Tag: suicide

Man given eight-month sanction for missing an appointment. Can we stop sanctioning people, please?

Dear readers, I apologise for the lateness of my blog. As you may have heard Esther Mcvey has resigned from her role as the DWP minister because she doesn’t agree with the deal put forward by Theresa May, she actually stated that she wouldn’t be able to look her constituents in the eye. I found this quite hypocritical because she has no problem looking in the eyes of the disabled, poor, working poor and the families of those who have died as a result of her cruel decisions whilst in office.

Don’t celebrate yet because she’ll be back, she’s done this before, and anyway, they’ll replace her with someone equally as odious and stone-hearted. We shouldn’t start celebrating until we have a general election and Labour win, and if this happened it’d take us years to repair the damage.

Anyway, the blogs late because I had to go to Salford Quays to be interviewed by Granada news regarding this. So my apologies once again.

Once again can I remind people that we handed out five food parcels, we helped and advised everyone that we spoke to and signposted everyone that needed to be signposted. We also act as an impromptu councilling group and we offer advice concerning other matters also.

The campaign doesn’t end at 12pm on Thursday, for me, it lasts for seven days a week.

Yesterday was a little warmer even though it was dull. armed with a cup of decaf I walked over to the Jobcentre. I was greeted by a woman who we’ve been helping for a while now. She’s a shy woman and yesterday we had a breakthrough, she opened up about her situation and we can now help her further.

Due to circumstances out of her control, she’s had to make changes to her claim for universal credit and as a result, she’s not going to receive any payments so I handed her a food parcel.

It’s so sad to see someone that’s desperately trying to improve her situation being pushed further down into poverty. This won’t enrich her life, it’ll make life much harder for her and to be honest I’m worried about her.

 

I spotted a lady walking out of the Jobcentre with two small children, one in a pram. She told me that she’s had to make a new claim for universal credit and she has been forced to take a loan from the DWP to survive.

It shouldn’t be like this, children shouldn’t be forced by the government to go hungry, not to forget their mother will be hungry and no doubt their health will suffer. It takes a government of psychopaths to inflict cruelty such as this.

 

A woman stopped Gordon and she explained her situation, which unfortunately isn’t uncommon. Her situation is this. She’s currently claiming JSA and has been offered a job. Brilliant you might say, and it is, however, there’s a problem. Her job is a part-time position and it would take her over the threshold that’s allowed when claiming JSA, she’d have to move over to universal credit and the thought of this scares her.

She knows that she’ll have to go without any payments for at least five weeks, she knows that the conditions of universal credit would damage her both physically and mentally. Basically, she’s scared.

We had a chat and we’re hoping that her situation has been rectified, but once again it shouldn’t be like this. Making a claim for universal credit feels like you’re being punished, and it’s a fact, to be honest. We’re being punished for being poor, for needing help and it’s cruel and unnecessary.

 

I was stopped by a man that myself and the law centre have been helping told me that his mandatory consideration. He’s beginning to gain confidence, mainly because he knows that he’s being supported, listened to, understood and respected. Being cruel certainly doesn’t encourage people does it.

 

We noticed a man walking around confused. He’d been told that he needs to provide proof of his address. Simple you might think, but it isn’t for many. People move homes, are homeless, have had to leave a property in a rush and are staying in temporary accommodation. Some people have chaotic lives, but it doesn’t mean that they should be punished for this, unfortunately, they are. There’s a massive lack of understanding not only from within the DWP but in all governmental and local governmental departments. Often the receptionists at these places can appear uncaring which doesn’t help.

 

Gordon and myself were stopped by a woman who I shall name Dot.

Dot is an older lady, her husband died in March and Dot is still grieving. She’s depressed and is finding life very difficult.

Dot is claiming the sickness (ESA) related element of universal credit and she’s struggling. She’s constantly worried and she’s being reminded that she’ll soon have to return to work.

Dot should be allowed to recover and grieve, but there’s no way that the DWP will allow this.

Dot’s future doesn’t look good thanks to this government.

 

I spoke to a man whom I shall name Jim.

Jim walked out of the Jobcentre looking confused, he’s an older chap.

Jim had spent three days trying to make an online claim for universal credit. Three days folks, because he was struggling with the system. In his words, he ‘doesn’t get along’ with computers and he was constantly being thrown off the website for one reason or another.

Jim went to see his advisor and he was told that he shouldn’t be making a claim for universal credit, he should be claiming ESA. He was told by a different advisor that he should apply for universal credit.

You can see why Jim is confused, can’t you? I can. Honestly how hard is it to ensure that you give the correct advice? Impossible I fear.

Does the DWP care about Jim? Not one bit.

 

I was stopped by a woman, she had been made redundant. She was told to go to the Jobcentre to start her universal credit claim. Simple you’d think. Nope. She told me that she was being sent to a different building to make her claim.

 

A rather frustrated man stormed out of the Jobcentre, he shouted ‘Theresa May is an old bag, shes horrible’. It’s hard to disagree with that, isn’t it?

 

I had a brief conversation with a man who told me that he’d been sanctioned for eight months. Yes, eight months. His reason for missing his appointment was that he had to help his father move into a nursing home out of the area. He provided evidence of this, he appealed and they refused his appeal. So he went without money for eight months.

I advised him on what he should do, but you might ask how does someone survive for eight months with no income. To put it bluntly many don’t. Many die, most are hungry and many lose their homes.

Sanctions and universal credit are two of the main reasons why people become homeless, but many are forgetting about sanctions and their impact on people, just like they are forgetting about the two-child limit, the benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the council tax supplement. I often feel that I’m a lone voice when talking about these issues because some have forgotten about them, many have accepted it as the norm.

 

I then had a conversation with a Kurdish man who had been temporarily employed by an agency. He didn’t understand that he had to make a new claim for universal credit and would have to wait for around five weeks or more for his claim to be processed.

