Not only are millions of people going to be cold and hungry due to the ever increasing cost of energy. Small businesses will be forced to shut because they will no longer be able to pay the extortionate energy costs forced upon them.
Small businesses are hugely important to local economies. They bring growth and innovation to communities. They also help to boost economic growth by providing employment opportunities for people that might find working for big businesses difficult.
The pandemic had a very detrimental effect upon small businesses forcing many to shut their doors The surviving ones are now facing a new struggle, vastly rising energy costs combined with the also increasing cost of living.
There is no price cap given to small businesses and many are now being forced to pay astronomically high energy bills without any help offered by the government and prospective Prime Minister candidates.
Increasing their prices aren’t the answer either. Theres only so much that a customer will pay before walking away having to shop elsewhere. This will leave many small businesses little option but to shut. This will render both business owners and employees unemployed forced to claim social security, undoubtably leaving them at the mercy of the DWP providing little if any understanding and support.
No longer can we take for granted that the local chippy down the road will still be open, the local pub might be forced to shut, the local cafe or restaurant even hairdressers as well, leaving town centres and local communities desolate places providing nothing for the community.
It’s easy to dismiss the importance that local economies play in the bigger scale. They’re vital for the growth of the national economy and their closure will effect it greatly.
Rumours of an upcoming recession have been murmured by financial organisations for quite a while. This is resulting in some big businesses to no longer trade with the UK.
The announcement that we are facing a recession caused many to rethink their investment strategies after all who’s going to want to trade with a country in deep financial trouble?
It’s not only small businesses that are being affected though, some larger businesses are facing financial difficulty leaving investors to sell their shares and walk away leaving them in a very difficult predicament indeed either forcing them to be shut or taken over by another business larger than themselves.
I fear that the upcoming recession has been greatly underplayed by the government. It’s going to be devastating for the country as a whole and along with the effects of Brexit the pariah of the western world, after all who in their right mind would want to invest in the UK when it’s in such a mess.
Small businesses need financial help to enable them to conduct business as soon as possible but I don’t expect the government to care, after all they value nothing but themselves and their tax dodging friends.
Enough Is Enough.
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Dear readers, its Thursday yet again. The sun was shining for us today, what a welcome surprise. It was lovely to see. No joy was found from the DWP though, there’s a surprise.
I’ll be listing everything that happened today as usual. No real names will be divulged either. Today we handed out six food parcels and helped lots of people who would have otherwise been left, stranded without help by a system that doesn’t care about them.
Those of you that have been through the system or know people that have will already know that the DWPs flagship universal credit system is cruel, heartless and punishing. It discriminates against everyone but particularly women, children, single parents and people with disabilities.
Universal credit is obscenely complicated and hard to navigate, often DWP advisors don’t know the rules either. Not one department communicates with another even though universal credit is computer driven by default. You’d honestly think that the designers of it would have thought about people that are unable to use computers or don’t have any access to the internet at home. They also didn’t take into account the fact that libraries are shutting their doors or reducing the hours that they’re open because they can’t afford to stay open.
Universal credit is a system that rarely works well for anyone, but it was designed to do this, to reduce the unemployment levels by any means possible. If that means that a person takes themselves off the system because they can’t cope then so be it. No one will try and stop them either. Above the door of every Jobcentre a sign saying ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’ because that’s exactly what people do.
The first thing that I noticed today was the queue of women waiting for food parcels. It goes without saying that there shouldn’t be a need for us to hand food parcels out but there is, and will be for as long as this rotten government is in power.
As I was handing the food parcels out a young man stormed out of the Jobcentre. I asked him what was wrong and he shouted ‘It’s a pile of shit in there, they don’t give a shit do they’ I agreed with him and handed him a leaflet.
Meet Tom. Tom had successfully made an application for universal credit a couple of months ago, thats good you might think. Well, no because it appears that whoever processed his application didn’t quite do everything correctly.
Upon applying for universal credit a claimant is expected to provide ID and proof of tenancy etc at their first meeting, because as you know rent etc is all rolled into one payment every month. Here’s where Tom encountered his first problem. I say first because he’s bound to have more problems as time progresses.
