Anybody’s Child – ChatBack Production

Very busy evening last night. Two important functions attended. First of all the Premier of the latest Chatback Production.

This film group is made up of kids in care. The latest film “Anybody’s Child” was written & performed by kids from the group. A very emotive film about how easy, how fast & how kids can easily become embroiled in Child Sexual Exploitation.

The kids as ever did a fabulous job. The DVD will be no doubt for sale & it is something every family should be aware of. As soon as the DVD is out on sale I will let people know.

A close family friend is involved with the film so I will be quite happy to send people their way to get a copy. I really hope every school will be buying a copy to show to each year group.

I was very proud to be invited & to see the kids doing something very poignant. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the last 2 premiers. By the way Josie Lawrence has again given her time to be in the film. She is such a great supporter of the things the kids have done she’s been in every film I think

Then we were off to UKIP Stourbridge branch event at the Hare & Hounds. The ever lovely & thoughtful Margot Parker MEP gave up her time to speak at the event.

She told people about how she became involved in politics, the hardship endured by those who don’t have private means to fall back on however sheer determination can see you through on relatively little because you invariably still have more than those who come to you for help.

It was a message of hope. That no matter how financially poor you are, in UKIP you must graft, work with the intention of helping make life better for those locally, get involved nationally etc. The key message being that UKIP is an extended family whereby we all look out for each other.

We help people in all regions in every practical way possible whether it be sorting out ASB or the ever glamourous litter picks. There is always a way to help & help people a few at a time.

I’m with Margot & am fully on board with the UKiP family. It’s how we work, it’s how we can support each other to do what we do.

Ps; pain meds worn off so I’m awake waiting for time when I can take my next does. Must remember to get to the chemist later, I’ve run out out of a few of my meds so need to get them or I will be bonkers barmy with pain later!

Diabolical situation in Social Housing/Private rental properties

Over the past year or so I have helped a number of families and residents. I will not reveal any details of the people as that is a breach of their confidentiality, so I will give basic details so that I can show how they and countless others no doubt are living in conditions that quite frankly are no better than the old slums of the 1890’s!

Family number One

This family had been on the waiting list for over 8 years. They had a notice to quit their current accommodation yet they were put on the lowest band so no matter how often they bid on homes they liked and would like to live in they were never considered. It was apparent that the band was incorrect and they should be actually in Band 2 rather than Band 6.

With a few e-mails, a few weeks, a bit of investigation and some legalese contained in the letters this family were eventually offered a suitable property and moved in on the day they would have been made homeless.

Family number Two

This family lived in a completely unsuitable property. Due to disabilities and illness the property was simply not fit for purpose. One family member was unable to use climb any stairs at all. They were reduced to descending the out stairwell on their bottom and crawling back up on their hands and knees. This was not only undignified but was also extremely painful. Inside the property the family member could not access the upper floor, they had no option but to sleep on the couch in the living room. They also had to have a commode brought so that they had some sort of toilet facilities, as they couldn’t access their bathroom! It was a very dire state of affairs. Again rules stated were that one had to be a resident of good standing for two years before an application could be made for a property exchange.

I don’t know about you but I knew how different life can change in two years and this seemed like a rather arbitrary period of time. This family had been contacting the relevant people and departments but each time they met the same barriers. After a good few months of trying and getting nowhere they contacted me.

I started the ball rolling, had to get other agencies involved but I am happy to say the family have now got the keys for a disabled adapted property and move in very soon. The family member will now have access to a bed, toilet and washing facilities etc.

UPDATE

This family have now moved into the new property, they are very happy despite a few odd remedial repairs to be undertaken but they have now got access to a bathroom with the adaptions required so things are looking up for them.

Family Number Three

This a particularly harrowing situation for anyone to find themselves in. The family have been in private rented properties for a number of years. Sadly having to move every now and then due to the Landlord’s property being required for use by the owner or in some situations the property being repossessed.

The Landlord of their latest property, despite being aware of the problems and being present at the Pest Control Officers inspection, allowed the family to live in a house that was infested with rats. The family had become severely ill on a number of occasions, they had put it down to various possibilities like a bug picked up from school, work or a dodgy burger/take away the things we would all think of first. None of us would think any different.

The family had been taking medication and doing all they could to keep the infestation under control but it was like trying to turn back the tide (think King Canute) they and their young children were suffering to such a degree that the Landlord should in my humble opinion be prosecuted.

