Tag Archives: ESA

When is minimum wage not minimum wage?

Well wouldn’t you know it something I want to write about occurs a couple of days after my post about ending the blog!

My son is currently trudging the streets delivering leaflets and is he receiving minimum wage? Is he hell! So how does an employer get away with this? By employing him on a self-employed basis! The situation is he is self-employed but not really self-employed,  if you see what I mean. Fact is he works for no-one but this company and answered an ad which didn’t specify self-employment but that’s the deal. No wage at all just a certain amount per leaflet. This carry on is actually fairly prolific in this country and I know many people employed on this basis. Some actually get minimum wage or higher, it’s just that the company don’t want to deal with tax etc. My son is only young so although it’s annoying that he works 5 hrs and only makes enough for his bus fare for the week, it’s not a matter of not being able to feed his children. The sad thing is that working for the same company are people who have rent to pay, kids to feed and a home to run.

Under universal credit people in this situation will be hounded to get better work as obviously they don’t make enough  to live on and will have to claim something to enable them to live. Rather than being vilified these people should be applauded. Pounding the streets in all weather’s, putting their hands through letter boxes where dogs live, carrying heavy loads for several hours a day for what? A couple of pence per leaflet. What an awful situation to be in damned if you do and damned if you don’t!

The UK in 2014 what a great country to live in!

Benefits Street

I felt I just had to comment on this programme. I didn’t really want to watch it, knowing before I did exactly what impression it would be making to the wider public. I was going to post a link but am not sure I want to up the viewing figures but I suppose in order to form an opinion you need it so http://www.channel4.com/programmes/benefits-street.

Having been in the position of being on benefits for a while I know it isn’t possible to live comfortably on them. You have to make sacrifices which in the opinion of some people is only right for something which isn’t meant to be forever. For those who find themselves unable to work through illness or can’t find a job no matter how hard they try, it may be something they have to do for the foreseeable future or for the rest of their life. It is not possible, contrary to popular opinion to have HD tv’s, the latest iPhone or computer, fantastic holidays (or any holiday in most cases) or posh cars on benefits. The reason people have these things can be many.

1)  They already had them before they claimed benefits.

2) A kind family member has gifted the item(s)

3) They are getting money from elsewhere.

Whilst I can’t condone people working on the side, shoplifting or drug taking I can understand getting to the point where you no longer care about anything but getting money from somewhere to feed your family or heat your home. It amazes me that people are so quick to label benefits claimants as scroungers but no one gives as much publicity to MP’s scrounging. What about the thousands paid by Diane Abbott or Iain Duncan Smith from taxpayers pockets for their portraits!  Surely in a country where children are going hungry this is wrong on every level!

I know the people on the street portrayed in Benefits Street could be classed as rough and ready, but one thing they do seem to have that a lot of us lack is community spirit and I applaud that. No one knows today where they will be in a year’s time. Poverty can be a paycheck away. Please look a little deeper before you judge these people. Circumstances have made them into the people they are. No one wants to live a stressful life like theirs.

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!

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!!!!!!!

Major meltdown

Not written for a while as not much to report. Our friends have moved and are very unhappy, in fact unhappy isn’t strong enough they have sunk into a depression. The place they’ve moved to is a shit hole and they have no money to fix it up. There is nothing you can say to them is there? Personally I would have stuck it out until I could’nt go on any longer but realistically unless the jobs market changes there is little chance of them getting employment so perhaps they had no choice. It’s a really sad place to be – pushing 60 with nothing to show for it.:(

Here my partner has had a letter saying he’s in the WRAG group and detailing his benefits breakdown but we aren’t sure if this is the result of his medical or not as there wasn’t any points breakdown. Or do you only get that if they refuse you ESA? He has also had a letter with an appointment for a work related interview next month. We’ll see what happens!

