Tag: sanctions

DWP surveillance. A step too far.

It has always been known that the DWP (Department Of Work And Pensions) surveil benefit claimants who are suspected of committing fraud. This is often based upon their opinion and reports made by members of the public, but how in depth their surveillance is was previously unknown.

In 2019 the DWP published their two part staff guide on conducting fraud investigations. Thanks to Privacy International who went through the 995 pages of the report to help people understand how these investigations happen and how the DWP is surveilling claimants suspected of fraud.

Here are some of their findings.

They found that the DWP do conduct physical surveillance of benefit claimants.

The DWP can ask private companies such as Paypal, supermarkets etc to hand over any data that they might have on benefit claimants to them.

Not surprisingly, because we have all seen the tabloid newspapers reporting stories focussing on benefit cheats and clamping down on them. This is because the DWP actively works with tabloid newspapers to share this narrative, which then creates a hostile environment that legitimises this narrative and creates a constant fear for vulnerable claimants.

The DWP are only authorised to conduct directed surveillance. and are entitled to surveil claimants in order to obtain information without contacting the claimant involved first.

How do they do this?

The DWP can claim papers, handwriting and departmental system prints.

Interviewing witnesses and obtaining witness statements.

Interviewing claimants under caution.

Intelligence gathering.

The DWP guidance states that they can examine mobile phones and tablets because of the amount of information that’s stored on these devices.

DWP officers are encouraged to approach third parties to get information.

On page 316 of part of one, the guide reads: “The Criminal Procedures and Investigation Act (CPIA) Code Of Practice (COP) makes it clear that to establish the facts about an offence you can question any person, whether suspected or not, who you think might have useful information. If a person, including a third party, has useful information you should ask for it.”

So basically a claimant is guilty before being found innocent.

The guide contains some instructions as to how DWP officers should go about approaching third parties. These instructions include that they have to be clear that they are from the DWP if they are questioned, they should also remember that the person they are investigating may be innocent. They are told to not reveal the source of the suspicion, remembering that the third party may also be involved in suspected fraud.

The guide quotes Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is the right to respect for one’s private and family life. It is quoted on page 316 of the report and is immediately followed by an explanation on the specific circumstances in which the DWP may legitimately interfere with it.

“If DWP are to interfere with this Convention right it must be proven that all other avenues to obtain the evidence have been explored. However, in a case, which consists of various circumstantial evidence, it may only be possible to bolster the evidence to the criminal standard by providing evidence from third parties. Additional justification may be on the grounds that it would prevent or detect a crime”

Physical surveillance is also used by physically watching an individual and also using CCTV footage that can be obtained by the DWP without requiring PIPA authorisation.

The surveillance team can gather photo and video evidence.

The DWP also encouraged to use open source information such as social media, internet use, internet chat rooms, forums and websites to gain information regarding benefit fraud.

DWP officers are advised to cautious about gaining information in this way. They are told that they still need to give a claimant some expectation of privacy regardless that this very act takes away a persons privacy. This in turn causes distress for the claimant that they’re investigating.

The following advice is given: “If officers consider that there is a need to view material over a protracted period of time to accumulate private information or monitor the individuals activities, i.e. anything thing more than twice, then they should be considering an authorisation under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), as repeat viewing may constitute directed surveillance. There is a professional responsibility for individuals to ask themselves why they want to look at the material, and what they will do with the information. Single use open source will generally not amount to directed surveillance but expectation of privacy still needs to be considered.” [part two, page 80].

The DWP uses this information to;

Obtain information about a claimants activities

Obtain information to be used in a future interview

To observe a claimants movements or work pattern

To establish where a claimant lives

To obtain evidence for a possible court case.

How does this affect disabled people?

The DWP assesses if someone claiming disability benefits is disabled. They often use physical surveillance to do so. They can also use a claimants social media to assess their mental capacity too.

They do this without any medical qualifications and often without any knowledge of a persons disability and how it affects them.

The DWP are supposed to take psychological distress component into consideration whilst at the same time not describing how to do this, thus not taking it into consideration at all.

The DWP have always used used surveillance to check upon a persons relationship and to see who a claimant lives with to see if they’re claiming the correct benefits. The DWP reminds their employees that living together as a married couple is not in itself an offence whilst at the same time financially punishing them for doing so.