I remained hopeful that this family would be soon found a home, free from non-contributing unwanted guests RATS. They needed a home to start to live normally together and to enjoy a real family life, without moving so often. Alas before the family could think about their future things in the here and now got worse! I had previously suggested that the family contact environmental health and to make an emergency appointment with their GP. I was concerned about health issues, namely Wiels Disease which is a killer.

A member of the Environmental Health team came out and raised worries on a number of issues regarding the property. The rats were one issue but even more worrying was the boiler. Transco were called and within an hour or so the Boiler was condemned. So the family were facing the prospect of not only being infested with rats but also being cold and having no access to hot water to wash in or to clean with.

This was now a matter of life and death there was a boiler that was condemned but due to its position and some faults with its installation it was highly likely the family had been suffering the effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

This did escalate the matter somewhat and the council did get the family booked into a hotel as there was category 1 breach. The council where actually on the ball when it came to ensuring the health and safety of the family. This is one time when I can see that Health and Safety laws really do help.

Update

I have fantastic news, the family have now been successful in the bidding process. They have been to view their new home and they accepted it immediately. The family are ecstatic and are looking forward to a more secure future in to their “forever” home.

It has been a slog but must say the council staff have been very helpful and accommodating. The family now have the keys to their new home and are moving in.

There are so many families on Council Housing waiting lists, some living in conditions such as this family or indeed even worse. Most families are forced into private rented properties because there simply are not enough Social Housing properties available for those who need them. Families are being charged rents by these slum landlords that aren’t cheap by any means. Many rents are more than it would cost per month to pay a repayment mortgage on the property, most places in my local area are at least £475 a month! This is for the cheapest properties in the area, rents on average are around £650 for a 2 bedroom house.

Working families find the rents crippling, they can’t save to get a deposit to buy their own home which would cost less per month than the rent. Obviously things a different in the South or in very sought after areas.

Families like those above and many others who find themselves in this situation must fill out countless forms, they often have made request for help from their Councillors and MP but their pleas did not produce any sort of help or assistance. What are these people doing? They are paid to help, support and take up such issues but all to often I hear that despite contacting the elected officials the help is not forthcoming and I suppose that is why people search me out and ask for my help. I am helping people all over the country not just my local area.

Obviously this is just a snapshot of the issues people are facing and in fairness to those involved I have diluted their stories and given scant information. It would be wholly unfair to them, the council area they live in and a breach of confidence.

What is the solution to the housing shortage and slum landlords?

I firmly believe that on the brown field sites in every town and city it would be the best course of action for councils to build houses and to retain them as a real asset. Ok the initial capital outlay could be high but it will give the council assets that could be mortgaged if need be. It will put more social housing in to the system which will save more families from slum style landlords.

Why should the taxpayer fund the pension plans of Slum Landlords
The people who are the usual inhabitants of the slum properties are those on low incomes and those on housing benefit. Why should they be forced to live in such disgusting properties that are full of mould, damp, rats, faulty boilers etc.

Sadly many of these landlords do not even perform the basic checks undertaken such as gas safety! How can they allow people to live in a home that could be killing them? So many people die in winter due to Carbon Monoxide poisoning, they need to put the heating on more often
in cold weather and the results can be disastrous for the inhabitants and others who are close by. It is criminal that families who aren’t well off must suffer at the hands of unscrupulous, uncaring, money grabbing, slum landlords.

No matter how we may wish for a smaller state there are some things in a civilised society that must be controlled by the state. The rise of slum Landlord’s in the past 20 years or so has been exponential. The councils have sold many properties off to residents or Housing Associations. Instead of replenishing stock the councils didn’t, the Government didn’t push that agenda either, it seems they were more interested in collecting the massive revenues from stamp duty on the ever increasing values of houses.

At least there are now 3 families with a secure and stable home, I wish I could help more people and families but I am just one person. I will continue to help all who ask, sadly I cannot ever guarantee outcomes that would be unfair and wrong.

I will always try my best to help those in need. Maybe one day the families will reveal the full details but that is for them to do!

If you need help please contact me I will try my best to give you the help, support or best agency to assist you.

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Hospitals to Charge Foreign Patients but they don’t ask & neither do they record a patients Nationality!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25529636

I read the above with caution. The reason for this is that during the past few months I have written to many local hospitals. I used the freedom of information requests to find out the true cost of Healthcare Holidayers!

I’ve not had all of the replies back, it is well over the date in which they’re meant to respond but I can let that go.

The overwhelming response to the question of “How many non UK or EU (covered by EHIC) patients have you treated in the past 3 financial years” was We Do Not Request, Record Or Ask For This Information !!!!

