Tag: housing

I’ve got £3 to last me for a week. Universal Credit strikes again

Wow I can’t believe that it’s Thursday again. It’s definitely a lot cooler out there so wrap up if your going out.

The cooler weather also highlights the inability for thousands of people to choose between heating and eating. Of course the government don’t want to rectify this, I’m convinced that they’re trying to kill us off.

Today was a mix of differing problems and as usual I will not be naming anyone. I hope that you understand why.

The first thing that I did today was to hand out the food parcels. We had six and within five minutes there was only one left.

The remaining food parcel was taken by a woman struggling to get by. She was claiming Universal Credit and unbeknownst to her the DWP had shut her claim down without telling her.

The DWP claim that she hadn’t signed her claimant commitment but she was adamant that she had done. This resulted in zero consultation with her and now she’s having to appeal this.

The DWP however have told her that she has to make a new claim for universal credit which means that she’s going to have to wait at least five weeks for her first payment.

She also has children and is understandably concerned about how she’s going to feed them.

Don’t expect any sympathy from the DWP though. They’ve got a cast iron weight instead of a heart.

It never get better hearing people’s DWP stories. But thank goodness we were there to help her. She’s going to appeal the DWPs decision.

I then had a conversation with a chap that I usually speak to every week. He told me that he had waited for over a hour for the bus to get to Ashton.

I can confirm that this is the norm in Tameside at the moment. Lots of our bus routes have been taken off and the ones that remain cost a lot more.

I’ve spoken to elderly and disabled people who have been housebound as a result of this. The bus used to stop right outside their houses and they can’t manage the walk to the nearest bus stop. It’s too far for them to walk etc.

If anyone from the Tameside area is reading this please join in with the Better Bus campaign.

I then spotted a woman leaving the Jobcentre. I offered her a leaflet and immediately she told me that she hates universal credit. I asked her why and she went into her pocket and got out some coins amounting to approximately £3. She said “This is all that I have until the end of next week. How on earth am I going to manage on this amount of money. ‘

Of course I advised her and signposted her to local organisations etc where she can get a food parcel from because we had ran out of them.

This is the reality of life whilst claiming Universal credit and its the same for thousands of people.

Far too many people have become accepting of this though. Many are resigned to their fate, they know that they’re going to be hungry and they think that no one cares about them.

Lots of us do care though, this shouldn’t be happening but we all to our best to help people.

We signposted quite a few people to CAB for advice and once again people having trouble with their council tax payments was mentioned. The poorest shouldn’t be made to bear the brunt of this.

We then spoke to a person that had recently been declared fit for work. They’ve got numerous disabilities and illnesses but don’t expect the DWP to care. They’re going to appeal this decision but in the meantime he was told by his DWP advisor that he’s no longer allowed to hand fit notes in.

Apparently the DWP know better than a doctor and a specialist doctor. They want everyone to look for none existent jobs despite the fact that many aren’t able to work.

As regular readers will know this is far from unusual but it never gets easier does it.

I advised a woman who’s son is being moved over from DLA to PIP.

We had a lovely conversation with a man who’s being sent on what feels like constant courses ran by and on behalf of the DWP. The latest course that they’ve been told to attend or be sanctioned is supposed to motivate people.

It’s a bit hard motivating people who are hungry and who’ve got the threat of being sanctioned hanging over their head. But hey every person that attends these courses are worth a fortune to the DWP. Not only does the DWP receive funding for these courses they also pay the providers quite a lot of money per person attending.

Wonderful isn’t it… Not. We can never forget that we’re just a number to them and we can and are exploited by the DWP at their whim.

We then had a conversation with a man that’s been having problems with his employer.

His employer is totally abusing the fact that there’s so many people looking for work. He pays people less than their long term staff. When people complain they tell them that they can walk, it doesn’t matter because they can fill the position straight away.

There’s far too many awful employers like this and it’s about time that something was done about this isn’t it.

Today we helped lots of people, provided support and gave out food parcels. We’ve been doing this for around six years now and it’s getting worse.

Please read and share my blog. Tweet it as well, email it to your local Tory MP.

I’d like to thank Gordon for all of his help today. I’d also like to thank you all for supporting the campaign and my blog.

This has become a full time job and every penny helps me to continue with both the campaign and the blog.

We’ll be returning next week and I’ll be blogging as usual.

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DWP refuse to pay for DBS check but will pay over £200 for a course.

Dear readers I’m extremely sorry for the delay in publishing my blog.

This weeks demo was extremely busy, as usual the food parcels were taken as soon as they arrived. I really wish that this wasn’t the case but it will be for the foreseeable future.

As usual I will list some of the conversations that I had today, identities won’t be revealed either.

As I arrived at the spot where I pick the food parcels up from I was greeted by a chap who I had a conversation with last week. He had followed my advice and as a result he managed to get hold of some much needed work boots etc.

