Tag: unfair

Forced to travel miles to attend a DWP mandatory course. Five month wait for Universal Credit payment. The system isn’t working..

Good afternoon readers, this weeks demo was busy as usual. Sadly far too many people were walking in and out of the Jobcentre with their heads down, eyes to the ground. To be honest they looked worn out, fed up, depressed and a step away from giving up. it’s a cruel system that cares nothing for those forced to comply with it.

it’s no mistake that I use the words ‘comply’ and ‘forced’ because thats exactly what it is. Claimants have absolutely no choice but to comply with often unreasonable demands made from the DWP. They are forced to attend DWP regulated courses, attend the Jobcentre whenever it is demanded of them , wait more than the official five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment. They are forced into a life of poverty, many for the first time. It really is an inhumane system and it needs to stop now.

 

I shall list the differing problems that we addressed whilst speaking to people outside the Jobcentre, everyone that we spoke to were given advice, a survival guide, signposted and if needed a food parcel issued.

Sadly the food parcels were very popular and all were gone within five minutes. I arrived ten minutes early and there was already a queue. I also took a woman to the shop next to the Jobcentre to buy her some food because we had run out. it’s awful.

Universal credit payments (if you are lucky enough to receive one) are not enough to enable people to survive for a month. Most of the people that I speak to have deductions taken out of their payment for the loan that they have been forced to take  whilst awaiting for their claim to be processed. Add to this other DWP loan repayments, rent top up and other debts its nearly impossible to survive.

 

Roy spoke to a man that said he has just been rehoused into a flat. Although he’s very grateful to have a roof over his head, he told Roy that the flat is inhabitiable. Various problems with the state of the flat and a concrete floor that he can’t afford to carpet. Roy signposted him to a local organisation that might be able to help with this.

 

We spoke to a woman that had been told that she had been migrated over to Universal Credit without her knowledge. She’s worried how she will survive. Would it not be too much to ask that the DWP inform all claimants at least a few weeks before they are transferred over? Apparently it is.

 

I noticed a man walking in and out of the Jobcentre for what appeared to be every five minutes. He was obviously agitated and fed up and clearly didn’t want to talk. my heart went out to him, a man totally degraded and humiliated by a system that clearly cares nothing for him.

 

I spoke to a young woman leaving the Jobcentre with her partner and children, she looked frustrated, fed up and angry. I ran over to her and asked her if I could help her with anything.

She went on to say that she had been locked out out of her Universal Jobmatch account, she wasn’t certain if she had forgotten her password or if the system was at fault. Honestly it’s hard to tell at times because the system drives you to distraction.

She had visited the Jobcentre to find out if she could get any help with this, but was faced with a big unanimous no. No they couldn’t help, they wouldn’t help but nevermind here’s a telephone number, phone them up and then make an appointment with an advisor to get the code.

Yes you read that correctly. This is another case of DWP burocracy gone mad. Why oh why couldn’t she be given a quick and easy solution to this? An email or a telephone appointment? Nope that’s too easy, so she has left to attempt to make a lengthy telephone call, most likely be sent on a wild goose chase through different departments, wait a while for her appointment and then hopefully, and I say hopefully receive her login code.

Oh and by the way because she can’t access her account she also runs the risk of being sanctioned for not complying. The longer she is forced to wait for her code the higher the risk of this happening. It’s almost as if they want this to happen isn’t it…….

 

More people were walking into and out of the Jobcentre with their eyes to the ground. Not wanting to be noticed, not wanting to be there. They could of course be doing something more productive rather than being told things like they ‘must try harder to find work’ ‘Their efforts aren’t good enough” etc etc. You get the jist.

 

I spoke to an older woman that unofficially cares for her son. He’s 46 years old, had to finish work because of a heart condition which is aggravated by stress. Instead of being able to heal he’s forced to comply with a system that is extremely complicated.

She told me that he had been confused with the computer system because no one had taken the time to correctly explain the procedure of handing in fitnotes and uploading them online onto his journal. He incorrectly was in the belief that it would be enough to just upload them to his Universal credit account online, he didn’t realise because he hadn’t been instructed correctly.

As a result his payments were delayed and he waited five months for his first payment. Yes an unwell man was forced to wait five months. Luckily his mother had helped him but this has put a fair amount of stress on their relationship. “ I shouldn’t have had to look after him, I’m a pensioner, but if he didn’t have me he might not have survived”. Correct, this a terrible reality for thousands of people.

 

I spoke to a man as he was leaving the Jobcentre. He was clutching a piece of paper and was clearly stressed. I stopped him and asked if I could help.

Whilst attending his appointment he was informed that he had to attend an interview for a course in an area that is quite a distance away from his home, indeed it isn’t even in Tameside. Walking would take a few hours and public transport is both expensive and complicated, there’s no straight route there. The journey would entail a tram journey into Manchester then a tram journey back out of Manchester and THEN a long walk.

Whilst some reading this might be under the impression that this is reasonable it clearly isn’t. He doesn’t have the money upfront to pay for the tram journey. He might be able to get this refunded but he has to pay upfront first. I did advise him to ask for help from the Jobcentre regarding this.  However his words were heartbreaking. “They are expecting me to do this for four weeks. I don’t know how I will get there, how I will be able to get there that early in the morning it seems impossible. We don’t all have cars and I don’t know what to do, so I will have to accept a sanction because I can’t do it. I’ll try but it’s going to be very hard”.

Another case of unreasonable demands on a poverty stricken person. To be honest it makes me feel sick, they are setting vulnerable people up to fail and they know it. But hey, anything to lower the unemployment figures eh….

 

This weeks problems are not unusual they are commonplace, this is replicated up and down the country and there is no doubt at all that thousands of people are being  forced to suffer needlessly. I say needlessly because there is no real excuse for treating people like this. The government have made a conscious decision to do so and in my eyes they’ve got blood on their hands.

 

Many thanks to everyone that came along to help. It’s been a very stressful week for myself and your support and solidarity has kept me going.