So the true cost of Health Tourism is realistically a guess. Only a few people gave voluntarily (I assume) details of their insurers and invoices sent were paid.

A few others were sent invoices but did not pay the funds requested. Why & how the Department of Health can now give these figures perplexes me.

A) Do the hospitals ask for the information but it is so confidential only the Government is privy to it;
OR
B) It is a completely made up figure used in an attempt to con the British Taxpayer into thinking they are clamping down on those from others Countries using our NHS resources.

I personally feel it is the latter and this yet another ploy to hoodwink people. Obviously in a genuine accident or totally unexpected emergency (such as appendicitis) the person would be treated for their illness without having to show their insurance details, well not at the booking in stage because it would go against every ethic a Dr or Nurse upholds. We as decent human beings would not want someone to be left without medical care in a life or death situation.

I won’t hold my breath on this latest missive from the jokers on the Green Benches because it’s not likely to happen.

Politicians are so unlikely to sort this out anytime soon as they will have to squander a few billion or so on failed computer systems to manage this one change.

So think on folks it is yet another “Des Lynam Announcement” by that I mean the talk is all good but can they play the game to the level they speak of?

Watch out for the Usual Suspects over the next 18months and beware of the snake oil they sell because it never ever does what they say it will!

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What Is Wrong With WCA

The WCA has been a disaster. Having been through the test myself I cannot see how it can ever be used to judge if a person is fit for work. The questions on the ESA50 equally have nothing to do with being capable of any work.

The most appalling questions are those which ask the following;

1). Can you reach with one hand to put a pen in your top pocket?

2). Can you lift some light such as an empty cardboard box?

3). Can you lift a 1 litre carton of liquid?

A person may be able to do any of these or indeed all of them but whether they can do them repeatedly, regularly and reliably is another matter. The next question that springs to mind is there a job our there where a person would be required to do such tasks all day every day? I have yet to see such a job specification.

The WCA needs to be a real world test with questions relating to safely traveling to work, if the person needs and special equipment if they were to be offered a job, can the person attend work every day, can they do all of the tasks that may be asked of them in the workplace, what sort of workplace would be best for them, what are their own qualifications, are they well enough to attend a training course to get new skills because their illness or disability would make it impossible to return to their previous type of employment.

It must be remembered that no matter how much we all want there to be equality for disabled people there are jobs that no matter their determination they simply cannot do. A blind person could be no more a heart surgeon than a person who loses a hand can be a bricklayer. It’s not what we all wish to hear but there are harsh realities that must be considered. No amount of laws can make a person suitable for a job which requires a certain level of skill, ability and knowledge when the person due to no fault of their own becomes sick or disabled is completely unsuitable to undertake.

The WCA needs to concern itself whether or not a person can attend and do a range of jobs. Narrowing the job range will be very upsetting for a person with a chronic illness or disbility; indeed being told you are fit for work but there is only one job you may be able to actually do is so rare that there is absolutely no chance of a person being able to take up such employment.

The rule regarding the time of being able to claim contribution based ESA is also very unfair and a person in their 50’s may become I’ll or disabled with 30+ years of contributions paid in good faith that should they fall on hard time then they will have their contributions as their safety net. To limit this to 365 days is a sin. The thing is a person is either sick or they are well, if they are sick then they are unfit to work if they are well then they should be looking for work. There is no halfway measure, the person would much rather be in work believe me.

The system is a basic start point but to ensure the reduction of appeals, which over 40% are won by the claimant, the number of people who die within weeks of being told they are fit for work, all of these things scream out that there is something by wrong with the way this WCA is undertaken, implemented, used, misused and with the various undercover investigations showing there is a quota system then it is easy to see the problems and the obvious solutions. As outlined above.

How much lower will ATOS go?

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/mentally-ill-woman-sheila-holt-rochdale-6553258

I honestly thought the system in place regarding the Work Capability Assessments undertaken by ATOS could not get any worse. I was wrong! Sadly a mentally ill lady who is in a coma and has suffered a heart attack since her benefits were withdrawn last year.

This lady has a long standing illness, her Bipolar disorder has meant she has been unable to work since leaving school. Her medication will have helped to keep her at a level of equilibrium but it cannot and and would not cure her condition,

Sheila was pushed to the limit by the worry over the changes to the benefit system, she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act after her benefits where withdrawn. The worry of her benefits being withdrawn, the impersonal nature of how the assessments are carried out, the dismissive letters that are “standard” are written in DWP Jargon and are quite frankly difficult to understand. I have trouble with them and have to read them a number of times. I admit that I have had to phone up to try to get the letters explained. It’s very frightening, you feel like you have done something wrong, there is no humanity involved. You know to the people in the departments see you only as a number, a file on the computer, a list of DWP regulations and you feel terrible.