I’m so happy that I can signpost people, remember we don’t leave anyone in the lurch we always do our best to help everyone.

Here’s a typical example of DWP logic it’s obvious to me that they don’t really want people to find good positive employment.

Jenny spotted us she was leaving the Jobcentre, she asked me if she could have a leaflet. As I handed her a leaflet she expressed her disgust of the whole DWP system. Here’s her story.

Jenny told us that she’s a qualified nurse and she would like to return to work. She asked the DWP if they would pay for a DBS check. You’d think that the DWP would agree to this because they apparently help people into work……

The DWPs answer was this, no they wouldn’t pay for a DBS check but they would pay over £200 for Jenny to attend a door persons job.

If course we advised that a future employer should pay for the check but as we know not all employers will do this.

As I’ve said before claimants are nothing but a number to be bought and sold at the DWPs whim. They profit from sending claimants to these often rubbish courses and until this stops they won’t stop.

I was then stopped by a woman who’s being forced to attend what seems to be endless pointless DWP courses. She told me about the latest course that she was forced to attend.

She told me that she was told to attend an effective job search course for people with arthritis. Telling me about her experience she said “I was stuck in a room with lots of other people. They tried to tell us that we shouldn’t let arthritis prevent us from finding work. Easier said than done when you’re in constant pain.”

If this wasn’t enough enough she was also told that she had to attend a job fair in Ashton as well. The DWP advised her that if she didn’t attend they would sanction her.

The word on the street later was that the job fair was rubbish. Potential employers telling people that they were either too old or unsuitable for the work that they were offering. This didn’t surprise me because I’m told the same every year that they hold this event.

A little later I had a conversation with chap that I’d had a conversation with a few weeks ago. He’s been waiting for over 3 months for his first universal credit payment. He told me that the DWP have informed him that he should receive his first universal credit payment on Saturday. Let’s hope that they do.

Last but not least we spoke to a woman who was very quick to tell us that she was over £600 worse off since claiming Universal credit. She’s gone from being able to being able to cope on the benefits system to not coping at all.

Her story is that she had previously been homeless and she had been rehoused to a three bedroom house. She only needed a two bedroom home but she couldn’t refuse the offer of this property. If she did they would refuse to help her.

As a result shes now forced to pay the bedroom tax and top up rent as well as the council tax supplement. She’s applied for a help with this but she keeps on being refused. She’s also asked to move to a smaller property but this is refused also because she owes rent.

It’s absolutely shocking that local housing providers refuse to help people find smaller properties because they owe rent. Of course they’re going to owe rent they need a smaller home so that they can pay back this debt.

The whole system is geared against the poorest people in society. At every turn they get the door slammed in their faces, are told that they’re not good enough and are used by companies employed by the DWP until they burn out, become ill or disabled and are then left with no support at all.

Poverty is isolating which helps the DWP to abuse these people in whatever way they see fit. Like I said earlier we’re a commodity and we’re bought and sold at the DWP and governments whim.

We spoke to lots of people yesterday and offered help, advice, signposting, food, support and solidarity. We will return next week to help even more people.

Please read and share this blog thank you. Tweet it, email it etc because everyone needs to know the truth behind the DWPs false advertisements claiming that universal credit is the best thing ever.

For everyone who supports my blog thank you so much.

For anyone wanting to donate there’s a PayPal button at the top and side of this blog.

Can’t afford food can’t cope thanks to universal credit.

Dear readers it’s Thursday again and I hope that WordPress doesn’t play up again today. Once again my apologies.

We were joined again by colleagues and friends from Stockport and Oldham and Ashton. Recently support for the demo has been very low so I really welcomed this. It gave me the hope that I needed to carry on with the demos. We are needed and I won’t be stopping them anytime soon.

As usual all the food parcels were taken straight away and I held one back for someone who had messaged me before the demo. We all should be angry about the need for food parcels but unfortunately it’s become normalised and accepted by many. Years of Tory rule will do that. Poverty is also now normalised and it’s become acceptable that we are treated like the dirt underneath someone’s shoe, there’s absolutely no accountability on the government’s part but they’re quick to hound a person to find work whilst their on their deathbed.

I’ll list the conversations that I had as usual and I won’t be divulging any names either.

The first conversation that I had this morning was with a man who’s been having a terrible time of it lately. Basically he’s not getting his payments because the DWP won’t accept that he no longer lives at a previous address.

He’s phoned them up, handed in evidence of his new address but they still aren’t listening. He’s now angry and quite rightly so. He needs to eat, pay his bills etc. Do the DWP care? Nope so he has to start phoning them again in the hope that he will be able to get his payment.

I wish that this was unusual but it isn’t. DWP department are notorious for not communicating with each other and for not knowing the correct procedures for things either. It’s much like winning the lottery when you get a good advisor either face to face or on the phone.