A huge thank you to my online friends and supporters, and also thank you to my friends in my local Labour Party, like I said its been a tough week and you ALL keep me going.

A massive thanks also to the readers of my blog and the supporters of my blog. I can’t thank you enough. Please read, share, rt and email my blog. We can’t allow this suffering to continue for much longer, it’s horrific.

 

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Sanctioned for a year for having a voluntary job. Working 25 hours and facing a possible sanction. Universal Credit strikes again.

Dear readers, today was busy, a morning filled with problems caused by the DWP’s inability to communicate with people correctly and their neglect of using any common sense and sympathy towards claimants. I hate using the word claimant, that in itself is degrading but its the most effective way of describing a persons situation.

We were met with a great variety of problems, ranging from Universal credit problems, JSA problems, housing problems etc etc. Thankfully we have a good knowledge of how to help, but its worth remembering that if someone has a problem created by the DWP they are likely, as a result of this to have more problems elsewhere. Everything snowballs onto them as a result and before they know it it feels like everything is out of their control. Many people then go  into hibernation because the reality of their situation is too hard to cope  with. I totally understand this feeling, I’ve been there and most likely will be there myself in the future.

Las week I recieved a complaint via Twitter, they expressed the opinion that they didn’t like how I describe people. I describe people in the way that I do because I like to keep their anonymity out of respect. Many are scared of repercussions from the DWP and I like to protect them as much as possible. Regular readers will of course understand this. I won’t apologise though and why should I?

Today we were joined by a local Labour Party councillor who joins us whenever he is able to. I’d like to say thank you because this support means so much to us. A massive thanks to Gordon, Roy and Chris for helping. I’d be lost without you all. It’s hard work, and anyone attending our demo will attest to that.

 

The first woman that I spoke to today stopped me as soon as I arrived and asked me for a leaflet. Of course I obliged and she went on to tell me her story. She claims Universal Credit and has done for a long while now.

When she was transferred over to Universal Credit she was already volunteering for a charity, a charity that she had chosen and she enjoyed her work there. I’m a great believer that all voluntary work should be voluntary and NOT enforced by the DWP.

She enjoyed it there and didn’t want to give up her position, however the DWP wern’t happy and enforced a year long sanction. Having no income she was then forced to volunteer for a position of their choosing and she is still there now. She told me that she now owes money as a result of this sanction because she got into debt trying to survive. She really didn’t know about her right to appal etc. So now she’s left to survive on £45 a month because she has to pay her debts off.

Really. How on earth can anyone be expected to survive on £45 a month. Tory party officials spend near enough that amount on a breakfast. But shes’s expected to survive on that amount for a month.

She told me she survives on the goodwill of friends and foodbanks. This is no quality of life, shes mearly existing and not living. This shouldn’t be happening but it is and we all should be outraged.

 

We spoke to a young man who had been through the care system and basically left to his own devices at the age of 17. Young people need guidance and support, not neglect. He told us that all he wanted was a permanent home and proper support. Sadly the government has stripped funding away from care leavers and many end up homeless as a result. It’s heartbreaking but his situation isn’t unusual.

 

We spoke to a man that lives in privately rented accomodation. He made the mistake of visiting family for a week and someone had informed his landlord that he had left the property. He arrived home and his locks had been changed with no notification. He’s trying to sort this out and has managed to get back inside the property.

 

I spoke to a man who was overjoyed with his food parcel. He told me that he could eat some decent food for a change. He was a joy to listen to. he’s trying to make a new start. No one should be denied access to decent food but they are. The government should be ashamed but they are the opposite and are very happy with people being forced to live off food from foodbanks. It takes the onus off themselves to feed people. Without foodbanks people would starve to death. We need to continue to oppose the very need and causes for foodbank usage.

 

I spoke to a working man. He claims Universal Credit and at the moment works 25 hours a week. Of  course the DWP regard this as not being enough and he is under employed by their standards. They really don’t take into account the lack of decent jobs with decent hours and not zero hour contract jobs. People need stability of income to pay rent, bills etc.

Today he went to sign a tenancy agreement for a new place to live, he thought that he would be finished in time for his signing on appointment but he wasn’t and he was 15 minutes late. he was told that he wouldn’t be seen and that he had to phone for another appointment. He tried phoning but to no avail, outside the Jobcentre. He then went back inside and asked for help again. Luckily he was given another appointment but he is still in limbo as to if he is going to be sanctioned because they never tell you straight away.

So he’s working, and in fear of a sanction. How on earth can this encourage people to work? It does the opposite and I hope that he doesn’t get sanctioned because he has a new tenancy to keep up.

 

I spoke to a man that told me that this was his first time signing on for 40 years and he could neither understand the system nor manage under it. They expect everyone to be able to work a computer, have access to a computer and to understand the complexities of the system. Most of the people that I speak to don’t and haven’t a clue how to manage. Of course the government are aware of this and are simply lying when they state that they need evidence of this so that they can change the system.

1. They already have knowledge

2. They don’t want to change the system because it works for them.

 

I spoke to a lady that came out of the Jobcentre crying. She had to travel miles on very unreliable public transport to attend her Jobcentre appointment. She got lost and was visibly upset, crying. She told me that she was late and was scared that she would be sanctioned. She had only recieved two Universal Credit payments so far and doesn’t wanted go without money again.

I reassured her and I hope that her advisor was sympathetic. She was lucky in the fact that she managed to speak to them even though they told her that she would be sent an appointment for June. Now she’s living in limbo, not knowing if she will receive a payment. That feeling is horrible and I really hope that she does.

 

I spoke to a man that had recently had a job interview. He had taken along a copy of his birth certificate, but this wasn’t good enough. They want an original copy before he can start employment.. He now has to pay for that and hope that the job will still be available to him.

 

We noticed a lot of older people forced to use the Jobcentre. This breaks my heart, it’s  an awful system and many can’t cope with the system.