Quite honestly you feel like you are on trial. It is such a scary and frightening process, you know yourself that you are too sick to work. You feel that the assessors don’t listen to what you say. They barely look at you as they are too busy typing on the computer.

Sheila was likely asked to fill out her form, it was possibly done by someone in her family and someone who cares for her. They will have answered to questions honestly and to the best of their ability. Before Sheila was pushed over the edge, she possibly could have done the majority of the physical tests. Sheila would likely be able to pick up an empty box, pour herself a drink from a 1 or 2 litre carton, she may also have been able to walk more than 50mts. Sheila was not physically disabled she had longstanding mental health issues.

In October 2013 the DWP were told they must contact all of the people involved with the care of patients with Mental Heath issues so that all of the evidence required to assess the person in relation to their capability for work. Some people with mental health issues can and do work, however there comes a time when all they will sadly have a breakdown and need time off or need to be and in patient.

Mental health issues are just as dibilitating as physical disabilities. Surely the DWP know this, you would expect they would have devised a form that will not be oppressive, will be open questions so people can explain their individual physical and or mental issues, the questions are not helpful and so many appear to be asking the same question just in a slightly different way. The forms are like a mini novel, it can take people a few days to fill in. There really has to be a better way.

Sheila is now in hospital, in a coma and ATOS are demanding that she be available and must attend a further assessment. Sheila is too ill to send a reply, she is too ill to attend any assessment centre. What will the DWP do when they do not hear from her? Will they send a letter saying they are sanctioning her?

I hope that the local JCP will read this and see how Sheila is currently,

1) can she move an empty box? NO.
2) can she feed herself? NO.
3) can she put a pen in her top pocket? NO.
4) can she walk without any help or aids? NO.

Sheila cannot do anything for herself, she needs 24 hour care and why is that DWP/ATOS? It is because you have scared a very vulnerable lady, you made her feel so scared that the fear caused her to have a total breakdown and her Biopolar was not under control. On top of the break down which will also have exacerbated her physical health she suffered a heart attack. she now has little chance of having any form of life, it is highly unlikely she will ever be anywhere near as well as she was before.

Her life is effectively in the balance all due to an uncaring Government who are happy to see the super wealthy avoid tax but if you’re a person who has health problems then you will be vilified, made to feel like you’re a fraud and that you are cheating the system. We can only say well done to the Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration who have been instrumental in these reforms, maybe their intention was to cut fraud but as only 0.3% of all claims involving sickness or disability then they seek to go after the most vulnerable in order to weed out the scammers.

I hope David Cameron, Nick Clegg and all the ministers in the DWP and their staff, the ATOS assessors read about Sheila and then look in the mirror. Are you proud of this? Are you proud of the numbers of people who are taken off the ESA benefit? How can any compassionate human being see the reports daily where people like Sheila, like you, like me, have become seriously ill or in an increasing number or examples the person has died!

Whilst assessments are a good idea, they need to be conducted in a better, more human way. Full patient history should be examined by a qualified GP or even a specialist in the area the persons illness falls into.

Sorry but for people like Sheila your current system is a disgrace and you should hang your heads I shame. Maybe you should look at the real scammers oh you do they are around you I the Commons! How many of you put paper clips on your expenses, the odd tv, maybe a stereo, a couch, a porn film, stamp duty costs because you decided to cash in on the property boom in London, the tax pays funded that home but did one penny of the profit go back into the coffers……..did it heck as like.

This administration is a much of a joke as its predecessors. Yes everyone the MP’s who are whipped to vote how they are told are no better because they aren’t acting in the best interests of their constituents.

I hope Sheila will come out of the coma, I hope she will get well enough to leave hospital. I hope she never has to undergo an ATOS or Capita assessment ever again.

Get well soon Sheila.

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Young Carers – The Invisible Care Givers

Young carers carry a heavy burden which many may not even be aware of especially teachers & other health professionals. This is because they and their parents unusually worry that the Social Services will break up the family.