The system is too complicated, it makes you financially worse off, combine this with a limited understanding of the English language and you’re certain to fail. Can I say that I hate this government?

 

Last but not least, I spoke to a woman who I shall name Jenny.

Jenny has been sanctioned. Jenny has children.

Jenny has been sanctioned because she didn’t see the message on her universal credit account to attend an appointment.

Jenny doesn’t have a computer, Jenny doesn’t know how to use a computer. Jenny struggles to access the places where she can use a computer.

Jenny is being punished because she can’t understand the system because she has a disability and the DWP don’t care.

We advised Jenny but for her and people like her, their future is very bleak. It’s ok for local governments and organisations to provide internet access locally, but it’s completely useless for someone without a computer, who doesn’t know how to use a computer and can’t afford one also. We need a paper system, one that everyone understands and we should also be campaigning for this.

 

This all happened over two hours and we do this every week. We work hard helping people in cold and often with abuse from passers-by. I can’t thank everyone that comes along to help enough. You’re all amazing, you keep me going especially when I feel fed up like I do now. The work that we do is much needed and has become essential.

 

Thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog. I receive no funding for this and any donation however small will be most welcome and put to good use. Thank you to everyone that has supported my blog. Thank you.

We’ll be back next week and every week.

 

 

 

 

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Sixty-year-old man proclaimed fit for work despite having a stroke. The DWP have destroyed me.

Dear readers, I found it particularly hard this week, not only because it was freezing cold but I think its one of those weeks when the enormity of the situation hits me like a brick. This happens every now and then because I’m all too aware of the situation, of our situation.

Anyway, enough about me, you probably aren’t here to hear about me. The weather was very cold and we were ill prepared for this sudden onslaught of winter weather. I had left my home after forgetting my telephone also. Not a good start to the day.

The Queue had already formed for the food parcels, all given to people either working and claiming Universal Credit or being shifted over to Universal Credit from another benefit. They had no choice but to take out a loan from the DWP which is now making their universal credit payments incredibly small, usually unmanageable.

It did appear to be a bit quieter than normal, but we also see this a lot. Some weeks are busier than others, but the problems are still life changing.

 

The first thing that I noticed upon arriving at the Jobcentre was the number of staff and security guards at the front desk. They may have put up a reflective screen to prevent us from seeing inside but I can still catch glimpses from the outside. It’s a tad excessive and is very intimidating upon walking into the building. There’s just no need for it. It’s simply to remind us of where we stand in the situation, an enemy, someone to take the pee out of, to abuse.

 

As Gordon passed me the food parcels I was handing them out to people, many of whom are hungry. When claiming universal credit it’s impossible to pay your bills and buy food, gas and electric at the same time. Food parcels keep people going, they keep people alive. Instead of condemning their use, the government actually love them. They take the problem out of their hands. As a nation, we should be constantly challenging the government about their use, many of us already are. Please join us in doing so.

 

I was stopped by a man walking out of the Jobcentre. Clutching a folded piece of paper he told me that he had been without money for months. He needed food and advice. We provided both happily.

 

A man then stopped me and told me his story. He had been released from prison not long ago and was told to go to the Jobcentre to claim universal credit. He did just that and he got an advance loan from them to tide him over. Out of that, he had to pay his rent and other expenses so now he’s left with nothing, yet despite struggling he’s very proud that he’s managing to stay on the straight and narrow “It’s almost as if they’re trying to send me back inside”. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

 

Another man stopped me and told me of his plight. He’s receiving his universal credit payments, he has to put towards his rent, he has to pay his bills, buy food etc. He’d taken an advance loan out whilst awaiting his universal credit payments which he now has to pay back at £30 a month. He also has to pay a debt that he was paying back whilst claiming his previous benefit at almost £30 a month, so he’s £60 down already.

Yes, people are expected to live like this because they just don’t care.

 

We then spoke to a young man desperately trying to make a good life for himself. He had lost his job and then subsequently lost his home and had become homeless. He’s not living on the street but instead was a sofa surfer until finding accommodation.

He honestly couldn’t try any harder than he is doing now. He dresses smart and is always looking for work, he would be a credit to any employer. However finding suitable employment is proving to be impossible because he’s got an unspent criminal conviction, that happened when he got when like he said ‘was having a bad patch’. His speciality of work is in finance.

Poor fella, trying his best and getting constant knockbacks. The only employment that he can find is fairly rubbish agency work. In reality, he’s most likely going to have to live like this until his conviction is spent, and he really does regret it. Magic wand anyone?

He told me that he feels so much pressure from the DWP and other organisations that it’s hard to stay focused at times but he wants to improve his life.

 

I spoke to an older man who told me quickly that the DWP have destroyed his life. He then walked off.

 

It was then when we noticed an older chap walking out from the Jobcentre clutching a piece of paper whilst looking confused. I asked him if we could help, he then told me his story.

He’s 60 years of age, in poor health and is recovering from a stroke. He’s also prone to getting more strokes. He was claiming ESA but he was declared fit for work at Albert Bridge house. To be brutally honest he didn’t have a clue about what he had to.

This gentleman was brought up in what seems now was a totally different world. A world where people were respected, elders were acknowledged and also respected and everyone was looked after. Now, he’s left with nothing, computer-like sentences uttered by people that are supposed to help him but don’t.

Can you imagine feeling this lost? It must be a truly awful feeling. We advised him, signposted him and showed him compassion.

 

We spoke to a woman that has just found a job totally independent from the Jobcentre. We were so happy for her, her life will now begin again.

 

We advised a woman to go and see the local council about a housing benefit enquiry. Universal credit is making her so skint that she’s struggling to cope.