It was then that I spoke to Joanne, she’s a woman that I first spoke to a while ago and she was in need of out help again, saying that she’s been let down by every single service in the area and especially by the DWP.

If I had a magic wand and I could change things for her I would but I don’t and I can only advise her. If you’re reading this Joanne, don’t give up we care for you and one day it will get better for you.

I then spotted James as he was leaving the Jobcentre. He looked a tad confused and I handed him a leaflet.

James told me that since he started to claim universal credit he’s lost weight because he can no longer afford to eat regular meals. He’s also struggling to keep his accommodation going but one by one his appliances are breaking down and he can’t afford to either repair or replace them. Thanks to universal credit he hasn’t got much hope for the future.

The DWP declared James fit for work, he obviously isn’t but they don’t care. I advised him and myself and my colleague had a long conversation with him. From what James was saying he doesn’t really speak to many people so I hope that we made a difference to his day. I also signposted him for further help.

We then spotted Paul as he was leaving the Jobcentre, he was looking at our placards and agreeing with them especially the ‘stop universal credit’ one. We asked him if he needed any advice. Paul replied saying that universal credit is ‘terrible’ and it’s ruined his life.

Paul is given a payment of £509 a month out of that he’s got to pay his rent which is £340 a month. The rest of his payment is left to pay bills, food and gas and electric. To say that he’s struggling is an understatement.

Since making a claim for universal credit he’s struggling to cope because his income is so much lower than it used to be. We had a long conversation with him and advised him. I hope that we gave him some hope.

I then noticed Jim walking out of the building, I think that he had been visiting the local council offices.

Jim is an older chap and remembers when life was much easier. He’s been denied his DLA payments and he was visably upset. We had a long chat with him and hopefully he’s feeling better knowing that he is important and we are listening. As usual we advised him.

I then spoke to a chap who’s really struggling at the moment. Luckily he has a support worker that can fight his corner for him.

We then spotted Debbie leaving the council building. She walked right up to us, pointed at our placards and said that she agreed with everything that we were saying and doing.

Debbie’s daughter had nothing but problems with her universal credit payments over the Christmas period. Debbie said that the system is ‘disgusting’. Her daughter is now forced to work a full time job and she hardly sees her children. Debbie and another grandparent helps with the childcare because she can’t afford that either.

This is all causing immense stress for everyone concerned and she’s too scared to claim universal credit after her experience of it.

Essentially thousands of people are forced into taking zero hour contract jobs etc because they’re scared of the DWP and especially universal credit. This is a sad reality of employment these days. Thousands of employers exploit their employees to enable them to profit more. It needs to stop because we are worth so much more than this.

We left the demo today knowing that we had helped lots of people. Thank you so much to everyone who came to support us it really makes a massive difference.

We will be returning next week as usual.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

Theres a PayPal button at the top and side of this blog for anyone wanting to donate. Thank you so much xx.

£213 a month to live on, and also have to top up rent payments with that. People are struggling to survive on universal credit.

Dear readers, today was grim and the weather didn’t help anyone, let alone the people forced to use the Jobcentre. Yet again we encountered numerous people with all sorts of problems ranging from universal credit, ESA and PIP, housing problems etc.

We handed out all of our food parcels, most were taken by single parents with children and working families. They rely on foodbanks to survive, it really shouldn’t be like this.

Thanks to Gordon for joining me and also Jack. Your help is invaluable and it’s appreciated by everyone.

As usual I won’t divulge the names of anyone that I spoke to this morning. The DWP snoop everywhere and I don’t want anyone that I spoke to being targeted by the DWP. This does happen, but not on my blog. I value everyone that I speak to unlike the DWP.

 

John walked out of the Jobcentre clutching the usual list of phone numbers that they hand out to everyone. I handed him a leaflet and asked him if he needed any help. John told me that he was ok, but thats only because he’s living with a relative that can feed and look after him whilst he’s waiting for his universal credit claim to be processed, saying that the alternative is to horrible to think about.

 

I then spoke to Gemma. Gemma has struggled almost all of her life, she’s 19 years old and to be honest isn’t enjoying anything about her life at the moment. In her short lifetime she’s been homeless twice and has been rehoused not long ago.

Gemma is claiming universal credit and is finding it almost impossible to manage. She receives in total £513 a month total to live on after paying her rent payment. Out of this she has to pay back her rent arrears that she keeps accruing because she’s finding it hard to pay her full rent. She also got into rent arrears whilst she was waiting for her universal credit claim to be processed, “What are you supposed to do, just pay your rent with the loan that they give you? It was impossible for me to pay my full rent because I needed food to eat, and gas and electric to buy. I’ve got no one to borrow money from, and that’d have to be paid back as well.