Many youngsters care for their disabled/chronically sick parents in many ways.
They often have to care not only for the parent but also for younger siblings. There is a lot of work that goes into running a home and many school age children are running homes, caring for their family and still trying to keep up with school work

The strain this can cause to the young carer isn’t always evident. It can cause other problems for them especially with regard to their education. Many young carers miss school to take a family member to the doctors, hospital appointments, to collect medicines and a lot of the time it is to ensure their parent is cared for all day because there may not be anyone else to do it whilst the young carer attends school. I think it would be a good idea to make it safe for young carers to discuss the extent of the care they give without fear of family break up and so that they can get time off from caring. Time to be the young person they are.

It is essential to give young carers support & understanding. It is vital that young carers are identified early so they can be given this support. If there were a registration system which would reward the young carer & the parent; it may influence more families to come forward & register. Some carers are even of preschool age obviously they may simply help their parent or sibling by picking things up and carrying them. They will see it as a game when so young and in many instances there will be other adults around to care for them. The problem really start to be evident when the young carer gets to high school, they have the brain of the child but the responsibility of an adult. Everything to them is simply black or white, they will think that if they confide in someone that they will get taken away. If you read the newspapers or watch the TV news you hear of cases where kids have gone into care for a myriad of reasons. Many reasons may not even be about the child or children being a young carer but in their heads they will think and you can see the logic – parent can’t take care of children so children taken into foster care.. Be honest you would make a similar link.

Young carers do not get any reward or recognition for their vital role. Especially as they are essentially the hidden carers because they are too young to claim carers allowance so numbers are very sketchy. Lots of local authorities do operate a carers forum & try to assist young carers if they find out about them. If a registration process was put in place this could ensure the young carers are helped so they do not miss too much education. There are ways of ensuring the young carers are supported, there are ways of keeping the family together, there is a way of getting time off for young carers as they need respite as much as the disabled family member does.

We must help to encourage and promote the positive and vital work these youngsters do. We must praise them and slowly win the trust by helping one child at a time if need be, going to one school at a time and discussing the approach that may help the Head of Pastoral care to get an estimate of the numbers if youngsters who need help. Maybe a few weeks of short messages.

This is obviously a stream of consciousness and will require more detail or input from people who already help young carers and lord knows who else. The main thing is that somebody may read this and a light bulb clicks on so that they will give some ideas, proposals, approaches, rewards, target homework to suit the situation and to help devise something that will recognise the input that young carers give.

Each Council does usually have a Young Carers group and there are lots of charities out there to help BUT if the young carer doesn’t admit they are a carer then they go unnoticed, hidden, alone and can suffer with mental health issues. There are plenty of links and groups on the Internet but of we don’t know who is caring or why they are a persistent truant. Maybe it needs a change in the approach used so more youngsters feel comfortable in coming forward to tell their stories.

Oh well that’s all please leave comments on what you think would help, your personal experience of being a young carer and what you think will help others. So it’s over to you guys out there in the blogger/twitter sphere or wherever else to help develop this and maybe to tell me I’m bonkers whatever. Just think about the type of care some youngsters may need to give……could you do it???

The first photo is of me with one of my children, I’m very blessed that I have 3 children, fantastic family, a loving husband not all are as lucky as I am. I can’t thank my family enough for the care they give to me and I’m always trying to come up with ways to show them how grateful I am.

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Rail Journeys and Access issues for a wheelchair user!

On 4th January I had cause to travel to London with my Hubby and son. Managed to book the tickets the day before, luckily still got plenty of discount as was unlikely to be a popular travel time.

I booked the tickets online as usual, got the discount for having a Disabled Rail Card all fine any dandy. Well that is what the ordinary punter would think.

Then a Wheelchair user must contact the Travel Assistance people to arrange transfers & assistance. This will ensure there is a person at the train with a ramp so that you and your wheelchair can board. Why there can’t be a box to click to say you need a wheelchair ramp and to book the correct space, I don’t know, but the people on the assistance line are fantastic to be fair & you can usually have a lovely chat.

The staff are really helpful on the assistance line and they then send you an email confirming the changes and that you are booked.

It appears that something happens between the Assistance Team and the Ramp people because for some reason there often appears to be a wheelchair and a person sat at the train doors waiting for a ramp to get them on or off.

Now on say 85% of journeys this system seems to work well. However from time to time there seems to be some sort of black hole of information sharing.

Yesterday got on the train ok but there was much kerfuffle the trains being coupled together were not the trains that were meant to be put together but the train seemed to go off on time.

We were aware of possible delays, the weather being as it was. We arrived exactly 22 minutes late as we were advised thought the journey. You’d expect that with advance notice that the assistance at the other end would be ready and waiting for me to disembark? No not a chance, I was left waiting for a good 15 minutes for the ramp to arrive. If I hadn’t booked it in advance I’d have expected it but I’d booked and was just left sitting there like a spare part. Good job I wasnt getting off at a stop along the way or I’d end up travelling up and down the lines until I was able to make a bid for freedom.