 

Not long afterwards we spoke to a young man who had been made homeless but had totally changed his life around all by himself. He told us that this was because of his strong personality, he knew that he had to survive. He had also never become involved with drugs or drink. Anyway, to cut a long story short, he’s totally inspirational. a credit to his family and I’ll never forget our conversation.

 

So here we have it, another week and more awful stories. We left half an hour early due to being freezing cold and ill-prepared (we were freezing) and I had ran out of electric so had to return home to ensure that my daughter wasn’t freezing cold. You know the score, this happens to many of my readers.

 

We helped and signposted everyone that we spoke to. We offered words of hope and comfort, we fed people and gave them hope and we will return next week to do the same thing.

 

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Many thanks to all my readers and supporters of my blog I thank  you all because you keep me going.

We don’t receive any funding for the work that we do, nor do I receive anything for writing my blog. I do this all on an extremely low budget. If anyone would like to donate please click on the donate button above and on the sidebar. Any donations would enable me to carry on with this work, and continue with the blog. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to kill myself last month, they’re going to stop my money, I don’t know what to do.

Dear readers it’s Thursday again, it comes around far too quickly. Today the weather was very cold and rainy, I’ll have to dig out my thermals for next week.

Today we were joined by members of Glossop Labour club, and a local councillor. Everyone got stuck right in and no one left without receiving help, advice, a copy of our leaflets and a food parcel if needed. We had our usual food parcels and the gang from Glossop brought up some extras. All went extremely quickly most likely because it’s the end of the month and most people are without money awaiting their universal credit payment next month.

It never gets any easier, seeing people struggle like they do, yet these people are the kindest people that you could ever meet. The government might want to take everything away from them but they can’t take away their kindness and understanding.

Jenny was the first person that I spoke to this week. She arrived with her boyfriend whom she doesn’t live with. She can’t tell the DWP that she has a boyfriend because they will accuse her of cohabiting when she isn’t. They’ve done this to her before and I know that this is fairly commonplace.

Jenny asked for a food parcel and started to talk to me. She told me that she had been in the hospital because she attempted to commit suicide.

She told me that ‘Enough is enough, I couldn’t attend my ESA assessment because my anxiety was high, I just couldn’t cope. I forgot that I had a medical assessment and I telephoned them as soon as I remembered. They didn’t issue a new appointment though, they just sent me a form to fill in and I was scared that they are going to stop my money. So I thought that I’d be better off dead because without my payments I can’t cope.’

Luckily she received medical help but is still living in fear that she won’t receive her payment. The reality is that she won’t either. From my experience, they usually offer a new appointment upon phoning them. If this is the case then I will help her to appeal this etc.

But ask yourself this. Why is this happening? Why are thousands upon thousands of disabled people forced to attend these farces of a medical assessment, when a doctors or consultants letter should be enough?

It’s all about punishing disabled people and unemployed people. The government see them all as an unwanted burden, they’d rather that we weren’t here at all. So they literally starve us into submission and set a cruel regime that purely punishes and degrades a person to such a level that they will agree to anything that the government asks them to do.

The DWP are their foot soldiers, doing their dirty work for them. Not happy with that the government then offer to fund to struggling charities that always come with a gagging order. Take, for example, their latest victim Citizens Advice which will now also be enabling the government to roll out the next phase of Universal Credit. They should be opposing it.

The government are cruel, callous and care not one bit about the heartache, struggle and deaths that they cause. Don’t forget this.

Bill then stopped to chat with me. He had recently failed his ESA medical and not knowing that he can appeal they shifted him onto universal credit.

There’s a problem though. Bill can’t use a computer, he’s dyslexic and has never used a computer in his life. He also doesn’t have a mobile phone, he can’t afford one. These are the essentials when making an application for universal credit, so he’s stuck at the first hurdle.

Bill also has heart and circulation problems, his health is poor hence his previous claim for ESA. But Bill is expected to continue down the universal credit path, which he could fail because the odds of him succeeding aren’t good.

I spoke to a homeless chap that had to go into the Jobcentre to collect a form. Simple enough you’d think. But no, he was told that he had to travel to Hyde Jobcentre to collect it. Think about it, he’s homeless, living in a tent and has no money so he has to walk.

I offered him some bus fare but he told me that he would walk, so walk he did. I hope that Hyde Jobcentre didn’t turn him away as well. It’s a long way to walk for anyone, especially someone that’s hungry and cold, and it was freezing today.

I also spoke to his representative from Shelter and he uttered his frustration that the work that needs to be done in the Greater Manchester area isn’t being authorised as quickly as it should be. Shelter and other organisations desperately want to house people before the winter sets in.

I spoke to Cath who was hoping to claim ESA. She has serious health problems but in my area the odds against this happening are high.

John stopped me for a chat. John is homeless but is receiving assistance from Shelter and a local organisation. He’s extremely confused as to what benefit he is receiving etc and without representation, it would be quite honestly a disaster. Thankfully he has assistance.

Having no idea of what benefit that a person is claiming is a massive problem. I have to try and describe a benefit in ways such as this, universal credit is the one that you have to go without money for at least five weeks’ etc. The system is so complex that they haven’t got a clue and it’s a massive problem that few have the time to address.

We then all gasped when we noticed a man with both legs heavily bandaged whilst using a wheelchair enter the Jobcentre. He was obviously there for an appointment because he was in there for a while.

This is about as bad as it gets. The government deliberately no notice of his disability and still demands that he attends the Jobcentre. He couldn’t even open the doors Gordon helped him.

Janet then had a chat with Roy. Janet has two children and after all the deductions to her benefits, she’s left with £50 a week to feed herself and her two children. Janet also has to pay £75 a month top up for her rent. Janet did apply for a DHP but has been refused because the council changing are the goalposts so to speak because the council are short of funding.

So the likelihood of Janet and her children becoming homeless are high. Janet also has complex needs that can’t be addressed in temporary accommodation. Her future is looking very bleak.