 

We spoke to a representative of a woman who was late for her appointment due to her bus not turning up. This happens a lot, especially in the rural areas that Ashton Jobcentre now covers. It’s too far to walk so they have to rely on expensive unreliable buses. Jeremy Corbyn was right to talk about this, it’s an important issue for many of us.

 

I spoke to a man that had been disallowed his ESA. I explained the appeal process etc and handed him a survival guide. they don’t make it clear how to appeal any decision.

 

I spoke to a man claiming Universal Credit as a couple with a new baby. They are now in fear of being sanctioned because they hadn’t attended an appointment that they didn’t receive a letter for.  They have three children, a new baby and his partner is ill.

I advised him of what to do and how to appeal and signposted him. He must be under so much stress at the moment and he should not be going through this. In effect the DWP are very willing to take food out of new born babies mouths. Honestly if they stated outright that they were going to do this there would be outrage, but they do it slyly trying to demonise the family involved.

We have a government that have knowingly created a purposely complicated system that has been designed to put people off from claiming. The system is so complicated it baffles claimants, it also baffles officials from other organisations. But it’s designed to do so and whilst this system exists people will continue to suffer, and die in many cases and this isn’t acceptable. It’s never acceptable.

 

A massive thank you to everyone that supports, shares and talks about my work. Many thanks to my friends on social media, my friends in real life so speak and to everyone that listens. Carry on with the good work and thank you it is appreciated.

 

I just do my best, it’s hard and I struggle but we have to continue to fight the system.

Thank you.

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Three months without a Universal Credit payment. Astounding DWP bureaucracy setting people up to fail. Universal Credit isn’t working.

Dear readers, I must apologise. I have a virus and I haven’t been well all week so I apologise in my slow response to responding to you, hopefully I will be feeling much better soon.

Today we were met by lots of people with many differing problems, mostly caused by the inane and ridiculous bureaucracy system that the DWP operates. Not one department within the DWP communicates effectively with each other (if at all) and it causes endless hurdles that people have to jump through to receive the help that they need and deserve. Personally I believe that it’s a total reflection of the state of the government at present and their disdain for the poor and disabled. They have created a system that is designed to be purposely difficult to navigate. They just don’t want to help them, but are very quick to help themselves.

I’ll list the conversations that I had with people today, it makes things much less complicated. All the people that I spoke to will remain anonymous due to the very real fear of repercussions from the DWP. This does happen, I’ve seen it.

We were very busy today, so please read to the end if you can. Everyone that we spoke to were given advice, help, a survival guide and a food parcel if needed. We handed out five today. There is a massive need for help but organisations such as Citizens Advice and Welfare Rights are extremely busy and to put it bluntly have no money. It’s shocking.

 

The first person that I spoke to was a young man who was visibly distressed. He told me that he had applied to claim for Universal Credit three months ago, but due to seemingly constant problems he has been waiting for three months for his first payment. That’s three months without a payment, three months without a rent payment and he is now at risk of being evicted.

You see, lots of people don’t understand that whilst awaiting for a Universal Credit claim to be processed you cannot claim Housing Benefit because it is paid as a part of Universal Credit. Personally I believe this to be wrong, it should be paid as soon as a claim is made and approved just like it used to be, and it should be paid directly to the landlord. It doesn’t make sense to do it any other way, unless of course the main aim of the people that designed this system was to increase homelessness, increase poverty and to ensure that people become ill.

In their fluffy, perfect worlds they have families that might help. Most of the people that myself and others talk to don’t. And we don’t live in an ideal world either do we.

 

I spoke to an older man that has had his ESA (Employment Support Allowance) stopped due to a failed medical assessment. The assessors appear to be on a roll at the moment, nearly everyone that I speak to that has had a medical assessment either for ESA or PIP (Personal Independence Payment) has failed and they are having to go through the appeal process. This causes a great deal of stress to anyone having to endure this. For gods sake, if they have been diagnosed as being disabled by consultants and doctors then they have already been assessed. This whole process has been purely created to prevent vulnerable people from receiving the help that they need.

 

I had a long discussion with another older man whom has been awarded a lower level of PIP than he previously received after a medical assessment. He is appealing but he was obviously distressed and needed to talk. Like I said previously this is happening far too often.

 

I spoke to a man that I have spoken to previously. He had lost his job and was awaiting his first Universal Credit payment, however the DWP saw fit to not pay him his payment and instead they deducted the money that he should have received as holiday. Instead of being treated as capital, they treated it as a wage so now he has been left with no money and not able to pay his rent. Maybe this is correct, but it’s wrong. They had been informed about the payment of holiday pay and he was informed that he would receive a payment today.

Upon waking this morning he tried phoning the Universal Credit hotline up, but he was constantly cut off so he mistakenly believed that the Jobcentre staff would help him. He has no money, his landlord had already telephoned him asking for his rent and the Jobcentre told him that they wouldn’t help and that he had to phone them.

He had already tried, he was cut off and he wanted some help. But no, that’s not available anymore. Can you imagine the frustration that he must have felt. Not helping someone in their hour of need is certainly not empowering them to find work, it’s actually preventing a person from concentrating on anything else that day apart from survival.

 

We spoke to two Poundworld employees soon to loose their jobs. They had no idea of what to do, what to claim and how to do it. Neither of them are computer literate either. I  helped them the best that I could and explained what needed to be done.

My heart sank thinking about the hurdles that they will now have to go through. These are the same ladies that I used to chat to when shopping there. They always had a smile for me and enjoyed their job. I’m not going into the complexities of why Poundworld is shutting, but what I do know is that thousands of people are now being forced to battle a system that doesn’t want to help them and that’s scary.

 

I spoke to a lovely lady who was very aware of how the DWP system works, shes researched herself and has now found employment after gaining a qualification. She told me how hard it is to survive and she lives on her own. She went on to say she can’t imagine how hard it is for a single parent with children, or a couple to survive.

We had a very interesting discussion about how women with children resort to crimes such as shoplifting to survive (I’ve mentioned this in an earlier blog). Most eventually end up in court and it escalates to such an extent that they can loose everything. Their home, children, hopes and dreams. These are decent people trying to survive, trying to provide for their children.