To make the situation worse Gemma also has to repay her universal credit loan back at £100 a month. There’s absolutely no regulation concerning the repayment of loan debts. No set amounts that people have to pay back, sometimes I think that they pick a number out of thin air and decide thats how much they should pay back. It’s ludicrous

Basically after all of her above debts are paid back Gemmas left with £213 a month to survive on. She’s got to buy gas, electric, food and transport costs. She’s a broken woman at 19 years old. Huddled up in the cold, Gemma muttered “It’s almost as if they’re trying to destroy me. I’m 19 years old and I’m worn out because of the stress and worry. There’s a good chance that I’ll become homeless again, and I’m doing my best. Universal credit is destroying me. They look at me (DWP staff) as if I’m stupid, like I’m something on the bottom of their shoe. They don’t want to help me”

Gemmas 19 years old, at the start of her life and should be enjoying life. Instead she’s worn out, depressed and feels like giving up. This, my friends is what universal credit does to people. It eats you up, totally consumes you until eventually you give up. That’s exactly what its designed to do.

 

Sarah is a single parent and is also having a difficult time. She’s claiming universal credit and to say she’s struggling is an understatement. Here’s her story.

Sarah was instructed to attend an appointment, which she was ready to do but unfortunately one of her parents suddenly fell ill and was rushed into hospital by ambulance. Sarah was with her relative when this happened and from the ambulance she telephoned the DWP to try and rearrange her appointment. The person that she spoke to said that this wouldn’t be a problem, and they’d phone her later with another appointment.

Only the DWP phoned the wrong number. Not the one that’s registered online, an old number that isn’t used anymore, and Sarah had already informed them about this.

Sarah also couldn’t remember her 16 pin log in details. How on earth is anyone supposed to remember this, its impossible. Even if people write it down its easy for it to get lost. If they put it in their mobile phone (if they have one) and the phone breaks, then the numbers missing.

Sarah phoned the DWP to tell them that she’d forgotten her PIN number. The DWP then told her that she had to go online to get the number. Sarah couldn’t access her online account because she didn’t have her pin. Basically they gave her an impossible task to complete.

Upon attending her next DWP appointment she was told that the DWP were deducting her universal credit payment by £200 but don’t worry, we’ll give you a LOAN for £150 that you have to pay back. Are the DWP getting their ideas from illegal money lenders or something? This is atrocious.

Basically Sarah was fined £200 for missing a phone call that she never received because they phoned the wrong number, and for loosing her PIN number. You really couldn’t make this shit up could you.

Sarah is also in rent arrears now because she was unable to pay her full rent because she was sanctioned. She now has to top up her rent payments and repay two DWP loans back.

Don’t forget Sarah is a single parent with a very young child, she didn’t have any food in her cupboards and didn’t know what to do. Luckily I gave her a food parcel and advised her on what to do. Hopefully she will access local services and she will appeal her sanction.

It’s despicable that people are treated in this manner, not only are the parents suffering but their children are too. The DWP just don’t care. It’s no coincidence that more and more children are being put into the care system is it. Many parents can no longer provide food, heating, clothing etc for their children and it’s not their fault. The blame lies purely at the governments feet.

 

I asked an older man how was he coping with universal credit. He looked at me and said ‘Just about. Now I’ve got to pay my council tax”

 

I spoke to a young woman working a zero hour contract at a local cake factory. When she started her job she was told that if she worked hard she might get a contracted job. She worked hard but never got the contract. Now she has no job security at all.

 

Gordon spoke to an older woman aged 62 who’s claiming universal credit, she’s struggling but then again nearly everyone claiming universal credit are aren’t they.

 

We then had a conversation Brian with an older man, he claims ESA and was told to phone an 0845 number recently. He wasn’t very clear about why he was told to phone this number up. He’s confused because the system is extremely confusing.

Brian has a contract phone and his phone bill per monthly is £15 a month. Brian tried phoning this number numerous times, each time he was placed on hold for great lengths of time. When he received his bill it was £54.

Of course he was angry, he shouldn’t have cost him  this much, all calls to the DWP should be free, but many still aren’t.

Brian was angry, frustrated and echoed concerns for those without a mobile phone contract saying ‘How the hell are they going to pay that? They’ll never get any help if they don’t have a phone will they’ He realises the systems rotten, and wondered why the government are allowed to do this ‘It’s criminal’ he said, and he’s not wrong.

 

Jack, a local councillor  represented a claimant whilst they had an appointment, this helps a great deal and I can’t recommend this enough. More should do this if they’re able to.

 

We left todays demo cold and a bit downhearted, but knowing that we’ve helped people makes everything worthwhile.

 

Please read, share and tweet my blog, also subscribe to it, it’ll save you from having to look for it every week.

There’s also a donate button at the top of this blog and at the side. I’m a skint single parent just trying my best to help people, through my blog I’ve managed to reach thousands upon thousands of people. As a result of this and other campaigns, more and more people are aware of the cruelty of universal credit and the heartless state of our government.