We did speak to many more people and offered them help and advice. I also offered to accompany someone to an ESA assessment and I’m also helping other people this week.

The campaign doesn’t stop when we leave. I work extremely hard on pushing the need to stop and scrap universal credit, and I also work hard raising awareness of all the issues that we encounter.

However, it does feel that both myself and other campaigners are on our own with this. We try extremely hard to raise awareness but the Labour Party are yet to make a concrete decision and are flip-flopping around indecisively whilst the rest of us are looking for their support.

We are awaiting a positive decision from the Labour party.

For anyone interested, I’m on Sky News tomorrow via Skpe at 15.45, 3.45pm talking about universal credit. It will be aired four hours later on YouTube. I’ll post a link under ‘media’ above.

Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog and our campaign. Please read, share, email my blog etc.

Huge thanks to my fellow campaigners, activists, bloggers, journalists etc for all the hard work that you do.

We will be back next week, but wearing thermals!

I write my blog on an extremely low budget and I’m not paid for this or the campaign work that I do. Any donation, no matter how small will help me to continue with my work and it really is appreciated. Thank you!

My son doesn’t have enough money to survive. I’m over £300 worse off a month whilst working and on Universal credit.

Dear readers, I’m sorry about the lateness of this blog, yesterday was extremely busy and I returned home late, then had to go to parent’s evening that appeared to go on forever. Things have changed so much since my oldest children were at secondary school, it certainly felt more corporate than it used to and buzzwords were being flown around by the head teacher at great speed.

Anyway, I digress, it was a busy day outside Ashton Jobcentre. It started off very quietly but became very busy. So many people are suffering and it breaks my heart. I try to keep a brave face but it’s damn hard when you know that people are upset, hungry and haven’t got a clue what to do. They certainly aren’t in any position to be able to make things better either, their life’s are controlled by the DWP. Can you imagine having to live like this? I realize that many of my readers are in this position and fully understand what I’m talking about. It’s a culture of fear, the survival of the fittest but even the fittest become ill and many die as a result of the DWPs cruel regime.

Make no mistake, the government are aware of this, but intend to do nothing to help either. They like the system, it serves them well. Creating poverty and suffering should be their moto and they mock us when they create positions such as ‘Minister for suicide’ etc. They cause the suffering and deaths, they are intent on continuing whilst also taking away funding from much needed services that could and do save life’s.

Please note that EVERYONE that we spoke to received the help and advice that they needed, everyone was handed a leaflet or two and no one left us unaided in some way.

 

I’ll list yesterdays conversations, its easier that way.

 

The food parcels went within 10 minutes, and I’m certain that there will be a bigger need for them as the winter weather draws in and more people are transferred over to Universal Credit.  It’s apparently going to be a bad winter, which in itself will bring it’s own problems such as warmth, clothing and shelter. People are hungry, many with children. What sort of a government do we live under that allows such things? A cruel, heartless corrupt government that cares nothing about human life except their own.

 

I said hello to a couple of men that I speak to every week, lovely men just trying to survive under difficult circumstances. They make my week, yet some would pass them by without a second thought because their poverty is apparent. Never judge anyone by their appearance, it’s wrong to do so.

 

I was then approached by a man that I spoke to last week, I mentioned his details in last weeks blog. He wanted to update me about his situation and he appeared to be a bit happier. He told me that he had contacted Greater Manchester Law Centre like I had advised and he was overjoyed with the help that they have and will be giving him. Saying that they couldn’t do enough to help him, and they’ve told him that they are hoping for a very positive outcome for his situation.

To put it simply, he’s been given hope, he felt that they cared, he feels valued and they will fight his corner for him and will go out of their way to do so. This my friends, makes all the difference and I’m hoping for some more good news from him next week.

Greater Manchester Law Centre you are simply brilliant and I can’t thank you enough for the hard work that you all do.

 

Not long afterwards I had a conversation with a politics graduate. She has been advised by the DWP to find a job stacking shelves. Whilst this is far from unusual, it does however reflect the lack of respect and understanding that the DWP have for education and real job searching. They haven’t got a clue, its all about punishing people. I mean how dare a graduate ask for help…. That’s how the DWP see it.

 

A polish man stopped me and asked for a leaflet. He’s been living and working in the UK for seven years, but has recently had an accident. His arm was in a sling and he was struggling with understanding the DWP system. This concerned me, because the DWP don’t have a good track record of being nice or honest  to people like this gentleman and I referred him to local services and the law centre for further help.

 

I then noticed an older lady walking out of the Jobcentre bemused, confused and more than a bit unhappy. I asked her if I could help and she told me her situation. She fits into the category of being a WASPI woman, who ideally should be retired but is unable to do so. She’s ill, disabled and is claiming ESA and has been placed in the support group. She had attended an appointment at the Jobcentre only to be told that she needs to find work. They lied to her, no she doesn’t, she’s in the support group. They also told her that they are going to be keeping an eye on her and want to see her again in six weeks.

Not only have they lied to her, they are now in effect bullying her. I explained her legal rights to her and informed her that she could really do with taking a witness in with her for this future meeting.

So the DWP are bullying an older lady. They don’t care, not one bit.

 

I handed a leaflet to a young woman with children. She claims Universal Credit but is struggling to cope. I advised her to the best of my ability.

 

I then had a conversation with an elderly lady, she appeared to be distressed so I asked her if I could help. She told me that her son is claiming Universal Credit, but she is also having to constantly help her son out with money and food.

She told me that out of her small pension she has to help him daily because after her son’s rent has been paid and the money has been deducted from his Universal Credit payment he’s left with almost anything and he doesn’t have enough money to survive.

She went on to say that people can’t survive like this, how are they expected to live? She’s also worried that she can’t keep on helping him because she can’t afford to. It’s plunging them both into poverty and their health is suffering.

