Tag: illegal sanctions
Dear readers its Thursday and I’ve just returned home from the hospital. I managed to get a cancellation appointment for a CT scan for my lungs.
Anyway you can imagine my disgust when I saw this article in The Guardian.
I don’t need to tell you that the DWP and government are disgustingly selfish people that care nothing about the working classes health and wellbeing.
This was no surprise to me.
I knew that the government would try and shaft these people for having the nerve to lose their jobs. In their eyes a pandemic is no excuse for not working and is certainly not an excuse for not looking for none existent jobs.
We’ve seen this before and no matter how much we tell people that this could happen to them we were still ignored.
Their futures are looking very different from last years. No one could plan for the pandemic because we didn’t know that this was coming.
Some of us knew that this was going to happen way back in December but theres no way that we could save up just incase. We have no spare money.
No savings allowed.
The DWP and the government’s reasoning for this is because these people ‘they have savings’.
They don’t care that it takes around six weeks for a universal credit claim to be processed. By then their savings will have gone to pay their rent, mortgage and food.
They could become homeless.
It’s extremely unreasonable to believe that these people lost their jobs through any fault of their own. But still the government will punish them because its what they do best.
The DWP has forgotten that there’s a pandemic.
Hello DWP, we are in the middle of a pandemic.
There are very few jobs out there so stop putting people under pressure to find work.
Lets not forget that thousands of people, probably many of those that lost their jobs are recovering from Covid 19. They’re unable to work.
There are very few jobs to find and there’s certainly not enough to look for work for 35 hours a week.
If you refuse to do this then they’ll sanction you. It’s all about punishing innocent people.
Their aim is to bully us until we give up altogether.
Where’s the safety net?
There is hardly any safety net left to help people. It’s extremely hard to make a claim for any type of social security.
When you manage it the DWP lie and make it extremely hard to continue to do so.
Claimants are given unrealistic goals that they have to attain and are spoken to like shit.
The sad fact is that many of these newly unemployed people that have been refused help believed that the government would help them.
They didn’t realise how cruel and callous the system can be.
The DWP certainly aren’t there to help anymore.
How very dare anyone make a claim for the help that they’re entitled to.
My heart does go out to them though. They’ve been thrown very abruptly into the lions den. I hope that none of them vote for the Tories again.
There are no jobs.
I’m certain that many of these people that have been refused help thought that they could find a job. I’ve heard this thousands of times when talking to people outside the Jobcentre.
In the first few weeks people have hope for a better future but that soon wears off.
The reality that there are no jobs kicks in pretty soon. People sell or pawn their possessions and many loose their homes because they can’t afford to pay their rent or mortgage.
Don’t expect local councils to be sympathetic either. It’s all bloody wrong.
We aren’t criminals and shouldn’t be treated like this. But we are.
You are left on your own to cope and this is very scary for many that thought that the safety net would be there for them.
A foodbank reliant society.
We are quickly becoming a food bank reliant society. Most of the people that have lost their jobs will become reliant on them.
Talking from experience I know just how humiliating it is.
Some foodbanks have reintroduced the three bag limit. So people are only allowed to eat three times a year?
Thanks for that.
I’m a firm believer that anyone that needs the help from a foodbank should be able to do so freely without judgement and for as long as they need them.
More and more people are becoming reliant upon food parcels to survive and many food banks are already struggling to cope with the demand.
I do what I can to help but its only a drop in the ocean.
Support your local independent foodbank.
Winter is on its way and thousands of people are going to be extremely cold this year. Heat or eat will be a choice that they will have to make.
Fuel poverty is very real.
No one should be forced to live in a cold house without hot water. But hey, the government doesn’t care about this either.
Having to live in the cold like this is very dangerous for both body and spirit.
Does the government realise this?
Yes they do but they don’t give it a thought. They’re resentful of us being here, alive.
The pandemic is still here.
So many organisations and supermarkets are returning back to normal. Very soon they’ll be very little support for anyone shielding or recovering from Covid 19.
It’s not as if there was a lot of help out there in the first place.