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No wonder people commit suicide.

Sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it, speaking from years of experience of helping people tackle the inhumane DWP system I have to agree.

Today was a day fraught with frustrations, helping upset, angry people barely surviving, seeking food from foodbanks that’s if they can find one or if they can find one that’s open. This morning highlighted just how fragile we all are when placed in this situation.

When you make a claim for universal credit you still have to wait at least five weeks. Yes you can get a loan, but from speaking to people many of them use this to pay some of their rent arrears off and to buy gas and electric. Food is lower down on the list because they’re scared. Scared of loosing their home, scared of what’s round the corner

I don’t want any medals for what I do, but I do wish that others would replicate what we do because its important to get out there, to help and to also protest against the very need for our being there. Saturday demos whilst good for raising awareness just don’t cut it when it comes to helping people.

Sorry for the rant, and I do appreciate everything that everyone does online, online activism is essential but for those that are able to join us or start a new group then please do.

 

Today was extremely hectic for lots of different reasons. The food parcels went straight away, we could have given more out. It’s cold and people are trying to stay warm so there’s less money to spend on food, that is if they have any money in the first place.

 

After handing out the food parcels I had a chat with a man who’s heavily in debt with Brighthouse. Companies like these are the scourge of our society, praying on the poorest because they don’t have the money to pay for a fridge etc brand new or second hand.

After having dealings with Brighthouse myself I can attest that their so called bailiffs (they aren’t bailiffs but they act as if they are) can be a tad scary and intimidating. We need to put more regulations on these companies and make it impossible to exploit the poor.

Because he had paid his Brighthouse bill he didn’t have enough money for food. I advised him of what he should do etc. At least he’ll eat now.

 

Today was also blighted by people having problems with their sixteen digit Universal credit log on details. Everyone is expected to remember this, many people either forget it or loose the piece of paper that they’ve wrote it on.

If they don’t log on they’ll get sanctioned. Combine this with many of these people being new claims for universal credit and they don’t know their way around the system let alone remember this. Basically if they don’t have a sympathetic advisor then they’ll get sanctioned. A decent advisor will tell them what their code is, many don’t though.

 

I spoke to Jane, she’s just made a claim for universal credit and is in the process of waiting for her first payment. She’s got at least four weeks to wait. Jane has a baby and has got a job but she needs to pay her childcare fees upfront,

Jane doesn’t have any money, if she doesn’t go to work she’ll be sanctioned so she’s at the mercy of her childcare provider and hoping that they can be sympathetic.

When she does receive her first payment then she’ll also struggle to receive her childcare payments. Not one person that Ive spoken to regarding this has ever received their childcare payments on time if at all. It takes constant phone calls and visits to the Jobcentre to rectify this. Then they have to repeat this a few weeks later.

To say that universal credit helps people is obscene. it drives people like Jane into even more poverty.

 

I was stopped by a man that appeared to be very agitated and upset, I’ll call him John.

John hates the Jobcentre, he doesn’t understand how the system works and he’s struggling.

John has been told that he has to attend the work programme twice a week, and because hes having to pay the debt for the loan that he had to take put whilst waiting for his universal credit payment to go through, hes skint.

John told myself and others of the struggle that he has walking to his work programme appointments. He’s frustrated because they don’t help him there. John needs proper support and understanding. Not someone that’s only supposedly helping him because there’s a financial incentive to do so.

Johns worn out both physically and mentally. He shouted that its no wonder that people commit suicide because THAT place drives them to it, and he knows because hes been close to it himself.

According to John the Jobcentre is a “f*****G joke. They don’t want to help you, no one does. They just leave you to cope and I wish that they’d leave me alone, its given me high blood pressure and I’ve never had that before”.

We all spent a lot of our time talking to him, giving him hope and showing support. We also signposted him to local organisations that can provide him with some support. I really hope that John is ok because I’m worried about him.

 

I handed a leaflet to a man, and as I did he said “ I don’t know how they expect me to live on this money. I don’t have enough to survive, are they trying to kill us?”

They aren’t officially but we know that the governments pernicious policies do indeed kill people.

 

A woman walked past muttering racist comments. She honestly thought that so called immigrants receive vast amounts of money whilst she lives on a pittance. I corrected her, but I’ve  noted that the amount of racist comments have increased of late. a sad indictment of the British press, media and of course the Tory government.

 

 

I then spoke to Val. Val is a carer for her son aged sixteen who has epilepsy. Val is ill herself and had to end her employment because of her ill health.

Val now clams universal credit and she’s distraught by her situation. After she’s paid her universal credit loan, her rent top up, her gas and electricity she’s got no money left for food. She’s tried reducing the loan repayments but she was refused.

Remember Val is ill and her son is disabled.

