Category Archives: Westminster

New Year Blues

I said I’d try to post more often so here goes. I’ve not been feeling too good over the last couple of weeks, not sure if it’s the Christmas rush/stress that’s caught up or the usual January dip many of us experience at this time of year. As the start of a New Year can be a time of reflection I’ve decided to reflect on the past year.

Although we are still on benefits I have tried to change my thought process from one of glass half empty to glass half full. It isn’t easy especially when living with a glass definitely empty partner. He is currently undergoing counselling, and whilst I agree that the counsellor clearly hasn’t got much idea of the situation we’re in, he just can’t seem to engage with anything she asks of him. Whether this is his frame of mind or not I’m not sure. He is still undergoing work programme interviews, mostly over the telephone. This programme seems very disorganized, he has been forgotten at one point for a few months, changed advisors and been left on more than one occasion waiting for phone interviews that never materialized. Not very professional! He has undergone another appointment with ATOS and been advised that he will have to go through his ordeal once every six months! In this respect I can understand his mood as no one seems to help just to victimize. His doctor has only been prompted into action due to outside intervention. The whole mental health provision is totally inadequate with counselling limited to a few interviews and the waiting list for other treatments months rather than weeks. Unfortunately for him his mindset needs much more help than my own did.

I’m still concentrating on trying to improve my employability skills whilst trying to get a small business off the ground. I’m sick of being at the mercy of everyone else including the council from whom we rent our home. They informed us they wanted to proceed with major works in our house with no apparent concern that the benefits to us are little if nil and that we can’t afford the replacement floor coverings etc needed to make our home comfortable again afterwards.

Anyway enough for now keep fighting!

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And so it goes on………….

Things just ticking along here so not posted in a while. The effective cut in benefits is starting to hit home and we are struggling to keep up with bills and putting food on the table. Although I pride myself on being able to manage on a very tight budget there will come a point when even I can no longer do it! We have to begin paying council tax next month out of less money than we have ever had to manage on before! The business idea is coming along but slowly due to the other things I have to contend with and if I don’t manage to get it up and running before Universal Credits are brought in I will struggle more than at present to make a go of it. Have still had no news from any of the voluntary work I applied for – it really is that bad round here. Am not going to give up though….. as difficult as it is to keep motivated I need to know I tried my utmost to make things work out for us.

My partner has a WRAG interview at the jobcentre next week… not sure what good it will do but we’ll see………He also has an appointment for counselling re depression.

There are casualties of this government’s policies all over the internet due to the reduction in benefits, bedroom tax and no or very low wage increases which don’t keep up with increasing prices, while at the same time MP’s begin to talk about giving themselves a 10% pay rise. It beggars belief that they really are so out of touch with the ‘ordinary people’ in this country. Could they rub our noses in it any more than this…….. believe me they will if they get the chance!! What a bunch of self-serving b*stards they are!!!!!!!

Back on the ATOS medical merry go round.

Less than a year after winning our case at appeal my partner was again summoned for his ESA medical. The first one had to be cancelled due to the stress and worry causing a panic attack, but this time we made it. The bloke doing the medical tried to make small talk as we went in but after last time we weren’t going to be drawn into that. I now have too much information on how they work and realize that you are under scrutiny from the minute they set eyes on you! The examiner was trying to be friendly but now and then his mask would slip and I could see how he was trying to trip my partner up. I’m fully expecting nil points again as most of his problems are mental health issues which you can’t see and in my opinion can never really understand unless you’ve been there. I can understand why people give up bothering to claim ESA even as in some cases I know of, they are clearly to any normal person unfit for work, because the stress really isn’t worth the very small amount of extra money gained by getting it. Our household has lost over £100 in the last month with the ESA becoming income related and my son no longer a dependant but an apprentice on a very poor wage. So once again we are in the process of cutting back spending in the face of having to pay council tax we were previously exempt from as well as the cut in money. I pride myself on being financially capable ( in fact I could show CaMORON and his friends in Westminster a thing or two) but if you haven’t got enough to live on no amount of budgeting will help! The policies of this government are and will continue to result in vulnerable people facing extreme hardship. We really are going back to Victorian values and not in a good way.

bad dreams!

I woke the other night from a dream where we had lost the local authority house we live in and were back in the previous home we occupied, it was more like a nightmare actually! Our previous house was mortgaged and as we had a young family and a very poor wage to live on was in a state of disrepair. As the interest rates rose we fell further and further behind with the payments, my partner became ill with mental health problems and began to need sick leave and this forced us further into debt. The upshot was we were repossessed.

We then moved to our present home and always thought we would be here until the kids had grown and then we’d opt for an old person’s bungalow. Instead we will probably be in a private rent in a worse state than our first home was. Although as I’ve previously stated we are unaffected by the bedroom tax, we will be affected by the changes in council tax benefit which begin in April. A friend affected viewed a private rent which was damp, mouldy and disgusting! Obviously these things must be playing on my mind, hence the dreams.