Even if a parent doesn’t resort to crime it leaves them with the inability to pay for the basics such as food, clothing and bus fares to school if needed. Fines are issued to the parents of children that have over an amount of unauthorised amount of days off school. They can’t afford to pay the fine and are at risk of being imprisoned.

It makes me feel sick that this is even happening but it is. Survival is the name of the game for many. Children are suffering, but this government cares not one bit about this. Privately run care homes for children are opening and they in turn charge local councils a small fortune for their services. I worked in one in the past and the owner was doing extremely well out of it. This does need to be investigated more.

 

I spoke to a man that I have spoken to previously. He had left his partner, stopped his claim for carers allowance and had made a new claim for Universal Credit. The DWP were aware that he had stopped his claim for Carers Allowance, but due to a mistake made by them had wrongly deducted the Carers Allowance element from his payment. This has left him with very little money, he needs to pay his rent and he was worried.

He phoned the Universal Credit hotline up and has been told that they are investigating and he should receive his money back. Imagine this though, imagine that instead of enquiring as to what had happened he went into a state of panic, couldn’t handle complaining and tried to hide from the problem? Thousands of people do, they are tired and are sick of fighting. Many give up altogether and quite frankly mistakes like this shouldn’t be happening but they are.

Universal Credit isn’t working, its not really designed to, and I’m sick of having to say this. It needs stopping, scrapping and replaced with a fair, uncomplicated system. It’s not rocket science is it.

 

I spoke to a man that had previously thought that he was having a bit of good luck for a change. He found a job but his celebrations were short lived. He told me that the working conditions were ‘prehistoric’. He had been forced to work in a very dangerous environment with no health and safety rules being enforced. It was extremely hard manual labour, and dangerous at that. He stuck it out for a week but was afraid for his physical safety so he left. He’s now unemployed again, but told me that he’s thankful to be alive.

Employment laws really shouldn’t be flouted, but they often are. Labour is often underpaid and not respected. With high levels of unemployment unscrupulous employers can just employ more and more people to replace the employees that have left. It’s wrong, but it happens and one day a serious workplace accident will take place.

 

We spoke to a man trying to dispute his claimant commitment. The DWP are trying to force him into taking an unreasonable Claimant Commitment. They don’t want to take into account his disabilities. He is pursuing this though and our survival guide will help him with this.

 

The whole DWP system is rotten to the core. There’s no care involved anymore, and everyone is just an expendable number, even DWP employees. It’s a culture of fear and created to be thus.

Can you imagine how awful it is for thousands and thousands of people up and down the country on a daily basis? We are only outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for two hours and in those two hours we encountered this high amount of problems, mostly caused by an overcomplicated system that doesn’t communicate with different departments that is failing the very people that it claims to help. It’s sickening.

 

Please read, share, tweet and fb my blog, email it also. I do my best and it’s hard work but one day we will have justice. No one deserves to be treated like this, no one.

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Older man who has had two strokes and two heart attacks declared fit for work. Stop your ESA claim and apply for Universal Credit to receive housing benefit, even though they don’t have to by law. Welcome to hell.

Dear readers, today has been very upsetting and stressful, not only for the people that I have spoken to but for myself also. I’m absolutely furious on their behalf. You see I cannot stand any kind of injustice and it’s been pretty dire today. But it’s not about me and I realise that.

The weather was very hot for a change and the smoke coming from the moorland fire has decreased thankfully. I can’t praise our firefighters enough. You might have seen me mention this on the Victoria Derbyshire programme yesterday.

Anyway, enough about me. After reading this I’m certain that you will be both furious and upset. I’m sorry but this is what it’s like and I can’t apologise for this. I’m not a fan of sugar coating reality, especially when people are suffering.

 

The first person that I spoke to today was a man struggling with his gas and electricity meter. He lives in a privately rented flat, his meters are outside his flat and they’ve been damaged. This is a common occurrence with this block of flats, and having no joy with the landlord he telephoned his energy supplier. They in turn informed him that it’s his landlords responsibility and he was on his way to speak to his landlord again. I hope that he manages to get it sorted out.

 

I spoke to a man who had been considering committing suicide the previous weekend. He has contact with the mental health team and takes medication, but sometimes this isn’t enough. The government has deprived NHS mental health services of funding and they can no longer provide many of the services that they used to provide. He told me  that being alive is pointless and what’s the point in continuing. Thankfully we had a long chat and he changed his mind. He knows that he can phone me if he needs someone to talk to.

 

I spoke to an older man who honestly looked like he should be retired already. He was reluctant to speak at first, but thankfully he did. He told me that he had worked all his life, and due to no fault of his own has found himself to be unemployed and claiming Universal Credit. He has went on to say that he has had two strokes and two heart attacks. After having a Universal Credit medical assessment they declared him fit for work. I informed him that he can and should appeal this decision, but to be honest he looked completely done in, not able to cope with the system and extremely fed up.

Seeing him walk away so despondent upset both my colleagues and myself. A man with his health conditions should be allowed to retire. I’m a great advocate of lowering the retirement age for all to sixty if they should wish to retire. Many of the older people that I speak to are worn out and need to be given that option. Instead they are made to complete endless job searches and attend pointless courses. It’s sickening. Lets treat our older generation with some decency and respect please.

 

I spoke to a young man that has already been waiting three weeks for his Universal Credit payments to be processed. Of course they had demanded a copy of his birth certificate and luckily this had been paid for (not by the DWP). I believe that the DWP should pay for a copy of a birth certificate if they require one, but they don’t and this leaves many, many people in a desperate situation.

 

I spoke to a young man that was obviously distressed. He told me that he has an active claim for ESA and is due his payment next week. He is NOT claiming Universal Credit, he is receiving JSA alongside this. His circumstances have not changed since applying for ESA.