The DWP also has the authority to contact third party organisations such as

  • banks (including credit unions),
  • credit providers,
  • insurers,
  • credit reference agencies,
  • money transfer companies,
  • water and sewerage undertaker or authority,
  • gas and electricity providers,
  • telecommunications services,
  • educational establishment or institutions,
  • The Student Loans Company.
  • banks (including credit unions),
  • credit providers,
  • insurers,
  • credit reference agencies,
  • money transfer companies,
  • water and sewerage undertaker or authority,
  • gas and electricity providers,
  • telecommunications services,
  • educational establishment or institutions,
  • The Student Loans Company.
  • Airlines, which can hand over names of passengers and dates of travel (EasyJet is listed separately, as it falls under the “abroad fraud desk”. They can hand over passenger and booking information)
  • Bingo clubs, which can hand over membership details
  • The BBC, which can hand over TV licence holder name, method of payment and date of expiry
  • Sky, which can hand over Sky Broadband and Sky Talk subscriber details
  • Estate agents, who can hand over owner details, purchaser details, price, dates, method of payment and lettings
  • Golf clubs, gyms, leisure facilities and sports club, which can hand over membership details and activities undertaken
  • Harbour masters, who can hand over details about boat-ownership, boat-movements, dates and berthing fees
  • Legal Aid Board, which can hand over details of Legal Aid claims.
  • National Health Service Counter Fraud, which can hand over GP registration and checks of medical cards
  • National Health Service Trusts, which can hand over next of kin details and declared addresses
  • National Health Service Trusts & Hospitals, which can hand over details of admission and discharge and registration documents
  • Universities and Colleges Admissions Services, which can hand over university details and college placements

The DWP also have singled out PayPal as an organisation that is willing to provide information in response to a standard data protection letter but only if they say that the information is requested for law enforcement purposes.

The DWP also relies upon credit reference agencies for their investigations regardless of the fact that people being investigated are more likely to be in debt and have a poor credit rating. Regardless of this it’s yet another avenue for the DWP to exploit.

This is an extraordinary abuse of power given to the DWP too often target innocent people. Benefit fraud levels are 3.6% of benefit expenditure whilst many claimants are being underpaid by the DWP due to error.

Whilst claiming any type of benefit from the DWP a person also waves goodbye to the right to privacy that they should be entitled to. I’ve seen DWP officers check a claimants social media before their appointment, thus unbeknown to the claimant they’ve lost a part of their privacy.

If this was happening to a person not claiming benefits they’d quite rightly be an uproar about it. For this to happen to a claimant it’s regarded as being ok. None of this is ok and we must continue to oppose the shocking treatment of benefit claimants.

If you have a social media account make sure that it’s set to friends only. Check any friend requests first and be wary that some so called DWP help groups are used to survey people.

Thanks given to @mrfrankzola over on Twitter for sharing this information and making me aware of this report. Also thanks given to eerie.org for their hard work producing this report.

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This Monday was the funeral of my dear friend Karl who was also a member of my group Tameside Against The Cuts. Karl provided lots of hot drinks, lifts for claimants needing help and much needed support on our weekly demos. He was a wonderful person with a very kind heart, he will be sadly missed.

If you live in the Greater Manchester area and you are disabled please join Manchester DPAC where you will find support, solidarity and the option of joining in any activities that they are doing. You’ll find them over at https:\\manchesterdpac.com

If you are unemployed and would like to join a trade union head over to https:\\join.unitetheunion.org

Please can you read, share, tweet, email my blog and this post. Sharing helps enormously to raise awareness and it actually helps people.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and it’s a struggle. If you would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going there’s a donation button at the top and side of this blog post. Thank you.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign, You have literally kept me going through this very tough year and the loss of my son. I’m not sure if I can celebrate Christmas this year.

I will be blogging next week and hopefully it will be a festive version.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT SANCTIONS RISE ENORMOUSLY IN FOUR MONTHS

As many of you already know the DWP never miss an opportunity to sanction claimants, however it was much harder to do so whilst the country was in lockdown because of the pandemic.

The drop in Universal Credit sanctions was as a result of changes to the conditionality rules that were implemented in March 2020 because of the pandemic.

Normal service seems to have resumed sadly with the rate of Universal Credit sanctions rising 15 fold in four months according to Benefits And Work.

This all changed in April 2021 when face to face meetings returned thus causing sanctions levels to rise. This proves that the decision to sanction claimants lies firstly with Job Coaches and often is influenced by their opinion and not fact.

Theres no other reason for this when online claimant were seen to meet the expectations of their claimant commitments, yet now they apparently don’t.

Benefit sanctioning is an extremely cruel way of punishing someone for apparently not reaching the DWPs expectations. Taking away a persons financial means of survival is wrong on all levels, it’s hard enough trying to survive on the meagre amount of monies given in the first place.

