Tag Archives: JSA

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!

A4E/Seetec

After about 5 months on the Work Programme where my partner has only visited the centre delivering this service a couple of times due to health issues, he was summoned to sign off some paperwork. If you thought the jobcentre was a shambles this was even worse! People appearing with appointments left sat waiting ages, people left sat waiting because they weren’t aware their appointment was over and advisors’ calling for people who hadn’t turned up over and over again rather than attending to those sat waiting.

A number of the clients waiting had little or no chance of obtaining employment in the present climate. I mean come on if you had the pick would you employ someone on sticks who is probably going to need time off over an able-bodied person? One client was clearly distressed but it was left to the person accompanying them to sort it out as the staff ignored them and carried on running around like headless chickens looking busy but seemingly doing very little.

Look at it logically, it isn’t actually in these companies interests to get everyone into employment, (even if that were possible) because they’d be out of a job. Fortunately my partner has had a sympathetic advisor who hasn’t yet put forward anything to cause him undue pressure or stress but we are ever aware that sanctions are possible. Newsnight on Monday screened a report from a foodbank/kitchen where a number of the service users had been on the receiving end of sanctions and the conditions that a man of 62, who had worked until 2 years ago when the  factory he worked in had closed, was living in was disgusting. This man had worked all his life and now at an age when he should be taking it easy, looking after his health and enjoying a comfortable existence, he was being hounded by the jobcentre and living in squalor.

Makes you proud to be British I don’t think. Say hello to Victorian Britain in the 21st century!!

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.

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!!!!!!!

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?

Merry Xmas from DWP

I’m not much good with figures to be honest and I sometimes struggle to remember the names of MPs because many of them are so wishy-washy these days, but one thing I do know is the things this government are doing should not be happening to one person never mind the thousands it is affecting. I watched the programme on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01pc1qb/Panorama_Britains_Hidden_Housing_Crisis/ last night and was particularly appalled by the treatment of the lady suffering from cancer. As she put it a few months of help would have seen her through until she could pick up her life again and get straight, instead she was offered a smelly flat. Disgusting!

Meanwhile Maria Miller claims 90,000+ for a second home occupied by her parents and Cameron stands up for her. This from the government that can’t stump up a few quid for housing benefit for the poorest in society. Just don’t know how they sleep at night. Whereas you or I would be prosecuted for such offences, what’s betting she gets off with it. One rule for them…..

And back here my friends’ struggling with the problem of bedroom tax have received a bill from DWP for £10 outstanding on a loan they had eight, yes EIGHT years ago! Somehow this got overlooked by DWP and themselves, possibly they were on one of their breaks from receipt of benefit and my friend had  a short period of work. They can’t remember. DWP have kindly said they can pay it out of their JSA over the two week Xmas holidays at a fiver a week. Couldn’t they have waited til after the festivities? After all they’ve waited eight years. Have those at the DWP got nothing better to do than go back over years worth of data to find such oversights? Meanwhile the likes of Miller claim thousands from the public purse for their own personal gain and that’s seen as fair. After all we’re all in it together, but some of us are in it further than others!!

 

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.

 

Housing benefit changes set to cause devastation.

I know posts seem to be like buses none for a while then they all come at once!

The groundwork for the proposed changes to housing benefit for those in under occupied homes is being done by some councils now with claimants being asked to sign a form stating they will make up the shortfall in rent (in effect to pay for the rooms the government say they don’t need). One couple I know who are on JSA of £111.45 per week have received such a letter and are devastated that they may have to leave their home of 30+ years. This couple are in their late fifties and prior to the pit closures both worked for NCB. Since these closures both have been in and out of low paid work (many of the companies they worked for have shut down). They have limited computer skills, the husband in particular can’t get to grips with computers and is ideally suited to manual work of which there is very little in our area. He attends all the job search workshops and DWP interviews as required but still he has been unable to gain employment, but because it is his own fault there are no jobs he will be expected to pay up to 25% of his rent! Just where he’s expected to find this from their £111.45 I’ve no idea!

This couple has saved the council hundreds of pounds in the past by doing repair and improvements to their home themselves. Anyone lucky enough to end up there will have a lovely home at this couple’s expense! The stupid thing about this situation is that should they be forced to move to a smaller home, undoubtedly it will be private rental, as council properties are like gold dust these days and the rent will be probably be higher than for their current home!

The truth is, unpalatable or not mass immigration has played a part in this. No country can open the doors to anyone and everyone without investing in its infrastructure, it’s common sense that eventually jobs and homes will run out. The infuriating thing about this situation is that the poor and jobless are considered to blame for being poor and jobless. In these times everyone has to realize ‘there but for the grace of God’, it can happen to anyone.

Meanwhile the self-serving pigs in Westminster continue to milk their expenses to their heart’s content with no moral conscience, at great expense to the public purse whilst continuing to kick the already downtrodden. No doubt they’ll step over the corpses of those who’ve decided to end it all due to the futility of their situation!! All in it together- Bollocks!!

Back where we started??

We have at last received some notification from DWP regarding the ESA claim. However it is only dated between February and April 2012 for some reason which is raising some questions for us since it’s now August! We had reason to believe that any incapacity Benefit received in the last year was taken to be your years worth of contribution based ESA but the letter states our ESA is contribution based. Is this why it only goes to April, the end of the financial year? If so why haven’t they included payment details for April to now? The payment breakdown is also confusing! They state they must take a percentage of my partner’s ill-health pension (from last employer) off the ESA, but then they have added a top up so that we don’t lose any money?????? So guess what we end up with exactly the amount we were getting before all this started!! We won’t get  any April increase though until the ESA rates catch up with the old Incapacity benefit rates. As to whether these rates apply to income based ESA, well that’s something else that’s not clear!

As you can  see lots of things we are unsure about meaning we still can’t plan our finances properly until we’ve sought answers to these questions. What does strike me though is all we’ve gone through to get back to where we started. What a waste of taxpayers money (we pay tax incidentally -on the pension). In an effort to get people of benefits the government is wasting money which could be better spent elsewhere and in many cases people will end up with exactly what they began with. If the medical criteria was not so unfair money would be saved immediately on the appeal processes that many are forced to go through. The sad thing is the government would rather waste money on them than give it to genuine claimants. People have died awaiting appeal, people who clearly aren’t fit for work have given up unable to stand the stress and are now being hounded by jobcentreplus to find work. Work that for them does not exist. Whilst government shovels money into Atos’ pockets. They should all be hanging their heads in shame at their treatment of  vulnerable people. Now Atos has been handed the contract to reform  Disability Living Allowance so we can expect much more of the same!