Tom looked confused as he handed me a form that he had just been given by his advisor. As I looked at it he told me that he had already provided them with the ID and proof that they needed. Here’s the letter in all it’s glory.
In this letter he’s asked about every single detail of his tenancy, including gas and electricity check certificates and energy performance certificates. Tom has no idea what those are, his landlord didn’t issue him with these. The DWP need to remember that not all landlords actually do this.
Other questions included are ‘Are you up to date with your rent payments? If yes, provide evidence of this.’
‘Would your landlord accept less rent at times if you could not afford to pay the full rent?’
‘Will your landlord accept a lower rent if universal credit does not meet your full rent liability?’
‘Would your landlord take you to court to evict you if you failed to pay the rent?’
‘Would your landlord take legal action to recover rent arrears?’
These questions are totally ridiculous. Landlords rarely if ever lower a persons rent payment to suit the DWP, and of course a landlord will take action to evict a tenant for non payment of rent. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise, and very arrogant of the DWP to suggest that a landlord should back down to the demands of the DWP.
Honestly, the above form looks like something thats been typed out at home in a hurry. There’s absolutely nothing official on this form, no DWP logo either. It’s all very strange.
Tom quite rightly noted that they should have asked for this information when he first made his claim, he’s already received his first payment. He’d already paid his rent with this. Honestly you couldn’t make this up.
To make matters worse he had to make a new appointment just to hand in this form, if he doesn’t attend he’ll get sanctioned.
I asked him if he had moved house and he told me that he hadn’t, his was living at the same address when he made his claim for universal credit.
Luckily I was able to walk him through the questions and signposted him if he needs further help. Poor fella, he was so confused. He thanked me and he walked away hopefully less confused.
Tom looks after his sister who is computer illiterate, his sister struggles to get out and depends on Tom to do most tasks for him. Tom attended the Jobcentre a few weeks ago to hand his sisters fit note in. He was told quite bluntly at the reception desk that he couldn’t do this and he had to post it. So Tom posted it using an envelope that they gave him.
Today Tom attended the Jobcentre once more to hand his sisters fit note in. This time they accepted it but asked him where the previous fit note was. He told them that he’d posted it because he’d been told to. Unbelievable isn’t it.
Tom was understandably a bit fed up, saying this system is bloody ridiculous isn’t it.
I spoke to a woman struggling to pay the bedroom tax, a man that was sent away fro being ten minutes early and a woman who told me that she claims universal credit and PIP and its bloody awful.
I also spoke to an older woman that cares for her son who’s autistic. He had failed his latest ESA medical because apparently he ‘looked ok’. Obviously the DWP don’t recognised hidden disabilities, they’ve got quite a bad track record of this.
I spoke to a young man that has taken himself off the system because he couldn’t cope with it. I asked him how he managed from day to day, he told me that he tries his best but is dependent upon relatives. He hopes to get a job in the near future.
We spoke to a self employed plasterer, he quite loudly told us that universal credit has ruined many of his friends and colleagues. Universal credit made it impossible for them to continue with their trade. He was understandably angry, but angry at the government for doing this to them.
I spoke to Bill, bill has been sanctioned because his daughter had been taken into hospital and he missed his signing on appointment. He did telephone the Jobcentre and communicated this through his online journal, he’s even provided evidence of the hospital stay. But the gods of the DWP have decided that he’d be sanctioned so he was.
I told him that he could appeal the sanction decision and he told me that his advisor hadn’t told him that he could appeal. Thankfully hes now going to appeal this and hopefully he’ll win his appeal. He wouldn’t have known to do this if we weren’t there to inform him.
Meet Pat. Pat is 64 years of age and has numerous medical conditions, some quite serious. Pat hasn’t been able to work for years because of this. Pat also claims universal credit.
Pat recently attended a universal credit medical assessment, she failed this and was told that she’s now fit for work.
So the DWP gods have performed another miracle haven’t they.