Myself I’ve just had enough. I’m in the process of trying to start a business but it is off-putting when they are changing the benefit rules to penalize even this. I’ve applied for a few jobs but no joy, have applied to volunteer, no joy, it seems I’m stuck in this trap. To be honest and I’m sorry if this sounds callous but I don’t want to be where the buck stops any more. I don’t want to be the one who sorts out all the bills, keeps the house something like clean, feeds everyone, washes and irons the clothes, sits doing anything they can to make a bit of extra cash on the internet, just so we can have the things we need. I don’t want to go out shopping and come back to find the same mess I left when I went out because him indoors can’t be bothered to do anything. I’m losing the plot. Being the one who runs the house I could cope with but being the one who runs the house and has to deal with someone who is negative from the minute he rises everyday is just too much and I want out. I’ve had enough!!!

 

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.

More pain -council tax benefit changes

Yet another shock to the pockets of the poor and vulnerable is set to be upon us in April when changes to council tax benefit take hold. Whilst it is in the hands of each local authority to decide how to distribute the money allocated for this benefit many have taken the decision to abolish 100% benefit for working age people. This means that many of those in poorly paid work, ill, disabled or out of work will have to find something out of their meagre income towards their council tax. In the case of my friends facing the bedroom tax, our local paper is reporting that their council expects to collect at least 8.5% from those who previously received 100% benefit, which they are saying will amount to approximately £85 per year for a Band A property. So now on top of the bedroom tax of approximately £25 per week they now have at least an extra £2 to find towards their council tax. To those who aren’t struggling this won’t sound much but when you are at the bottom end of the income spectrum, every penny counts and this is just pouring more stress and hardship on top of  the already immense pressure they are under. Where will it end?

On a brighter note momentum seems to be growing in the highlighting of the bedroom tax with members of the group on facebook appearing on radio 5, channel 4 news, newspapers (details can be found here https://www.facebook.com/groups/antibedroomtax/) and pieces cropping up on various local news programmes. Well done to all those helping to highlight the cause. Here’s hoping we can get this unfair tax reversed.

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?

Happy New Year!!

Happy new year everyone!! Unfortunately the start to mine has been a bit mixed, the depression/low mood has reared its ugly head again and have been left feeling less than healthy which is why I haven’t felt like posting.

Just before xmas we received a new ESA 50 form to fill in even though it is only about 6 months since we won the appeal for the last one. I’m not sure if this means we may have to go through it all again but just the thought of it fills me with dread. I really cannot go through this every 6-12 months but I suppose that’s the idea.

The stress of it all last time was immense and I don’t think the Government realizes or cares about the impact of all this stress on our health. The friends of ours who face the bedroom tax have spent the whole of xmas being ill, and having to deal with one relative overdosing due to the hopelessness caused by their situation. Thankfully they were ok after treatment.

Despite all the spotlight on ATOS, DWP and the Government regarding their treatment of the disadvantaged little seems to be changing as the case of the man with heart failure on the news a few days ago highlighted. Despite the fact he wore a box with wires fixed to his heart in order to remain alive he received no points and was found fit for work. Needless to say he is appealing but at what cost to his health. So we see the demonization goes on………

Atos causing pain again!

The lady  (Mrs X) mentioned in my previous post who had failed her ATOS medical has sought advise from Welfare Rights, who have said yes she can appeal and will likely win but will almost definitely be placed in the WRAG group. Apparently even life threatening illness isn’t enough to get you into the Support group as we have all seen from cases highlighted in the press! This has plunged Mrs X into depression as she now realizes she will be subject to attending pointless Jobcentre interviews, forced to apply for jobs she has no chance of getting and face sanctions if she isn’t seen to be doing enough! Mrs X could also find herself having to attend a placement on workfare. All this when her Doctor says she isn’t fit for work. Unfortunately this government aren’t satisfied with all the misery they’ve caused so far and look set to cause more by stepping up the pressure on those in the WRAG group by forcing them on to mandatory work schemes.

My partner has received a letter to this effect just this week. As I’ve said before perhaps with a bit of understanding from employers some of those on ESA could work but unfortunately that understanding is sadly lacking.  If any of those people with long-term health problems did manage to secure a job in many cases it just wouldn’t last because these health problems won’t just go away and time is money. Lets face it money is more important than people’s lives in our society as is shown time and time again. We should be looking after those too ill to work not demonizing them and causing them further pain. I do wonder where all this will end – with the targeting of DLA starting soon the future for those who dare to become ill or disables looks increasingly grim!