What are we supposed to do? Risk catching covid to go for appointments and to run errands?
This is exactly what we are having to do. It’s shocking.
As we face more people becoming unemployed since the 1980s don’t expect the government to help.
The government are still intent on taking the extra £20 a week extra payment away from Universal Credit and Tax Credit claimants in April.
I bet they’ve got a countdown click counting down the days until so many of us are thrown into even worse poverty than we are now.
So many people are relying on this money to survive. But once again the government doesn’t give a stuff.
£20 is a lot of money to us. For the Tories it doesn’t even cover the cost of their breakfast.
They don’t want us to survive.
They don’t want the working class person to have any decent quality of life. Its even worse for people with disabilities and illnesses. They’ve been suffering for many years now.
Their actions say that they don’t care, will never care so stuff you.
What can we do?
Like I said last week we need to continue to support each other because no one else will.
A kind word can make such a big difference.
As for myself it’s been a bad long covid week for me. I haven’t been able to do much except advise people and signpost them for help.
I’m also one of those people that doesn’t qualify for any help from the government even though I badly need lt.
So many of us are struggling to get through this and your not on your own.
We can and will get through this. We need to.
Dear readers it’s Thursday again and here’s this week’s blog instalment.
Two days ago I managed to go downstairs for the first time in ages and spent a few hours with my daughter. It absolutely exhausted me but I did it.
I just want my life back I’ve got so much that needs to be done and I can’t do it.
Post Covid 19 fatigue is awful it completely takes over your body but I believe that it does go eventually.
So many people are suffering from this fatigue and I doubt that they’ll be fit to return to work when the government demands it.
So many people think that you get better straight away after having covid 19 related symptoms. Hardly anyone does though.
Developing bacterial pneumonia was very scary for me and my daughter.
I couldn’t breathe, every small move hurt and made me out of breath.
Apparently lots of people develop this after having COVID19 and thousands have died.
Meanwhile Cummings is allowed to spread the virus And have absolutely no repercussions for himself.
The repercussions of his actions however will continue for a long time though.
People will have caught Covid 19 off him. All it takes is for him to touch something, to walk down a street etc..
Some people will now copy his behaviour thinking that it’s ok for them to do the same.
So yes I’m very angry at him and his lame excuses and I’m even angrier at the people defending him.
They know that he shouldn’t have done this but they carry on supporting him because they don’t care if we die.
We are all surplus to requirements, expendable.
They don’t grieve if we die. They just don’t care.
There will be a second wave coming because this country and especially our prime minister haven’t done anything really to protect us against this virus.
Meanwhile the government wants to ease the Covid 19 restrictions whilst once again doing nothing to protect us.
I see their #HerdImmunity plans are continuing to me its pretty obvious.
Yesterday the government announced their track and trace solution. It sounds brilliant doesn’t it but dig below the surface and you’ll see that it isn’t.
The system hasn’t been completed yet, it’s not fit to launch, theres no reassurance that our data will be safe.
It’s also worrying that the government is only pushing three or so so called symptoms of covid 19.
The symptoms vary, not everyone has a cough, not everyone loose their sense of smell or taste.
Regardless of this almost everyone that catches it cannot recover quickly.
Unless you are extremely unwell a hospital wont admit you. You have to go home and manage it yourself.
You can only test positive for covid 19 within around 5 days of contracting it. This ensures that the amount of positive test results are massively underrated.
Lots of us caught it before the government was testing everyone.
The tests are also unreliable. Don’t think that you’ve tested negative that your safe from contracting the virus your not.
You can catch it from any public area straight after having a negative test result.
So even with the so called track and trace system people will still be spreading it unknowingly.
The only way to stop this virus is to have a proper lockdown.
I’ve read countless posts online saying that if you eat healthily you’ll recover quicker.
You can’t go out to shop whilst infected or recovering. You become reliant upon online shops and food parcels.
Your income is vastly reduced also so buying the basics and making do is a priority.
Being physically able to cook a big meal is another problem.
The fatigue is unreal and your muscles ache all the time. But we do our best with what we’ve got.