I did contemplate trying to take a good wheelup and trying to leap like Evil Keneval from the train onto the platform. My son persuaded me not to do that until I have had my wheelchair upgraded and a jet pack fitted.

The return journey was much better and luckily we had the kind of tickets that meant we could leave on an earlier train, the assistance man was called whilst we were speaking to mobility assistance people. We got on the train easily and the staff on board asked a number of time where I needed to get off and they must have been in excellent contact with the assistance staff because the ramp was there ready to be placed by the doors so that I could get off immediately.

The system could with just a tiny bit of thought be so much better. There are very limited numbers of wheelchair spaces on trains so if it were possible to arrange it all within the online process it would save so much time and worry for so many disabled people.

Another thing that baffles me is why on Virgin Trains the wifi is from another provider! That seems a bizarre thing to do when Virgin operate the trains, it would make sense to use their own wifi on their trains.

This may not seem a big deal but getting around in a wheelchair is not as easy as you may imagine, despite the Disabaility Discrimination Act and the regulations regarding access etc etc, so many places are not accessible.

It doesn’t appear to be a problem to most people until they are with a disabled friend in a wheelchair, then they realise how much of a problem access for wheelchair users really are. That’s possibly why you don’t see many disabled people out and about more often.

Even kerb dips can be a major problem. Many are not parallel to each other and this can cause fear, risk of injury and means the going to anywhere unfamiliar is filled with anxiety and dread. It really isn’t much to ask that there be dips at every kerb, that they are not steep and that they have the all important raised srones to help the blind so that they know they are coming to the end of a footpath. The parallel dips also assist them as they can walk forward in a straight line and know they have reached the edge of the pavement and are no longer at risk of traffic.

Little things that needn’t cost much if anything at all. When a road is dug up by a utility company that part of the reparation to the public for the inconvenience is that they put the dipped kerbs in. At least then the public will feel they have at least gained some benefit from the whole disruption.

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Big Benefits Row

Ok have just tried to watch the #BigBenefitsRow. I know many others on twitter and other social media have done the same.

I make no secret of my physical ill health and disability nor my mental illness. I refuse to hide it because it’s part of me and I believe in honesty.

I am on benefits, no I don’t like it, yes I’d love to be well enough to get back into work. I do apply for jobs still, I do have a lot to offer but being realistic my health issues make it basically impossible for any employer to give me a chance unless I could do it all from home at times to suit me and my illness/medication.

I like many others want to feel useful and not surplus to societies requirements. I am able and do try to help people via e-mail, telephone, at times to suit me. It pays nothing but i do get that glow of satisfaction that I’ve helped make life a little better for another person or family.

Some people can’t do what I can for many reasons, they do feel down, it can lead to a spiral of depression this is one of the mental issues people want to talk about & get help via sorts of talking therapies such Psychotherapy. Alas access to good mental health help varies throughout the country. With help being so sporadic & ranging from great to being put on a waiting list for years! Surely it is better to treat the person via immediately accessible mental health services then they would be able to get well, have the help and return to some work slowly and eventually they would be able to work full time and not be reliant on benefits. All of these approaches must have a caveat, some people with all the help possible are simply not able to cope in the world of work. So this will work for some but not all.

I am all for working if you are able bodied and not suffering from a severe or mental illness. We have read and seen how people in a coma, in severe kidney failure and on dialysis, people who have had strokes, brain tumours etc who are told they are fit for work because they can lift an empty cardboard box, put a pen in their top pocket and hold a 2litre milk carton. This does not take into account the way the illness/disease actually prevents them from being available to work for certain amounts of time etc.

Yes there are some people who do abuse the system, yes there are some who pretend to be single parents when they have their partner live with them. This is because the rules make it financially beneficial to be “a single parent” rather than valuing marriage, cohabitation etc which is really the best for any kids to live in a two parent family.

Some people are told at the Job Centre they will be worse off by £x.xx if they take this or that job. That is wrong and people should be better off in work than on benefits. However, when we take a view of it like “if I take this job I will lose out on time with my child, most money will go on childcare, the cost of travel to work, and with all taken in to account I will be £3 per week worse or better off”

In the above scenario you will get many people who would rather be in work and will take it because being on benefits and not having a routine, a place to be, a reason to get up and get outside can leave a person really isolated. There are more than just money that is gained when a person takes employment. These other really positive aspects aren’t discussed. I humbly suggest they are.