I’ve blogged about benefit sanctions for many years now, and I’ve also had articles published in newspapers etc.

My opinion is this, and it will never change.

No one should be punished financially by sanctions. Sanctions do not and never have encouraged people to find work or look for work more diligently.

When a claimant is sanctioned they can only focus on keeping warm, being able to eat and how they’re going to pay their rent.

Being sanctioned and refusing to pay ESA and PIP claimants their rightful payments directly causes mental and physical distress, often leading to long term illness and depression.

Whilst quite rightly we are told to leave an abusive relationship for our own safety a person can’t leave the DWP and everything that comes with it. It’s obscene that people are treated in this manner, being guilty before being found innocent. It’s gaslighting at its worst.


Prior to the pandemic the highest sanctioning levels happened back in July 2019, when 22,566 claimants were hit with a reduction in their benefit.
I have no doubt that this figure will be surpassed if it hasn’t already.

We must continue to hold the government and the DWP responsible for their actions.

Many thanks once again to Benefits And Work for their hard work for researching and gathering the data. They work extremely hard to help others.

If you want to raise awareness about these issues and more there are several ways that you can do so.

You can share blogs such as mine and likewise online of your preferred social media platform. You can also email blogs and articles like mine to MPs and other important people and influencers.

Every share, tweet, conversation etc helps to raise awareness and this is extremely important to do.

If you live in the Greater Manchester area and you’d like to get involved please join https;\\manchesterdpac.com You will find likeminded people and will be given opportunities to join in any activities that they are doing.

Unite community is another trade union organisation that is well worth joining. There is a small payment to join but you can get help and advice from them also. You can join them over at http:\\join.unitetheunion.org

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Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts. Like I said earlier every share helps enormously.

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

How am I doing? Not good unfortunately a very good friend of mine died this week, and I’m struggling to cope with it because I’m still grieving for my son.

Financially I’m also struggling. I’m having to make the choice between heating and eating. I know that so many of you are struggling with this as well.

If anyone would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going or to help me put some electric on the meter theres a PayPal donation link at the top, side and underneath this blog post.

I am trying to update my blog more than once a week as you might have noticed this week.

DWP GETS BILLIONS TO FORCE LEGACY BENEFIT CLAIMANTS TO UNIVERSAL CREDIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DWP GETS BILLIONS FOR FORCED MOVE TO UC AND ONLINE CLAIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s expensive being poor

You might have heard this statement being made rather more these last few years. The combination of the cruel DWP system, zero hour contract work, low hourly pay and the pandemic have all ensured that being poor is now more expensive now than it has been in recent times.

Of course it has always been the case but the amount of hatred beaten upon anyone that’s poor and disabled is now worse than I ever remember it.

I’ve mentioned this many times throughout my blog posts over the years that I’ve been blogging and writing but at this moment in time I’ve never known such a hostile environment for anyone that’s poor and disabled.

Cruelty towards the poor has always existed and laws have been created to ‘deal’ with poor people go right back to medieval times and perhaps earlier. This does not excuse the modern day cruelty metered upon the poorest and most vulnerable at the very time when they need help.

The DWP (Department Of Work And Pensions) and the government are our modern day overlords that are hell bent on causing pain and suffering to those that are in need of their help.

To understand this we need to look at the DWP’s cruel system guised as Universal Credit, titled as such to give the illusion of help and support. Instead of monetary credit and help claimants are met with cruelty and a total lack of care given by the `DWP, the organisation that is supposed to be helping them.

When universal Credit was created the publicity surrounding it said that it was created to help those most in need and that claimants would be much better off financially if they applied for it, The truth is that it most people that have and do receive Universal Credit are much worse off financially than they were previously.

The cruelty doesn’t end there though. The government systematically put in place various punishments that ensure that claimants don’t receive enough money to live off. Sanctions given reducing a persons payments for so called ‘failing’ to comply, when quite often a person has complied but the cruel DWP system is never satisfied with anything that a claimant does.

Sanctions as well as monies garnished from Universal Credit payments for debts such a Council Tax and fines are the cause for many to have to use food banks in order to survive. It’s very difficult if near impossible to get the DWP to reduce a sanction and for courts and local authorities to reduce the monies paid back per week. This is a circle of poverty that’s never-ending. It’s torturous and cruel. Not one thought is given by local authorities and the DWP about how they’ll survive. They also don’t care as long as they get their money.

Being poor is expensive because although our incomes are much reduced we are still expected to pay the same bills that those better off financially pay. It’s extremely unfair but I can’t see this changing for the better in the future, I do expect it to worsen leaving more people living in extreme poverty.

