Tag: tory party

Thousands Cold And Hungry This Winter.

Being poor in winter has always been a costly time of year but this year we are reminded of how many more people find themselves in this position.

I’ve said it before and will say it again because the choice between heating or eating is one that thousands are having to make this year, many not having the finances to do either. As we are already faced with increased energy prices, the upcoming price rises in April will make it a cost too high for thousands.

Imagine being priced out of being able to have the necessities to keep warm and to cook food and suchlike. I envisage thousands more people living in houses without access to gas and electric, sitting around a burning candle wishing for money to put on the meter.

It’s very reminiscent of life in victorian England, the poor suffering more than ever whilst the government totally ignores the needs of its most vulnerable citizens. Whilst we don’t have physical workhouses we have digital ones that people have to comply with at all times or risk their social security being stopped. I can bet they’ve spoken about bringing back the old workhouses though.

To give some context to this over the past month its cost me £75 to keep my house warm and £70 to keep the electric on and to enable the heating to work. This is far more expensive than this time last year and I can’t afford to do it anymore. As we approach April it really will be a cost too high for me.

I’m not alone though, thousands are in the same position as I am, struggling to get by, having sleepless nights worrying about how on earth they’re going to provide warmth and electricity for their children.

Make no mistake whilst we are struggling to get by the Tory government is virtually laughing at us, placing the blame for our poverty, for our disabilities and for our low wages firmly on our feet saying that it’s all our fault.

The government talk about aspiration yet they give us nothing to aspire to, it’s hard to do so when you’re hungry and cold.

The reality is that we have a government that was born more privileged thank you or I, they attended private schools and had the best education and healthcare than the average person will ever have. They don’t know or care to know about how life is like for the working class. They’ll never care about us or even think about us after all we are just a number to them, a commodity that can be bought and sold at their whim. When we aren’t of any use to them they discard us like yesterdays newspaper making life extremely hard, subjecting the most vulnerable to countless medical assessments and compliance meetings.

Life shouldn’t be like this, We need to continue protesting, reminding the tory government that they have no right to be treating us like this.

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I apologise for this weeks blog, I’m ranting I know but it’s how I feel and it needs to be said.

A huge thank you to everyone that likes, shares, reads and tweets my blog. Every share makes a massive difference and it raises awareness.

I receive no funding for my blog and campaign. If you would like to donate and can afford to theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Thank you!]

Half A Million Universal Credit Claimants Told To Find Work Within Weeks Or Face Sanctions.

Half a million Universal Credit claimants will soon be forced to apply for jobs from every sector or risk being sanctioned.

Government ministers are today announcing a new scheme to supposedly get more people into work under the pretence of helping claimants and their families. Apparently this will supposedly ‘help’ them cope with the cost of living crisis.

Government ministers are also announcing major plans today to change job searching rules to toughen up the already harsh rules about searching for work. They say it will supposedly help more people secure jobs.

“Under our new plans, jobseekers will be supported to find any job in any sector within weeks not months, putting them on the path to better jobs and progression in a career.”

This will be soul destroying for people having worked hard to gain their qualifications and work experience.


It appears that whilst the government is announcing their new job searching scheme they’ve forgotten that we are still living in a pandemic which is leaving people open to infection regardless of being vaccinated which can then put their families at risk.


Universal Credit claimants, working and not working and disabled people are already being hit the hardest with the rising cost of energy bills and taxes that are going to be introduced in April. Indeed, energy costs have already risen leaving many with having to make the terrible choice of heating or eating or neither.

It comes as no surprise that this could be the reason why the government has lowered the quarantine regulations. In their eyes everyone should be working regardless of their ability do do so.

The government also announced ‘We’re using the strength of our jobs market to tackle supply challenges and get employers the people they and the economy need’.
This will be done regardless of a persons needs therefore once again putting their ‘friends’ in business first without a thought for claimants.

Ministers are also planning more intensive face-to-face meetings for claimants which will undoubtably cause distress for claimants and will also take time away from actual job searching.

As I’ve already said in previous blog posts, finding a job isn’t as easy as the government would like you to believe.

Not everyone can apply for every job for various reasons and employers often won’t employ everyone either. There are various reasons for this ranging from the ability to undertake the work and being overqualified for the job. Not everyone has access to the internet either.

However as part of the DWPs new plans claimants will be told to look for and find a job within weeks not months. If they fail to find employment they will face being sanctioned.

There is no way that a minimum wage or zero hour job will cover the costs of living. The price of food, energy and housing is increasing every day which leaves the poorest paying the highest cost for this.