Val spends her days visiting foodbanks and trying to survive, she told me of her humiliation of having to ask for food, for being in this situation, for being in debt. She’s always worked and never thought that she would be in this situation.

Like Ive said before, this can happen to anyone, and I mean anyone. I helped and advised her, I became a friend to her and I hope that it made a difference.

 

I spoke to an older woman and I informed her of the WASPI campaign and told her that she’s not alone. She wasn’t aware of it so I like to let women know about the campaign.

 

We spoke to a man, he’s just been discharged from his mental health team after having a terrible time. Now he’s left to claim universal credit because he had to finish work due to his ill health.

We had a lovely chat with him and told him that we are there every week to help people. I also signposted him to a local organisation that will be able to help him.

 

This all happened in less than two hours. The food parcels went straight away, we helped everyone that we spoke to, we signposted those that required signposting and we gave people hope when they had none. It’s what we do.

 

Many thanks to everyone that joined us today you’re all amazing and I do appreciate it.

Thanks to all my blog readers for keeping me going, for supporting me and each other via the comments section. Also a huge thanks to everyone that has supported the blog and has shared my blog. Despite what others might like to say we do make a difference,

 

Please read share and rt my blog. There’s also a donate button for anyone wanting to donate. I do this on a small income and every penny helps. Thank you!

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Single parent, zero hour contract. Two wages in one month, universal credit stopped. Forced to go without any payments for at least ten weeks.

Dear readers, I’ll be blatantly honest with you. Today was awful, really difficult and wasn’t helped by a person insisting that universal credit is the best thing ever.

The conversation went on for about fifteen minutes and took me away from helping people.

It’s not hard to find evidence to prove that universal credit doesn’t help people  is it. It’s been plastered all over the newspapers these past few weeks. Anyway at least I wasn’t spat at this time. And  we know how much that people are suffering because we see it, we live it.

Anyway today was freezing cold and I can’t thank Roy, Pat and Ron for coming along to help. Also to a facebook friend that joined us for a while. I really do appreciate this.

 

Today was hard for many reasons, I did my best but I’m not a miracle worker. We handed out our usual food parcels, helped and advised people, signposted them and contacted my local mp, and put other people in touch with their mps. I’m extremely lucky that I can do this because I know that many can’t.

Anyway, I’ll list todays conversations. I won’t divulge any real names either, I never do because the DWP like to snoop.

 

Almost as soon as the food parcels arrived they disappeared. This is a regular occurrence sadly, An older man shuffled out of the Jobcentre obviously struggling to walk. Do the DWP care? Not a bit but you already know that don’t you.

I had a brief conversation with a man, he was visibly frustrated. He stopped to tell me that he thinks that the DWP are the most uncooperative lot that he’s ever had dealings with, ‘They just don’t care, they make me feel like shit”.

 

I spoke to a homeless man, he’s taken up the offer of a bed for the night scheme running here in Greater Manchester. He’s thankful that he’s got a bed for the night, but he has to move between two places ever week. He’s also concerned that when the scheme ends in March that he’ll just be put back onto the streets with no support. This does need clarifying.

Because he’s homeless and spends the most of his time wandering around he gets cold so he applied for a loan from the DWP. He was successful with his request and accepted £200 of the £350 offered.

It doesn’t end there though, after kitting himself out with footwear and thermals etc he ran out of money so he asked the DWP if he could have the extra £150 that they’d offered.

The answer was a loud NO, so now he’s forced to ask local charities for help. The DWP really are a heartless lot.

 

I spoke to a woman that had been refused her rent payment because she was in receipt of ESA. She’d been told that she had to transfer herself over to universal credit by a representative of the local council. Of course this is extremely bad advice, the DWP will contact her when she’s being transferred over and she’s still entitled to her rent. I signposted her to my local MPs office.

 

I then met ‘Debbie’. Debbie is a single parent with young baby. Her story is an example of how universal credit doesn’t help people at all, instead it plunges people into poverty.

Debbie is claiming universal credit and she was told by her advisor that she had to accept a zero hour contract job. Just how they expect a lone parent or anyone to be honest to survive on a combination of both universal credit and a zero hour contract is beyond me. They’re totally incompatible.

Because Debbie had two wages in December due to the way that the month worked out, she had her universal credit payments stopped. She no longer would receive universal credit and she would have to apply for it again.

I’ve wrote about this before and this is pretty standard behaviour from the DWP, you might have seen the recent court case concerning this in the news. Three single parents like Debbie took the DWP to court concerning this matter and they won, of course the DWP are appealing and it might not become legislation for many months if ever.

Debbie has been forced to go without any universal credit payments since December, she’s reapplied but she will go without any top up payments for around ten weeks, if she’s lucky it might be a couple of weeks less.

Did I mention that she’s also been without work for a while because its a zero hour contract and they haven’t contacted her?