Pat is determined to appeal this decision, so she informed her advisor of this. Her advisor then told her that she now needs to provide medical proof if she wants to appeal.
Pat has now had to pay £15 for a letter from her doctor. This is completely ridiculous, she’s already shown evidence of her medical conditions.
To make matters much worse Pat lives in a home riddled with damp and her landlord is reluctant to deal with it. She told me that she doesn’t know how much more she can continue like this, its becoming all too much for her.
Remember pat is 64 years of age, she shouldn’t be treated like this and she honestly didn’t expect this.
I did everything that I could to help her and signpost her. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when you speak to someone thats suffering as much as this. For gods sake we’re supposed to respect our elders. The DWP respects no one not even their staff.
I spoke to a middle aged man who’s in the process of being evicted. He told me that the move over to universal credit has caused this.n
We spoke to a young man that was prevented from attending an appointment with a friend, ten minutes later another man was prevented from entering the Jobcentre with his partner. He wanted to help her but he was turned away. The law states that a claimant is allowed support when attending an appointment but hey, the DWP employees at the front desk of Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre appear to totally disregard this.
Today’s conversations all happened within two hours on a Thursday afternoon. Universal credit doesn’t work, its very design dictates this.
We need to stop and scrap universal credit and replace it with a much fairer system that actually cares for people.
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Thank you to everyone that turned up to help today, I really appreciate this.
Massive thanks to everyone that supports my blog. Without you I honestly don’t know what I’d do. Your support means everything especially when times are hard. As a skint single parent I can relate to everyone that I speak to.
Keep safe, we’ll be back next week as usual.
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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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.
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.
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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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Dear readers, I haven’t mentioned Christmas because I know how hard this time of year can be. Not everyone has a family that cares, and many of us can’t afford to buy food let alone presents. But I do wish you all a happy new year, and a better new year. God knows this year has been bad enough, but next year will potentially even harder.
We did an hour outside the Jobcentre this morning, but it was quiet. I’ve found that the DWP like to give appointments, sanctions etc before Christmas to leave people without money over the Christmas period, its the DWPs way of saying merry Christmas.
It was quiet today, people rushing in and out not wanting to speak. For the above reasons there wasn’t a lot of people to speak to. Those that were there dashed past muttering words such as ‘They are horrid in there, Its a load of crap and suchlike.
I thought that I’d post a newspaper article that I wrote and was published last Saturday. I don’t get paid for this but its good for the campaign.
Anyway, here it is I hope that you like it.
So five years ago myself and others decided to fight back. I couldn’t just sit back and allow this to happen, and five years later myself and the team are still outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre helping people, advising them, signposting and feeding them.
The awful fact is that more people are interested in what Jeremy Corbyn did or didn’t say rather than the real news that’s right in front of them.
People are dying. A further three million people will be forced into poverty next year due to the further roll out of universal credit. To be realistic I feel that number is underestimated.
Even more children will be forced to go hungry, their parents will be even hungrier. What sort of society do we live in that allows this?
Homelessness will increase drastically due to the long wait for a universal credit payment to be processed. Many landlords don’t want anyone claiming any type of benefit to live in their properties, so in the absence of decent amounts of social housing being built, most homeless people will remain homeless for the foreseeable future.
Thousands of self employed people will be forced out of their positions because its almost impossible to fill the government’s impossible remit for self employment under universal credit. This will have a devastating effect upon local communities. This has also been underestimated.
More and more disabled people will be persecuted by the government, be made to go hungry and not able to access the care that they desperately need. Many will become homeless as a result of being transferred to universal credit.
We need to continue to fight against this cruel government and to be honest we need to stop being so nice about it, after all they aren’t showing any compassion towards those most in need, and they aren’t listening to polite requests to stop either.
I spoke to lots of people today, none of whom couldn’t afford food over Christmas. We handed them food parcels which will tide them over until next week.
I had a conversation with a young working single parent. She says that her life has been destroyed by universal credit.
She took a loan out from the DWP to tide herself and her young child over until her claim was processed. She now has to pay this loan back at the cost of £150 a month.