Just recently it was announced that gas prices are increasing to such a high degree that we won’t be able to heat our homes no matter how small they can be. Eating is also a luxury these days for thousands. With retail prices increasing having a good substantial meal each day is more or less impossible. I often reminisce about the good old days then I was able to do so, it feels like a lifetime ago.

On top of this rents are increasing for thousands and thousands are being made homeless on a daily basis and organisations that help homeless people are overwhelmed and can’t keep up with the demand for their services.

Can you imagine how devastating it is to loose your home only to find yourself having to live on the streets relying upon begging and organisations feeding homeless people in city centres?

It’s very easy for those better off to say go to a food bank for help when many do limit their food parcels to three. When you’ve had your allotted amount you’re on your own again to try and work out how to survive. There are food banks that do help people long term and a huge thank you to them for doing so. They need support more than they’ve ever needed it before. This isn’t the answer to the problem though, its a sticking plaster on an open wound that shows no sign of healing.

Many forget how humiliating it is to be forced to ask for help, it makes people believe that they’ve failed everyone, both themselves and their families. To do this is to admit that they have nothing and feelings worthless is something that no one should be forced to feel.

Writing from experience of being poor and living in poverty £10 may as well be a million pounds. Having a decent set amount of money to spend on food, energy bills and personal care is a dream that many including myself have.

Maybe one day it’ll be achievable but realistically the government aren’t going to change into a caring machine any time soon if ever. With the opposition government not opposing enough except for the usual few whom I’m thankful for it leaves the government to do exactly what they want whenever they want.

Remember this… If someone tells you that they haven’t got a penny to their name they probably haven’t. They probably haven’t had cash to hold for a long time. It’s not a sentence that’s thrown around flippantly its the truth, its reality for thousands of people every single day of every single week of the year.

Can you imagine living like this? It’s a living hell.

I’ve not met a single person in all of the years that I’ve been helping and blogging that doesn’t want to better their situation. The government makes this near impossible. The government is responsible for our suffering and don’t ever forget this.

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Please join my colleagues and friends over at https:\\manchesterdpac.com if you live in the Greater Manchester area. They do amazing work and they provide much needed support.

I write this blog after a very stressful week for myself. I don’t publish everything that I go through on a personal level online because some things should remain private. I’m still mourning the loss of my son especially as halloween is approaching which he loved to celebrate especially with my grandchildren.

I want to make this world a better place for everyone but sometimes it’s impossible to do more than I’m doing.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every share makes a massive difference to raising awareness of the governments wrong doings to the most vulnerable,.

If anyone would like to donate as long as it doesn’t put yourself in need theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny helps both myself and my blog continue. I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do and every penny makes a massive difference.

Its Not Good Enough

I’ve been campaigning against the cruel system which is Universal Credit since it’s conception. I have with friends held weekly demonstrations against the cruelty of said system and have been told countless accounts of how Universal Credit has affected people, how it has caused many people to end their life’s, split families up and has Rendered people ill, depressed, stressed, hungry and feeling that they can never satisfy the demands of the system which was created in order to ‘help’ people.

The truth is that Universal Credit doesn’t help many, it leaves people in a much worse financially than they were before. It wears people down until they can’t cope any more.

It doesn’t discriminate though, it treats everyone in the same manner, making some people feel like a criminal for asking for help because they need it and deserve to be helped.

if you look through this blog you will read many stories of how this system has treated people, how its worn people down and has for some been a massive contributor into people taking their own life.

We’ve handed out hundreds of food parcels, literally fed people that haven’t eaten for days. Indeed, I wrote in an earlier blog post I documented that I gave a woman and her children some tinned food and goodies, and how they walked across the road and ate the food out of the tins because they were hungry and hadn’t eaten a real meal for a long time.

I’ve spoken to people that had been discriminated against by the DWP because of the way they looked. If you scroll down my blog posts you will read that a man was discriminated against because he wasn’t wearing a suit and tie and proper shoes for his appointment at the Jobcentre.

This was blatant discrimination because they knew how poor he was, how he’d had no money for over a month and only possessed one pair of canvas shoes and a thin summer jacket.

The demands that the DWP make to people can be completely ridiculous like this, if he had’t spoken to us he would never have found out that he didn’t have to do this.

I also helped a woman with a young baby who was told by her advisor that she couldn’t come to the Jobcentre with her baby. This is completely unfair and also untrue. Children are allowed to attend appointments but the DWP like to make the rules up as they please.

