Tag Archives: politics

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!

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.

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.

 

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!!

ATOS STRIKES AGAIN!!!!!!!

Despite all the publicity surrounding Atos medicals it seems they have learned nothing! An acquaintance of mine, lets call her Mrs X was telling me of her experience at the medical and it’s the same story we’ve been hearing since these medicals began. Mrs X worked doing manual and driving jobs until about ten years ago when she developed a back problem and could no longer manage to work. An operation was advised but Mrs X was reluctant due to the possibility of the op leaving her in a worse position. Her husband persuaded her that she should go ahead with the op despite the fact it could leave her paralysed. Fortunately though this didn’t happen, unfortunately neither did significant improvement and Mrs X resigned herself to the fact that return to her previous normality wasn’t an option. Mrs X can’t walk very far, is in constant pain, walks slowly, can neither sit or stand for long periods and uses a mobility scooter to get about.

Fast forward to the Atos medical which was held on the third floor of the building. Upon entering she was told she couldn’t go up on the lift in her scooter and was asked if she would be able to use the stairs should there be a fire. Her response was a truthful yes she could but by the time she got to the bottom the building might well be burnt to the ground. Deciding this was too risky they asked the nurse conducting the medical to come to the ground floor and conduct her medical there.

The nurse could clearly see Mrs X needed to use the scooter, had access to the doctor’s report about medical conditions and yet guess what Mrs X like many that have gone before her received nil points. How can someone needing help to get around get no points at all? It beggars belief! Mrs X is of course appealing so it will cost the DWP time and money to fight their case which on past experience I would hazard a guess they will lose. They have learned nothing!!! Their quest to get the ‘spongers’ goes on!!!

IT’S BEEN A WHILE!

It’s been a while since my last post, unfortunately life has got in the way! Since I last posted I have attended a careers advise session and an interview with my jobcentre adviser.
At the careers session I was given a computer to sit at and a questionnaire on the computer went through my likes and dislikes, whilst the adviser went off and left me to it. It came up with a few interesting things, a few totally unsuitable things, (hospital based in clinical areas when I’ve been known to faint at the sight of blood!), and a few pie in the sky. I was also asked by the adviser if I’d considered IT as I had completed the questionnaire by myself when most people wouldn’t have. I’m no whizz by any means but I have studied office based computer courses as I feel everybody needs them these days don’t they? I came away with a list of potential careers to peruse.
At the jobcentre, where I turned up at the alloted time to find it hadn’t yet opened, my adviser appeared to have noted very little from our previous two sessions! I was asked questions for a third time and then told that unless I needed help with a CV perhaps voluntary work was the way forward. A conclusion I’d already reached before any of these interviews! I was then told I wouldn’t be called in again unless the criteria changes with the introduction of Universal Credits.
I could have done all these things from the comfort of my own home, instead I’ve had to attend pointless time-wasting interviews in order for these people to justify their jobs.

On the ESA front, it looks as if the back money we are owed has been paid into my partner’s account although we have received no written notification and therefore need to wait until we get a statement to clarify this. At last we may be able to sort out our finances, well at least until the introduction of Universal Credits or my partner is called in for his PIPs medical!!

In the meantime I continue to look for that elusive job and am toying with the idea of starting my own business, but more of that later………