After paying all of her bills off she’s left with £90 a month for her and her son to live off. This meagre amount is supposed to feed them both for a month. Could you manage on this small amount? It’s impossible, so she’s now reliant upon food banks to literally keep them both alive.
I helped and advised her and handed her a food parcel. I wish that I could do more but I can’t.
This is a damning indictment of the way the government regards working class people of this country. Combine this with the possible effects of Brexit, we could well see more poverty than has ever been seen in modern times.
We need to do more, we all need to do more, both for our future and our grandchildren’s futures. If we don’t the future will look very bleak indeed.
Many thanks to members of the team that came out today to help. I really do appreciate this, thank you so much.
Massive thanks to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog. Thank you!
Please read, share, tweet, email my blog. This is very important and I can’t stress how important it is to get the word out there.
It’s supposed to be the festive season isn’t it? The time of year when we’re all expected to drop everything, forget all of our problems and celebrate Christmas.
Christmas won’t be coming to thousands of people throughout the country though will it. Presents won’t be bought, toys won’t be wrapped, food won’t be bought, homes won’t be heated and time won’t be spent with family.
For those that reckon that I’m exaggerating then think again because I’m not. This is the cold, hard reality of life whilst claiming universal credit. The DWP shows absolutely no sympathy, the government even less so. They’ve got hearts made out of stone.
Whilst I’m writing this blog someone thats working and claiming Universal credit will come to the stark realisation that because their employer has been kind and paid them early for Christmas, they won’t be receiving a universal Credit top up payment in January.. Why? Because universal credit doesn’t take into account a four week month or an employer simply being kind.
Today’s weather echoed the atmosphere emanating from the DWP, it was freezing cold much like their souls, although I often wonder if they have one but that’s another subject. The cold weather did nothing to encourage people, and yes this does matter a lot.
As I approached the Jobcentre I was approached by a woman who I speak to regularly. Despite being skint she told me that she was doing well in her efforts to get better, it was nice seeing her smile.
We then took the food parcels out of the car. All five of them didn’t have chance to touch the ground. They were taken straight away and I offered some chocolate out that had been donated to me from a friend.
To be honest the food parcels went at a record speed which shocked me even though I shouldn’t be shocked. This happens a lot, too often and it shouldn’t be happening
A man that’s receiving help from the law centre in Manchester stopped me to tell me about his latest bad treatment from the DWP.
He claims universal credit and had been told by the DWP that he has to transfer over to the new system for his universal credit claim. H did just that, provided all of his ID etc and reckoned that he’d be ok.
He thought wrong, and he was told that it’d take five weeks to process…. Remember he’s already claiming universal credit and therefore shouldn’t have to go without money for five weeks. Not happy with this he visited our local citizens advice center. Luckily they managed to sort it out and he’ll now receive a payment in two weeks.
Complete madness. No Christmas for him, absolutely nothing to look forward to. His claim should have automatically transferred over but it didn’t. Someone or something decided that his claim would be different. Universal credit doesn’t work and this is a perfect example of why it doesn’t.
I briefly spoke to a gent and I offered him a leaflet. He told me that he had thought that being on universal credit would be a short term thing only it hasn’t been and he’s fed up. Totally understandable.
I spoke to a woman that told me that she won be getting her first universal credit payment until next week. Out of that shes got to pay all of her bills etc and she reckons that she’ll be left with nothing.
If this carries on we’ll look back at Christmas and believe that its only for rich people, for people with money much like a private club. I despise the government for this.
Ii spoke to a woman that had failed her PIP assessment so had started the appeal process.
I then walked over to a young chap who was desperately trying to get through to the DWP on the phone. Yes he was stood outside the Jobcentre doing this because they no longer have telephones that claimants can use, nor do they make telephone calls on behalf of a claimant.
He was frustrated and understandably so, despite having no money he was forced to listen to that flaming Vivaldi music.
His story is this. He went through a relationship breakdown and had found himself homeless. Luckily he’s got a bed ever night through the Andy Burnham scheme, but he’s still homeless and trying to sort out his money.