He went to the local council offices to make a claim for Housing Benefit only to be told that he can’t claim it and that he has to take himself off ESA and onto Universal credit. I have a problem with this. The DWP have stopped transferring  people that are already claiming ESA onto Universal Credit, the rules have been changed, but it appears that someone working for the local authority isn’t aware of this ruling change or some kind of decision has been made locally to encourage everyone to claim Universal Credit locally.

Incidentally, as you will read later he wasn’t the only person to tell me that this has happened to them. I have approached the housing benefit department for an answer to this,  and I also have informed by local MPS office expressing my concerns. I will update if there is a response from the local Housing Benefit department. My local MPs office are also very concerned. Thank goodness we have very good MPs in our area.

 

I spoke to a newly unemployed woman. She told me that her husband is older than herself (64) have both been made homeless and her partner wasn’t  in the best of health when this occurred.

They had both worked all of their adult lives’ and I say this because it really doesn’t matter if you have. The government will still treat you with disdain and disgust and no one will receive any better treatment.

They were previously privately renting a house, as many do due to the shortage of social housing. Upon being told to evict the premises by bailiffs they did as they were told, they attended our local housing options office to declare their homeless status. They were both given a quick assessment to find out if they were entitled to any emergency housing. They were told that they weren’t and they were both ‘fit for the streets’. Yes that is the exact words that were used.

Resigned to their fate, they did just that and lived on the streets, walking for twelve hours a day. This had a very detrimental effect on her partners health and a growth on his leg burst causing an infection. They rushed to A&E, were treated and then contacted Housing Options of their change of circumstances.

Luckily they were then housed and were given temporary accommodation. She had to fight for this, because at first she was told that they would only help her partner. I can’t imagine how scared she must have been. But she fought her corner and won.

This is how easy anyone can become homeless. Losing a job, a private landlord selling up. It can happen to ANYONE. Luckily, and I don’t say luckily easily because it’s been extremely stressful for them both, they are both doing much better now. As they are now awaiting their first Universal Credit payment I handed them a food parcel and informed them of all the local organisations that can help them.

This country is really screwed up isn’t it. Local authorities with a very limited money to spend on emergency housing are setting the bar so high that it’s very hard for people to be housed in emergency accommodation.  The government should be condemned for their reduction in funding and also for the decision that anyone should be forced to live like this, let alone a near elderly man.

Roy spoke to a 61 year old woman that has had her work hours reduced from 16 1/2 hours. Her son has also recently finished college and her income has been greatly reduced. She’s looking for more work hours but is finding it impossible. I cannot forgive the government for increasing the womens retirement age.

She told us that the government are heartless and that she can fully understand why people want to kill themselves.

 

I then spoke to another young man that has an active claim for ESA. He has also been told by the local housing benefit department that he has to stop his claim for ESA and claim Universal Credit in order to receive Housing benefit.  I was furious, not only is this incorrect he suffers from mental health issues and has been told by his doctor that he cannot work. I offered advice etc and signposted him. So now he is worried about loosing his home on top of being ill already, and awful combination.

I have reported this back to my local MP and attempted to contact the local council. As stated earlier I’m still awaiting a response.

 

I then took a telephone call from a man that is quite knowledgeable on DWP related matters. He went into Ashton Jobcentre and asked them to fax his fit note to  the relevant ESA department. His request was denied and he was told that Ashton Jobcentre is part of a pilot scheme that is refusing to fax fit notes.

I shall endeavour to find out if this is correct, but if it’s true or he has been lied to I’m furious. How are disabled and ill claimants expected to find a fax machine? Needless to say this angered me.

 

I spoke to an older lady that is really struggling on the Universal Credit system. She told me her story and I have signposted her to speak to her local councillors. They will help her, they are a fab, proactive group in Mossley and I’m certain that they will help her.

 

There you have it folks, just two hours of one day. We spoke to many extremely vulnerable people all of which have been subjected to obstructions placed in their way at every step, all of which are punitive and designed to put a person, regardless of disability, age, sex and  nationality from claiming their rightful social security payments.

We live in a country that is ran by a government that despises the poor and vulnerable. They discriminate against them at every given opportunity and constantly are inventing new ways of doing this. Please join us in the fight to STOP this discrimination and the system that also is responsible for this, because honestly I haven’t got a clue how much more people can take.

A massive thank you to everyone that came along and gave up their free time to help.

 

 

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Today we handed out five food parcels, offered countless advice and made a difference to people’s lives’. I wish that we didn’t need to be there, but today proved that we do need to carry on and I will continue to document it.

We should never forget the cruelty that the government has inflicted upon those in the most need.

 

Thank you to everyone that reads, supports and shares my blog. I really do appreciate this and I don’t have enough time to thank everyone personally. Here’s a massive THANK YOU. Both you and my colleagues keep  me going. It can be very stressful and knowing that you support both myself and the campaign means a lot to me.

Vulnerable man constantly sanctioned, when will this Universal Credit hell end?

Hello readers, and an extra hello to all the new subscribers to my blog. I welcome you with open arms and I hope that you enjoy reading my blog. Enjoy is perhaps the wrong word to use because it can be very upsetting reading. But it’s essential reading, so many people don’t realise how awful the DWP and Universal Credit system is.

 

My apologies for last week, I wasn’t well but I’m on the mend now, thankfully. This week has been a very busy one and a big thank you to everyone that took the tome to watch my interview on Channel 4 news and my interview on Talk Radio also. I don’t do it for personal fame, far from it, I mean who wants to look at my ugly mug on the TV. I do it to raise awareness, and to hopefully one day get justice for each and every person that is suffering, has suffered or has died at the hands of this inhumane and brutal system.

I shall list todays happenings as I usually do. Everyone shall and will remain anonymous. This is important and I respect that. Also for anyone calling me a liar, my conversations are witnessed by others.

I would like to thank everyone that stopped to speak to me today. I realise that it takes a lot of courage to talk to a complete stranger anyway, especially when upset, angry and distressed. Thank you so much, you are all my heroes each and every one of you.

Everyone that myself and team members spoke to recieved help, advice, guidance, signposting, a copy of our survival guide and if needed a food parcel. No one leaves us empty handed.