I’ve spoken and helped people that were very close to taking their own life because they couldn’t cope with the DWP bullying anymore. I’ve also helped people that became homeless when Universal Credit was first introduced into my town and two other local authorities. I’ll also never forget being told by a police officer that a man that I had helped but was later let down by the system, that he had taken his own life because he couldn’t see any future for himself.

I really could talk forever about this, please scroll through my blogs and my media posts to see more. It’s cruelty certainly ignited a fire inside of me to make me determined to fight these and other injustices throughout the DWP and other systems.

Universal Credit was introduced under the guise of supposedly making it easier to claim and that people would be better off financially. It wasn’t long before it was shown to do anything but this. It can virtually destroy people.

Years ago I made a promise, prompted by my friend Michael to document everything that I see, hear and experience in this blog. I really didn’t expect it to be read by anyone at all but it was because it wasn’t being spoken about back then.

Although I can’t be there today to take part in the day of action because I developed Potts Syndrome which comes and goes, but today it’s here after having Covid and Long Covid I am there in spirit. Covid nearly broke me but it didn’t and I’m very grateful to have survived it.

I stand in solidarity with everyone that’s campaigning against Universal Credit whilst also demanding that the government introduces the £20 uplift to disabled people as well. Disabled people have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, many haven’t been able to leave their homes because of quarantine restrictions and also the lack of carers being able to help at home. It’s absolutely shocking that the government treats them in this way.

The DWP systems aren’t good enough. They don’t help people, instead they punish people because of their own existence. I fear that this will continue to worsen because they hate poor and disabled people, and they don’t care if we suffer either.

I also experienced the death of my son which was totally unexpected and through no fault of his own. He went to bed and didn’t wake up. Joseph was disabled and he had to fight for every penny that he got from the DWP. I’ve lost count of the amount of appeals that he had to make to get his rightful payments.

When I first learnt that my son had died I didn’t know how I would continue, grief can take you to some very dark places. Despite this I think that I’m learning how to cope with it, knowing that it’s ok to have an off day or to feel sad sometimes. My daughters and everyone that reads my blog and supports both the campaign and blog have really helped me. It’s ok to cry and there shouldn’t be any shame surrounding this.

My son shared the same birthday as me which is coming up very soon, so I know that’s going to be a tough day for us all.

I want to do more though. I don’t think that I’m doing enough to raise awareness and to help people. Despite this I do know that I do need to keep this blog going because despite everything I still need to get the truth out there. If anyone would like to donate towards the upkeep of this blog and my campaign theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Let’s get the truth out there!

Let’s talk about Covid deaths.

Dear readers, subscribers and friends, I hope that you are as well as can be. This week has been difficult for me because it’s the first time that I’ve been able to sit down and grieve for my son.

Everyone grieves in their own way and the time it takes for a person to grieve is totally individual. I truly don’t think that I’ll ever get over it and I’ll just learn to live with it.

It’s heartbreaking to know that thousands of people are mourning the loss of a loved one to Covid 19. No one as far as I’ve seen has spoken about their suffering and loss. I cannot comprehend their grief and pain.

The government has done a good job of hiding the true reality of the pandemic, the deaths, suffering, long covid sufferers and those already isolated because of illness and disability.

It’s very easy for the Prime Minister to open the borders, allow travel to countries overseas and to open up shops and businesses, he doesn’t have to cope with becoming ill and having no support, to be isolated in his home due to disability and illness. As most of you already know that he doesn’t care, he doesn’t care about our welfare and he certainly doesn’t want to improve our quality of life.

I don’t underestimate the joy felt by many when they realised that they could come out of lockdown but I do realise that the Indian strain of covid 19 will soon be in most of our communities because Johnson once again hasn’t put much, if any thought into ending the lockdown.

Like many of you reading this I’m fully vaccinated, and many will be awaiting either their first or second vaccination, but I’m a tad worried about the Indian strain coming our way because we just don’t know if the vaccination works with this strain of COVID 19.

What I can say is proceed with caution, wear a mask, wash your hands and remain cautious. It’s a terrible indictment of our government that Johnson thinks that its ok to say ‘Let the bodies pile up’ and still be allowed to continue as Prime Minister. I remember the days when the opposition used to oppose such wrongdoings but now there’s hardly any from Sir Kier Starmer.

I really hope that we start to have some decent opposition soon because thousands of people need this now.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every share is important to get the truth out there.

I don’t receive any funding for both my blog and campaign. For anyone that would like to donate there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog.

Thank you all so much for your support, it means the world to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

I’m struggling……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources Shelter.

Living in poverty isn’t living its existing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you all so much x.