He said to me frustratingly that he had worked all of his adult life, had paid his national insurance and had also been in the army for four years. He doesn’t understand why the DWP wont help him when he’s paid into the system.
Of course he’s correct, they should be helping him but they don’t, infact they don’t care less about him and everyone like him.
It was then when I was asked to help a woman that I’ve spoken to on a regular basis. She was stood in the corner of the Jobcentre entrance with her head in her hands crying. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that her money had been stopped because someone had told the DWP that she’s moved house. She hasn’t of course, shes still living in her home albeit a cold home.
It really pisses me off that some people have seemingly nothing better to do than to report other people to the DWP and effectively ruin their life’s. I’m sure that some people get a kick out of it but I don’t. It’s cruel and as a result she’s without an income to feed herself and to keep warm.
Don’t forget it’s almost Christmas although like I said earlier thousands won’t be celebrating it so lets not forget them at this time of year, and every other day of the year. People are dying and until this stops I won’t stop either.
I cant thank the team enough for coming along today, I bet they’re all still defrosting.
Please come and join us for our special Christmas demo next week. We’ll be handing out special Christmas food parcels, laying a wreath, making speeches and releasing doves in memory of everyone thats died as a result if the governments cruel austerity regime.
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Dear readers I’m back! Thankfully I was able to attend this weeks demo. Last week was extremely busy but very productive. Before I start writing this weeks blog, please can I send get well wishes to Roy and extremely valuable member of the team. Get well soon!!
If I said that today was busy that would be an understatement. From the minute that I arrived it was unbelievably busy, hampered slightly the weather but we’re used to it. If you can guarantee anything about Manchester and the surrounding areas it would be a given that it’ll rain sooner rather than later. Anyway enough about that.
As I arrived a man was waiting for me. I call him a regular because he likes to stop and chat and keep me updated on his situation. He’s recently been rehoused and hopefully hes managing his tenancy ok. He’s a lovely chap but he finds life difficult. There just isnt the amount of support that he needs out there although local organisations do their best. The government have systematically starved outreach organisations of any funding and many of them have closed. Those that remain open do so by sheer determination and the goodwill of others.
Not long after, I asked a young woman if she was ok and I handed her a leaflet. She told me that she regarded universal credit as being crap and after paying her rent and loans that she had taken out whilst she was waiting for her Universal Credit to be processed she’s not left with enough money for food.
She’s now reliant upon food banks and the goodwill of friends. Her life won’t be getting better anytime soon. How can anyone productively look for work when they are hungry? They can’t. Hunger takes over everything, all of your senses and instincts are taken over by the need for food. Anyone that says otherwise obviously hasn’t been hungry like this.
It was then when we ran out of food parcels. We handed six out, but a woman desperately needed food. Her situation is complicated and without food she could well find herself falling into a deep, dark spiral that’s hard to climb out of, so I took her to the shop next door to the Jobcentre and bought her some food.
I asked another woman how she was coping on universal credit. She told me that she’s ok for one week of the month, but after paying her rent, universal credit loans and debts she can’t afford food. Shes disabled but has been placed in the work related group.
The DWP have been very consistent with their hate for disabled people, and every week I find myself helping people with disabilities the most. The DWP cares not about disabilities only the potential amount of money that they can make out of a person.
A young man then stopped me, took a leaflet and asked me what we were doing outside the Jobcentre. I explained that we were there to help people, to advise and signpost people if possible. He then opened up and told me his story.
He had been claiming universal credit for a long while now, and was receiving the work related disability element. He had been asked to attend an appointment to transfer him over onto the new computer system. Unfortunately he became ill and was admitted to hospital. Because he was ill he had forgotten about the appointment, and anyway he was too sick to phone up.
Of course the DWP showed their distinct lack of understanding about this, they stopped his claim and ignored his reason for non attendance. He even showed them details of his hospital admission.
So he now he had to make a new claim, was now without an income, and the DWP didn’t give a stuff.
