Tag Archives: WRAG

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.

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.

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!

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!