So a poor elderly woman is expected to provide for her son, yep. This is reality folks Universal Credit isn’t working.

 

I was then stopped by a man who was visibly  frustrated and hungry. He hasn’t had a Universal Credit payment system since July. We are now in October. He had been migrated over onto Universal Credit after failing his ESA medical. He told me that his health was declining and he has lost over one and a half stones in weight.

Yes he’s lost one and a half stones in weight. He’s also disabled.

He showed me his paperwork and the DWP are giving him the runaround. Why? Most likely because not one department communicates with another, they don’t communicate effectively with claimants and because they can do. So they’ve left a disabled man in this situation. I referred him to the law centre and other local services,  he promised that he would be contacting them.

 

Gordon then asked me to talk to a young lady, she looked frustrated so I asked her if I could help her. Here’s her situation.

She works part time, she’s been moved over to Universal Credit and is now £310 a month worse off than she was when she was previously claiming working tax credits. She also has children to look after, bills to pay etc.

When she approached the Jobcentre asking for help she was told that she shouldn’t complain because there are people more worse off than her. Yep you heard it right, she shouldn’t complain.

I believe that she should complain, because now both herself and her children are living in poverty, poverty caused by being forced to claim Universal credit. She was much better off whilst claiming working tax credits, and she can’t understand why the government have been allowed to take all this money off people and get away with it.

Once again this shows that work does not pay whilst claiming universal credit, the only thing that universal credit does do is create poverty, suffering and the deaths of thousands of people.

A message for the G4S security guard that is intent on continually staring at us in an intimidating manner whilst thinking that we can’t see you, we can. So stop it. We’ve made official complaints about you before and we will do this again.

A massive thank you to everyone that came along today I really do appreciate it.

 

So here we have it, another Thursday but this is replicated day in day out throughout the country. I do realize that we are further on with the rollout because we were a pilot area, but take note this is coming your way.

 

 

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Sanctioned for being sacked, refusal to help, no disability adviser at Ashton Jobcentre. Universal Credit isn’t working.

Dear readers, Thursday seems to arrive very quickly. Today was cooler with a bit of rain and I think that we all felt the difference. Many thanks to everyone that sent their best wishes to us all this morning via Facebook and Twitter. Believe me, we need it, numbers are low these days and your kind thoughts make all the difference.

I’ll list the cases that we came across today like I usually do, please note that everyone was handed a food parcel if needed, copies of our survival guide and the leaflet from Unite Community. I also checked that everyone was ok and if needing signposting we signposted them.

 

I arrived five minutes early and there was already a queue for the food parcels. I had a chat with everyone asking how they were and if there had been any updates with their situations. Sadly no one has a magic wand and local organisations help but the specialised services that they need are either struggling for resources or have shut down. We all do our best but it feels that it isn’t good enough.

 

The first person that I spoke to was a young man, he had waited for almost three months for his first Universal Credit payment. Nothing like the five weeks advertised. Reasons for this vary and usually, it’s the fault of one DWP department not communicating with another or information going missing or a combination of all of the above.

The system isn’t working, their computer system is rubbish and can’t handle it and staff aren’t trained adequately. It can’t be fixed because it’s full of flaws, ever tried to collect water with a sieve? It’s not dissimilar.

As the man walked off he said to me “The government are bastards, they really are. But you are all amazing god bless you” He isn’t wrong though.

Anyway because of the DWP’s failings a young man had to wait much longer than they should have had to wait. This could have had catastrophic consequences. The government has no sympathy so there’s no point in asking for their help they won’t listen.

 

The next case is a very good example of how unhelpful and rude the DWP can be. Honestly, they could do with learning some basic manners etc.

An older lady walked out of the Jobcentre looking perplexed and confused. We asked her what was wrong and could we help. I handed her a leaflet and as I did so she explained her situation.

Her son who is disabled is claiming Universal Credit but the disability element. He had to fill in and return a form regarding a DWP medical. He lost the return envelope so she went into the Jobcentre to ask for one.

A simple request you’d have thought. The security guards told her that she couldn’t have an envelope, they refused to send it as well and told her that she needed to phone up a number on the form.

She had no idea which number to phone. We informed her that they should have helped her with this so she went back into the Jobcentre.

They still refused uttering words similar to “Don’t listen to them they know nowt”. Actually, we know a damn sight more than they do because at least we were helping her.

Their only help was to thrust a piece of paper into her hands saying ‘Phone this number’. She tried but it was a Welsh telephone number, no use in England.

We then persuaded her to go to the local branch of CAB. (Yes they are in my bad books atm but they can help with this). Pat took her, where she did get the help and advice that she was needing. The correct telephone number to get a new envelope.

Absolutely ridiculous. They could have helped but refused and were ill-mannered in the process. There’s no need for it none at all. And anyway security guards should not be advising people, only people employed by the DWP are allowed to by law.

 

I spoke to a middle-aged man who spoke poor English. He told me that he used to have a good life, he had always worked until one day he had a stroke. This has left him with memory problems and he can no longer use his left arm.

Anyway, he was told to claim Universal Credit which he is doing but he wasn’t told that he could claim the disability element. I wasn’t surprised though, they don’t like informing people correctly. I told him what to do and he was grateful that we had helped him.

His message is this “This has completely changed my life, my life is awful now. I sometimes don’t want to wake up. This can happen to anyone”

 

I spoke to a homeless man that said that he was being harassed to find a job. He lives in temporary accommodation, the rent is very high and until he finds permanent accommodation he’s in no place to do so. If he did he would end up back on the streets again. Do the DWP care? Not one jot, they’ve all got nice homes to go home to.

He went on to tell me that the battle to keep on top of things regarding the DWP is unbelievable, overwhelming and he’s just managing to keep it together. The government should be ashamed, but I feel that they would wear it as a badge of honour under their ‘making work pay’ banner. Only it doesn’t.