As he was leaving an awful G4S security guard bellowed at him to go back inside the Jobcentre. Upon leaving the Jobcentre he was told that it’s now being sorted out. That’s brilliant however he’s had to go without money for a long while.
It was then that I asked a young woman if she would like one of our leaflets. She told me straight away that universal credit is awful. Previously she had worked but because she has twins and two other children she was paying more money out in childcare than she was receiving so she had to end her job.
Now she’s totally dependent upon universal credit and is paying back her universal Credit loan, buying gas and electric to keep her children warm and paying a top up on her rent.
To say she’s struggling is a massive understatement. She’s dreading Christmas, hasn’t got a clue how she’ll manage, but she does know that her children won’t be having much of a Christmas this year. Reliant upon foodbanks to survive its a complete nightmare.
I signposted her etc, and had a long chat with her. She told me that she used to always donate to food banks but now she’s reliant upon them. It’s a terrible indictment of how the government regards women and children.
I then spoke to a young couple with a young child. Whom I shall name Bill and Mary. Here’s their situation.
Both are on universal credit. Neither of them has a computer or the internet at home. Bill has Aspergers.
They live separately after living together and have told the DWP that they no longer live together. The DWP are ignoring this. Mary’s letters from the DWP are constantly being sent to Bills house, and they are constantly being accused of co habiting, and have even been told that they should make a joint claim.
Despite being a ridiculous thing to suggest, the reality is that they don’t live together therefore can’t make a joint claim. There’s two lots of rent to pay and a young child to look after, but the DWP reckon that its a good suggestion.
They’ve also been complaining about the letters being sent to the wrong address for a long time now but nothing ever gets done about it. Why? Because the system is crap, not one department communicates with another. They just don’t.
Can you imagine the implications of this if, say Mary’s partner was violent? Luckily he isn’t. If he was he would have details about her appointments, her finances etc etc. A woman’s safety is never a priority for the DWP, but this could result in something very serious happening to a woman.
So it looks like because not one DWP department adequately communicates with another there’s little regard for data protection laws let alone potentially a woman’s safety.
I then chatted to another woman with a young child. She told me that she’s having a nightmare with the DWP and universal credit at the moment.
She works part time and relays upon childcare to go to work. Every month the DWP expect her to upload her bank statement etc so that they can pay her childcare. Every month the system won’t allow her to upload this information, so every month she has to go into the Jobcentre to try and sort it out.
You’d think that a task like this should be easy to complete wouldn’t you, afterall they’re always banging on about how brilliant universal credit is, how it supposedly ‘lifts’ you out of poverty (it doesn’t) and how easy the computer system is to navigate (it isn’t either}.
It’s one big nightmare for her and she has to rely upon friends to survive, although shes worried that they’ll no longer be able to help her in the future.
It’s disgusting, degrading and humiliating. Anyone that believes that universal credit is a good thing and can be fixed needs a reality check. It’s got more holes than a fishing net and could they fix all the holes in one? It’s beyond repair and they need to wise up.
I spoke to the elderly father of a young man. He’s been supporting his son for around twelve months now. His story is a bit complicated, and from what I could make out he hasn’t received any payments for twelve months but they wern’t sure why.
I signposted them as a matter of urgency. They are struggling so much themselves and can’t afford to keep their son as well, but they also can’t leave him without. What a horrible situation to be in, it’s beyond cruel.
A young man then stopped me and old me immediately that Universal Credit is crap. I asked why and he told me that after claiming universal credit for a long while he now has to provide the DWP with all of his ID again. He wondered why he has to do this, they already have copies of everything and if they look they would easily find it. But no, that would be too easy wouldn’t it. So now, like many others he’s forced to start again and all because the DWP have created a system that fails to talk to the old one.
Wonderful and they wonder why suicide rates are rocketing.
In my living memory, the poor and disabled have never been persecuted as much as they have now, and this will get much worse next year.
The system won’t be able to cope, but the DWP and government will blame the claimant not themselves and they don’t give a stuff either.
A massive thanks to everyone that came along today, get well soon Roy and thank you to Pat for making us a new banner.
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