If she leaves the job they’ll sanction her so she’s trapped. Not only is she trapped but her young baby is too. Debbie told me that her two friends are in the same position and are all surviving on food banks for food.

Debbie is also living in extreme fuel poverty also. She can only turn the heating on for half a hour in the morning, the same at around midday and just before bedtime. Remember its freezing cold at the moment. It won’t be long before their health is affected by this, before their home becomes damp, before they can’t take anymore.

Welcome to universal credit, the system that actively punishes people for trying their best and drags people into the pits of poverty. How on earth do they expect people like Debbie to survive is beyond me. Needless to say Amber Rudd is in complete denial about this and reckons that only a few people are adversely affected by universal credit. Amber needs to meet Debbie and her friends, in fact I challenge Amber Rudd to stand with me outside the Jobcentre for at least two hours to get a dose of reality.

I’m also aware that she realises that universal credit isn’t working and Rudd doesn’t give a stuff.

 

 

It wasn’t much longer when I had a conversation with ‘Fran’. Fran is a single parent of three children, two of which are young adults but they still live with her and cost her money,

Fran is now in receipt of her third universal credit payment and to say that she’s struggling is an understatement. After paying her bills, rent etc she’s left with £300 a month to survive on, to break this down that’s £50 a week, less than that in a five week month.

Fran has to feed herself, her youngest child and also her older children out of this because they’re also skint.

Fran has to put £10 on her electric meter every two days because it runs out quickly. She cant afford to keep doing this so she mostly sits in the cold when she’s home.

Why should anyone be forced to live like this? She’s doing her best to find work but she cant find a suitable job. It’s obscene that in a country as rich as ours people are literally starving and dying from hypothermia. Don’t believe me? Read a newspaper or use Google. It’s happening and happening to lots of people.

I’m certain that both the media and officials underestimate the harmful effects that universal credit has upon women and their children. Even if we stopped universal credit now, they will still be paying a price for this cruelty for generations to come.

No one forgets living in poverty, being hungry. It can and does make people ill, children and their parents become malnourished, and often homeless.

The price upon their well-being will be massive and this will have to be addressed by future governments as a matter of urgency.

 

 

I advised an older man who’s in obvious ill heath about his upcoming universal credit medical. These medicals are exactly the same as the ESA ones, Ive taken a few people to these so called medicals. I wished him luck, he told me that he was thankful that someone cared about him.

 

I then spoke to a ‘Dennis’. Dennis is claiming ESA, but he had been told by someone from my local authority that he had to end his claim for ESA and apply for universal credit.

Remember this is the second time today that I’ve heard this.

Dennis hasn’t received a letter from the DWP either. The DWP move people over not the local council.

I immediately telephoned my local MPs office and they spoke to him straight away, they also advised him I’m so lucky that I can do this.

Dennis doesn’t have a mobile phone either so I used my telephone to help him. Not everyone has a mobile phone, remember you need money to buy one and money to top one up. I hope that Dennis rectifies this soon, I’m pretty confident that he will.

I’ll also be tackling this problem also, someone obviously needs some more training.

 

It also appears that quite a few disabled people using mobility scooters were asked to attend the Jobcentre. The DWP won’t leave them alone will they because the DWP likes to persecute anyone with a disability. Shame on them.

 

 

It was then that I spoke to a 63 year old man. He’s been told to finish work due to ill health and to claim his pension early’

He went into the Jobcentre for advice, they didn’t have a clue as to what he should do, but gave him a phone number to contact another department.

I also advised him to contact his local MPs office which he did and they told him what to do, and how to do it. He was very thankful because like he said he really didn’t know what he should do.

 

This is a brief summary of today’s conversations, we did speak to more people, we helped lots of people. If we hadn’t have been there then they wouldn’t have had any hope, they wouldn’t have known what to do and I’m proud that we showed them compassion and support.

 

 

It’s also become very clear that more and more older people, many of whom used to be of retirement age are being targeted by the DWP. Indeed, if someone of a pensionable age  lives with or marries someone of a working age then under universal credit they aren’t allowed to receive their pension anymore, they have to move onto universal credit.

We’ve already been seeing this happen in Ashton Under Lyne for quite a while.

Not only is this cruel, it will have a detrimental affect upon their health and well-being. Universal credit hardly provides enough money to exist on and these couples will be faced with neing £7,000 worse of a year. Mark my words this will result in extreme poverty and the death of some of our older generation and the DWP will have more blood on their hands.

Didn’t I say years ago that they’d come after the pensioners? I remember being laughed at every time that I said this. Those laughing won’t be laughing now will they.

 

It’s been a bad week for universal credit claimants, and it will continue to become much worse. We need to raise as much awareness about the reality of universal credit as you can. Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

If you have an awful MP attend their surgeries, contact them because even if they don’t listen or refuse to act then keep reminding them because they have to record it.