 

We spoke to a young man that has been informed that he can no longer see his designated disability advisor because there isn’t one anymore. You heard it right, apparently, there is no longer a disability advisor at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre anymore. So what’s going to happen when the full rollout occurs, when everyone is migrated over? That’s a lot of disabled people that are going to go without the help they require.

So the DWP no longer believe that disabled people should see a disability advisor. You heard it here.

 

The next case is another case where the DWP appear to be devoid of any compassion or common sense. I’ll call her Joan to make it easier, that’s obviously not her real name.

Joan is a single parent to a child aged approximately five. Janes daughter has been diagnosed with autism and struggles with busy, noisy environments with lights etc.

Joan has been told that she has to claim Universal Credit and she has to wait at least five weeks for her first payment. In the meantime, Joan has been told that she has to find a job to see her through the waiting period.

Hang on. She’s the carer of a disabled child and as such should be making a claim relevant to that and they should have advised her as such. But they didn’t.

She can’t work, she can’t leave her child on her own, nor can she leave a child anywhere that doesn’t have the specialised facilities etc that her daughter needs. But she’s told that she has to work.

Furious, and as a parent of an autistic child I can fully understand and sympathise with her situation. I advised her correctly and informed her of her legal rights being that of a parent of a disabled child. This folks is how the DWP regard people with a disability. They don’t regard them at all, they expect everyone to work regardless of their ability to do so. This needs to change and fast, but the likelihood of it changing at the moment is zero.

 

Last but not least I spoke to a lovely lady, another single parent struggling with the Universal Credit system. I’ll call her Anne, it makes it easier. That isn’t her real name of course.

Anne is a single parent, she had lost her job due to a fall out with her ex-boss that was also her friend, so her friend fired her, awful in itself.

Anne had been sanctioned for four months, yes four months for losing her job. Yes, they even do this when there are children involved.

Anne has now been told that they have suspended her claim but never thought to tell her this until she went to the bank to find that her payment hadn’t been made. She phoned the DWP up to find out why and they told her that she hadn’t provided all the evidence of her previous childcare costs.

But she had done. She had done exactly what had been asked to do but they now wanted more information. So that’s what she was doing today, handing in further proof of previous childcare costs.

Anne told me that Universal Credit is the worst thing ever, she hasn’t got enough money to live on and she wishes that it hadn’t been invented. I agree with her.

So Anne worked and this is the thanks that she gets. This is how they treat people, with no respect, nothing except hatred.  We will NEVER forget, nor will we forgive either.

 

This all happened within two hours, this is replicated at almost every Jobcentre throughout the country. Unemployed and disabled people do not deserve to be treated in this manner, in my eyes it’s horrific and it needs to stop.

Many thanks to everyone that turned up to help today it means the world to me.

Thanks also to Johnathon Reynolds a local MP for coming and saying hello. He didn’t have to but he did and it means a lot also.

 

Please support our work in whatever way that you can, we need to continue this work it’s hard but it needs to be done.  We will be back next week, regardless of health problems, Whilst there is a need and I’m able I will be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debt collection agencies contracted to collect so called Universal Credit debt. Woman forced to attend appointment four days after giving birth. Welcome to Universal Credit hell.

Dear readers, its Thursday gain and I have just returned home from our weekly demo/ advice session. I’m knackered because I’m still recovering from my hospital stay and I’ve just had my flu jab. Thank you all for your good wishes, they have really cheered me up.

Please can I point out that everyone that we spoke to was given the help and advice appropriate to their needs and everyone that needed a food parcel was given one. We handed out five. Yes five in the space of two hours. Also everyone that needed to be signposted were signposted. I remarked to Roy that I felt like a member of staff working at Citizens Advice and the like.

It was busy from the get go so I will list everything as usual and will try not to complicate things.

The first person was a young man who has asked us for help today. He looked worried and was clutching two pieces of paper. I asked him if he was ok, he looked at me and said that he didn’t have a clue what this was about. He didn’t understand it.

I asked him if he had taken a Universal Credit advance? Because this is what they have stated in the letter. He said that he had applied for one but he was forced to move out of the property that he was living in so he didn’t sign the acceptance letter.

So he applied for an advance but didn’t receive it because he didn’t sign the return form. He didn’t receive the money and can provide bank statements to prove this.

So it appears that the DWP have presumed from the application that he has recieved the money and are now employing a debt collection agency to collect this money from him.

None of this adds up. The amounts don’t add up, the dates don’t add up and he stated that he didn’t owe this money in the first place.

This is a fine example of how incompetent the whole Universal Credit system is. Not one department talks to another, and instead of contacting this man or the relevant DWP first they just sent out a threatening debt collection letter. Not only are most people forced to claim Universal Credit constantly worried and anxious many it appears might also be facing a letter from a debt collection agency.

I also find this to be very intimidating. Many of my readers will already realise that most Universal Credit claimants are already in debt and letters like this could send a vulnerable person over the edge.

But do the DWP care? No, not one bit. Does the government care? No not a bit, infact they encourage this kind of treatment. They like to punish the most vulnerable for their poverty or disability, and I can tell you that this man has had a hard time of it already. Thank god we were there.

One question though, and its a rhetorical one. What the hell are the DWP doing employing a debt collection agency? And how much is that costing the tax payer, usually the poor tax payer at that? This man is still claiming Universal Credit and they could have contacted him but they didn’t.

We advised him and I phoned my local MPs office (Angela Rayner) and he is seeing a member of her staff tomorrow. We can only do so much and we are on the street, Angela’s staff will get to the bottom of this and find some answers for him. He is of a honest character and had no reason to lie about anything.

Anyway I’m disgusted. Unemployed people are often seen as the underclass, not deserving of anything and there is little sympathy for their situation. To echo this we were heckled by two people, possibly a third because I wasn’t sure of what they said.