I think people are brassed off with those people, small minority, who have never worked and seem to have a much nicer lifestyle than the person working on minimum wage. It can get vey upsetting and it can be irksome.

However, those people may have “invisible” health conditions that mean they cannot work, again this aspect is overlooked in any discussions.

I had until I got sick, 5 years or so ago, I had always worked and or been in education. I am only just coming to terms with the steep decline of my health and it’s still no fun and I don’t like being in this position. I’d give anything to be able to control my illness (there is no cure) so that I could maybe work part time. I know lots of others I a very similar situation.

There is no easy answer to this but I do feel that putting pensions into the same calculation does give a very warped view of the money spent on benefits. Maybe it would be helpful if the costs were put into their respective headings. It may help.

We have had a really terrible down turn, recession, double dip recession and during that time many thousands of people have lost their jobs, in some areas they have found it almost impossible to find any other job. Lots of people have moved to find work. Many cannot due to children being in eduction at a critical time such as SATS, GCSE’S or at College undertaking education or training.

Anyway remember 99% of people who are out of work, wish they were in work. We have graduates on the checkout at supermarkets, alas this is a state of the employment market BUT I respect everybody who takes a job they are vastly over qualified for because they would rather have some money coming in rather than being on benefits.

Benefits street as a programme focused on such a tiny microcosm that is it impossible to to actually use that as an example of the norm for all those who are out of work and claiming benefits.

Maybe there should be a programme on showing how hard many people try to get a job, any job. Showing the people who send off vast numbers of applications per day yet don’t even get an email/letter/phone call back to acknowledge their application or to say thanks but no thanks.

Most of all you must for the most part think “There but for the grace of god go I” because sadly illness and injury can change your life over night.

Well that’s my 2p’s worth if it’s worth anything at all?

FOI REQUEST SHOWS WOLVERHAMPTON COUNCIL HOUSING OCCUPIED BY HUGE NUMBERS OF DIFFERENT NATIONALITIES

As the government prepares to open the doors for yet another wave of EU immigration, this time from Bulgaria and Romania a FOI request to Wolverhampton Council (See attached) has revealed some of the effect excessive immigration has already had in the city.

Wolverhampton has over ten thousand people on the waiting list for council properties. A situation made worse by excessive numbers of immigrants coming to the city.

Despite the fact the council has incomplete records with over 12000 people either declining to supply information on their nationality or simply failing to fill in the form the figures show a remarkable number of people from other countries residing in council housing in Wolverhampton.

The figures show a total of 1156 council tenants have declared as being none UK nationals. The spread of nationalities is amazing and includes; American, Canadian, Albanian, Belgian, Bosnian, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, Estonian, Filipino, French, German, Hungarian, Indian, Iraqi, Irish, Italian, Kurdish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Pakistani, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovakian, Somalian, Spanish, Zimbabwean plus other EEA Countries.

Bill Etheridge UKIP Regional Organiser for the West Midlands and one of the candidates for the West Midlands Euro Elections said

“These figures are far from complete but they still show 1156 Council tenants from 30 nationalities in Wolverhampton. Next time the great and the good tell us how good mass immigration has been for the UK and its economy maybe they could speak to the thousands of people in Wolverhampton on the waiting list for council properties with no hope of getting a home anytime soon.
It is essential that we regain control of our borders and maintain an effective limit on the numbers of people entering the country. Figures lilke this show the reality of the strain being put on our infrastructure by years of uncontrolled mass immigration.
Sadly the open door to Romanians and Bulgarians in the new year can only make the situation worse”

For further information please contact Bill Etheridge on 07894 737884
********************************

FOI request sent to Wolverhampton CC:

Good Afternoon Mr Etheridge

Thank you for your enquiry. Wolverhampton Homes are an ALMO (Arm’s Length
Management Organisation) that manages properties on behalf of Wolverhampton
Homes.

As such this request has been passed to ourselves to respond.

In response we are able to provide the attached information which is as of 4th December 2013.

The information we can provide is only that we hold. As there is a large number of these who have not disclosed the information (it is not a compulsory field)
the data is incomplete and as such is not an accurate percentage of none uk
nationals within WCC properties.