 

The first person that I spoke to was a disabled man using a walking stick to walk. He looked stressed and didn’t say a lot but his words summed up the whole situation perfectly. He told me that Universal Credit is crap, that his life was ok before. Now he never knows when he’s getting a payment, if its a correct payment and will he be able to manage for the month. He told me that he’s now got rent arrears as a result, and he’s never had this in the past. he’s upset and fed up. Who can blame him.

 

I spoke to a person who has been waiting over 8 weeks for their first Universal Credit payment to be made. The stress has taken it’s toll and they are trying their best to cope. I can’t stress how hard it is to cope without anything for at least eight weeks. Even if they get a loan from the DWP this usually goes on bills, rent, gas and electric. Food becomes an afterthought. There is no excuse as to why Universal Claims have to take this long to be processed but they do. The government likes it this way. I will continue to challenge this as will others.

 

I spoke to an older woman who was struggling to walk with two crutches. She was also very out of breath and I was very worried about her. She told me that she was ok, but she clearly wasn’t.

Her situation is this. Dispite a very visible disability she was declared fit for work at her recent ESA medical. She has asked for a mandatory reconsideration and in the meantime is trying to survive. She enquired  about mortgage relief, and I had to give her the bad news that this doesn’t exist anymore. She owes council tax also and she had just been to the court buildings to try and sort that out.

Of course I advised her correctly and signposted her to relevant organisations etc. To see her struggling like that was awful, no humane government should make any person suffer this way.

 

A woman who was obviously distressed muttered something in the direction of the Jobcentre and rushed off. She obviously needed to get away from the building. Who can blame her.

 

I spoke to a man with a broken arm that has  a housing related problem. We had a good chat and I signposted him to a local organisation that can help. Armed with this knowledge he promised that he would do this.

 

We were stopped by a man who told us that all socialist policies are rubbish. Whilst he was giving us an earful, he was clutching a NHS medicine bag containing medicine dispensed at an NHS chemist. He obviously is taking full advantage of a socialist policy, free healthcare for all that need it. Very ironic I thought and we all had a chuckle at this.

 

I spoke to a young man that has been given sanction after sanction for the same reason every time. His situation is a bit complicated, so hang on you’ll get it in the end. He was addicted to pescription drugs and is going through the rehab process. He had been sanctioned in November, March and June. He has been ill, and had missed an appointment and had explained this to his advisor. They told him that they understood and he was given another appointment. But he was still sanctioned.

He has appealed all these sanction decisions and he has won every time. However this hasn’t stopped the DWP from not understanding his situation and not listening to him. And anyway he should be on ESA. He wasn’t told that he was entitled to do this so now he’s been trying to cope with Universal Credit. It’s complicated I know, but it does make sense.

So now he’s sanctioned again. He asked his advisor how he is supposed to manage, they told him that he has to learn how to manage his money. Excuse me what money. You cant manage money that he hasn’t got. Yep he must have a magic money tree eh.

I advised him and referred him to our local MP. I’m confident that this will be sorted out now, but to make a vulnerable young man that is trying his best to become fit and well again, suffer like this is inexcusable. People need help not punishement. No just no. Stop doing this.

 

I spoke to a man who had to walk for two hours to reach Ashton Jobcentre. Yes two hours. He had no money for bus fares so had to walk, otherwise they would be sanctioned I’ve no doubt about that.

 

We spoke to a young couple that were being messed around by the DWP. We advised them etc. Awful.

 

I spoke to another disabled woman that was rushing for her appointment. The government doesn’t respect disability in any shape or form. Shame on them.

 

We noted quite a few pregnant women and new mums having to go into the Jobcentre. Enjoying a pregnancy or a new baby is near impossible these days.

 

I spoke to a man that told me how awful the new ‘find a job’ system is. His work coach hadn’t given him any warning that he was being transferred over to the new system so now he’s behind with his job search. They might sanction him for this, they might not. Who knows, it depends on the work coach. It wouldn’t have taken them two minutes to pre warn him would it. Thanks for that.. Not.

 

We spoke to two disabled women who had been switched over to Universal Credit before the judgement was made last week. Both are far worse off financially as a result. One of the women was told that her payments would stay the same. What a lie. The other lady had a pacemaker, is seriously ill and has had four heart attacks. As a result of her income being lowered, her internet has been cut off which is vital for her medical needs. She also has a heart monitor that sends readings directly to the hospital via the internet. She’s also waiting for a heart transplant.

I advised her, told her where to go to get good solid advice straight away. She shouldn’t be forced to live like this. It’s diabolical. Please can I have a magic wand for everyone in the same position as her. I want to make it better for her but I can only do my best.

I also informed her of the court judgement etc. I am up to date with everything.

 

This was a typical two hours outside the Jobcentre. Can you imagine how much suffering is going on throughout the country on a daily basis? It’s an unprecedented amount of needless suffering.

It doesn’t have to be this way, we realise this but many don’t. Many think that the poor and disabled should suffer because they are all scroungers. I can tell you that not one person that I’ve spoken to throughout the years is a scrounger and the only scroungers in this country are the multi national companies and millionaires that refuse to pay their taxes. This needs to change but you don’t need me to tell you that of course.

Thank you for reading my blog, thank you to everyone that came along to support us. We attend despite illness and bad weather because we know that people are needing help and advice.

Thank you to everyone that supports and has supported my blog.

As for me I’ll continue as usual and one day we might get justice but I won’t hold my breath.

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It’s not an illness if I can’t see it. Want to know what Universal Credit is like? Read this.

Dear readers, as you know I’ve been blogging for a few years now, maybe more than that but I’ve lost count. Days merge into months and quickly into years. I’m betting that most of you can relate to this.

Today has been extremely busy both outside the Jobcentre and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing and emails have been pouring in. People want to know what Universal Credit is really like, and also want to speak to people on Universal Credit. The reason for this is that the DWP has been taken to court via a test case and have been found guilty by the high court of acting unlawfully by denying claimants a lifetime  top up for severe disability. This is a fantastic achievement, however they are appealing this decision so watch this space.