Because we were stood outside a Jobcentre, helping people we were called scroungers and the like. For all of those working for the right wing media reading this, give yourself a tap on the back. It worked, your divide and conquer techniques worked. People like myself and those that help me are left to deal with the mess that you created. Be thankful that it wasn’t you… But it could be one day….

A man looking rather angry walked in and out of the Jobcentre on numerous occasions. We could see the frustration in his face and it was obvious that he didn’t want to talk to anyone, maybe he will next week. Just think what on earth could be making him feel this angry. They are the problem not him.

I spoke to a woman that was struggling to understand what was happening to her. English is her second language and Universal Credit is very complicated. How on earth is she supposed to understand it?

She showed me her letter of entitlement, she will be recieving £317 a month. Take rent top ups, gas, electric and other expenses out of that and she is left with very little to live on. Of course the government believe that this is acceptable because they are in the opinion that we are to blame for our own poverty. Meanwhile they couldn’t live off that amount of money, it probably wouldn’t last them half a day. We know how they like to live the high life at our expense.

Ryan the lovely young man came to say hello to us, I hugged him so tight and gave him all of your best wishes. He’s doing ok and he wants to say thank you for your best wishes. We had a good chat.

I spoke to a man that was working and claiming Universal Credit. He told me that he was working so classes himself as not claiming anything even though he is. The mind boggles. I handed him a leaflet anyway and wished him well.

I spoke to a young man that claims Universal credit and has been sanctioned. He told me that he had been arrested so couldn’t attend his signing on appointment. The DWP in their infinite wisdom decided that this isn’t a good enough excuse to miss your signing on appointment. Maybe the police should have marched him to the Jobcentre to sign on….. But they’ve got better things to do like solve crimes.

It’s not my place to judge him about his arrest but I can judge the DWPs decision as being completely unreasonable. What’s new eh….

I spoke to a young woman that is claiming Universal Credit. She told me that she’s never struggled as much in her life, that she’s never been as worse off as she is now. She can’t afford to buy presents for her children for birthdays and Christmas. She went on to say that shes reduced to tears, that she’s hungry and can’t see her way out. I had a long chat with her, handed her a food parcel and signposted her to relevant places.

I challenge anyone that believes that Universal Credit is a good thing, come and join us one week and look at this woman, look into her eyes, look how thin she is and then tell me that it’s a good thing.

I spoke to a young woman who arrived at the Jobcentre with her mother and newborn baby. Her baby is four days old, yes four days old. She was forced to attend an appointment so that she could hand her babies birth certificate to an andvisor so that she can claim the money for her baby. The DWP had refused to allow her mother to hand it in because they demanded her signature. She was struggling to walk, it had been a difficult birth. It’s obscene.

Last but not least. A person leaving the Jobcentre stopped me and asked to speak to me. This isn’t unusual by the way. They told me that they had witnessed a what looked like an elderly woman attend her appointment nearby. She was struggling to walk, and to be fair the first person that she spoke to was nice to her.

She struggled with the aide of others to attend her next appointment with another advisor, this time her treatment wasn’t as good. Questions were asked of her and lots of them.

“What’s wrong with you” she replied “I have heart failure”.

”Do you know WHY you have heart failure”………….

The questions continued, but my source was asked to leave the building so they didn’t hear them. Judging by her inability to do anything, standing was a struggle,it’s clear that she shouldn’t have been there.

As for asking her why she has heart failure…. Are DWP employees now medically trained? She’s got heart failure and clearly shouldn’t be there but is forced to be. There is not a job available that would suit her and no one would employ her because she has heart failure. JUST LEAVE HER ALONE.

Folks, this is a good example of how Universal Credit isn’t working for everyone. When claiming the ESA element of Universal Credit you still have to attend Jobcentre appointments. It’s obscene, and a very good reason why Universal Credit needs to be stopped and scrapped. it’s inhumane.

Just to be clear once again she was interviewed for a universal credit claim not ESA, but the element that replaces ESA.

Many thanks to everyone that came and helped today.

Many thanks to my readers and supporters of my blog, please like, share and RT my blog.

For anyone wishing to donate, there are donation buttons above and at the side. I do this off my own back and I’m not part of any big organisation. Every penny helps, thank you.

Jobcentre staff refuse to print off proof of income for a vulnerable person. Man waits three months for first Universal Credit payment.

Dear readers, after a rather traumatic last week, I’m back although I’m following doctors orders and taking it easy so to speak. God knows what that means when you are a single parent on a very low income, but I’m doing my best. Anyway I was back outside the Jobcentre this morning.

The weather was cooler, and I fear that it won’t be long before winter is here, and for those that are street homeless its a nightmare. My heart goes out to them, everyone deserves a home to live in.

I’ll list the cases that we came across today as usual. Please note that everyone was given one, or two of our leaflets depending on their situation. Those that needed a food parcel were given one and if a person needed to be signposted they were.

 

The first man that I spoke to was a street homeless man that I’ve been talking to and trying to help for years. He flits between the different services available and the local charities, many do this just to survive. He told me that he has now got a flat, somewhere to live after three years on the streets. I was really happy to hear this, the thought of him being on the streets for another winter sends shivers down my spine. At least he will be warm and off the streets, I just hope that he is now able to maintain the tenancy. This can be very hard for many people who have been street homeless for years. We congratulated him and wish him all the luck in the world.

 

I spoke to a young man who had jut made his first application for Universal Credit. He didin’t have a clue how to navigate the system, what to do, and how it worked. No one had really explained it to him. So I explained it, gave him copies of our two leaflets and he walked away much more confident.