It’s all we can do. It’s bloody scary yet so many aren’t taking it seriously at all.
This is most likely because of the government’s complete lack of direction about anything.
Their priority is to get people back into work regardless of the risks. They worship at the feet of money amd commerce, the publics safety means nothing to them.
The government also wants schools to go back yet it still isn’t safe.
The government doesn’t want to listen about safety. They’re willing to sacrifice our teachers and our children in the process.
So what do we do now?
We still need to follow the social distancing rules despite what the government says.
Covid 19 is life changing and not in a good way.
Please keep safe folks I worry about you all. I’m going to continue to fight against this virus and hopefully get better soon.
Love to you all xxx.
Please like, share, tweet and email my blog. People really need to know exactly what it’s like for us.
I run this blog and my campaign on next to nothing. There’s a donate link at the top and side of my blog. Every penny helps. Thank you.
A huge thank you to everyone that supports my blog and campaign.
Thank you all so much xxx
Dear readers and supporters once again I have to apologise for publishing this blog late. I’ve been out campaigning for my local Labour Party.
Anyway today was pretty dire, it was raining, in fact it still hasn’t stopped.
It was also cold, deadly weather for street homeless people and anyone that can’t afford to heat their homes.
Once their clothes become wet, they can’t dry them so they become very cold and hypothermia can set in. This can be deadly so please spare a
thought for people in this situation.
As usual all the food parcels were gone as soon as I handed them out. Most of them were needed by people having problems paying their council tax and extra top up rent. If they can’t pay the council will take the money directly from their universal credit payments. Their social housing landlord will also threaten to evict them even though the person that I spoke to owed less than £100.
New Charter housing certainly don’t give a toss about their tenants but that’s another story.
We spoke to lots of people today but sadly we had to end the demo early because we were drenched and cold.
I had a conversation with a man that has several disabilities which prevents him from applying for many of the jobs on offer.
Dispite this his job coach has told him that it would be in his best interests to attend a so called wellbeing course.
Wellbeing is the latest buzzword being used by the DWP. They like to pretend that these rubbish courses will help people, especially disabled people.
They don’t however tell the person being forced onto these courses that they (the DWP) gain financially from sending people on these courses as do the course providers.
We are seen as a pound sign, a number of which they can profit from.
What they forget is that most people have enough commonsense to realise that no one can ever be cured by attending a course. They’re another reason to harass a person more, to sanction them if the course provider advises them to.
The whole system is crooked, people are being harassed so much by the DWP that they can’t see a future for themselves and they take their own life. Meanwhile the DWP will still send letters out to the families of the deceased.
It’s Orwellian in nature, they control a person’s life to the extent that they can cut off their very means of survival with the click of a button on a computer.
I spoke to three people that are having problems with their housing benefit claims. Our local housing benefit department at Tameside Council aren’t the best.
Please can they start talking to people as if they’re human beings, with respect and not disdain? It’s not too much to ask is it.
I spoke to a single parent that had been asked to attend their first back to work interview because their child is now two years old.
They were understandably nervous and had no idea of their rights regarding job searching etc. Thankfully we were able to help them and we handed them a copy of our survival guide.
Call me old fashioned but I’m a firm believer that a parent or carer should be able to stay at home with their child until their child reaches school age or older. Obviously parents that want to work should do so but the option should be there.
Children need their parents, it’s vital for their development.
Children also need to be able to eat good, healthy food and live in a warm house. These very basic things are denied by this cruel government.
I write this on the eve of the general election, the most important General election in many years. Let’s hope that we get a good result. If we don’t many of us won’t survive another 5 years of this cruelty. I can’t stress this enough.
We will be back next week for our annual Christmas Demo. I will be making a wreath unless I can get a volunteer to help me. I’m also needing to buy non alcoholic mince pies and other Christmas foods to hand out to the public.
We will also be handing out extra Christmas food parcels so if you need one please contact me so that I can save one for you. If you don’t it’s a first come first served basis.