I can envision that these new rules will cause a whole new level of suffering, forcing claimants to undergo more compliance and burdening them with more pressure to find work that’s suitable for them.

Instead of challenging the minimum wage and abolishing zero hour contracts there is no way on this earth that it will benefit anyone. Instead the government and the DWP have seen the pandemic as an excuse to punish the poorest and this is unforgivable.


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How am I? Stressed as per usual. Financially I’m really struggling, this blog being my main source of income. To say that I’m struggling is an understatement.

I’m worried about the health of everyone forced to undergo this new regime and the effects of it.

So many people are already stressed, forced to live on the bare minimum but the increased threat of being sanctioned for not finding work in weeks will cause an immense amount of mental distress.

I will be there to help people as will many others, and I will continue to do this however hard it is for me.

If you would like to get some support and solidarity I can’t recommend Disabled People Against the Cuts enough. If you live in the Greater Manchester area you can find them here at https:\\manchesterdpac.com

If you would like to donate to keep both my blog and campaign going there is a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny makes an enormous difference as does sharing my blog.

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

Happy New Year.

This year has certainly been a challenge for so many of us.

Food poverty has become the new norm as has fuel poverty and substandard housing. Living in poverty is kind of expected for the working class, especially by the government and suchlike.

The truth is that we shouldn’t be forced to live this way, constantly scratching around to try and make a meal out of the remnants of a food parcel. It’s not as if the government will do anything to rectify this after all the working class should know their place.

Despite this the past year has been also been a challenge for many other reasons. My son died very unexpectedly and suddenly this year leaving me to pick up the pieces whilst trying to support my daughters. Everything appeared to go wrong for me and personally I can’t wait until this year is over.

When I say that loosing my son broke me it’s an understatement. Some days I wanted to stay in bed and hide from the world.

I really don’t know how I’ve got through this but I did and I’m very grateful that I did. .

We’ve lost so many people due to Covid 19 and illness this past year. Whilst you won’t hear the government talking about this we must continue to remember them.

Financially we are all feeling the pinch in one way or another. I’ve found it a massive struggle getting from day to day whilst trying to make things appear normal for my youngest daughter that still lives at home. I know that you also feel the same way, it’s tiring, exhausting sometimes.

So many of us have become ill this past year, I’m still battling Long Covid and some days I’m exhausted, but carry on we must because we have no choice.

Whilst I haven’t got a magic wand to make everything better for you god knows I want one, what I can say is that we will continue to support each other in whatever way that we can do. I’ll be continuing to blog and campaigning

If you haven’t celebrated Christmas and have no plans to celebrate the start of a new year you’re not alone. I haven’t and I won’t either. Don’t let anyone pressurise you into doing something that you don’t want to do or aren’t comfortable doing. You do you it’s so important to do this.

I would like to thank everyone that has read, shared and supported my blog and campaign this past year. I really couldn’t do this without you, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to cope with the death of my son without your support.

Talking about support DPAC (Disabled People Against The Cuts) is a fantastic support and campaigning network that’s well worth joining. I’ve been campaigning alongside them for many years now and I can attest to how amazing they are.

If you live in the Greater Manchester area you can join Manchester DPAC here https:\\manchesterdpac.com

If you are unemployed and would like to join a trade union head over to https:\\join.unitetheunion.org They also do amazing work and they offer legal advice etc. There is a small cost to join but if you can I can’t recommend it enough.

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I don’t receive any funding or payment for any of the work that I do. If you like my work and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

Thank you xx.

Government refuses to extend Universal Credit uplift.

This week Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey announced that the government has no plans to continue the £20 Universal Credit uplift, confirming that payments will be ending in late September.

Coffey also announced that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be contacting claimants so they are aware that their payments will change in late September whilst at the same time and they will be directed to budgeting advice.

The £20 a week uplift was increased for six months in March after charities and organisations had warned the government that it and would damage the mental health and physical health of those living in poverty.

The government’s answer to this is to announce that they’ve doubled the amount of work coaches and organisations that they work with, meanwhile totally ignoring the fact that the well being of thousands of people depends upon the £20 uplift.

Their plans obviously don’t include how to feed themselves and their families when their vital £20 is taken away from them. it might not be a lot of money to some, but it has enabled people to buy some food, get some glass and electric and to top up a mobile phone or internet if they have access to these.

Having a good internet connection is requested by the DWP and failure to have this can, and has ended with claimants being sanctioned.

The announcement to end the uplift payments was made after ignoring the advice of six former Conservative work and pension secretaries whom have requested that the Chancellor to make the £20 uplift permanent. They warned that if they failed to extend the uplift it would cause immense damage to living standards, health and the opportunity to improve their lives.

Indeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson whilst talking to the Commons Liaison Committee had requested to reconsider any plans to end the uplift and also said that higher skilled jobs are the best way forward.

Therese Coffey then announced that a collective decision was made to “shift the focus strongly into getting people into work” as the economy opens up. She also announced that this will ‘help’ when the country reaches step four of the Covid 19 road map and ‘more opportunities’ will be created for claimants.

Conservative MP Nigel Mills is quoted as saying “It sounds like this is a ‘dates not data’ decision, that we’ve just chosen to end this at the end of September and not going to review that based on any data at all.“’We’ll just kind of assume it will all be OK’ – that seems to be a pretty fair summary of what you’re saying: ‘We haven’t got any data yet that you don’t need this uplift, but we’re going to take it away regardless because that’s what we planned in the Budget’.”

Needless to say this is a terrible decision made by the government, fronted by Therese Coffey Work and Pensions Secretary. This decision has been made whilst ignoring the evidence given to her by charities, organisations and felt conservative Mp’s.

Not only will the refusal to extend the £20 uplift cause immense suffering and stress, they still fail to recognise that disabled people are struggling to get by and haven’t been included in any £20 uplift plans.

Along with the governments blatant discrimination against disabled people, the government is also still ploughing ahead to end lockdown and mask wearing whilst covid 19 cases and deaths are increasing.

Many disabled people have been housebound unable to go out for fear of infection and in many cases a lack of help. I’m very concerned that demands will be made of them to travel to assessments and DWP appointments when its obviously not safe to do so.

The government have blood on their hands for more than one reason.

Personally I’m going to continue to wear a mask and social distance for many reasons, one being that I’m still battling with Long Covid and other health conditions. Catching covid again, even though I’m fully vaccinated isn’t something that I want to go through again.

I’m also extremely worried about my children and grandchildren catching this new variant of Covid 19 also.

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How am I? Today is another migraine day for me, yippee. I hope that it passes asap.

I really hope that you are all ok. Lots of love to you all.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every share etc makes a massive difference in the truth getting out there.

A huge thanks to everyone that has and does support my blog, it means the world to me.

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

Thank you and keep safe.

2,000 more PIP claimants a month refused PIP awards.

It’s been debated by many including myself about the fairness concerning PIP telephone assessments. It’s extremely triggering and stressful to attend these ‘medical assessments’ in the first place but at least you could see the assessors in person which can make appeals easier.

It also is extremely difficult to attend a telephone ‘assessment’ for those that have phone anxiety and limited, if any access to a telephone to conduct a telephone assessment.

The government are still ignoring the fact that not everyone has a telephone and not everyone can use a telephone hence my worry that telephone assessments could be harder than face-to-face assessments.

As reported by Benefits And Work the latest quarterly PIP statistics suggest that almost 2,000 fewer new claimants a month are getting an award since assessments switched from face-to-face assessments to telephone assessments.

These statistics also report that record numbers of people are now applying for PIP, but less applicants in proportion than ever receives their PIP payment.

The figures show that the overall average success rate for new PIP claims since PIP was introduced is 55%.But this has averaged over the last six months that the the success rate for new claims is just 48.5% since telephone assessments have been introduced.

Compare this to the same six months in 2019-20, before telephone assessments started, the success rate was 52%.

This decrease may seem small to many but in reality it means that 5,950 disabled claimants who would have previously been awarded their PIP payments were refused when the telephone assessments were introduced in the last quarter.

Whilst it can’t be be conclusively proved that it is the telephone assessments that has caused this, indeed PIP award rates have been falling for a long while, I can say that having a telephone assessment is going to reduce claims being successful.

I can also say that the government never misses a chance to deny a person their rightful payments to enable them to survive.I can bet that the same Tory MP’s implementing these policies and decisions never miss a chance to claim a so called expense when they get the chance to do so. Whilst they see that it’s ok for them to claim for just about anything that they can do, they see a disabled persons quality of life as an expense too much for them to pay.

The cruelty that the government dishes out to the poorest and most vulnerable appears to be never-ending. My fear is that the same government is going to refuse people with Covid 19 and Long Covid their rightful disability payments. Myself and others will be watching this situation and reporting on it.

For anyone that is or has made a claim for PIP and has been refused, it is essential that you appeal against a refusal. I know that its a horrible, arduous process to undertake but its worth doing.

You can find Benefits And Work over at http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

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UPDATE find my new podcast over on Spotify 😊 https://open.spotify.com/show/0RgibJjz5KPzEGkyArIrN1

I still intend to start my podcasts asap. I totally lack confidence in this area though. I will start it asap though.

