households are already struggling to pay and local councils are trying to cope with the deficit of payments whilst trying to keep essential services going as many rely upon council tax payments to provide such services.

The rules that govern council tax collection are approximately 30 years old and are no longer working for today’s financial climate. The whole council tax system needs to be changed for it to work fairly both for households and local authorities.

Money Advice suggests that the Government needs to urgently take a duel approach both for households and councils.

They suggest that:

The government increases and ring-fence funding for Council Tax Support to stop people falling behind enabling more people to get help paying.

Change and reform collection rules so that households are treated fairly and not met with intimidating behaviour from bailiff sent out to collect arrears. This creates distress and doesn’t actually work to help people pay, instead it increases debt due to having to pay bailiff costs as well.

In an ideal world there would be new, fair system created that is affordable and doesn’t cause increasing poverty and spiralling into further debt.

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You can find a full copy of the report here at https://t.co/WT2vQSzLhA

Please read and share this raises awareness and is vitally important.

If you like my content and would like to contribute towards keeping both the blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the side and top of this blog post.

I work hard and I don’t receive any payments at all leaving me struggling for everyday costs and basics. Every penny makes such a huge difference and also helps to me to continue with my work.

UK Food Prices Set To Rise Again This Summer

Food prices are predicted to increase by 15% in the UK this summer. This is the highest level in more than 20 years. This is predicted to rise alongside inflation which could last until the middle of next year, according to a report by The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)

This is a result of the ever increasing prices of meat, cereal, dairy, fruit and vegetable products caused by the rise in costs of wheat prices as a result of the war in Ukraine.

The Ukraine is a big supplier of wheat to the UK, combined with sanctions imposed upon Russia will undoubtably cause a hike in prices and also a probable wheat shortage. Also predicted by the grocery trade body IGD.com is a rise in costs of food items caused by production lockdowns in China and export bans on food products such as palm oil from Indonesia and wheat from India.

What does this mean?

Food costs are going to rise dramatically again making it extremely difficult for low income households to be able to afford to buy much needed food essentials. According to a survey undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) there has been an increase in the number of people spending less on food and household essentials which has risen from 36% to 41%.

This figure is set to rise again in the Autumn when as predicted by The Bank of England inflation is predicted to reach to 11%, which is the highest since the 1970s.

Rising energy costs

Households are still struggling to cope with the rise in energy costs with government payments set to be sent out to household in July. This scheme is not without its faults though leaving some low income households and disabled people exempt from this scheme.

After the second payments given by the government in October there are so far no plans to extend this to the winter and beyond, leaving many forced to live in cold homes unable to cook food.

A recent survey also carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that 52% of low income households are being forced to use less gas and electricity because they can no longer afford the cost. This in turn will also affect a households ability to cook meals.

Why does this matter?

Low income households are already burdened with an ever increasing cost of living that they can no longer afford to keep up with. Already overwhelmed with these costs and the lack of affordable food this will undoubtably cause mental distress and illness as a result of not being able to provide the basics for themselves and their families.

The lack of financial support from the government in helping the public with these costs is sadly lacking. In work and out of work benefits such as universal credit, working tax credits, ESA and PIP have failed to rise with inflation leaving households with a huge financial deficit.

The poorest can no longer be expected to bear the brunt of these ever increasing costs. Permanent financial help from the government needs to be offered before winter, if not thousands will undoubtedly become ill or worse as a result of living in cold homes unable to provide food for themselves and their families.

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Please read, share and tweet this article it helps massively to raise awareness about the real issues facing working class people in the UK.

I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do, and like yourselves I’m struggling to be able to cope with the increasing costs of everything.

If you can afford to 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. Every penny makes a massive difference and it really helps.

A huge thank you to everyone that’s helped to support my blog and campaign I really couldn’t do this without you. Thank you.

DWP To Start Planned Legacy Claimants Migration To Universal Credit

With much celebration yesterday evening the DWP announced that their plans to start migrating people from all legacy benefits to Universal Credit (UC) with a commencement date being May 9th. Their target completion date being December 2024. This will leave approximately 900,000 of households worse off whilst claiming UC.

Not only will thousands of claimants previously claiming legacy benefits be hit with lower payments they’re set to also face a benefit freeze leaving them in a much worse financial situation they are already in. They will also be faced with the distress of being forced to accept this whilst struggling financially to cover the basics.

The DWP claim that legacy claimants will be sent a ‘migration notice’ with a three-month deadline to make a claim for UC. If they don’t accept the migration notice or don’t receive it as is often the case with letters from the DWP their benefits will stop. This will undoubtably leave thousands of already vulnerable people not receiving any help to do so with the majority of people claiming legacy payments being disabled and ill people already struggling with day to day costs.

The DWP are quoted saying that legacy claimants will receive transition payments to ensure their income does not drop, however how many times have we heard the DWP make statements like this and don’t fulfil their promises.

As a direct result of this migration previous legacy benefit claimants payments will be effectively frozen every April with no end date given. This is because their transitional payments will abrade each year as UC rises with inflation whilst waiting for it to match up with what they’re being paid.

This is very concerning especially because 500,000 claimants forced to migrate claim ESA and are disabled and ill, causing extreme distress and worse with predictions being that they will face being much worse off financially.