Also please come and join us it’s at the same time 10-12 outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. Please come and say hello and maybe sing an appropriate Christmas Carol or two.
Dear readers it’s Thursday and blog day. Please may I start by thanking you all for your support for my blog and my campaign.
I’m still here writing and it’s all thanks to you all.
Today was freezing cold and the crowd was gathered awaiting out food parcels.
This week we had a very kind donation of four extra food parcels from a friend.
It’s a good job that we had these extra food parcels because they were all taken.
I’m going to list today’s conversations. Please note that everyone was given appropriate help, advice, signposting etc. I even went to Wilkinsons to buy some dog food for a dog who’s owner needed a food parcel.
Many people either forget that people struggling have pets and they need to eat. Others reckon that we shouldn’t have any pets, we aren’t deserving of anything.
A much loved pet can be a lifeline for their owner and no one should be criticised for owning one.
The first conversation that I had was with a man who told me that his payments have been suspended for six months. He is claiming the ESA element of Universal credit.
I asked why and he told me that he had been reported to the DWP because he was seen carrying one of our food parcels.
I advised him to appeal this decision and he told me that he’d been advised that he can’t.
Luckily I have contacts that will be able to help him, but regardless of that he shouldn’t be expected to go without any payments for 6 months.
It’s absolutely ridiculous and is so punishing. It’s hellish and shouldn’t be happening at all.
I spoke to a young man that had to walk miles from his home to get to the Jobcentre. He told me that if he’s lucky a bus driver will let him get on a bus for nothing, if they won’t he walks.
I signposted him and bought him some dog food for his dog.
I had a conversation with a woman regarding self employment and universal credit.
Gordon spoke to two people that were making new universal credit claims and needed documentation to do so.
I spoke to a man that’s in the process of being evicted from his home. We advised him to the best of our abilities and I signposted him as well.
I overheard a man shouting ‘B####d sanctions.
I then had a long conversation with a young 18yr old woman that was crying when she was leaving the Jobcentre.
Her advisor had told her that she’s not trying hard enough to find a job, her efforts are rubbish etc. You get the idea.
The truth is that she is trying her hardest to do everything properly but it is a struggle.
No one has shown her how to find a job, how to apply for one and no one has given her any decent career advice.
Her advisor hasn’t told her about further education nor have they told her about apprenticeships etc. They refuse to help whilst criticising her to the point of tears.
Luckili we were there and I sat down with her and gave her some advice, but equally as important compassion.
For heavens sake she’s only 18 years of age, she needs guidance and hasn’t got a good family network to support her.
I gave her a copy of our survival guide and asked her to phone me if she needed my help or even just a cuppa and a conversation.
The advisor that upset her to the point of tears should be ashamed of themselves, but they won’t be. An 18yr old claimant is an easy target for them isn’t it.
I spoke to a chap that had just failed his universal credit esa element medical assessment. He is appealing this but as usual the DWP have zero compassion.
He’s been told that he has to agree to look for work whilst his appeal is being processed. If he doesn’t agree to this they’ll stop his claim.
The DWP don’t recognise that having a disability can and does prevent a person from working. Persecuting them for this won’t cure their disability it’ll make things much worse for them. Many die, some take their own life.
It’s sickening that people are being treated in this manner, it’s not getting any better it’s becoming much worse.
I honestly don’t know how we’re going to survive another five years of this.
Please read, share, tweet, blog, email my blog. It’s so important that we get the truth out there.
We will be returning to Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre next week from 10am to 12 noon. Please come and say hello.
For anyone wanting to donate there’s a PayPal button at the top and side of my blog.
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.
Dear readers it’s been five years almost to the day since I started writing this blog although I’ve been campaigning for much longer.
A friend encouraged me to write it but I honestly didn’t think that anyone would read it. I was proved wrong though, it took off straight away.
Back then we were chosen to be a trial area for universal credit along with Oldham and Wigan.
Hardly anyone else was documenting the day to day cruelty that universal credit and the benefit reforms.Most likely because it wasn’t happening everywhere and lots of people weren’t aware of this
We were ignored and called liars and suchlike.