Many of the people that I speak to weekly were previously awarded a lifetime top up but are now denied this. Thank you so much to everyone involved with this court case, its a landmark win and was vitally needed.

 

So for those reading this and wanting to know what life on Universal Credit is like, I can tell you before you read the report from today. It’s awful, dire, stressful, it controls your life and takes away any freedom that a person previously had. It’s discriminatory, doesn’t take illness and disability seriously and seriously holds a grudge against people with disabilities and single parents. Basically its become a tool to harass and hurt the poor. I don’t say this lightly, I speak from experience.

 

No real guidance is given and it’s much like being thrown into the lions den, people are scared and quite rightly so. The DWP basically hold them to ransom under the promise of a payment. Break the rules accidentally etc and they stop their payments which are a lifeline to them. Fail a farcical ESA and PIP medical and you are left with nothing, trying to scramble for help. It’s vile.

 

The first person that I spoke to this morning had failed her ESA medical. She’s disabled and is struggling to cope. She is appealing this decision and is waiting for an appointment to do so, but in the meantime she has no food and no gas and electricity. Not liking crowds she can’t just walk into places where she doesn’t feel certain of  but thankfully felt confident enough to speak to me.

I helped her, gave her a food parcel and sorted out her gas and electric. What sort of a world do we live in where disabled people are left to starve, literally.

 

I spoke very briefly to an Eastern European gentleman who looked stressed and busy. He didnt say much but he didnt need to, his face said it all. For those of the persuasion that believe that immigrants are ‘well off’ and ‘get everything’, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Come and spend some time with us and you’ll soon see this.

 

We spoke to a man who was leaving the Jobcentre. He looked in pain and he was wearing a very large, full back brace. I asked him if he was ok, and he told me that he wans’t. He had broken his vertebrae in three places and had also shattered his wrist in an accident. The DWP hadn’t told him that he can and should be claiming the disability element of Univeral Credit, and that they should in theory be going ‘easier’ on him. Of course readers will know that theory is very different from reality isn’t it. We gave him some valuable advice, handed him a survival guide and wished him well.

We know that he should be taking time to recover but the DWP are very reluctant to do so. It’s almost as if they hate the disabled……

 

I spoke to a man woman who is on Universal Credit. She has to pay back repayments for her loans that she took out whilst waiting for her Universal Credit to be processed. They have informed her that they are going to have to pay back 200 a month. Thats a very excessive amount, and she has asked them to lower the payments. So far they are refusing so I’ve referred her to further help. My local MP’s office will be very busy this week. She also needed a food parcel because she can’t afford to buy food.

 

I spoke to a young woman who had been refused a fitnote by her doctor, the same Doctors surgery that the person that I mentioned in the blog last week. i’ve Informed them of what to do to obtain a fitnote, but will also be taking further action against this myself and involving my local MP. This young woman can’t work, she relies on strong medication and gets extremely drowsy. She has several disabilities, all of which are recognised.Her doctor told her that she can ‘find a job that’s suitable’. Yep, right, course she can. No person with a disability should be discriminated against like this, especially by a doctor.

 

I spent some time reminiscing with a man, remembering the good old times when things used to be better. We both longed for a return of those days.

 

We advised a lady to send a letter to the DWP via the post office and to obtain a receipt. It’s vital that you always get proof of postage at all times, because letters are always mysteriously lost.

 

I spoke to a woman that had spent yesterday and today being messed around by different DWP departments. all she wanted was a fax to be sent from one department to another, but of course they can’t do this quickly and efficiently.

 

I spoke to a lady that I havent seen in a long while. She had previously gone through aa spate of malicious sanctioning by the DWP. She had won her cases, but it’’s started again. Armed with previous knowledge shes fighting again. She’ll win, but in the meantime shes pregnant, with children and no money. Her mum is now having to help her out again, and she has little herself.

 

I spoke to a young woman that appeared to be upset. She suffers from a disability but it isn’t visible. Her advisor is having none of it and had told her ‘if they can’t see it then it’s not an illness’. Now we know thats downright discrimination and with advice shes taking this further. It will take a lot of strength for her to do so though. The DWP can sometimes say what they want, not all are like this but many are, answerable only to the government that condones such incidences we haven’t got much hope have we.

Thanks to the three nice advisors that are currently working at Ashton Jobcentre, it’s a pity that not all are like you.

 

So here it is folks, this all happened in less than two hours. Food parcels were handed out, advice given and solidarity. I wish that I could do more but I don’t have the means to. Once again I’m going to say that we need some kind of support from a left wing polictical party officially, we need it. It’s hard work, the people I speak to are desperate but there’s never been a greater need.

 

Many thanks to everyone that helped out today, you are all amazing. My apologies to my local MPS office because I’ve referred a few people over, but I shouldnt have to in the first place.

We also had a minutes silence for all the Grenfell victims, their families and the community. I hope that one day they get the justice that they deserve.

As for myself, I’ll just keep plodding on like I do. I do my best, I can’t be everywhere and I live on a very low budget so please be patient.

Thanks for reading, solidarity.

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DWP advisor, I take tablets and I can work so you can too. Doctors refusing to issue sicknotes after recieving a letter from the DWP. This weeks blog.

Dear readers, today didn’t start too well. I had been unwell all night so ended up being awake for most of it listening to podcasts, but no fear I arrived at our weekly demo as usual. For anyone disputing my dedication to the cause I’d like to dispute their claims. As well as helping people, we raise awareness and I work very hard on this, its near enough a full time job.

Anyway enough about me, let’s talk about the important stuff, the people that are suffering at the hands of a cruel, uncaring government. For those thinking that the government actually does care, you are sadly mistaken. Years of experience tells me that they don’t have a caring bone in their bodies. It’s simply about persecuting the poor in as many ways as is possible.  Below are a few examples.