 

We then had a bit of excitement. The fire alarm went off inside the Jobcentre, so everyone was sent out of the building including staff members who hurriedly rushed past us. Honestly it’s terrible that they have this attitude. Anyway we saw this as a good opportunity to advise the claimants standing outside and we gave most of them a leaflet. Most of them thanked us,and we helped the people that had arrived for their appointments before we arrived. We saw that as being a good thing.

They were all sent back inside the building, I just hope that no one is sanctioned due to being late because of the fire alarm going off, I wouldn’t put it past the DWP to do this. I’ve recorded the time of the alarm going off for anyone needing any future assistance.

 

Gordon spoke to a woman that claimed that most unelmployed people claiming benefits don’t want to work. Apart from her being totally wrong, it was a sure sign that she has been fully indoctrinated by the right wing press and television.We did note that it was a tad ironic that both herself and her husband were having to go into the Jobcentre for advise about their financial situation. Ironic isn’t it.

 

I started chatting with a young man, who is a singe parent that has had a hell of a time whilst trying to claim Universal Credit. He told me that they demanded that he must use the internet to search for jobs (yes this is standard) so he tried to use the Jobcentres computers to do this. There was a problem though… He had his very young daughter with him and he was told that is daughter wasn’t allowed to be with him in the Jobcentre whilst he looked for a job. He challenged this and they said ‘Tough, go to the library”. They also forget that the library isn’t open every day and they had told him previously that he could use the public computers.

So once again, children are being frowned upon, even though the system demands that a person looks for work despite having a small child. A member of staff requested that he gets the internet at home. Of course he explained that he couldn’t do this, he hardly gets enough money to feed both himself and his daughter nevermind the internet.

I personally think that this system is ludicrous. There was nothing wrong with the old fashioned job searches, written on paper because near enough everyone could do this. Those with difficulty doing this were either assisted of excused. Making demands like this is simply unfair, and not everyone is computer literate.

He told me that he had waited 11 weeks for his first Universal Credit payment for himself and his daughter, he told me that he was literally climbing the walls with both hunger and frustration. As a result he was in arrears with everything including council tax. He had to attend court concerning this, and the person from the council had worked out an unreasonable payment plan that he will struggle to keep to. Heat or eat, council tax or eat? What would you do?

 

A disabled woman pushed in her wheelchair was noted entering the building, they were in there for quite a while and it sickens me to the stomach that someone so vulnerable and obviously disabled is being targeted by the government like this.

 

We said hello and handed a leaflet to a young woman who is 32 weeks pregnant. she looked very pale, and we were concerned about her health. We helped and advised her.

 

We spoke to a lovely lady who was struggling to walk with two walking sticks. She told us that she had to attend the Jobcentre in ther words “To justify my disability” despite it being very obvious. She claims the new sickness related element of Universal Credit and that in itself is a nightmare.

Upon leaving the Jobcentre, she thanked us for the leaflets, stating that they were very helpful indeed and that she will use them, oh and to keep up the good work.

 

We then spoke to a young 18yr old care leaver who is due to be moved on from his accomodation from social services. He was with his carer, who to be honest is nothing short of amazing, he was helping him out of his own time, because he cares for him and knows that the DWP will do little to help him.

The situation was this. To receive accomodation from our local housing options department he needs proof of income. The DWP were steadfastly refusing to print out his proof of income, and refused even to do so when requested to do so by both another DWP department and his caseworker. One of the excuses that they used.. Wait for it its a corker… Is that they don’t have any printers…. What a load of rubbish. Of course they have a printer, they must have taken them for fools.

They then walked out of the building disheartened, they were getting nowhere. I explained that his bank will provide a statement for nothing and I asked them once again to go back inside the building to ask for a print off.

Somehow, like a miracle the DWP official told them that they would email it to his Universal Credit account and he could print it off from there, however he now had to find a printer. I directed them to the local library where he could do this, and I hope that its sorted now.

This is how cruel and callous the DWP are. This young man was lucky to have someone with him, and ourselves stood outside to help him. They don’t care that they are literally throwing a very vulnerable 18yr old on the streets, who would most likely be prayed upon by dubious characters along the way.

How hard is it to print off a one sided piece of paper. Apparently that’s impossible, but for some its a matter of life and death. I honestly have never witnessed such cruelty in the past as I am seeing now. They just don’t care, no one matters to them, we are just a number.

 

We spoke to a woman who had lost her job in the NHS due to ill health. She had worked there for 30 years and was honestly baffled by this system. She described how intimidated she feels upon entering the Jobcentre, saying that they ‘Look at you like dirt, and talk to you like that as well’

She didn’t know where to go for advise and support, so we showed her, talked to her and explained things. I hope that she’s ok. In all honesty, she shouldnt be forced to go through this, a lovely woman at the mercy of the DWP.

 

 

We noted that the security guards refused to admit a small child with some food into the Jobcentre. He was told to leave his food outside. Hang on this is a child, having to enter a building that isn’t exactly welcoming. His mother has been told to attend an appointment but you deny her child food whilst shes waiting? it’s ridiculous.

 

Last but not least I spoke to a man due his first Universal Credit payment today. His payment wasn’t in his bank account, and his advisor refused to chase it up. He was told to ‘Go home and phone them yourself’. There is hardly any customer care is there. His advisor could have telephoned but wouldn’t. Luckily he has got credit on his phone but if he didn’t he would never find out what had happened. It’s sickening.

 

There you have it, all this and more happened within two hours and I dread to think of what it’s like day in, day out. It’s horrific. People suffering when there is no need.

We handed out all of the food parcels, handed out lots of leaflets and helped lots of people. We did a good job and we will be back again next week, with myself hopefully in better health.

 

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

For anyone wishing to donate there is a donate button above and at the side. A massive thanks to everyone that already supports our campaign and my blog. I couldn’t do it without you.

A massive thanks to Roy, Gordon and Pat for helping today, you are all my rocks xxx.

 

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