Myself and other groups continued to fight against it even though every door was being slammed in our faces. No one wanted to know.
Through perseverance and determination we continued, we weren’t letting this go. People were and are dying as a result and that was and is unacceptable.
DPAC have been consistently supportive and they’re amazing. The work that they have done and are doing is outstanding. I can’t thank them enough.
When I started this blog almost everyone that I spoke to outside Ashton Jobcentre was or had been sanctioned.
Pregnant women were being sanctioned for three years, suicides of people that we had spoken to were a constant worry. I’ve lost count of the people that we have lost.
It breaks my heart and I’ve always got them in my thoughts. Thanks to Black Triangle for their work collecting this info and publishing it.
At the the time the DWP were a law unto themselves, they still are. I’m certain that they were given orders to sanction as many people as possible (remember Sandra’s stars anyone?).
I’m certain that they still have these targets but they’re not so open and brazen at displaying them. People are still being sanctioned and it’s abbhorant that this is continuing to happen. Being sanctioned can and does kill people.
The suffering continues and every week I’m told yet more awful stories from claimants about their experiences whilst on universal credit and other benefits.
Today a man told me that he’d been barred from the Jobcentre for loosing his temper when he was told that he’d been sanctioned.
When he was allowed back into the Jobcentre he had a G4S guard to escort him to his appointment and to take him out again.
The stress of this took its toll on him and he started to pull his hair out. He can’t believe how horrible this system is. Thanks to the DWP he’s mentally scarred for life.
The system hasn’t got better the DWP and government have become more devious, constantly putting unrealistic demands upon people that they know won’t be able to keep up with it.
We’ve handed hundreds of food parcels out because people were and are literally starving. I’ve watched a family open the tins of food and eat it because they were so hungry.
It’s hard to tell you what the worst thing that I’ve seen is. Everything about this system is awful. It persecutes children, women, men, women who should be receiving their pensions but were conned out of them. The DWP won’t leave anyone alone.
The fight continues though. The Labour Party have at last commited to stopping, scrapping universal credit. They’re going to replace it with a caring system and I know that they’re going to do this. The Labour Party have been working very hard on creating the new system for quite a while now.
But the changes won’t happen overnight and until they’ve been elected nothing will change its going to become a whole lot worse.
Every week we speak to disabled people who have been found fit for work. They aren’t fit for work though and we help them to start the appeal process.
We’ve handed out thousands of copies of of our survival guides. They’ve proved to be invaluable and have helped a lot of people. Thanks to Roy for your help with this.
The blog doesn’t end after I’ve published the blog on Thursdays though. It’s become a full time job. Myself or members of the team don’t get paid by anyone either. We do it because we care.
The fight continues week after week. We’ve had abuse from G4S, I’ve been spat on called a scrounger and worse.
The DWP have unsuccessfully tried to move us from outside the Jobcentre. We aren’t going anywhere, we aren’t stopping until the suffering ends.
Whilst the suffering continues we will continue. I made this commitment all those years ago.
I want to thank you all for reading and supporting the blog for these last five years. Its been a massive comfort to know that you all support this blog and the campaign.
I’ll end the blog here this week. I know that it’s a bit different than my usual blog style but I really wanted to thank everyone that’s helped along the way whether it’s on foot at the demos or online. Both are equally as important.
To everyone that does come and help though thank you so, so much. We’ve had a lot of physical support from Stockport Against Austerity and I can’t thank them enough as well as Gordon, Roy, Carol and everyone else who I’ve met along the way.
My local Labour Party and my MP Angela Rayner have also been hugely supportive even though I’ve been a pain sometimes.
Can I ask you to continue to read, share, tweet and email my blog. Thank you to those that already do.
There’s also a donate button at the top and side of this blog. Every penny donated ensures that the campaign and blog can continue. A massive thanks to those that have.
I’ll be back next week with my usual blog. Thank you for the five years of support and thanks to Mike for persuading me to start this blog.
Don’t worry I’ll be writing next weeks blog in my usual style.
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.
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,
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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.
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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.