 

The first man that I spoke to is a victim of agency work and Universal Credit. Universal Credit really doesn’t work for anyone, especially people in temporary employment, it does the opposite. It places them in a state of perpetual poverty, depending on food parcels and the kindness of local organisations and friends. To say that it helps people back into work is a massive lie and of course the government knows this.

I had a conversation with him as I do most weeks, and I find it very worrying seeing him loosing weight. I handed him a food parcel but I will be helping him more also.

 

I spoke to an older man who told me that he had never been unemployed, he had always worked he told me. Sadly he has been made redundant and he can’t find a job. Not many employers will employ older people and no matter how many of these farcical courses that the DWP will put him on won’t change this fact.

As I chatted to him, it came to light that he hadn’t been advised about much, including his job search etc, so I advised him and handed him a survival guide. He thanked me because I had most likely saved him a lot of hassle. The system is extremely complicated and people are expected just to know what to do. Of course that’s impossible and anyone tackling the system will tell you this. I know of a couple of good advisors inside the Jobcentre and it was obvious that he didn’t have one of them.

 

I spoke to another older man who had arrived ten minutes early, only to be turned away and told to return in five minutes. Now it was early and the Jobcentre wasn’t busy, far from it. It’s an exercise in keeping people on their toes and enabling them to feel demoralised, and it’s working isn’t it.

 

A man walked out of the Jobcentre saying that they are ‘horrible in there’. Yep.

 

I spoke to a woman who had been late handing their sicknote in because of their illness. No concessions are made so her payments stopped immediately. She has now handed a new sicknote in and has to wait for her payments to be reinstated. They don’t take illness into account apparently, and there’s no lienance at all. The government are quite happy making an ill person hungry. Luckily we handed a food parcel over to her so she could eat.

 

We spoke to a lovely man who has a long term injury. He had failed his ESA medical and had tried to put in a mandatory reconsideration, which as usual was refused. He didnt have the energy to appeal but after a chat he’s now going to do so. We also advised him to claim PIP.  He hadn’t been told that he could do this.

 

A man walked past and said ‘I like what you are doing’ And another walked past and whispered in my ear that ‘You are doing a good job’. Thank you! We try!

 

I spoke to a disabled, homeless man, he is getting help from other organisations but he wanted to chat. His issues are complex, but he’s hoping to get housed soon once he’s paid his rent arrears off. There’s no escape from debt these days for anyone.

I can’t imagine how awful it must be to be disabled and homeless. He told me of his time on the streets of Manchester, trying to survive. No one should be forced to live like this rent arrears or not. This cruel system forces people to become in debt withy almost everyone.

 

I spoke to a couple living in temporary accomodation locally. They are grateful for it, but it’s still hard for them. The rent for the temporary accomodation is £310 a week. Luckily they don’t have to pay this but it’s a struggle living there because their flat is upstairs and they have to carry their pram up and down the stairs all the time.

 

I spoke to a man who had lost his case at an employment tribunal. I do think that his loosing the case is unfair, but he accessed legal advice too late. Poor fella is upset about this as would I be. Believe me there are some dodgy employers out there, but I am aware also that there are many good ones also.

 

I spoke to a man who had previously been working a 60 hour week but had lost his job. Luckily he had found employment  but his contract is only 15 hours a week, so now he is at the mercy of Universal Credit. He really didn’t know where to start, and he hadn’t been advised about much. We helped him etc. He thanked us.

Why on earth can’t the large companies employ more people on a full time basis? Tax reasons most likely. I remember the good old days of guaranteed, contracted full time work and I wish that we still had that.

 

I spoke to a young man who told me that if it wasn’t for his young daughter he would have taken his own life by now. He told me that he struggles to cope with the system and I totally agree. The system is cruel, relentless and made him feel so bad that he no longer wanted to be here anymore. Thank goodness he is.

 

I referred a woman to see our local MP. The DWP are giving her the run around and she has tried other organisations. It appears that the DWP havent a clue what they are doing sometimes, well a lot of the time. I hope that she seeks advice.

 

We spoke to a man who is educucated to degree level. He is now disabled with a condition that won’t be getting any better and he can’t find any employment anymore.  He’s a broken man, not knowing where to turn, so we helped him. It’s a shame that the government refuses to isn’t it.

 

We spoke to an older man who had been sanctioned for a month for being late. This was his first time being late, and he wasn’t given a chance. Typical. I asked him how he managed and he told me that he had to rely on family members, and thank god he has them he said.

 

I spoke to a woman that is waiting for her Universal Credit claim to be processed. Shes very worried about her council tax so I advised her etc. Everyone that I speak to is worried about something. it shouldnt be this way.

 

We spoke to an older chap who is two years away from recieving his pension. He went to his doctor and asked for a sick note because he needed one for his claim. His GP refused to issue a sicknote upon advice from the DWP.  So now he’s left at the mercy of the DWP

Now I know that most GPs will ignore these requests from the DWP, but some won’t. I find it abhorrent that some do take advice from the DWP rather than their patient. Of course the government allows this but it shouldnt be doing it in the first place. They have a duty of care towards their patent not the DWP. Sort it out, your patients WILL be suffering as a result. Massive respect to the many GPS that ignore these letters.

 

Today was busy, even though it started slow. We were joined by a journalist from a french online newspaper, so it will be interesting to read her write up. She was very nice though, thank you for coming along.

 

It was also lovely to see more people turn up to help today. I realise that everyone has their own commitments, but I want to thank you for the sacrifice that you have all made today to help others.

Massive thanks to my friends for helping me out with my daughter today and last week. She had a fantastic time.

Today we handed out food parcels, survival guides, help, advice, compassion, solidarity and signposting. I found it hard today, but hopefully I’m feeling better next week. Keep strong everyone, one day we might have a better future and I pray for that.

 

I also want to pay my respects to our friend Steve who recently passed away, and who’s funeral I attended on Tuesday. Steve worked for Welfare rights, but also had helped to set up many organisations to help people. He was an amazing chap who taught me much of what I know. We miss you Steve.

 

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