As for me it’s been a tough week. I received a phone call today telling me that my son’s memorial has been put in place and is now ready to view. Honestly having a child die, no matter what age is a pain unlike any other. He was my only son and he was dedicated to helping his family.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s ok to grieve even when I feel that I shouldn’t. My son enjoyed the summer weather but not the hay fever that comes with it. His favourite thing to do was to help others and he’s missed by so many in his community.

Even though he’s no longer with us I will still be campaigning on behalf of my son, he was autistic and he also had to fight for his rightful payments.

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

If anyone would like to donate towards the campaign and my blog a donate button is at the top and side of this blog post.

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’m still here.

Dear friends, subscribers and everyone that reads my blog.

As you know my son died unexpectedly and I’ve been away arranging his funeral and everything that goes with that. His sisters are distraught and its horrible to see them crying and grieving.

Sadly a cause of death hasn’t been asertained as there were no obvious causes, he didn’t take drugs or drink heavily and he didn’t take his own life, he fell asleep and didn’t wake up.

Because there isn’t an obvious cause of death there will be an inquest in October but I’ve been warned that I may never find out way. So many young adults die like this but it’s hardly spoken about.

As for me I’m trying to cope with my grief and the loss of my only son. Joseph was an amazing young man and he was loved and missed by so many people.

I will hopefully be able to update the blog this week, it’ll do me good and it will be a big distraction for me.

I’ll see you on Thursday with an updated blog.

Thanks for your patience

Charlotte.

64 year old woman with multiple health condition fails universal credit medical assessment. Living in substandard accommodation. How are people supposed to survive this?

Dear readers, its Thursday yet again. The sun was shining for us today, what a welcome surprise. It was lovely to see. No joy was found from the DWP though, there’s a surprise.

I’ll be listing everything that happened today as usual. No real names will be divulged either. Today we handed out six food parcels and helped lots of people who would have otherwise been left, stranded without help by a system that doesn’t care about them.

Those of you that have been through the system or know people that have will already know that the DWPs flagship universal credit system is cruel, heartless and punishing. It discriminates against everyone but particularly women, children, single parents and people with disabilities.

Universal credit is obscenely complicated and hard to navigate, often DWP advisors don’t know the rules either. Not one department communicates with another even though universal credit is computer driven by default. You’d honestly think that the designers of it would have thought about people that are unable to use computers or don’t have any access to the internet at home. They also didn’t take into account the fact that libraries are shutting their doors or reducing the hours that they’re open because they can’t afford to stay open.

Universal credit is a system that rarely works well for anyone, but it was designed to do this, to reduce the unemployment levels by any means possible. If that means that a person takes themselves off the system because they can’t cope then so be it. No one will try and stop them either. Above the door of every Jobcentre a sign saying ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’ because that’s exactly what people do.

 

The first thing that I noticed today was the queue of women waiting for food parcels. It goes without saying that there shouldn’t be a need for us to hand food parcels out but there is, and will be for as long as this rotten government is in power.

As I was handing the food parcels out a young man stormed out of the Jobcentre. I asked him what was wrong and he shouted ‘It’s a pile of shit in there, they don’t give a shit do they’ I agreed with him and handed him a leaflet.

 

Meet Tom. Tom had successfully made an application for universal credit a couple of months ago, thats good you might think. Well, no because it appears that whoever processed his application didn’t quite do everything correctly.

Upon applying for universal credit a claimant is expected to provide ID and proof of tenancy etc at their first meeting, because as you know rent etc is all rolled into one payment every month. Here’s where Tom encountered his first problem. I say first because he’s bound to have more problems as time progresses.

Tom looked confused as he handed me a form that he had just been given by his advisor. As I looked at it he told me that he had already provided them with the ID and proof that they needed. Here’s the letter in all it’s glory.

 

In this letter he’s asked about every single detail of his tenancy, including gas and electricity check certificates and energy performance certificates. Tom has no idea what those are, his landlord didn’t issue him with these. The DWP need to remember that not all landlords actually do this.

Other questions included are ‘Are you up to date with your rent payments? If yes, provide evidence of this.’

‘Would your landlord accept less rent at times if you could not afford to pay the full rent?’

‘Will your landlord accept a lower rent if universal credit does not meet your full rent liability?’

‘Would your landlord take you to court to evict you if you failed to pay the rent?’

‘Would your landlord take legal action to recover rent arrears?’

These questions are totally ridiculous. Landlords rarely if ever lower a persons rent payment to suit the DWP, and of course a landlord will take action to evict a tenant for non payment of rent. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise, and very arrogant of the DWP to suggest that a landlord should back down to the demands of the DWP.