We already know that UC is a cruel, harsh system that deliberately punishes the most vulnerable leaving thousands in extreme poverty and distress. UC benefits the government alone giving them the perfect opportunity to punish working class people for simply existing.

Whilst the government and the DWP are rubbing their hands in glee we must continue to support each other and campaign against the governments cruelty, it’s the only way that we will survive this.

Combined with the energy price crisis and the ever increasing cost of living I have no doubt that thousand will die as a result of this forced migration.

God help us all.

EDIT: FROM PAULA PETERS. Also will add the UC regs for legacy benefit support group claimants are not in place yet and still being discussed the white paper on work and disability is important to Keep an eye on.

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Huge thanks to Dan Bloom over at The Mirror for being the inspiration for this piece and a Twitter follower rooneygmusic for sending me the info over last night.

Please like, share, tweet and email this blog post, todays blog is extremely important and I would really appreciate it if you could do this.

I don’t get any payment for the work and campaigning that I do. If you can afford to and would like to buy me a coffee or donate to keeping this blog and campaign going it would help me immensely.

A huge thank you to everyone that is subscribed to and reads my blog.

Another massive thank you goes out to everyone that has supported and does support my blog and campaign I really couldn’t do this 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.

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.

DWP GETS BILLIONS TO FORCE LEGACY BENEFIT CLAIMANTS TO UNIVERSAL CREDIT

DWP SET TO INTRODUCE NEW TAILORING UP APPROACH FOR DISABLED PEOPLE.

The DWP aren’t known for their sympathy towards disabled claimants so it comes as no surprise that they’re now experimenting with a “Tailoring Up” approach to sanctions for disabled claimants.

Their new “Tailoring up” approach will now allow job coaches to make activities such as training or work experience either voluntary or mandatory, entirely at the discretion of the coach. 

You might think that this is a good thing but sadly I fear it isn’t. The DWP aren’t doing any type of monitoring of this new programme therefore the risk of disabled people being discriminated against is high.

This will put disabled people in a terrible situation, leaving them at the hands of a Job Coach that might be sceptical of a persons disability such as mental health issues and other invisible and visible disabilities,

This will leave them at a very high risk of being sanctioned at the whim of a job Advisor based upon their personal opinion. After all theres no monitoring of this scheme leaving Job Coaches apparently answerable to no one.

Also being introduced as part of this scheme is for disabled claimants to attend meetings with job coaches will be a mandatory activity under the scheme. This is being piloted in sixteen areas but we all know what that means.

From years of experience with the DWP and they’re so called pilot schemes I fear that this will be the start of the rollout of this new scheme.

As soon as I hear more about this I will publish it in future blog posts.

It goes without saying but it is very important that you keep a good record of all communications going to the DWP and from them. Having a good paper trail helps enormously to overturn sanction decisions, as does involving a local MP if of course they aren’t a supporter of the whole sanctioning system.

Also very handy for support if anyone is sanctioned are local law Centres, online groups such as Benefits And Work, DPAC and Citizens Advice if you can access them.

DWP GETS BILLIONS FOR FORCED MOVE TO UC AND ONLINE CLAIMS

It also appears that theres always a big pot of money for the DWP to cause more suffering and distress.

The DWP has been given £2.6 billion between now and 2025 for “digital activity to support the delivery of benefits and transform how customers interact with the welfare system.”

They haven’t released any further details of what this transformation will be and what it will entail either. From past experience it’s likely to be spent upon moving as much as possible online, which in itself will cause many problems for claimants.

In the quest to make disabled people now claiming legacy benefits the DWP are set to recieve over half a billion pounds to “support the transition of legacy claimants onto UC” which as it stands will apparently be completed by March 2025.

However DWP will be focusing trying to make disabled people to move “voluntary” from legacy benefits such as ESA onto UC throughout the rest of this year and 2022. This will probably entail putting a lot of pressure onto disabled people to move their claims over, also possibly lying to disabled claimants to force them to move over to Universal Credit.

Unsurprisingly from 2023 onwards the DWP and government will be focusing on forcing the remainder of legacy benefits claimants onto UC, most likely by any means possible.

I know that this is easy for me to say but if you are told that you have to move your claim over to Universal Credit under the guise of it ‘being better’ for you stand your ground and refuse. In absolutely no way would this be beneficial for you at the moment.

No matter how much glitter Job Coaches and the DWP try to throw on the shite that is Universal Credit it will not make it shine.

The DWP are becoming more brazen with their obvious hatred of disabled and poor people. We must try to hold them accountable at every single opportunity that we are given.

You can do this by commenting and calling them out online, helping others and joining campaigns like mine and DPAC and Manchester DPAC over at https:\\manchesterdpac.com Also local branches of Unite Community join.unitetheunion.org

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Please read, share and email my blog to help raise as much awareness as possible. Remember there are more of us than there are of them and sharing online helps enormously to raise awareness.

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

It’s been a horrible year for me, my son died and both myself and my daughter have been ill quite a lot. I’m recovering from Long Covid and another bout of pneumonia. My daughter recently caught Covid and she’s now ill with tonsillitis.

This has left me struggling more than usual which is a complete nightmare as you can probably understand.

For anyone that would like to donate either to my blog or my campaign there is a donate button at the top and side if this blog post.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my work. I don’t receive any payment for my work and I’m really grateful to you xx.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

I’m struggling……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources Shelter.

Living in poverty isn’t living its existing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you all so much x.