I hope this answers your query

Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me

Many thanks

Richard Jones
Wolverhampton City Council

IN10 % of Equalities Data held as at: 04/12/2013

Nationality No of Tenants
Albanian 7
American 3
Belgian 5
Bosnian 2
Canadian 1
Chinese 39 Czech 11 Declined To Supply Information 86
Dutch 10
English Scottish Welsh 6354
Estonian 1 Filipino 2 French 6
German 2
Hungarian 5
Indian 53
Iraqi 98
Irish 26
Italian 13
Kurdish 12
Latvian 133
Lithuanian 298 Other EEA Country 168
Pakistani 20
Polish 188
Romanian 4
Russian 6
Serb 2 Slovakian 7
Somalian 11
Spanish 1
UK National resident in UK 4334
UK National back from overseas 10
Undisclosed 1591
Zimbabwean 22
No Information recorded 11193
Total: 24724

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Benefit Cap – Problems Inherent in the System, part 2

Hello everyone, here the latest instalment of my views regarding Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship benefit changes. The Benefit Cap, as with all the new benefits recently rolled out, was started in April 2013 but only in a handful of Boroughs around London. From DWP Website:

“How much is the benefit cap?

The level of the cap is:
a). £500 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)

b). £500 a week for single parents whose children live with them

c). £350 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them”

Any new claimant would be put on the Capped Rate with others being “migrated” over as and when their number is churned out on the DWP Lottery Computer.

On a TV news programme last week, there was a lady who had been receiving £582 per week for her and 8, yes EIGHT, kids.

She is no longer with their father and she is unable to work. “Imagine the child care costs!” It was not discussed whether the father contributes to the children’s upbringing but this is a factor worth looking into.

She was recently migrated over onto the Benefit Cap. If we look at this one family in essence they receive £82 a week less than they did prior to the changeover.

If she wasn’t a single parent and the father of her children was in paid employment, working over 24hrs they would not be, as a family, subject to the benefit cap.

Is this a cunning ploy to encourage the together but apart families, who can get more money under the current system, to become a “legitimate” family? Maybe not, BUT if this is an unintended consequence then the winners will be the children and the taxpayers.

It may be that this family of 9 will be “signposted” (this week’s new buzzword) or told where the foodbank is, given the voucher and sent on their not so merry way.

Clothing can be bought from charity shops, there will no doubt be hand-me-downs and school uniform for the kids in Junior school is quite cheap in the supermarkets these days. There may also be access to what was the “Social Fund”. This is no longer a cash benefit claimed via the DWP, it’s a new benefit given out by local councils. They can give vouchers to purchase food, clothing and necessities in the home such as beds, cookers and bedding.

There are some people and families who will not be subject to the cap. Some of you may remember Heather Frost, the Mother of 12. She has never worked, had her first child aged just 14.

What do these two Mothers have in common and what makes them different?

Well they both have 8 or 9 kids living at home, they do not live with the father(s) of their children. One has to manage on £500 per week but the other one does not because she falls into the category whereby the Cap does not affect her level of benefits.

It is a legitimate reason, for the difference being that one of Ms Frost’s children has a disability. Simply purchasing the most basic equipment to help make the child’s quality of life and possible ways towards some independence is eye wateringly expensive!

For Those Not Affected by the Cap, I’ll quote the DWP Website again:

“You’re not affected by the benefit cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:

1) Disability Living Allowance
2) Personal Independence Payment
3) Attendance Allowance
4) Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
6) Employment and Support Allowance, if you get the support component
7) War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension
8) War pensions
9) Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
10) Armed Forces Independence Payment”

I would keep the cap but would reduce the amounts payable BUT I would not want kids to suffer though. So for children already living I would recommend that the families who would lose most (those with the largest numbers of children) be exempt, implementing the measure with respect to children born after a given date.

Those who have 3 children are likely receiving around £500 so there would be no changes needed. However should a family decide to have a 4th child then they would not receive any more money in benefits.

This is likely to discourage people from having extra-large families in the future, who could once have been “paid” for simply having babies. That “Career Path” would be closed to them!

It’s no fault of the children if their parents decide to have so many of them. I just worry that the kids living in a capped household may suffer and it may limit their life choices in the future.

The Government will not have considered the wider macro repercussions. The impact on the Social Services budget will be phenomenal as it is likely kids who are not in any danger of abuse by their parents could end up being taken into care, simply because they’re hungry.

We are supposedly living in in the 7th Largest Economy in the world yet some of our most vulnerable people are having to go to food-banks so they don’t starve. It is what you’d expect to hear about in a Dickensian novel not in 21st Century Britain.

So as with Universal Credit bomb and The Benefit Cap scud missile about to go boom, I fear the children will be the unintended casualties of this badly drafted piece of legislation!

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