Together with the fact that those on benefits are being threatened by the sceptre of payment cards all these changes are enough to give anyone nightmares.  The fat cats bringing in these changes don’t understand the hardships faced by being poor in fact I’d stake my life on me being better at budgeting than them!! Once more these schemes are designed to put money in the pockets of rich private companies providing the cards, whilst charging the poor for something they never wanted. I can see many more people having to resort to food banks if this scheme goes ahead. Cameron should be ashamed of his country needing food banks not congratulating them for caring where he doesn’t and smiling whilst he does it! I hope the chaos in April costs him his job!

Here we go again!

Having sought advice from a welfare rights centre it seems that yes it is correct that you can be reviewed six months after winning an appeal for ESA. So it seems here we go again! Obviously the idea is to put off those who aren’t genuine but this is causing immense stress to those who are genuine and their families. It is not good for the health of anyone to be put through this stress on a regular basis. I have always borne the burden of the paperwork from DWP as my partner can’t cope with it all, but I’m now finding myself in the position of feeling as if I’m struggling to cope also. It’s beginning to affect my health and not for the better! I have been suffering with stomach problems since xmas, together with low mood/depression. I haven’t yet sought medical treatment but will have to if it continues. As the claim for ESA isn’t mine none of my problems are taken into account but all this uncertainty and stress is very hard for me to cope with so I really feel for people who have numerous medical issues as well as having to deal with ESA claims, bedroom tax problems and the impending changes to DLA. I have to come to the conclusion that this is the idea, make us all so ill that we roll over and take all that is thrown at us or worse decide this life isn’t worth living anymore, as so many have already done. I’d challenge the likes of Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and IDS to travel on buses around my deprived area of Britain and listen to what people really think and have to contend with on a daily basis. I regularly overhear people struggling to apply for the number of jobs asked for by the jobcentre, worrying about being ill in case they lose their job, talking about committing a crime so they’ll get help to find a home because they’re sick of sofa surfing and have exhausted every other avenue of help, and wondering what they have to look forward to. Do they want us all to turn to crime?
I for one know I can’t carry on like this. I am trying to better my prospects of getting off benefits but if this keeps on I won’t have the will or health to do anything. How does that help either the country or the individual?

FEELING DOWNTRODDEN AND DESPONDANT!

After yesterday’s autumn statement I confess to feeling a bit down and wondering where the hell all this is going to end. I had forgotten about the planned changes to council tax benefit which could affect everyone depending on what measures their local council brings in. This means that those having to find the bedroom tax may also have to find something towards their council tax too!! Where this money is expected to come from I just don’t know. Perhaps they are trying to force us all to commit crimes to make ends meet so they can criminalize us as well as demonize us? All I do know is it won’t be possible for many people to pay everything expected of them out of their benefits without something having to give.

Once again Osborne said he understood the hardships facing normal working families today. How can he? Has he ever been in the position where it was a choice between heating your home or eating? Has he ever felt the way most people on benefits feel? The endless fight, struggling to keep your head above water against what feels like a sea of despair which at times makes us want to give up. He has in effect cut the benefits we get by putting them up by 1%, not just out of work benefits but in work benefits too, whilst those at the top get a tax break. Understanding I don’t think so!!

I have been reading that they have been asking for tenders for some sort of loan system for people on benefits designed to fill in the gap when Universal Credits comes in and people are without money due to the payments being monthly, and also for afterwards to replace the DWP loan system. Obviously these firms won’t do it for love and once again those with little will end up being forced into debt. How does this help them? How is this understanding their plight. All this against the backdrop of perpetuating the myth that it’s their own fault they are on benefits even though the growth in the economy is in fact a dip and there are very few jobs being created while many continue to be lost. It’s no wonder mental health problems and suicides are expected to soar next year!

Bedroom tax

What should have been an opportunity to put across the barbarity of the changes in the welfare system last night on Question Time turned into a discussion on, well to be honest apart from Israel/Palestine I can’t remember what! There was a very small section about the cap on housing benefit during which Iain Duncan Smith was heard to say the changes don’t come in til April as if that makes it ok. He also expressed the view that he was changing people’s lives for the better and that he was proud of doing so. For the first time for a while there was a significant amount of shouting from the audience. Try telling the people who are set to lose their homes or face paying the bedroom tax in April that he’s improved their lives. Where are all the supporters of those unfortunate to be jobless? Why does everyone believe it is our fault we have no job? Do those fortunate enough to have a job really believe this is a life choice and that there are jobs out there for the taking that will provide us with the means to leave the world of benefits behind? This government has demonized those on welfare  benefits making it all our own fault. Whilst they milk the system we are financially discriminated against because we are so downtrodden we don’t know where to turn for support. Please join the campaign against this grossly unfair tax on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/antibedroomtax

This also affects those on low wages in receipt of housing benefit so in effect it’s not just demonizing the unemployed, sick and disabled but also those in jobs which do not pay a living wage. It is financial discrimination! And there aren’t enough smaller properties to go round anyway. Please write to your local paper and your MP and stop this unfair tax.

Lets get this stopped before there are devastating consequences as people become increasingly desperate in the face of the increasing futility of existence on society’s scrap heap.  Make the bastards at downing street see they are doing the exact opposite of improving our lives. More houses are needed – this is what happens when social houses aren’t built and the floodgates to Europe are opened whilst private rents are allowed to soar. We need to fight not lie down in the gutter and let them wipe their feet on us. Please join us.