Honestly, the above form looks like something thats been typed out at home in a hurry. There’s absolutely nothing official on this form, no DWP logo either. It’s all very strange.

Tom quite rightly noted that they should have asked for this information when he first made his claim, he’s already received his first payment. He’d already paid his rent with this. Honestly you couldn’t make this up.

To make matters worse he had to make a new appointment just to hand in this form, if he doesn’t attend he’ll get sanctioned.

I asked him if he had moved house and he told me that he hadn’t, his was living at the same address when he made his claim for universal credit.

Luckily I was able to walk him through the questions and signposted him if he needs further help. Poor fella, he was so confused. He thanked me and he walked away hopefully less confused.

 

Tom looks after his sister who is computer illiterate, his sister struggles to get out and depends on Tom to do most tasks for him. Tom attended the Jobcentre a few weeks ago to hand his sisters fit note in. He was told quite bluntly at the reception desk that he couldn’t do this and he had to post it. So Tom posted it using an envelope that they gave him.

Today Tom attended the Jobcentre once more to hand his sisters fit note in. This time they accepted it but asked him where the previous fit note was. He told them that he’d posted it because he’d been told to. Unbelievable isn’t it.

Tom was understandably a bit fed up, saying this system is bloody ridiculous isn’t it.

 

I spoke to a woman struggling to pay the bedroom tax, a man that was sent away fro being ten minutes early and a woman who told me that she claims universal credit and PIP and its bloody awful.

I also spoke to an older woman that cares for her son who’s autistic. He had failed his latest ESA medical because apparently he ‘looked ok’. Obviously the DWP don’t recognised hidden disabilities, they’ve got quite a bad track record of this.

I spoke to a young man that has taken himself off the system because he couldn’t cope with it. I asked him how he managed from day to day, he told me that he tries his best but is dependent upon relatives. He hopes to get a job in the near future.

 

We spoke to a self employed plasterer, he quite loudly told us that universal credit has ruined many of his friends and colleagues. Universal credit made it impossible for them to continue with their trade. He was understandably angry, but angry at the government for doing this to them.

 

I spoke to Bill, bill has been sanctioned because his daughter had been taken into hospital and he missed his signing on appointment. He did telephone the Jobcentre and communicated this through his online journal, he’s even provided evidence of the hospital stay. But the gods of the DWP have decided that he’d be sanctioned so he was.

I told him that he could appeal the sanction decision and he told me that his advisor hadn’t told him that he could appeal. Thankfully hes now going to appeal this and hopefully he’ll win his appeal. He wouldn’t have known to do this if we weren’t there to inform him.

 

Meet Pat. Pat is 64 years of age and has numerous medical conditions, some quite serious. Pat hasn’t been able to work for years because of this. Pat also claims universal credit.

Pat recently attended a universal credit medical assessment, she failed this and was told that she’s now fit for work.

So the DWP gods have performed another miracle haven’t they.

Pat is determined to appeal this decision, so she informed her advisor of this. Her advisor then told her that she now needs to provide medical proof if she wants to appeal.

Pat has now had to pay £15 for a letter from her doctor. This is completely ridiculous, she’s already shown evidence of her medical conditions.

To make matters much worse Pat lives in a home riddled with damp and her landlord is reluctant to deal with it. She told me that she doesn’t know how much more she can continue like this, its becoming all too much for her.

Remember pat is 64 years of age, she shouldn’t be treated like this and she honestly didn’t expect this.

I did everything that I could to help her and signpost her. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when you speak to someone thats suffering as much as this. For gods sake we’re supposed to respect our elders. The DWP respects no one not even their staff.

 

I spoke to a middle aged man who’s in the process of being evicted. He told me that the move over to universal credit has caused this.n

We spoke to a young man that was prevented from attending an appointment with a friend, ten minutes later another man was prevented from entering the Jobcentre with his partner. He wanted to help her but he was turned away. The law states that a claimant is allowed support when attending an appointment but hey, the DWP employees at the front desk of Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre appear to totally disregard this.

 

Today’s conversations all happened within two hours on a Thursday afternoon. Universal credit doesn’t work, its very design dictates this.

We need to stop and scrap universal credit and replace it with a much fairer system that actually cares for people.

 

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

Thank you to everyone that turned up to help today, I really appreciate this.

 

Massive thanks to everyone that supports my blog. Without you I honestly don’t know what I’d do. Your support means everything especially when times are hard. As a skint single parent I can relate to everyone that I speak to.

Keep safe, we’ll be back next week as usual.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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No wonder people commit suicide.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

Remember Val is ill and her son is disabled.

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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