 

 

There’s a donate button for anyone that would like to donate. Every penny really does count.

Many thanks to all of my readers and to everyone that has supported my blog. Thank you so much, you keep me going when I’m having a bad day.

 

 

 

 

 

British Gas have taken my last £5 from me, I don’t know what to do. Universal credit, eating and keeping a home warm is an impossible task at times.

Today’s weather is bitterly cold, we are in the  -0s here, yet we have more and more people unable to heat or eat or do either. This isn’t going to get better anytime soon either. Summer comes as a blessed relief, and disappears far too quickly.

We were very short on numbers today, and the cold didn’t help. Regardless we plodded on. It’s not about us, its about everyone suffering under this cruel regime.

Today was quiet again, even so the food parcels were taken almost straight away. They always are and the need for them is increasing daily.

Whilst I wish all my readers a happy new year and hope that all of your life’s will be much better this coming year, I didn’t celebrate it much. I’ve got no reason to really. This year will see at least another 3 million people transferred over to universal credit. Many of these people will be disabled and self employed, all to be punished by a system that hates them. So excuse me for not celebrating, I’m preparing for battle instead.

 

Like Ive already said, it was quiet today, people were cold and there was a lot of rushing in and out of the Jobcentre, people desperately trying to keep their master (the DWP) happy, afterall the DWP more or less controls everything that we do and they aren’t shy about this fact either. It’s awful, and it’s been allowed to happen.

 

I spoke to a fella who has just been re housed into a place of his own. He’s happy about this, after all he can in theory start to rebuild his life now. This is in theory though, because he’s had problems with the smart meter that was already installed in his flat, an old tenants debt on the metre, and British Gas’s reluctance to help a chap who really hasn’t got anything.

He is in the process of sorting this out, and they are issuing him with a new smart metre, however this doesn’t help him now does it. Today he put his last £5 on the smart metre that he has and it ate it up in a very short time.

I did mention that it’s cold didn’t I. It’s freezing.

So now he’s having to find money to heat his flat, he cant afford food as well. So we gave him a food parcel to tide him over. I wanted a magic wand to make it all better for him, but I don’t have one.

Think about this though folks. Being cold isn’t just relegated to street homeless people. Thousands of people are just as cold whilst living in homes. As a result their homes become damp, and they become ill as a result of being poor.

Just because someone’s got a home doesn’t mean that they aren’t suffering, they are. They are suffering in so many different ways like shown in the film I, Daniel Blake which is incidentally being shown on BBC2 on Saturday the 5th of January. It isn’t a feel good film, and I hope that it spurs more into campaigning against universal credit like I do, or it encourages people who are able to help others more.

 

I spoke to a young family with a newborn baby and another young child. They didn’t realise that her maternity allowance is classed as an income when you’re claiming universal credit. No one told them of this before she had the baby, so they took her maternity allowance off her final universal credit payment.

This has understandably forced them into a very bad position financially, but they told me that they’re just coping. To make it worse because the local registry office is so busy, they cant register their baby’s birth until the end of this month, therefore aren’t able to claim any monies for the baby.

This system is rancid, it eats away at everything that a person has. It often takes away a persons sanity and their ability to feed themselves. And yet there’s been little opposition politically from this being extended to a further 3 million people this year.

There has however been lots of opposition from campaigners like myself, we know what’s coming, we know its going to be terrible but it feels at times like we’re banging our heads against a brick wall.

 

Highlight of the morning, a man that we help on a regular basis won £6 on a scratch card. Good on him.

Dislike of the morning, an older woman saying that the countries in this mess because of ‘foreigners’. We know that this isn’t true, and it sickens me to know that far too many people believe this.

 

Dislike number two, seeing an older woman crying because the DWP have accused her of claiming money fraudulently when she most definitely hasn’t been. The DWP now want her to repay this money, the money that she claimed legally. I do hope that she pursues this, we have encouraged her to.

Seeing  a person cry like this is heartbreaking and it never, ever gets easier.

This morning before I set off for the demo, I saw this posted on Facebook by my friend I’majsaclaimant. This is what can happen when you feel that your world is collapsing around you, when you believe that life isn’t worth living anymore.

This is what sanctioning people does to people, and the DWP won’t  give a toss, nor will the government. My thoughts and prayers go to this woman’s family and to everyone else that have been affected like this.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE.

Due to a “computer glitch” some people who were due to be paid their ESA next week have received half of it this week.
This has led to a lot of upset and confusion as people have been thinking their payments have been stopped and that was a final payment.
It’s not. They’ll receive the other half on their normal day next week.
They’ve now put an announcement on the ESA phone line before all the options you have to press.
So if anyone is worried, there’s no reason to be.

 

 

 

Please read, share, tweet, email my blog thank you!

Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog and the campaign it means the world.

I’ll  be back again next week, whatever the weather.

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